Term Paper: Arabic Morphology Morph = Form

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[. . .] Aspects of Contemporary Arabic morphology

Arabic language morphology is divided into two significant parts which is a well-established fact (Bohas & Guillaume, 1984). Primitive nouns constitute the first part that do not relate to verbs but it is possible to derive verbs from them. For instance, the verb [kaliba] which means "get infected with rabies" can be derived from the primitive noun [kalb] meaning "dog." The second part corresponds to verb morphology and incorporate proper verbs and derived nouns (nouns being derived from verbs). There are further two categories of verbs: augmented and unaugmented verbs. Three patterns make the un-augmented verb forms; {faoal}, {faoil}, {faoul}. The above three configurations are referred to as 'un-augmented' because they originate from minimal phonetic material required by a form to surface i.e. consonants of the root and the two vowels of word pattern. In the patterns shown above, the letters / f, o, l / indicate that the three radical letters of a root should fill the empty places. For example, an un-augmented surface form is [katam] which means "conceal." Here the abstract root {ktm} is joined to the pattern {faoal} (Boudelaa and Gaskell, 2002).

Out of 14 patterns present in augmented forms, only 9 are used most frequently in contemporary Arabic. These are listed as follows: {faooal}, {faaoal}, {?afoal}, {tafaooal}, {tafaaoal}, {?infaoal}, {?iftaoal}, {?ifoall}, {?istafoal}. They contain additional consonantal and/or vocalic material that are essentially required to develop a surface form and thus are considered as 'augmented'. As an example, [takattam] "keep mum" is the surface form made by joining the root {ktm} with the pattern {tafaaoal}. It is an augmented form because of the presence of epenthetic initial syllable / ta / and thus its second radical consonant / t / is geminated. The form [xaraZ] "go out" is produced by joining the root {xrZ} "going out" with the pattern {faoal}. The same root can be joined in many other combinations with five augmented verb patterns to give rise to the surface forms as follows: [xarraZ] "move out," [?axraZ] "take out," [taxarraZ] "graduate," [taxaaraZ] "disengage," [?istaxraZ] "extract." It has been estimated that various roots can generate almost as many as 400 surface forms (Boudelaa and Gaskell, 2002).

Eight types of de-verbal nouns constitute the nominal morphology. A deverbal noun is a surface form comprising of a word pattern and a root (Cohen, 1961; Hilaal, 1990). These de-verbal nouns are: active participle, the passive participle, the instance noun, noun "masdar" and a noun indicating that the action conveyed through the verb happens once only (Holes, 1995; Wright 1995). For instance, the masculine active participle [xaariZ] "someone who goes out" consisting of root {xrZ} and word pattern {faaoil} originates from unaugmented surface form [xaraZ] "go out." Similarly, the masculine active participles [muxarriZ], [muxriZ], [mutaxarriZ], [mutaxaariZ], [mustaxriZ] can be derived from augmented verb forms as follows: [xarraZ], [?axraZ], [taxarraZ], [taxaaraZ], [?istaxraZ]. The number of nominal word patterns extends over 100 (El-Dahdah, 1990).

These verb forms can also give rise to passive participles. Moreover, the verb [xaraZ] can generate an "instance noun," [xarZa] "one departure," the noun [?istixraaZ] can be derived from the verb [?istaxraZ], [taxaaruZ] from the verb [taxaaraZ] and the list goes on. The principle of productivity also implies for verbs generated from primitives. Thus the primitive noun [kalb] "dog" gives rise to [takaalab] "rave" whereas an active participle [mutakaalib] "someone who raves" and a "masdar" [takaalub] "raving" evolve from [takaalab] "rave." In a similar manner, verbs like [talfan] "to telephone," and an active participle like [mutalZn] "phone-caller" originate from loan words like [talifuun] "telephone" (Boudelaa and Gaskell, 2002).

The two elements of verb morphology, which are considered as highly productive, have important impacts on the inflectional plural system of a particular language (Boudelaa and Gaskell, 2002).

