Arabic Grammar – 69

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►II.17. PAUSAL FORMS

§A. Arabic words have different pausal and junctional forms. This is true only for Standard Arabic words. The modern spoken dialects of Arabic mostly do not have any distinction between pausal and junctional forms.

The junctional forms of words are, of course, the original forms. The pausal forms arose because of apocope, that is, loss of terminal short vowels. Since the Arabic stress does not fall on ultimate syllables, this facilitated their apocope.

§B. The basic rule of pause in the standard form of Arabic is that ultimate unstressed syllables that are light CV are reduced at pause to C, and ultimate unstressed syllables that are heavy CVV, CVC remain intact.

The following examples demonstrate the pausal and junctional forms of some words.

Junctional form Pausal form Meaning
صَحْرَاْءُ صَحْرَاْءْ a desert (nom.)
ṣaħ.ˈrȃ.ʔu ṣaħ.ˈrȃʔ
صَحْرَاْءَ صَحْرَاْءْ a desert (obl.)
ṣaħ.ˈrȃ.ʔa ṣaħ.ˈrȃʔ
ثَمَّ ثَمّْ there
ˈθam.ma θamm
نَحْنُ نَحْنْ we
ˈnaħ.nu naħn
لَهُ لَهْ to/for him
ˈla.hu lah
أَنَاْ أَنَاْ I
ˈʔa. ˈʔa.
نَعَمْ نَعَمْ yes
ˈna.ʕam ˈna.ʕam

§C. An exception to the basic rule stated above concerns nouns with the case-inflected ending –Vṋ (where V is a case-inflected short vowel). This ending is found in singular and feminine sound plural substantives and non-finite verbs. At pause the nominative ending –uṋ and genitive ending –iṋ are lost, while the accusative ending –aṋ becomes –ȃ.

Junctional form Pausal form Meaning
يَوْمٌ يَوْمْ a day (nom.)
ˈyaw.muṋ yawm
يَوْمٍ يَوْمْ a day (gen.)
ˈyaw.miṋ yawm
يَوْمًا يَوْمَاْ a day (acc.)
ˈyaw.maṋ yaw.
وَلَدٌ وَلَدْ a child, boy (nom.)
ˈwa.la.duṋ ˈwa.lad
وَلَدٍ وَلَدْ a child, boy (gen.)
ˈwa.la.diṋ ˈwa.lad
وَلَدًا وَلَدَاْ a child, boy (acc.)
ˈwa.la.daṋ ˈwa.la.

§D. The pausal rule of the tied tȃʔ الْتَّاْءُ المَرْبُوْطَةُ which was explained in §II.6. is also an exception to the basic pausal rule, as can be seen from the following examples.

Junctional form Pausal form Meaning
مُعَلِّمَةٌ مُعَلِّمَه a female teacher (nom.)
mu.ʕal.ˈli.ma.·tuṋ mu.ʕal.ˈli.ma
مُعَلِّمَةٍ مُعَلِّمَه a female teacher (gen.)
mu.ʕal.ˈli.ma.·tiṋ mu.ʕal.ˈli.ma
مُعَلِّمَةً مُعَلِّمَه a female teacher (acc.)
mu.ʕal.ˈli.ma.·taṋ mu.ʕal.ˈli.ma
فَتَاْةٌ فَتَاْه a young woman (nom.)
fa.ˈtȃ.·tuṋ fa.ˈtȃ
فَتَاْةٍ فَتَاْه a young woman (gen.)
fa.ˈtȃ.·tiṋ fa.ˈtȃ
فَتَاْةً فَتَاْه a young woman (acc.)
fa.ˈtȃ.·taṋ fa.ˈtȃ

From the above examples it can be seen that the syllable of the tied tȃʔ is dropped completely at pause, no matter what the case is.

§E. The following table summarizes everything that has been said about pausal forms:

Junctional form Pausal form
CV C
CVV CVV
CVC CVC
Cuṋ (nom.) C
Ciṋ (gen.) C
Caṋ (acc.)
·tuṋ
·tiṋ
–·taṋ

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