The ذاك Suffix


root: ل-ح-ق / noun / plural: لَواحِق / definition: suffix

We’re all very familiar with ذا, whether we realise it or not. It’s a component of some of the first words we learn as Arabic students:

  • هٰذا (this)
  • ذٰلك (that)
  • ماذا (what)

…not to mention لذا (therefore) and هٰكذا (thus) and—a term I read for the first time a year or two ago, being the first word of a book I bought—هٰأنَذا (here I am).

On its own, ذا is a demonstrative pronoun meaning “this” or “that”. Its derivative, ذاكَ, has the same meaning.

The interesting thing about ذاكَ is that we can use it as a suffix on various words, where it can be translated as “(at) that…”:

  • آنَذاكَ and حينَذاكَ (then, at that time, that day)
  • إذ ذاكَ or إذّاكَ (then, at that time)
  • يَومَذاكَ (then, that day)

In this sense, it’s like the suffix ـئِذٍ:

  • آنَئِذٍ and حينَئِذٍ (then, at that time, that day)
  • يَومَئِذٍ (then, on that day)
  • عامَئِذٍ (in that year)
  • لَحظَتَئِذٍ (at that moment)
  • ساعَتَئِذٍ (in that hour)

I’m not sure if there’s a word for someone who’s fascinated by suffixes (maybe we’re just called linguists?)—but if there is, I’ll take it.

There’s just something about these tiny grammatical details in Arabic that makes you want to keep searching through the dictionary, looking for more examples of them.

Actually, writing this post has just reminded me to note down a topic I wanted to explore further (and mentioned briefly here): the little components like ها ذا لِـ and كَ and how they add layers of meaning, forming the subtle differences between هُناكَ هُنا and هُنالِكَ or ذاكَ ذا and ذٰلِكَ, for example.

Sounds like another post for another day!

For now though, مع السلامة!

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