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How widespread and for how long did this (-at in all positions) last? Could it be the reason why (feminine) Persian borrowings from Arabic end in -at?

The "Persians just like their feminine nouns in the construct state" argument doesn't convince me. The endings -e -a look/feel/sound more like native words than -at -et.

There is no particular reason for borrowings not to end in -e(h) or -a(h):

bâkere - virgin
bekârat - virginity

Both words could have easily have had a -t or -h ending.

sâniye - second (unit of time)
sanaviyyat - duality

(The -e(h) ending is actually the less ambiguous of the two, since -t/-at/-et is used as an enclitic for 2nd person singular. Although I don't know if this usage goes back to Persian of that era, I know other (West) Iranian languages also do that.)

Could Iranians have borrowed the -at words from contact with Shammari-like speakers?

My second question is regarding Q7:56:

raḥmat Allāhi "qarīb(un)"

which is unexpected to say the least.

Why do we see that form?

Your table for the paradigm is for nouns, how would the paradigm have been like for adjectives?


Thanks for these great questions!

First of all I should say that I've changed my mind quite a bit on what the orthography seems to suggest.

I don't think it's true that it's only religious vocabulary that has the construct phrases. It's actually surprisingly productive.

Instead we should conclude that the Quranic feminine ending was basically like it is in the modern dialects today. i.e. -ah in the definite and indefinite, while it is -at in the construct form. I discuss this argument in this twitter thread: https://twitter.com/i/moments/956633500878299136 (and in my forthcoming article on case, for which you'll have to wait a bit longer).


Now to your point about Persian. Yes, I have been wondering the same thing. I agree with you that assuming it is the construct form that is being generalized is unsatisfying.

It, in fact, not just Persian that shows a feminine ending -at in all contexts. Also Arabic loanwords in Berber quite consistently have this. And in Berber, they actually always have the definite article; therefore an analogy with the construct form is literally impossible, e.g. llilət 'night', ssənslət 'spine', lḥəṣbət 'pebbles', etc.

So, if Iranians borrowed from Shammari-like speakers, then the Berbers did so to. If that is the case, that suggests that Shammari-like dialects were actually extremely widespread. And there's the rub... Besides this 'Xeno-Arabic' evidence, there is very little evidence for such a situation -- at least in the Islamic period.

So the question then becomes: Is it realistic to assume that there was an Arabic variety, which was apparently very dominant and widespread among the conquerors, which left no noticeable trace in any actual 'Arabic' writing of the Islamic period.

I'm not sure what the answer is to that, but I agree with you that the Persian/Berber evidence needs a more satisfying explanation than we have now, if we do not argue for the presence of Shammari-like dialects.

Me and my colleague Adam Benkato discuss it briefly in footnote 10 in this article: https://www.academia.edu/7100430/The_Arabic_Strata_in_Awjila_Berber._In_Ahmad_Al-Jallad_ed._._Arabic_in_Context._Leiden_and_Boston_Brill_pp._476-502_2017_

To be continued :-)

My aim is to look more closely at Arabic loanwords in Persian soon; So I might develop a proper opinion soonish.

Q7:56 is surprising to me too. My best guess is that qarīb min has fossilized into a 'fixed prepositional phrase', and hence qarīb was no longer felt like an adjective. But not sure, and since it's the only time in the Quran the phrase is used, it's impossible to check.


You're not the first one to find this surprising!


With the caveat that the paradigm I would now reconstruct for the feminine, I would say the paradigm of the feminine adjectives would be identical to that of feminine nouns.


indefinite nom/acc/gen qarībah
definite nom/acc/gen al-qarībah
construct nom/acc/gen qarībat

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