Saturday, 13 April 2013

How does Arabic poetry behave as rhetoric compared to Hebrew poetry?

Y'all know of course that Arabic and Hebrew are cognate languages.

Many Arabic and Hebrew words are the same. The prepositions and pronouns behave similarly, and verbal forms are not too dissimilar. E.g. your house:
Modern Standard Arabic certainly contains enclitic pronouns. These are pronouns that function syntactically like independent morphemes but which are phonologically dependent upon other morphemes. Enclitics come after their host morpheme (as opposed to proclitics and mesoclitics which do what their names imply). So, in Arabic you have bayt-u-ka (house-Nominative-marker-2nd person masculine singular pronoun) = your house. [from Dr. Marcus Tomalin via email.]
Another example is seen in the first word below: bismi - in the name of bi-sm-i. prefix b, the same as Hebrew meaning 'in', root sm, similar to the Hebrew shem, suffix i, like the Hebrew construct. The text below is the first four words of the Koran. In English: In the name of Allah, compassionate, merciful. [updated]

Over the past several weeks I have had conversations with a colleague about Arabic so I have begun to experiment a little. I have organized my software to present Arabic in its tables (having learned a little about the alphabet over the last week or two) so that I can perform some rhetorical analysis on the words, somewhat like this.


I haven't much data yet.  If you would like to submit some data, please leave me a comment. I need about 70 words to do a proper experiment. For each Arabic word, I need the word, and the root of the word in Arabic and in transcription (or do just the Arabic - I may be able to figure the transcription out myself - good exercise).


  1. If only there were Unicode unification of Hebrew and Arabic, so it could all magically become Square Script. Or even Rashi...

    1. Thanks for the comment, James. The Unicode is difficult. Unicode in the database is also inefficient, so I work with extended html - in decimal, but managed through some cleverly placed conversion routines in the software I am using. Still I hope this will be a fun exercise. Have you any suggestion for a larger example or the capacity to provide sample data?