Two’s company.

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

In continuing the theme of derivation, a third form was noticed among the linguists, commonly known as al-Ishtiqaaq al-Akbar [1] (‘The Greatest Derivation’). One angle of this theory is that it went one step further and even claimed, in the presence of certain conditions, there was a link between the common meaning of two triliteral roots that shared only two of the same root letters.

al-Zamakhshari was enthusiastic about this type of ishtiqaaq and tried to derive common meanings for the roots that fell into this category. Some such attempts can be seen scattered through his work on Qur’anic exegesis (tafseer) called al-Kashshaaf. From among his examples are:

  • The verbs nafaqa نَفَقَ (‘[something] became spent, exhausted’) and nafada نَفَدَ (‘[something] came to an end’, became spent) and nafaa نَفَى (‘he drove [something] away, banished [it]’) are brothers in meaning, the first two root letters of which are noon ن and faa’ ف. Similarly, all other roots beginning with these two letters will indicate a similar meaning related to removal, or deparature.

  • When the first two root letters are faa’ف and laam ل the meaning indicated is one of breaking something or opening it up. Thus, one says falaqa فَلَقَ to mean ‘he split [a thing]’ (cf: al-Qu’ran, 113:1), falaha فَلَحَ to mean the same thing, falaja فَلَجَ to mean ‘he divided [a thing]’, falaa فَلَى to mean ‘he [dissected the thing until he] examined it in depth’, and so on.

  • Other examples are that words in which the second root letter is a meen م and the third is a seen س all share the common meaning of secrecy and concealment. Examples of this are namasa نَمَسَ to mean ‘he concealed [a secret]’, tamasa طمس to mean ‘[the path or road or relic etc] became effaced or obliterated’, and ghamasa غَمَسَ to mean ‘he immersed, or sank [something in something else]’.

[1] The former type was also known as al-Ishtiqaaq al-Akbar by Ibn Jinni, but as al-Ishtiqaaq al-Kabeer by most other linguists.

10 responses to “Two’s company.

  1. Assalamu 3alaikum,

    Subhaaaaana Allah. Jazaaaum Allahu khairan. Amen. I love Fiqh Al-Lughah. It is even more beautiful than Nahw and sarf. Maybe because it is the core of Arabic; and the beauty of anything comes from its core.

    I have a lot of things to do, and so little time. Please keep me in your du’a.

    Assalaamu 3alaikum.

  2. Yaser Al-Hotaki

    I didn’t know this existed, or was even possible. Leave it to Imaam Zamakhshari to notice these things. He was nuts, both in Aqa’id and language, but a genious in language. His work is unmatched and invaluable, that is when you sort out all the Mu’tazilite stuff that is in grained in it. Jazakallah Khair again!

  3. Mashallah. All praise be to Him for such a lovely site.

    Thanks a lot for this great work. i’m from Singapore and i don’t speak arabic. i think site, God willing will be very helpful for me. i was looking for such site for long to learn arabic in ease.

    Peace and blessings of THE ONE be with you all.

  4. Salamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah.

    Jazakamullahu khairan.

    Wassalam.

  5. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah,

    Wa iyyaakum all.

    Billo, I agree and I have a preference for Fiqh al-Lughah for the same reason.

    Yaser, you are right, he really was a genius in language, there is alot to learn from him in that field.

  6. Dear poster,

    In the last paragraph you state:
    Other examples are that words in which the second root letter is a noon ن and the third is a seen س all share the common meaning of secrecy and concealment.

    But the examples are second letter meem and thrid letter seen:
    Examples of this are namasa نَمَسَ to mean ‘he concealed [a secret]’, tamasa طمس to mean ‘[the path or road or relic etc] became effaced or obliterated’, and ghamasa غَمَسَ to mean ‘he immersed, or sank [something in something else]’.

    greetings

  7. al-Salaamu ‘alaykum,

    Baykal, Jazaakum Allaahu khayran for pointing out my mistake; it has now been fixed. Thank you also for providing your Arabic Conjugator service; may Allaah reward you for it – ameen.

  8. No problem. I really love this site, I check it every day for updates because of it’s original and accesible content. Great work.

  9. Pingback: It’s a hit! « Arabic Gems ~ جواهر العربية

  10. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this

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