Iḍāfah

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Iḍāfah (إِضَافَة) is the Arabic grammatical construct case, mostly used to indicate possession.

Roadsign in Morocco, showing an iḍāfah construction: جماعة أولماس jamāʿat ʿūlmās "commune of Oulmes".

Idāfa basically entails putting one noun after another: the second noun specifies more precisely the nature of the first noun. In forms of Arabic which mark grammatical case, this second noun must be in the genitive case. The construction is typically equivalent to the English construction "(noun) of (noun)". It is a very widespread way of forming possessive constructions in Arabic,[1] and is typical of a Semitic language.[2] Simple examples include:

  • دَارُ الّسَلاَمِ dāru‿s-salām "the house of peace".
  • كِيلُو مَوْزٍ kīlū mawz "a kilo of bananas".
  • بِنْتُ حَسَنٍ bintu Ḥasan "the daughter of Hasan/Hasan's daughter".
  • بَيْتُ رَجُلٍ baytu rajul "the house of a man/a man's house".
  • بَيْتُ ٱلرَّجُلِ baytu‿r-rajul "the house of the man/the man's house".

TerminologyEdit

The word إضافة, spoken by a male from Tiznit, Morocco.

The Arabic grammatical terminology for this construction derives from the verb أضاف ʼaḍāfa "he added, attached", verb form IV from the hollow root ض ي ف ḍ y f.[3][4]

  • The whole phrase consisting of a noun and a genitive is known in Arabic as إِضَافَة iḍāfah ("annexation, addition") and in English as the "genitive construct", "construct phrase", or "annexation structure".
  • The first term in the pair is called اَلْمُضَاف al-muḍāf "the thing annexed".
  • The first term governs (i.e. is modified by) the second term, referred to as اَلْمُضَاف إِلَيْهِ al-muḍāf ilayhi "the thing added to".[5]

Kinds of relationship expressedEdit

The range of relationships between the first and second elements of the idafah construction is very varied, though usually consists of some relationship of possession or belonging.[6] In the case of words for containers, the iḍāfah may express what is contained: فِنْجَانُ قَهْوَةٍ finjānu qahwatin "a cup of coffee". The iḍāfah may indicate the material something is made of: خَاتَمُ خَشَبٍ khātamu khashabin "a wooden ring, ring made of wood". In many cases the two members become a fixed coined phrase, the idafah being used as the equivalent of a compound noun used in some Indo-European languages such as English. Thus بَيْتُ ٱلطَّلَبَةِ baytu al-ṭalabati can mean "house of the (certain, known) students", but is also the normal term for "the student hostel".

Forming iḍāfah constructionsEdit

First termEdit

The first term in iḍāfah has the following characteristics:[7]

  • It must be in the construct state: that is, it does not have the definite article or any nunation (any final -n), or any possessive pronoun suffix.
    • When using a pronunciation that generally omits cases (’i‘rāb), the ة (tā’ marbūṭah) of any term in the construct state must always be pronounced with a -t (after /a/) when spoken, e.g. خَالَة أَحْمَد khālat ’aḥmad "Ahmad's aunt".
  • It can be in any case: this is determined by the grammatical role of the first term in the sentence where it occurs.

Second termEdit

The second term in iḍāfah has the following characteristics when it is a noun:[8]

  • It must be in the genitive case.
  • It is marked as definite (with the definitive article) or indefinite (with nunation, in those varieties of Arabic that use it), and can take a possessive pronoun suffix. The definiteness or indefiniteness of the second term determines the definiteness of the entire idāfa phrase.

Three or more termsEdit

iḍāfah constructions of multiple terms are possible, and in such cases, all but the final term are in the construct state, and all but the first member are in the genitive case. For example: سَرْقةُ جَوَازِ سَفَرِ أِحَدِ اللَاعِبِينَ sarqatu jawāzi safari ’aḥadi l-laa‘ibīna "the theft of the passport [literally "license of journey"] of one of the athletes".[9]

Indicating definiteness in iḍāfah constructionsEdit

The iḍāfah construction as a whole is a noun phrase. It can be considered indefinite or definite only as a whole. An idafah construction is definite if the second noun is definite, by having the article or being the proper name of a place or person. The construction is indefinite if it the second noun is indefinite. Thus idafah can express senses equivalent to:

  • 'the house of the director' (بَيْتُ ٱلمُدِيرِ baytu l-mudīr-i)
  • 'a house of a/the director' (بَيْتُ مُديرٍ baytu mudīr-in)

But it cannot express a sense equivalent to 'the house of a director': this sense has to be expressed with a prepositional phrase, using a preposition such as لـِـ li-. For example:

  • ٍِالبَيْتُ لِمُدير al-baytu li mudīrin (literally 'the house for/to a director').[10]
  • بَيْتُ مُحَمَّدٍ اَلْكَبِيرُ baytu muḥammadini l-kabīru "Muhammad's big house, the big house of Muhammad" (idafah)
    • بَيْتٌ كَبِيرٌ لِمُحَمَّدٍ baytun kabīrun li-muḥammadin "a big house of Muhammad's" (construction with li-)[11]

Adjectives and other modifiers in iḍāfahEdit

Nothing (except a demonstrative determiner) can appear between the two nouns in iḍāfah. If an adjective modifies the first noun, it appears at the end of the iḍāfah.

