Talk:Semitic root

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Linguistics (Rated C-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Linguistics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of linguistics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.


I think we should convert the text on this page to IPA or some other more consistent transcription system.

IbnBatriq 16:46, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Definitely. I'd do it myself if I knew any Hebrew or Arabic. —Keenan Pepper 02:27, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

The Arabic is already in IPA, except that an informal transcription ` is used for the `ayn consonant ع (but only in the grammatical stem-names, not in the example forms), and long-vowels are shown doubled (which will display on a wider range of browsers). If the Hebrew were put into IPA, then you'd have to address the issue of exactly which form of Hebrew you're transcribing (a problem which is pretty much successfully fudged at present), and it would obscure the relationship between spirantized (i.e. fricative) and non-spirantized (stop) consonant quasi-allophones in different derivations from the same root (as explained in the italicized note near the bottom of the table). AnonMoos 18:02, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Arabic stem names[edit]

I think that standard Arabic terminology refers to verbal forms by their perfect conjugation rather than their imperfect, ie fa'ala rather than yaf'alu, af'ala rather than yuf'ilu 21:45, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

It's certainly the perfect forms of each stem which are more often listed in Arabic-English dictionaries, but I read once that native Arabic grammarians more often used the imperfect as shorthand to refer to all forms derived from a given root and stem. But I don't absolutely know for sure. AnonMoos 02:30, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Being bold and changing it to the perfect. I learned Arabic in Arabic school, and we learned the awzan as perfect. Lockesdonkey 01:54, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Gt Stem[edit]

I think Hitpa‘‘el isn't an Št verb stem (causative reciprocal). It's a Gt stem which corresponds with Arabic Stem V (reciprocal/reflexive). --Xevorim (talk) 18:01, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

However, the Hitpa``el has the same "h" consonant which corresponds with Akkadian etc. Š in the Hiph`il. The Hebrew Hitpa``el probably represents a historical merger of several earlier Semitic stems (including some which roughly corresponded with classical Arabic stems V and X), but I'm not sure why you use the formula "Gt" when both the Arabic Hitpa``el and Arabic stem V have doubled second radical consonants. I chose to compare the Hitpa``el and Arabic stem X here because Arabic root k-t-b does not appear to have a commonly-used Stem V verb form... AnonMoos (talk) 14:55, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Sure, but your etymological justification (which is hidden from view on this Talk page) doesn't change the fact that the two forms (Hitpa``el and Form X) are now completely unrelated in both form and usage! All this has done is confuse visitors to this page and provide them with wrong information (which looks suspiciously like original research.) The extant Hebrew Hitpa``el corresponds in both form and meaning to Arabic Form V. Arabic Form V is the reflexive of Form II, which has a doubled root letter. It is formed by the prefix T- added to Form II. Hitpa``el is similarly the grammatical "reflexive" of the Pi``el, with the prefix hi-T- added to a modified Pi``el stem, which has a doubled second root letter. Arabic Form X is the "considerative" or the "self-seeking" form, which has nothing to do with the inchoative/reflexive Hitpa``el, or with the intensive. Your references to Akkadian here are irrelevant, since no Akkadian verbs are listed in this chart. I suggest using a different stem that has a Form V and Hitpa``el meaning, or using an "invented" stem to explain this concept to the learners who will be using this page. Loewejelen (talk) 13:48, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
First, labels such as "Gt" originated from the study of Akkadian grammar, and are almost always etymological when referring to non-Akkadian languages. Second, I would very strongly recommend that we NOT use an invented artificial root, because the meaning differences between stems are not always consistent or predictable, so it would be a blatant brazen act of original research to assign meanings to the various different stems and derivatives of the invented artificial root. I'm open to suggestions for real dictionary-listed roots to use other than k-t-b, but k-t-b actually has several advantages. And the Hitpa``el is the stem in Hebrew which most closely corresponds to Arabic stem X, so I don't think there's a major problem with putting them in the same row of a chart like this. (Of course, stem X may not be the stem in Arabic which most closely corresponds to the Hebrew Hitpa``el, but you can't always have everything...) -- AnonMoos (talk) 04:24, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

Clarification on traditional 4-consonant maximum[edit]

Note that I'm not including some scattered forms in certain early Semitic languages which were based on reduplicating the last two root consonants of a triliteral as being quinqueliteral in any useful or relevant sense (the last two consonants of such forms could be considered to be derivational rather than basic)... AnonMoos (talk) 22:25, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Not new[edit]

Zuckermann's remarks are similar to those made in the 1880's by Germans. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:43, 17 November 2009 (UTC) See Gesenius, 1910, page 99. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:53, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Gesenius seems to think that only one type of shift is possible, such as k to g. Actually, the opposite is also possible.
Of course, we are guessing about the distant past, with the 2-consonant stems and their affinity in some cases. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:34, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Alphabetical order of the "See Also" section[edit]

Please take care of the fact that the alphabetical order for "Khuzdul" may not be appliable for linguistics privacy reasons: i.e. "untranslatable".
AnonMoos pointed out in his good faith undoing edit that took place about five days ago:

"rv - Khuzdul rather different than the other links".

