Arabic Observations: “Seeking” in Arabic and Turkish


root: ل-غ-و / nisba adjective / definition: linguistic

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this Arabic Observations post for a while, but I was unsure whether it’s too small of an observation to be added to this series.

I’ve since concluded, however, that no linguistic observation is too small to be noted. (It also helps that it’s something small this week, as I’m in a bit of a rush to get this posted before heading out!)

Let’s start with a quick revision of the form X verb in Arabic:

  • form X verbs follow the pattern اِستَفعَلَ in the past tense, and يَستَفعِلُ in the present tense—the verbal noun follows the pattern اِستِفعال
  • form X verbs typically have a meaning related to seeking, for example:
    • اِستَفسَرَ = to seek an explanation
    • اِستَمطَرَ = to ask for rain
    • اِستَكشَفَ = to explore (to seek to discover)

So, the key way to identify form X verbs in their stripped form (i.e. the past tense, third person, masculine, singular conjugation) is the اِسْتَـ prefix, before the three root letters.

Learning these important points about form X verbs, my brain formed a connection between them and the Turkish verb for “to want” or “to seek“: istemek.

İstemek is the مصدر here; when the verb is conjugated, what we see are the letters iste(or isti- in some conjugations) followed by a suffix indicating the person and mood.

So naturally, the Arabic form X prefix اِستَـ became associated in my mind with the Turkish verb stem iste– (which is how اِستَـ would be transliterated in Turkish anyway)—not just because they sound (almost) identical, but because they both carry the meaning of “seeking”!

Also note that the form X verbal noun prefix اِستِـ is phonetically comparable to the Turkish isti-, which is used instead of iste– in some conjugations for the continuous.

Coincidence? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

!إلى اللقاء

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