Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Genitival States

Here are discussed the two grammatical processes in the Arabic language that cause words, phrases, and sometimes even sentences to enter the genitive state. The genitive state is one of the four grammatical states in the Arabic language and one of the three which nouns experience. Reflection of this state on nouns and phrases happens according to the rules of grammatical reflection, and on sentences is always an assumed reflection.

The two processes are 1) being a non-final noun in a possessive structure, and 2) being the object of a preposition. Possessive structures have already been discussed in an introductory manner, and here that introduction will be supplemented. Prepositional phrases, on the other hand, have not yet been discussed and will be dealt with in this tutorial.
Possessive Phrase
The grammatical rules for possessive phrases – inasmuch as gender, plurality, grammatical state, as well as other issues – have been thoroughly analyzed in Arabic Phrases. That tutorial, however, implied that the genitival structure is always used to express possession or meanings very closely associated to possession (ergo the term “possessive phrase”). The reality of the matter is that there are two purposes for the genitival phrase.

The first type is that which affords the sense of possession as is commonly understood. But even this possession is not always clear. Consider the examples in the table below.

son of Adam
ابن آدمَ
cherry tree
شجرة الكَرَزِ
غير صِنْوانٍ
diamond necklace
عِقْد ماسٍ
today’s sun
شمس اليومِ

It is not always a matter of ownership, as is clear from some of the above examples. “Son of Adam” is an example of possession. “Cherry tree”, however, is not so clear; the underlying assumption would have to be “tree of cherries”. But “non-twinned” is even less clear than “cherry tree”. There seems to be no connotation of possession in that example. Consequently, the grammarians have explained that one of three particles is assumed to be between the مضاف and the مضاف إليه depending on the type of possession-related meaning being afforded.

Particle Assumed
the son for (i.e., belonging to) Adam
ابن أدمَ
necklace (made) from diamond
عقد ماسٍ
the sun in (i.e., during) today
شمس اليومِ

If a genitival phrase gives the impression of one of these meanings – or something closely related – then it is termed إضافة معنوية.


إضافة معنوية
that genitival structure which affords a meaning similar to possession as explained above

The other type of meaning afforded by genitival phrases, on the other hand, has nothing to do with possession. It occurs when a gerund or participle is made مضاف to either its subject or its direct object, and this is termed إضافة لفظية.


إضافة لفظية
that genitival

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