Thanks for your attention.
Maurice Carbonaro (talk) 09:00, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

I have no idea what "privacy"(??) has to do with anything, but all the other terms in the see-also list are linguistics terminology, while Khuzdul is a semi-obscure "art language" which Tolkien briefly sketched in, but never fully developed. Therefore it's quite appropriate that it should follow the others on the list... AnonMoos (talk) 11:20, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

V as BH?[edit]

Why does it show לכתוב in its various forms transliterated as a bh rather than a v? Liktov, Ani kotev, catavti, ani ektov, etc. It's clearly a v. What is this bh business? Although some words with vet can have it become bet, I don't think that's every the case with כ.ת.ב. (messes up the periods), and it certainly isn't the case in the verb examples given. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie Say Shalom! 02:16, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Did you look at the italicized note at the bottom of the table? -- AnonMoos (talk) 05:04, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
That I did not good sir, so I have egg on my face for that. xD Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie Say Shalom! 05:14, 7 May 2011 (UTC)


Why is the article title "Semtitic" Root? While I understand that this is a feature of Semitic languages, it is also a feature of other Afroasiatic langauges, such as the Egyptian language, which is not a Semtitic language. To me, it would make more sense for the page to be titled something like "Triliteral Root" or something else. (talk) 22:32, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

It was originally two separate articles "Triliteral" and "Quadriliteral", before these were merged and consolidated by User:Dbachmann. Anyway, while it could be considered theoretically "unfair" to non-Semitic branches, the system is rather obscured or residual in a number of modern branches of Afroasiatic, with little direct evidence to tell us what the situation was in ancient times. The only non-Semitic Afroasiatic language with solid information available from ancient times is Egyptian, and the complete lack of vowels in Egyptian writing makes it difficult to understand many of the details of how the root system worked in the ancient Egyptian language. The languages with a well-developed consonantal root system which currently have the largest numbers of speakers, as well as the prominent written cultural languages encountered by Europeans before the 19th century (Hebrew, Arabic, etc.) are all Semitic (as far as I know)... AnonMoos (talk) 10:05, 9 November 2011 (UTC) is obviously not familiar with allegedly Afro-Asiatic languages such as Somali. This has nothing like Semitic roots. It often has stable vowels in roots. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:01, 10 December 2014 (UTC)


Traditionally in the Semitic languages, forms with more than four basic consonants (i.e. consonants not introduced by morphological inflection or derivation) were occasionally found in nouns — mainly loanwords from other languages — but never in verbs, which is the case in Arabic in which can have up to 5 letters root words but never more than 4 letter root words.

I reverted this addition because it's incoherent. Does someone know what it was trying to say? —Tamfang (talk) 21:01, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Probably the last "words" at the end was intended to be "verbs"... AnonMoos (talk) 15:55, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

you're confused[edit]

The triliteral root system and the stem system are two different things. The triliteral root system is based on which three letters represent a specific meaning. The stem system applies regardless of what letters represent the meaning. What you write about under triliteral and biliteral roots is the stem system. You need to be writing about what Hebrew calls peh yod or ayin vav or lamed heh in the triliteral section. (talk) 13:12, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

There are the abstract consonant-only roots, and then there are the ways that such consonantal roots are used to form actual words which are found in dictionaries. I don't see any confusion in the article, or see how discussing particularities of Hebrew verb conjugation would improve it. AnonMoos (talk) 13:36, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
then go back to Hebrew class and ask a professor. (talk) 13:53, 6 January 2016 (UTC)

most productive roots[edit]

We should add what the most productive roots are, i.e. using the most possible forms and meanings by using the most حركات, giving rise to the most verbal forms, different مصدر, the most homographs etc. A page with similar content for English is

Thank you so much in advance. Backinstadiums (talk) 09:42, 17 November 2016 (UTC)

This would be different for different languages (and maybe not fully ascertainable for some ancient languages). The term "masdar" doesn't have much meaning outside of Arabic... AnonMoos (talk) 17:31, 18 November 2016 (UTC)