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What is a kalima? Astarâbâdhî's Answer

Abstract : In his Sharh al-Kâfiya, Radî al-dîn al-Astarâbâdhî (d. 688/1289) considers the sentence Zaydun qâ'imun (" Zayd is standing ") in one case as being made up of two kalimât; in another, as being made up of four. This double counting shows that the kalima is neither a word nor a morpheme. In such a sentence, there would be two words (Zaydun and qâ'imun) and, at least, six morphemes (Zayd + u + n and qâ'im + u + n). Nevertheless, by criticizing the definition of the kalima given by Ibn al-Hâjib (d. 646/1249) as " an expression instituted for a single meaning ", Radî al-dîn al-Astarâbadhî reaches the concept of morpheme: not only the morphemes belonging to the concatenative morphology (stem and affixes), but also those belonging to the non-concatenative morphology (root and pattern). Finally, the only way to understand Radî al-dîn al-Astarâbadhî's double counting is to consider the kalima as a constituent of the utterance, which in its turn is divided into constituents. The principle of the segmentation is the distribution, which explains the fact that in one case an implicit element (al-damîr al-mustatir "the hidden pronoun ") is counted as a kalima.
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Contributor : Pierre Larcher <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 5:35:41 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:55:43 AM


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Pierre Larcher. What is a kalima? Astarâbâdhî's Answer. Giuliano Lancioni & Lidia Bettini. The word in Arabic, Brill, Leiden, pp.33-48, 2011, Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 62. ⟨halshs-00639788⟩



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