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faʿalūt – An enigmatic noun pattern in Classical Arabic and its Implications for the Question of Aramaic-Arabic Language Contact

Stefan Weninger

Pages 5 - 22


In Aramaic word formation the suffix -ūṯ is a very productive means to create abstract nouns, e.g. malkā ‚king‘ > malkūṯā ‚kingdom‘. The status of the suffix -ūt in Arabic is disputed. According to some authors it occurs only in Arabic loanwords; others admit that it might have become productive in Arabic. Adducing empirical data from Classical Arabic literature it can be demonstrated that the use of -ūt is mostly restricted to nouns of the pattern faʿal and that the resulting pattern faʿalūt is applied to many roots that are not attested in Aramaic. Hence, although it is not a common phenomenon, it is productive in Arabic, and probably the pattern faʿalūt existed in Arabic already before the spread of Arabic in early Islam which resulted in large scale contact with Aramaic.


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