ʾAsmāʾ al-fiʿl: The Arab Grammarians’ Views on Their Classification

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ʾAsmāʾ al-fiʿl (lit. ‘verb's names’) are interjections conveying meanings characteristic to verbs. This article explores medieval grammarians’ views on ʾasmāʾ al-fiʿl, focusing on strategies used by the grammarians to accommodate these expressions in their theory of the parts of speech. I begin by discussing ʾasmāʾ al-fiʿl's problematic status in light of the grammarians' definitions of the parts of speech. I demonstrate, inter alia, that the criteria used to determine the categorical identity of ʾasmāʾ al-fiʿl are not necessarily those appearing in the accepted definitions of a noun and a verb. I then argue that the understanding of this categorical identity can be helped, at least in some cases, by elucidating the notions of ʿadl ‘transformation’ and naql ‘(semantic) transfer’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-101
Number of pages31
JournalZeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik
StatePublished - 2021


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