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Faṣīḥ

(4,439 words)

Author(s): Georgine Ayoub
Ibn Jinnī (d. 392/1002) defines grammar ( naḥw) as follows: “It is to follow the way the Arabs speak… so that the non-Arabs might have access to the Arabs' faṣāḥa” ( Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 34). More than a thousand years later, written Arabic is still called al-luġa al-fuṣḥā. This shows how the notion of faṣāḥa is an essential component of Arab language thinking. The root f-ṣ-ḥ is very ancient and is found in other Semitic languages. From f-ṣ-ḥ is derived fiṣḥ ‘Jewish Passover’, also ‘Christian Easter’ ( Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān, s.v.). In some Semitic languages, f-ṣ-ḥ is explicitly associated with somethi…
Date: 2018-04-01

Laḥn

(4,683 words)

Author(s): Georgine Ayoub
In Medieval Arabic texts laḥn is the key term to refer to linguistic mistakes. According to Fück (1955:205), who studied the term in detail, it is first attested in this sense after the advent of Islam, at the end of the 1st century A.H., but the term itself is older. The common element in all archaic examples is ‘leaning over; deviating’ ( māla ʾilā in Classical Arabic dictionaries). Another element in its meaning is the connection between laḥn and sound or voice. These two elements explain that in the earliest examples laḥn is used for any manner of speaking that deviates from the u…
Date: 2018-04-01

Tanwīn

(2,887 words)

Author(s): Georgine Ayoub
The term tanwīn (called in Western terminology ‘nunation’) is the maṣdar of the verb nawwana ‘adding an n’. At first, it indicated the nasalization of the final vowel of the word, especially in the case ending of the noun (e.g. rajulu-n). According to Ibn Yaʿīš (d. 643/1245; Šarḥ IX, 29), tanwīn became, due to metonymy, the actual name of the final -n. Arabic script differentiates this -n from the final n belonging to the root of the word (e.g. qaṭana, rasana), which is why tanwīn is not represented graphically as a letter of the alphabet. The value of this -n in traditional Arabic grammar tu…
Date: 2018-04-01