Arabic Observations: Duplicated Roots with Reduplicated Forms


root: ل-ح-ظ / noun / plural: مُلاحَظات / definition: observation

The title might appear somewhat complex, but this topic is just plain cool.

If you’ve been keeping up with the Arabic Observations series, you might remember the post Arabic Observations: Doubled Roots, where we looked at the properties and meanings of roots such as ع-س-ع-س and د-ن-د-ن and ب-ء-ب-ء.

And now, it’s time to share another one of my observations: some of these reduplicated roots have duplicated versions.

Slightly confused? Let me explain…

Three-letter roots where the second and third root letters are the same are called duplicated roots.

Examples of duplicated roots include ر-د-د (which forms the verb رَدَّ / يَرُدُّ على, “to reply to”) as well as ح-ث-ث (which forms the verb حَثَّ / يَحُثُّ, “to urge”).

Reduplicated roots, on the other hand, are four-letter roots where the first two root letters are essentially copy and pasted.

This includes roots like غ-ر-غ-ر (which gives us the verb غَرغَرَ / يُغَرغِرُ, “to gurgle”) and ط-ق-ط-ق (from which the verb طَقطَقَ / يُطَقطِقُ, “to rattle”, is derived).

So, what I’ve noticed—perhaps unsurprisingly, considering what we mentioned here about why reduplicated roots are “doubled”—is that some reduplicated roots (in the pattern ف-ع-ف-ع) have corresponding duplicated roots (in the pattern ف-ع-ع) with the same core meaning.

Let’s take a look at a few of these pairs below, with the help of the Hans Wehr dictionary:

ل-م-م and ل-م-ل-م

core meaning: to gather

ر-ف-ف and ر-ف-ر-ف

core meaning: to flutter

ق-ص-ص and ق-ص-ق-ص

core meaning: to trim

ه-ز-ز and ه-ز-ه-ز

core meaning: to shake

ت-ك-ك and ت-ك-ت-ك

core meaning: to tick

ر-ج-ج and ر-ج-ر-ج

core meaning: to shake

ع-ش-ش and ع-ش-ع-ش

core meaning: to settle

Note: we can see that the reduplicated root here only appears in the form of the passive participle (اسم مفعول) of the root ع-ش-ع-ش, and it’s mentioned as a word from the Lebanese dialect.

Essentially, the reduplicated four-letter roots are derived from the three-letter duplicated forms. And the repeated ف-ع-ف-ع pattern of these four-letter roots often mirrors the fact that they are used to highlight the aspect of repetition in the action that they refer to.

So, for example, both تكّ and تكتك mean “to tick”, but using تكتك will add greater emphasis to the repeated nature of the ticking.

Have you come across any more roots with both duplicated and reduplicated forms? Let us know in the comments if you have, we’d love to know!

And if you enjoy this type of post, make sure to check out the others in the Arabic Observations series too.

See you on my next post, إلى اللقاء!

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