Modifying the first termEdit

An adjective modifying the first noun appears at the end of the iḍāfah and agrees with the noun it describes in number, gender, case, and definiteness (the latter of which is determined by the last noun of the iḍāfah).[12]

first word:

gender, case, number

state Arabic script transliteration translation
feminine nominative singular indefinite (no adjective) فُرْشَاةُ أَسْنَانٍ furshāt-u ’asnān-in a toothbrush (literally "a brush of teeth")
indefinite (adjective describing first noun) فُرْشَاةُ أَسْنَانٍ كَبِيرَةٌ furshāt-u ’asnān-in kabīrat-un a big toothbrush (literally "a big brush of teeth")
definite (no adjective) فُرْشَاةُ ٱلْأَسْنَانِ furshāt-u l-’asnān-i the toothbrush (literally "brush of the teeth")
definite (adjective describing first noun) فُرْشَاةُ ٱلْأَسْنَانِ ٱلْكَبِيرَةُ furshāt-u l-’asnān-i l-kabīrat-u the big toothbrush (literally "the big brush of the teeth")
masculine nominative singular indefinite (no adjective) طَبِيبُ أَسْنَانٍ ṭabīb-u ’asnān-in a dentist (literally "doctor of teeth")
indefinite (adjective describing first noun) طَبِيبُ أَسْنَانٍ كَبِيرٌ ṭabīb-u ’asnān-in kabīr-un a big dentist (literally "a big doctor of teeth")
definite (no adjective) طَبِيبُ ٱلْأَسْنَانٍ ṭabīb-u l-’asnān-i the dentist (literally "doctor of the teeth")
definite (adjective describing first noun) ٌطَبِيبُ ٱلْأَسْنَانٍ ٱلْكَبِير ṭabīb-u l-’asnān-i l-kabīr-u the big dentist (literally "the big doctor of the teeth")
feminine nominative singular proper noun (no adjective) مَدِينَةُ شِيكَاغُو madīnat-u shīkāgho city of Chicago, the city of Chicago
proper noun (adjective describing first noun) مَدِينَةُ شِيكَاغُو ٱلْكَبِيرَةُ madīnat-u shīkāgho l-kabīrat-u the big city of Chicago
masculine nominative singular proper noun (no adjective) اِبنُ أَحْمَدَ ibn-u ’aḥmad-a son of Ahmad, the son of Ahmad
proper noun (adjective describing first noun) اِبنُ أَحْمَدَ كَبِيرُ ibn-u ’aḥmad-a kabīr-u the old son of Ahmad, Ahmad's old son

Modifying the last termEdit

An adjective modifying the last term appears at the end of the iḍāfah and agrees with the noun it describes in number, gender, definiteness, and case (which is always genitive).

second word (always genitive):

gender, number

state Arabic script transliteration translation
feminine singular indefinite (no adjective) نَهْرُ مَدِينَةٍ nahr-u madīnat-in a river of a town
indefinite (adjective describing last noun) نَهْرُ مَدِينَةٍ جَمِيلَةٍ‎ nahr-u madīnat-in jamīlat-in a river of a beautiful town
definite (no adjective) نَهْرُ المَدِينَةِ nahr-u al-madīnat-i the river of the town
definite (adjective describing last noun) نَهْرُ المَدِينَةِ الجَمِيلَةِ‎ nahr-u al-madīnat-i al-jamīlat-i the river of the beautiful town
masculine singular indefinite (no adjective) نَهْرُ بَلَدٍ nahr-u balad-in a river of a country
indefinite (adjective describing last noun) نَهْرُ بَلَدٍ جَمِيلٍ‎ nahr-u balad-in jamīl-in a river of a beautiful country
definite (no adjective) نَهْرُ البَلَدِ nahr-u al-balad-i the river of the country
definite (adjective describing last noun) نَهْرُ البَلَدِ الجَمِيلِ‎ nahr-u al-balad-i al-jamīl-i the river of the beautiful country

Modifying both termsEdit

If both terms in the idāfa are modified, the adjective modifying the last term is set closest to the idāfa, and the adjective modifying the first term is set further away.[13] For example:

مَجْمَعُ ٱللُّغَةِ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةِ ٱلْأُرْدُنِّيُّ
majma‘-u l-lughat-i l-‘arabiyyat-i l-’urduniyy-u
"the Jordanian Arabic Language Academy"
(literally "academy (of) the-language the-Arabic the-Jordanian")

Iḍāfah constructions using pronounsEdit

The possessive suffix can also take the place of the second noun of an iḍāfah construction, in which case it is considered definite. Indefinite possessed nouns are also expressed via a preposition.

صَدِيقَتُهَا ṣadīqatu-hā "her friend"
صَدِيقَتُهَا ٱلْجَدِيدَةُ ṣadīqatu-hā l-jadīdatu "her new friend"
صَدِيقَةٌ لَهَا ṣadīqatun la-hā "a friend of hers"
صَدِيقَةٌ جَدِيدَةٌ لَهَا ṣadīqatun jadīdatun la-hā "a new friend of hers"

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 205-24 [§8.1].
  2. ^ Adam Pospíšil, 'The Idafa construction in Arabic and its morphosyntactic behaviour' (unpublished BA thesis, Univerzita Karlova v Praze, 2015), §7.1.
  3. ^ Hans Wehr, Dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic: )ضيف( ضاف ḍāfa
  4. ^ Faruk Abu-Chacra, Arabic: An Essential Grammar: p. 61
  5. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 205 [§8.1].
  6. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 206-11 [§8.1.1].
  7. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 211-12 [§8.1.2.1].
  8. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 212-13 [§8.1.2.2].
  9. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 215-16 [§8.1.5].
  10. ^ Adam Pospíšil, 'The Idafa construction in Arabic and its morphosyntactic behaviour' (unpublished BA thesis, Univerzita Karlova v Praze, 2015), §3.2.3.
  11. ^ J. A. Haywood, H. M. Nahmad. A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language. Pages 36-37.
  12. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 213 [§8.1.3.1].
  13. ^ Karin C. Ryding, A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 214 [§8.1.3.3].