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Al-Mustansiriyah University
College of Arts
Translation Department
Asst. Prof. Ahmed Qadoury Abed, Ph D
Fourth Year/ Morning & Evening Classes
Lecture # 25
Postmodification in Arabic
Arabic postmodification can be realized by
1- Adjectives
2- Participles
3- Relative clauses
4- Prepositional phrases
5- Genitives
6- Noun clauses
postmodifers, and this is the main translation problem. Arabic
adjectives postmodify their head and agree with it in number,
gender, case , and definiteness. For example, ‫ رجل طويل‬/a tall man
and ‫امراة طويلة‬/ a tall woman where ‘tall’ is used for both male and
female reference whereas two different forms in Arabic . Further
examples are ‫ النساء الطويالت‬/‫ الرجال الطوال‬/ ‫ امراتان طويلتان‬/ ‫رجالن طويالن‬
and their translations are two tall men/ two tall women/ tall men
and tall women.
Arabic adjectives can be divided into subjective and objective. The
former expresses the attitude of the speaker and is non-defining, a
point of similarity between English and Arabic subjective
adjectives. For example
‫ المراة الجميلة‬/ ‫الرجل العاقل‬and their
counterparts are ‘ the wise man’ and ‘ the beautiful girl’. Objective
adjectives normally describe a property of the head and help
modify it. They are subdivided into :
1- denominal adjectives derived by adding ‫ ي‬to the nouns as in
‫ اجتماعي‬/‫اجتماع‬
2-style adjective like ‫ قبطي‬/ ‫عراقي‬
3- colour adjective like ‫ ابيض‬/ ‫هحمر‬
4-age adjectives like ‫ كهل‬/ ‫ كبير‬/ ‫صغير‬
5- size adjectives like ‫ صغير‬/ ‫ كبير‬/ ‫واسع‬
6- shape adjectives like ‫ طويل‬/ ‫ قصير‬/ ‫مربع‬
Arabic participles are of two types : ‫ اسم الفاعل‬and ‫ اسم المفعول‬.The first
,which may be called the present participle , has the form ‫ فاعل‬as
in ‫عامل‬/ ‫ كاتب‬if it is derived from a trilateral verb and the form ‫مفاعل‬
as in ‫ مهاجم‬/ ‫ مسافر‬if it is derived from a quadrilateral verb. The
present participle in Arabic like ‫مسافر‬has the sense of ‫رجل مسافر‬,
and ‫ مسافرة‬into ‫ امراة مسافرة‬. ‫ اسم المفعول‬may be called past participle
and has the form ‫ مفعول‬as in ‫ مكسور‬/ ‫ مقتول‬. These two types of
participles in Arabic behave like adjectives and therefore agree
with their head noun in number, gender, case, and definiteness.
Examples are ‫ رجال‬/‫ امراتان مقاتلتان‬/ ‫ رجالن مقاتالن‬/ ‫ امراة مقاتلة‬/ ‫رجل مقاتل‬
‫ نساء مقاتالت‬/ ‫مقاتلون‬.
Relative clauses in Arabic are of two types: the first kind is
introduced by a relative pronoun (.....‫ اولئك‬/‫ اللذان‬/ ‫ التي‬/ ‫ )الذي‬and has a
definite antecedent:
- ‫يعيش في البيت الذي بناه ابوه‬
- ‫قرات الكتب التي اشتريتها قبل عام‬
- ‫جاء الطالب الذين اردت مقابلتهم‬
The second kind of relative clausesis introduced by zero pronoun
and has an indefinite antecedent
-‫عاش في بيت صغير كان قد بناه والده‬
‫ ثم دخل رجل مسن لم اره من قبل‬‫ هذا اخي الذي كتب الرواية‬‫ هذه امي التي علمتني الصدق‬‫ هذا القطار الذي وقف بجانب الرصيف‬For prepositional phrase, a noun head may be postmodified by a
prepositional phrase :
- ‫الطريق الى الكلية‬
- ‫نصر العراق في الجنوب‬
- ‫فريق االمم المتحدة في جنوب لبنان‬
- ‫كتاب في النحو‬
Comparative constructions are often postmodified by prepositional
- ‫هذا افضل مكان للقراءة‬
- ‫هذا احسن كتاب في الشتاء‬
- ‫جوسر اعظم شاعر قبل النهضة‬
For genitives, nouns in genitives state or ‫ االضافة‬are realized by the
process of juxtaposition, i.e., the two nouns are place together and
the second is governed in the genitive case ‫حالة الجر‬.
grammarians distinguish two types of :‫االضافة‬
- ‫االضافة الحقيقية او المحضة او المعنوية‬
- ‫االضافة غير الحقيقية او غير المحضة او اللفظية‬
In the real genitive ‫ االضافة الحقيقية‬the two juxtaposed items are :
Real nouns
The first is always devoid of the definite article
The second item may be definite or indefinite and is
always placed in the genitive case
- ‫كتاب زيد‬
- ‫حر الصيف‬
- ‫فستان حرير‬
- ‫خاتم ذهب‬
A number of semantic relations is expressed by real genitive:
- Possession‫كتاب الولد‬
- Material‫خاتم الذهب‬
Subjective relation ‫هروب السجين‬
- Objective relation ‫مقتل الفيل‬
Description ‫كلية البنات‬
Partitive sense ‫بعض الرجال‬
In unreal genitive, the genitive consists of two items , the first of
which is adjective or participle: ‫ قاتل الحشرات‬، ‫ شديد البرودة‬، ‫ حسن الوجه‬. In
this type:
The second noun is usually definite
The first may be indefinite or definite: ‫حسن الوجه‬or ‫الحسن‬
There is a semantic difference between ‫( عينتان وااسعتان‬two
large eyes/ proper noun) and
‫واسع العينين‬
consisting of two items in the genitive case).
For nominal clauses, examples are the following:
(a modifier
- ‫جاءني رجل كريم اخوه‬
- ‫رايت رجالً كريما ً اخوه‬
- ‫مررت برجال كريم اباؤهم‬
These postmodifying noun phrases consist of an adjective which
agrees in grammatical case and definiteness with the preceeding
noun head, and a noun carrying a sufficient pronoun referring to
the noun head. The adjective is normally used in the singular as :
- ‫مررت برجال كريم اباؤهم‬
If the noun head is definite then the adjective must be definite:
- ‫جاءالرجل الكريم اخوه‬
- ‫جاءت المراة الفاضل اخوها‬
The adjective may be feminine if the following noun is feminine or
regarded as feminine:
- ‫ويل للرجال القاسية قلوبهم‬
- ‫هذه فتاة كاملة اخالقها‬
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