FuSHa to Shami 14: iDaafe and possession

As we all know from fuSHa, two or more nouns can be put into a possessive structure by simply sticking them alongside one another in iDaafe (اضافة), literally ‘addition’ and fiddling about with the case and tanwiin suffixes. The absence of case suffixes and tanwiin makes this much simpler in Shami. Nouns that do not end with the suffix ـة do not typically change at all when placed into iDaafe with another noun, other than predictable addition of helping vowels:

مكتب احمد maktab a7mad ‘Ahmed’s office’

اسم حبيبتي is@m 7abiibti ‘my lover’s name’

The ending ـة -a/e always turns into -et on the first term of iDaafe (rather than –at- as in fuSHa). In line with the normal rules of vowel dropping, this can sometimes contract to simply -t before vowels:

قطة اختي ‪2aTTet ékhti ‘my sister’s cat’

مدرسة احمد madras(e)t a7mad ‘Ahmad’s school’

As in fuSHa, the iDaafe can express all sorts of different relationships alongside possession:

كيس النايلون kiis énnaaylon ‘the plastic bag’

كاسة مي kaaset moyy ‘a glass of water’

بيت المخدة beet lémkhadde ‘the pillowcase’

رخصة سواقة rékhSet @swaa2a ‘driving licence’

As in fuSHa, only the final term of iDaafe can take a definite article. But in Syrian, the contracted ‘this/that’ hal-, which is clearly derived from the definite article, can appear at the beginning of an iDaafe as well:

هلكاسة المي halkaast élmoyy ‘this glass of water’

Possessive pronouns

As well as being placed in iDaafe with other nouns, nouns can take possessive pronoun suffixes which attach directly to the end of the word. The suffixes are as follows:

ana: -i/yi
inte: -ak/k
inti: -ek/ki
huwwe: -o/h
hiyye: -(h)a
ni7na: -na
intu: -kon, -kum
hinne/hum: -(h)on, -hum

-hum and -kum are Jor/Pal, -(h)on and -kon are found everywhere except Jordan but are more common in Syr/Leb. The forms -i, -ak, -ek, -o are attached to nouns ending in consonants; -yi, -k, -ki and -h to nouns ending in vowels:

كلبي كلبك كلبك كلبو kalbi kalbak kalbek kalbo ‘my, your, your, his dog’

مصاريي, مصاريك, مصاريكي, مصاريه maSaariyyi, maSaariik, maSaariiki, maSaarii ‘my, your, your, his money’

The forms -(h)a -(h)on usually drop the initial h. This usually does not affect the stress (the word is still stressed as though the h were still there) but for many Syrians it does:

ريحتها rii7ét-ha, rii7ét-a, rii7t-a ‘her smell’

When a suffix beginning with a consonant is attached to the ة, it is stressed and becomes –ét-:

دفعتكون daf3ét-kon ‘your payment’

When suffixes beginning with vowels are added to any noun, they trigger the usual vowel dropping:

مشيتو mashitomashyet-o ‘his walk’

كاتبو kaatbo ‘its writer’

Double object construction

As with the objects of verbs, speakers often use a ‘double possessive’ where a pronoun appears on the possessed noun and the possessor is then preceded by la-. This seems to happen particularly frequently with personal relationships but also appears elsewhere. It is important not to mistake these constructions for two separate elements of the sentence (‘her brother, to Nisreen’ rather than Nisreen’s brother):

اخوا لنسرين akhuwwa la-nisriin – Nisreen’s brother

رفيقو لمجيد rfii2o la-majiid – Majeed’s friend

1 comment

  1. Chris, I’m really enjoying this series. In fact, I’ve sent all of the installments so far to the director of the summer Arabic program at the American University of Beirut so that the teachers there can use it as a reference guide. Now, about الإضافة in Levantine varieties of Arabic, are you going to give a separate session on that peculiarly Syro-Iraqi possessive using l- on the second noun? For example, bayy-a la-nisriin ‘Nisreen’s father’ (lit. ‘her father of Nisreen’)?

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