Arabic Observations: More Word Twins

مَزيد

root: ز-ي-د / noun / definition: more


Over two years ago, I wrote about a phenomenon which I like to call “word twins” in an Arabic Observations post. In summary:

[…] there are some Arabic words you’ll find that have essentially the same meaning, but they differ by a single letter. Sometimes it’ll be similar sounding letters and other times not, and sometimes they’ll occupy the same page in the dictionary (like if they differ in their final letters) and other times not.

Arabic Observations: Word Twins

So, to give the example from that post, the words بُقعة and رُقعة both mean “patch” or ”plot of land”. Both nouns also have plurals in the same two patterns: the plural of بقعة is بُقَع or بِقاع, and the plural of رقعة is either رُقَع or رِقاع.

(Cf. Arabic Observations: Same Root Letters, Different Sequence.)

I’ve come across many more word twins since writing that post and, as always, I’d love to share my dictionary discoveries with you, my fellow Arabic nerds!

Here are some of my recent finds:

اِلتَطَمَ / اِرتَطَمَ

These form VIII verbs, from the roots ل-ط-م and ر-ط-م both mean “to collide/crash”. Both roots are also associated with the crashing of waves.

Side note: from the root ل-ط-م, we get the noun لَطيم (“parentless”) too, which sounds very similar to يَتيم (“orphan”).

شَعبَذَ / شَعوَذَ

The form I quadriliteral verbs شَعبَذَ/يُشَعبِذُ and شَعوَذَ/يُشَعوِذُ both mean “to practice jugglery/magic”, and differ in terms of their third root letter.

Additionally, their verbal nouns follow the same pattern: شَعبَذة and شَعوَذة.

ضَجّة / لَجّة

Under both of these nouns in the dictionary, if you search for the roots ض-ج-ج and ل-ج-ج, you’ll find a shared list of definitions: “clamor, noise, din, hubbub”.

The root ل-ج-ج is actually quite an interesting one, especially if you compare its derivatives لُجّ and لُجّيّ to the others. Go and explore.

خِضَمّ / غِطَمّ

This one feels a little like cheating because these adjectives differ in both their first and second root letters (خ-ض-م vs. غ-ط-م).

However, seeing as they share a meaning and form and غ/خ and ض/ط have similar phonetic features, they’re—at a minimum—siblings.

خِضَمّ and غِطَمّ both carry the meaning of “vast”, in the context of the ocean. The Hans Wehr mentions خضم can be used as a noun too, to mean “sea/ocean”.

You might also notice that roots with either و or ي as their second or third root letter can be either listed in the dictionary as one entry or two. And you may find word twins within their derivatives.

For example, the form I and II verbs derived from the roots ط-و-ح and ط-ي-ح (which are listed separately in the Hans Wehr) have identical meanings:

  • the form I verbs طاحَ/يَطوح (from ط-و-ح) and طاحَ/يَطيح (from ط-ي-ح) mean “to get lost”
  • and their form II verbs طَوَّحَ/يُطَوِّح and طَيَّحَ/يُطَيِّح both mean “to cause something to get lost”

I just can’t help but feel a spark of joy when I come across these word pairs in the dictionary. Typical linguist, I am.

On another note, my lovely little class and I are already in the last ten days of our stay in Amman and I am not ready to even think about leaving. I think I’ll be planning another trip to Jordan before I head home from this one!

See you tomorrow for the latest addition to the Wehr Wednesdays series, إلى اللقاء!



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