The pen is black

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by jmt356, Feb 8, 2013.

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  1. jmt356 Senior Member

    القلمُ اسْودًا

    What we are really saying here is:
    القلمُ يكون قلمً اسْودًا
    The verb كانَ takes the منصوب.
  2. barkoosh Senior Member

    It's القلمُ أسودُ. As if you're saying, القلمُ هو قلمٌ أسودُ. This is how we express the verb "to be" in such constructions (a feature of Semitic languages).

    PS: we say أسودُ not أسودٌ since it's ممنوعة من الصرف.
  3. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
    It should be: 'alqalamu 'aswadu. 'aswadu is a diptote and so does not receive nunation. Further, the case is nominative as this is just a simple, present tense, equational sentence.

    There is no hidden subjunctive mood here. The subjunctive is not used that way at all. This is just a straight forward equational sentence in the indicative mood.
  4. jmt356 Senior Member

    This does not make much sense to me.

    We say كان الفيلم ممتعًا because it is as though we are saying:
    Example: كان الفيلمُ فيلمًا ممتعًا (or simply كان الفيلم ممتعًا).

    So shouldn’t we also say القلمُ اسْودًا as though we are saying:
    القلمُ يكون قلمًا اسْودًا

    What does ممنوعة من الصرف mean?

    And what is a diptote?
  5. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    القلمُ أسودُ is a nominal sentence "جملة إسمية" and it consists of مبتدأ وخبر
    القلم: مبتدأ مرفوع
    أسود: خبر مرفوع

    الكلمات الممنوعة من الصرف are nouns that don't receive nunation and also they are مجرورة بالفتحة not بالكسرة (in indefinite case only)

    ذهبت إلى مدارسَ كثيرةٍ

    سلمت على إبراهيمَ
  6. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    ممنوعة من الصرف (literally: prevented from declension) refers to words that are not fully declined; that is, they do not take all the case endings. I believe they've been discussed several times over the years here on the forum. You can search 'diptote' or 'ممنوعة من الصرف' and probably find those discussions.

    I also found this doing a quick internet search.

    As to your question, we must remember that languages do not always act how we think they should, or would like them to, act.

    Arabic has two types of sentences -- nominal sentences (aka: equational sentences) and verbal sentence. The former contains only nouns (termed al-mubtada2 and al-khabar: the subject and the predicate) while the former contains at least one verb.

    A nominal sentence contains no verb, implicit or otherwise, therefore the nouns remain in the nominative case.

    This kind of sentence is also termed an equational sentence because it is an equation of sorts: A=B -- > القلمُ = أسودُ

    Perhaps it may seem arbitrary, but that's how it is.
  7. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    That's just one way to look at it - a speaker's intuition about how the language is working is, stripped of statistical and comparative studies, nothing but a shot in the dark. Why would the 'underlying' sentence be a form that rarely occurs (a subject as its own direct object)? So the assumptions of your reasoning have little merit here. The fact is, the line between nouns and adjectives in Arabic is very thin and must be measured on its own or at least in the field of Semitic linguistics.

    Josh is quite right in saying you shouldn't decide how language works - you're making comparisons using tons of unchecked assumptions. BUT, let me give you another way of looking at it:

    In Arabic, nouns and verbs occur in 'default' forms unless acted on by outside factors عوامل of some kind. A noun in it's generic, vocative and 'unchanged' state is always nominative. In order to not be nominative, there has to be a factor operating on it. Therefore, in a verbless sentence (which, as a minor correction, is only one kind of nominal sentence in Arabic - a jumla ismiyya can most certainly have a verb in its predicate as long as the first word is a noun), there is only nominative.

    In other words, in a verbless sentence like الرجلُ كبيرٌ, both nominal forms 'man' and 'big/old' are in the nominative because there is no word present which effects them - they stand on their own, and what creates the meaning of 'to be' is the difference in definiteness between them - so there is no need for manipulation of the cases and they stay in their default forms.

