Quadriliteral verbs (past)

Quadriliteral verbs are, strictly speaking, those verbs which have four root letters instead of the normal two – ترجم tarjam ‘translate’, for example, whose root is t-r-j-m. They only have two common forms, fa3lal and tfa3lal, which conjugate almost (but not quite) identically to sound triliteral form IIs and Vs. MSA has a lot of these quadriliteral verbs, and so does colloquial – in fact, they can be quite productive in deriving new words from imported or new vocabulary. My favourite example of this is سشور sashwar ‘blow-dry [hair]’, from سشوار seshwaar ‘hairdrier’, from French sèche-cheveux.

As well as ‘pure’ quadriliterals, there are many, many verbs, both in fuSHa and in 3aammiyye, which conjugate like quadriliteral verbs but are in some way derived from a triliteral root. An MSA example of this is تمحور tama7wara ‘revolve around’, which is derived from محور mi7war ‘axle, pivot’, which itself is derived from the root حور. Levantine Arabic has many, many patterns which produce verbs like this: fa3lan (صفرن Safran ‘turn pale’ < أصفر aSfar ‘yellow’), tfa3wal (ترقوص tra2waS ‘dance around’ < رقص ra2aS ‘dance’), fa3wal (نكوش nakwash ‘grub around’ < نكش nakash ‘search, rummage through’). We won’t bother going through all the different kinds here because they conjugate identically.

There are no assimilating, hollow or doubled quadriliteral verbs (or rather there are, but their weak consonants always appear as consonants and don’t do anything weird, so they conjugate exactly like their sound equivalents. There are, however, defective quadriliterals.

Form II sound quadriliterals

Form II sound quadriliterals have one possible internal vowelling, fa3lal:

ترجم tarjam
‘translate’

ana tarjamt

ترجمت

انا

inte tarjamt

ترجمت

انت

inti tarjamti

ترجمتي

انتي

huwwe tarjam

ترجم

هو

hiyye tarjamet

ترجمت

هي

ni7na tarjamna

ترجمنا

نحنا

intu tarjamtu

ترجمتو

انتو

hinen tarjamu

ترجمو

هنن

 

Suffixes simply attach directly, with no change to internal vowelling other than the expected stress change.

The final consonant of the root and the suffixes -t -t are often broken apart with a helping vowel: ترجمت tarjam@t

These verbs cannot take contracting -et. When a suffix beginning with a vowel is added after the -et suffix, it becomes -ét and takes the stress: ترجمته tarjaméto ‘she translated it’.

Form II defective quadriliterals

Form II defective quadriliterals have one possible internal vowelling, fa3la:

فرجى farja
‘to show’

ana farjeet

فرجيت

انا

inte farjeet

فرجيت

انت

inti farjeeti

فرجيتي

انتي

huwwe farja

فرجى

هو

hiyye farjet

فرجت

هي

ni7na farjeena

فرجينا

نحنا

intu farjeetu

فرجيتو

انتو

hinen farju

فرجو

هنن

 

Form V sound quadriliterals

Form V sound quadriliterals have one possible internal vowelling, tfa3lal:

تترجم ttarjam
‘be translated’

ana ttarjamt

تترجمت

انا

inte ttarjamt

تترجمت

انت

inti ttarjamti

تترجمتي

انتي

huwwe ttarjam

تترجم

هو

hiyye ttarjamet

تترجمت

هي

ni7na ttarjamna

تترجمنا

نحنا

intu ttarjamtu

تترجمتو

انتو

hinen ttarjamu

تترجمو

هنن

Many form V quadriliterals are passives of their form II equivalents: تتجرم ttarjam ‘be translated’. Some are verbs of behaviour: تمنيك على tmanyak 3ala ‘fuck X about’ (many of these are derived using one of the additional forms like tfa3lan: تحيون t7eewan ‘act like an idiot’ < حيوان ‘animal’).

The final consonant of the root and the suffixes -t -t are often broken apart with a helping vowel: تترجمت ttarjam@t.