The qualitative productivity of sound and broken plurals in Contemporary Arabic

Pluralisation is one of the most frequently used morphological modification which the Arabic nominal forms goes through, although this is spaced out from case endings. This can be achieved through modiZcation and sufZxation. In sound pluralisation or more specifically the Zrst case, sufZx ~uun is placed as a supplementary to the citations of masculine nouns (e.g., [naaZiE-naaZiEuun] "successful" male), conversely, with feminine nouns ~aat is positioned (example [naaZiEa-naaZiEaat] "successful female"). It should be noted that a feminine sound plural 'sufZx ~aat' is added after eliminating the feminine singular 'sufZx ~a' to [naaZiEa], while masculine sound plural is straightaway added to noun stem [naaZiE] (Holes, 1995). If a noun does not end with an 'a' like for instance it is a proper name, for example in [marjam], [taoriif] and [ramadoaan]. A sufZx aat is added to form a plural noun. With the addition of the suffixes the result would be [marjamaat], [ramadoaanaat], and [taoriifaat].

Another form of pluralisation is the one which is connected with singular nouns and is commonly known as broken pluralisation. Examples of some singular nouns being altered are; cluster changes to clusters, while nightingale changes to nightingales and andaliib changes to anaadil (Levy & Fidelholtz, 1971; Murtonen, 1964; Ratcliffe, 1998). Many researchers denote sound pluralisation as regular inflectional process (which is rule based), while broken pluralisation is termed as irregular one (which does not stick to specific rules). The term regular refers to short-term activity under which very minimal or no allomorphy is seen; on the contrary irregular refers to substantial alterations of singular inputs. Nevertheless, if the word 'regular' is used to signify a consistent nature of a morphological process, then a few classes of broken pluralisation along with sound pluralisation can be defined as regular under their virtue of consistency (Ratcliffe, 1998).

Prince and McCarthy both have worked on the Contemporary Arabic. According to the work of Prince's and McCarthy (1990), the Arabs have a minority defaulting system of pluralisation. They were of the view that all the canonical shaped lexical nouns would take broken plurals. While, proper names, derived nouns, adjectives (like for instance, participles, diminutives and deverbals), unassimilated loans and the letters of the alphabets will make use of sound plural (McCarthy & Prince, 1990: p. 212). The phrases mentioned above are rather misleading because they fail to distinguish between qualitative and quantitative productivity. Productivity is subject to varying conditioning factors, while the dissimilarity between qualitative and quantitative aspects assists in capturing progression. If a morphological process is described as qualitative then it means it is dependent on various conditioning factors. The conditioning factors can be syntactic, phonological, semantic or pragmatic (Anshen & Aronoff, 1999; Aronoff, 1976; Baayen, 1992; Bauer, 1983). Conditioning factors do not exclude the possibility of particular inflectional operations from being productive under a controlled structures form (Aronoff & Anshen, 1998; Ratcliffe, 1998). The processes leading towards quantitative productivity have very few constraints and a large number of items can be applied to the language. An example of the rival suffixes "ity" and "ness" will help in clarifying this point. Suffix "ity" tends to present an example of qualitative productivity while "ness" suffix is an instance of quantitative productivity. The suffix "ity" is considered as qualitatively productive because it is used for converting many adjectives into nouns. It is placed at the end of adjectives which have suffixes like "ible," "able," "ic" "id." Since, "ness" is subjected to lesser constraints it is considered to be quantitatively productive (Aronoff & Anshen, 1998).

Taking in to consideration the characteristics pertaining to broken pluralisation and sound and the plural system of Contemporary Arabic, both the cases present a picture of qualitative productivity. Sound pluralisation, particularly the masculine plural must essentially meet some nominal forms in accordance with the formal and probable syntactic criteria, as suggested by McCarthy and Prince (1990). Both sound or suffixal pluralisation and broken pluralisation are qualitatively productive. Broken pluralisation is mostly applied to lexicalised derivatives and short primitive nominal forms which consist of two or three consonants. Thus, several conditioning factors have led to the fact that both sound and broken pluralisation be considered as qualitatively productive. As an example, consider that the plural template [fuooaal] needs to be lexicalised in the nominal form and be in the form of pattern [faaoil], before application. However, there lies a room for determining which one of the two types of pluralisation tends to be a quantitative productive process (Boudelaa and Gaskell, 2002).

The quantitative productivity of sound and broken plurals in Contemporary Arabic

Several combinations of nine frequent augmented word patterns can be mounted in a productive way for a given trilateral root in Arabic for the creation of new words. As an example, one can consider the trilateral unaugmented surface form [katab] "write," which can be transformed in to seven augmented forms. Contrary to this, the triliteral unaugmented surface [oabaT] "fool around" results in only one augmented form [oaabaT] "banter." It can be safely hypothesized that triliteral roots result in at least three surface forms on an average. However, in Arabic there does not exist any systematic statistical work pertaining to the number of unaugmented and augmented verbs formed. Each augmented… [END OF PREVIEW]

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