    Now if you add an 'alien' (non-nominal) word to the sentence, things start to change, but depending on the nature of the thing operating on them, different parts will be affected:

    إن الرجلَ كبيرٌ = verily, the man is big

    كان الرجلُ كبيراً = the man was old

    So in each case, there is a separate word present, "demanding" that one part of the verbless sentence take the case it requires.

    As for كان, it isn't really a verb meaning 'to be' - it's just an old word that is used in Arabic for putting the verbless sentence into different tenses and moods - a sort of dummy for manipulating a basic 'is' sentence into was, will be, should be, etc. (in fact, it comes from a Semitic root meaning 'to be established, to be true' etc.). So it is not really accurate to say that a sentence like الرجل كبير is containing an unexpressed يكون - the use of this verb in the present is a development of the language and has a slightly different force than the verbless sentence.

    You can find this answer on the forum but it's a category of words that, when indefinite, don't take tanwiin and don't take kasra. Like duals and sound plurals, they only have two case endings (in their case -u and -a). They include: colors, superlatives, broken plurals more than 2 syllables long, female names, foreign names, undefined place names.
  8. jmt356 Senior Member

    So are these sentences correct:
    القلمُ أسودُ
    القلمُ هُو قلمٌ أسودُ
    كانَ القلمُ قلمًا أسودَ
    كانَ القلمُ أسودَ
    كانَ القلمُ قلمًا ممتازًا
    كانَ القلمُ ممتازًا

    Is it true that adjectives in general take تنوين (just like nouns do), but if they are diptotes, they do not? For example, we say قلمٌ أسودُ, because أسود is a diptote, but فيلم ممتعٌ because ممتع is not a diptote.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  9. barkoosh Senior Member

    You're totally right.

    Also, sometimes a noun can be a diptote (so it can't have تنوين) unlike its adjective. For example, رأيتُ حدائقَ جميلةً ("I saw beautiful gardens").
  10. jmt356 Senior Member

    Is حدائق a diptote because it is considered a broken plural more than 2 syllables long?
  11. barkoosh Senior Member

    Please see here.
  12. abdulwahid Senior Member

    This is speculation. If you take any word (like kabiir) and look at it by itself (not in a sentence). Why would it be in the nominative? If we put it in a sentence, Zaydun kabiirun, it would surely be in the nominative but why? Would you say that it's in the nominative because of default, or would you say, as many earlier grammarians, that it's in the nominative because it's beeing affected by the mubtada'? We should also ask why the mubtada' is in the nominativ, is it by default or is it the concept of ibtida' that renders it in the nominative?
  13. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    You're right, I am guilty of speculation in my statement. Of course, almost all proscriptive grammar is speculation - as you well know, even the most ancient grammarians have difficulty deciding correct forms in certain cases and we end up with byforms, etc. due to the presence of the rules of different dialects in the standard language.

    I was trying to give the student an economical rule-of-thumb that will help guide them to the most consistent use of grammar, and I was basically rephrasing the ancient explanation of case in Arabic as the result of various عوامل requiring the case ending on the words they affect. It's true that the nominative case, too, has it's operating factors, but it has more explanatory power to think of it as a basic case. For one thing, the vocative of a simple noun, which is not syntactically involved in a sentence, is the nominative. Also, ابتداء in and of itself can't explain the nominative because not all mubtada'aat are nominative (i.e. اسم أنّ ).

    I will retract my gross generalization, though - I did not mean to mislead.
  14. jmt356 Senior Member

    I did not see حدائق listed in the resource you cite. However, my best guess is that حدائق is considered a diptote because it is a broken plural more than 2 syllables long. Therefore, it does not take تنوين.
  15. barkoosh Senior Member

    Arabic is all about patterns my friend. You just can't make a list, for example, of all the broken plurals that are diptotes. Patterns, or forms, are used to know if a certain broken plural is a diptote or not.

