K-T-B

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K-T-B is a triconsonantal root of a number of Semitic words, typically those having to do with writing.

The words for "office", "writer" and "record" all reflect this root. Most notably, the Arabic word kitab ("book") is also used in a number of Semitic and Indo-Iranian languages, as well as Turkish. One cultural example would be the Mishnaic expression Katuv or the cognate Arabic expression transliterated as Maktoub, which may be translated as "it is written". Another would be the Koutoubia mosque of Marrakech, whose name is taken from the librarians and booksellers who once occupied that area.

Arabic derivatives[edit]

A full account of derivatives could be extensive, but some of them are these:

kataba كَتَبَ or كتب "he wrote" (masculine)
katabat كَتَبَت or كتبت "she wrote" (feminine)
katabtu كَتَبْتُ or كتبت "I wrote" (f and m)
kutiba كُتِبَ or كتب "it was written" (masculine)
kutibat كُتِبَت or كتبت "it was written" (feminine)
katabū كَتَبُوا or كتبوا "they wrote" (masculine)
katabna كَتَبْنَ or كتبن "they wrote" (feminine)
katab كَتَبْنَا or كتبنا "we wrote" (f and m)
yaktub(u) يَكْتُب or يكتب "he writes" (masculine)
taktub(u) تَكْتُب or تكتب "she writes" (feminine)
naktub(u) نَكْتُب or نكتب "we write" (f and m)
aktub(u) أَكْتُب or أكتب "I write" (f and m)
yuktab(u) يُكْتَب or يكتب "being written" (masculine)
tuktab(u) تُكتَب or تكتب "being written" (feminine)
yaktubūn(a) يَكْتُبُونَ or يكتبون "they write" (masculine)
yaktubna يَكْتُبْنَ or يكتبن "they write" (feminine)
taktubna تَكْتُبْنَ or تكتبن "you write" (feminine)
yaktubān(i) يَكْتُبَانِ or يكتبان "they both write" (masculine) (for 2 males)
taktubān(i) تَكْتُبَانِ or تكتبان "they both write" (feminine) (for 2 females)
kātaba ##### or ##### "he exchanged letters (with sb.)"
yukātib(u) ##### "he exchanges (with sb.)"
yatakātabūn(a) يَتَكَاتَبُونَ or يتكاتبون "they write to each other" (masculine)
iktataba اِكْتَتَبَ or اكتتب "he is registered" (intransitive) or "he contributed (a money quantity to sth.)" (ditransitive) (the first t is part of a particular verbal transfix, not part of the root)
istaktaba اِسْتَكْتَبَ or استكتب "to cause to write (sth.)"
kitāb كِتَاب or كتاب "book" (the hyphen shows end of stem before various case endings)
kutub كُتُب or كتب "books" (plural)
kutayyib كُتَيِّب or كتيب "booklet" (diminutive)
kitābat كِتَابَة or كتابة "writing"
kātib كاتِب or كاتب "writer" (masculine)
kātibat كاتِبة or كاتبة "writer" (feminine)
kātibūn(a) كاتِبونَ or كاتبون "writers" (masculine)
kātibāt كاتِبات or كاتبات "writers" (feminine)
kuttāb كُتاب or كتاب "writers" (broken plural)
katabat كَتَبَة or كتبة "clerks" (broken plural)
maktab مَكتَب or مكتب "desk" or "office"
makātib مَكاتِب or مكاتب "desks" or "offices"
maktabat مَكتَبة or مكتبة "library" or "bookshop"
maktūb مَكتوب or مكتوب "written" (participle) or "postal letter" (noun)
katībat كَتيبة or كتيبة "squadron" or "document"
katā’ib كَتائِب or كتائب "squadrons" or "documents"
iktitāb اِكتِتاب or اكتتاب "registration" or "contribution of funds"
muktatib مُكتَتِب or مكتتب "subscription"
istiktāb اِستِكتاب or استكتاب "causing to write"

Hebrew derivatives[edit]

The same root in present in Hebrew (where it appears as k-t-ḇ):

katati כתבתי "I wrote"
katata כתבת "you (m) wrote"
kata כתב "he wrote"
katta כתב "reporter" (m)
katteet כתבת "reporter" (f)
kattaa כתבה "article" (plural kataḇot כתבות)
miḵta מכתב "postal letter" (plural miḵtaim מכתבים)
miḵtaa מכתבה "writing desk" (plural miḵtaot מכתבות)
ktoet כתובת "address" (plural ktoot כתובות)
kta כתב "handwriting"
katu כתוב "written" (f ktua כתובה)
hiḵti הכתיב "he dictated" (f hiḵtiḇa הכתיבה)
hitkatte התכתב "he corresponded (f hitkatḇa התכתבה)
niḵta נכתב "it was written" (m)
niḵtea נכתבה "it was written" (f)
kti כתיב "spelling" (m)
taḵti תכתיב "prescript" (m)
meutta מכותב "addressee" (meutteet מכותבת f)
ktubba כתובה "ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract)" (f) (note: b here, not )

The Hebrew fricatives transcribed as "" and "" can also be transcribed in a number of other ways, such as "ch" and "v" (Eastern-European influenced), which are pronounced [χ] and [v], respectively. They are transliterated "" and "" on this page to retain the connection with the pure consonantal root k-t-b. Also notice that in Modern Hebrew, there is no gemination. In Hebrew, the root is used with the meaning of 'writing' but not for the noun for 'book', which is sefer. To a lesser extent in Hebrew, the word "Katuv" as a noun refers to the Tanakh.

Contrastive Arabic-Hebrew[edit]

A contrastive presentation of part of this can be as follows:

Semitological abbreviation Hebrew name Arabic name Morphological category Hebrew Form Arabic form Approximate translation
G verb stem Pa‘al (or Qal) fa‘ala
فَعَلَ
(Stem I)
3rd. masc. sing perfect kataḇ כתב kataba كتب "he wrote"
1st. plur. perfect kataḇnu כתבנו katabnā كتبنا "we wrote"
3rd. masc. sing. imperfect yiḵtoḇ יכתוב yaktubu يكتب "he writes, will write"
1st. plur. imperfect niḵtoḇ נכתוב naktubu نكتب "we write, will write"
masc. sing. active participle koteḇ כותב kātib كاتب "writer"
Š verb stem Hip̄‘il af‘ala
أَفْعَلَ
(Stem IV)
3rd. masc. sing perfect hiḵtiḇ הכתיב aktaba أكتب "he dictated"
3rd. masc. sing. imperfect yaḵtiḇ יכתיב yuktibu يكتب "he dictates, will dictate"
Št(D) verb stem Hitpa‘‘el istaf‘ala
استَفْعَلَ
(Stem X)
3rd. masc. sing perfect hitkatteḇ התכתב istaktaba استكتب "he corresponded" (Hebrew), "he asked (someone) to write (something), had a copy made" (Arabic)
3rd. masc. sing. imperfect yitkatteḇ יתכתב yastaktibu يستكتب (imperfect of above)
Noun with m- prefix and original short vowels: maf‘al
مَفْعَل
singular miḵtaḇ מכתב maktab مكتب "letter" (Hebrew), "office" (Arabic)

Other languages[edit]

In Tigrinya and Amharic, this root survives only in the noun kitab, meaning "amulet", and the verb "to vaccinate". Ethiopic-derived languages use a completely different root (ṣ-ḥ-f) for the verb "to write" (this root exists in Arabic and is used to form words with a close meaning to "writing", such as ṣaḥāfa "journalism", and ṣaḥīfa "newspaper" or "parchment"). In Persian, the word Kitab is used to refer to a religious text only.