    Since learning those patterns could be difficult sometimes, here's an easy way to know whether a broken plural is a diptote: its third letter should be an alef AND that alef should be followed by two letters or by three letters the second of which is a ya'. For example:
    حدائق - منازل - دنانير - بساتين

    The "more than 2 syllables long" rule (in which the last letter is left silent) doesn't work every time. For example, the plural أباطرة (emperors) and عباقرة (geniuses) are not diptotes. The three letters after the alef don't have a ya' in the middle.
  16. abdulwahid Senior Member

    Sorry I see now that my answer came through a little bit rough and it wasn't my intention. I think that your post was very good and I just picked up a small portion of it because I wanted some clarification.

    If it's ok with you I would like to know what you mean by the following two statements
    I'm not sure if I follow you here. Would you mind explain it a bit for me?

    Does this mean that you consider ism anna to be a mubtada'?

    I just want to say that I really enjoy grammar and I'm not here to argue, but to learn.
  17. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    Oh, no, please don't think I was being defensive - only trying to humbly agree with you.

    1) What I mean is that when you address a specific person directly using a vocative particle, such as يا, it has case and, if a single word, stands in the nominative, even though it doesn't have a role in the sentences that follows, i.e. if I say "O Muhammad...", that particular Muhammad is nominative (but without tanwiin) but not because it plays a role like subject, mubtada', khabar, etc. It seems as though this is the case you use when there is no syntactic hierarchy for it fit into. yaa mu7ammadu, yaa rajulu, etc.

    2) Yes, I consider the ism 'inna to be a mubtada' because that's the function it fulfills within its own sentence with or without the presence of 'inna. That is, if you remove the sister of inna, the ism 'inna will be a mubtada' 100% of the time. I understand that the grammarians don't refer to it as a mubtada' when dealing with it in sentence structure, but that's what it seems to be within its own clause.
  18. jmt356 Senior Member

    I therefore conclude that the broken plural حدائق is not a diptote because, unlike دنانير and بساتين, the second letter after the ا in حدائق is not a ي.
  19. jmt356 Senior Member

    Is this a correct alternative expression of the rule:
    (a)Nouns and adjectives are also diptotes if the third letter of the broken plural is an ا and either of the following applies:

    (i)The ا is followed by two letters - for example: حدائق - منازل; OR

    (ii)The ا is followed by three letters, the second of which is ي - for example: دنانير - بساتين

    Also, a plural of a noun or adjective is considered broken if it does not take the ون, ين or ات ending, right?
  20. abdulwahid Senior Member

    1) The vocative is actually more complicated as I'm sure you know. According to the grammarians the vocative is mabni, if it's a single word (and that's why it doesn't have tanwin). It's also considered to be in the place of nasb. An argument for this is that when the vocative is the first part in an idafa-construction it will be in the ackusative عبدَ الله. As for the reason of nasb, according to the older grammarians, is that we imply the words "I call..." the vocative being the object.

    2) You wrote:
    Some of the grammarians considered ibtida' to be a factor (عامل) that causes raf'. This factor is removed and replaced when we introduce "inna". The same thing can be seen whith some objects. A verb can have a direct object and it can have an indirect object (by the use of a preposition). The meaning might be the same but we are dealing with different عوامل and therefore different cases (nasb or jarr) and different names (maf'ul or majror). It really doesn't matter if we call the معمول mubtada' or ism "inna" the main thing is that we, at least it seems, are dealing with words that move from a state in wich they don't have any case (a single word without context like Zayd) into a state where they, for some reason, acquire a case.
  21. barkoosh Senior Member

  22. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Dear all,

    This thread has the title "the pen is black", but it somehow became a discussion of nominative, diptote, and a few other grammatical point.

    Please make sure to stay on topic and feel welcome to open a new thread whenever a new question arises that is not related to the topic indicated in the title and the first post.

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