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In
Afro-Asiatic languages Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and parts of the Sahel. W ...
, the first noun in a
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
phrase of a possessed noun followed by a possessor noun often takes on a special morphological form, which is termed the construct state (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''status constructus''). For example, in
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
, the word for "queen" standing alone is ''malika'' and ''malka'' respectively, but when the word is possessed, as in the phrase "Queen of Sheba" (literally "Sheba's Queen"), it becomes ''malikat sabaʾ'' ''and malkat šəba'' respectively, in which ''malikat'' and ''malkat'' are the construct state (possessed) form and ''malika'' and ''malka'' are the absolute (unpossessed) form. In
Geʽez Geʽez (; , ' , and sometimes referred to in scholarly literature as Classical Ethiopic) is an ancient Ethiopian Semitic language. The language originates from what is now Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a ...
, the word for "queen" is ንግሥት nəgə''ś''t, but in the construct state it is ንግሥተ, as in the phrase "
he
he
ueen of Sheba" ንግሥተ ሣባ nəgə''śta śābā.'' . The phenomenon is particularly common in
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication u ...

Semitic languages
(such as
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
,
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
, and
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...

Syriac
), in
Berber languages The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, , ), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related l ...

Berber languages
, and in the extinct
Egyptian language The Egyptian language or Ancient Egyptian ( egy, 𓂋𓏺𓈖 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖, , cop, ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ) is an Afro-Asiatic language Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamiti ...
. In
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication u ...

Semitic languages
, nouns are placed in the construct state when they are modified by another noun in a
genitive construction In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, ...
. That differs from the
genitive case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
of European languages in that it is the
head Head Sport GmbH is an American-Austrian manufacturing company Manufacturing is the creation or production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in th ...
(modified) noun rather than the dependent (modifying) noun which is
marked In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
. However, in Semitic languages with
grammatical case Grammatical case is a term regarding a manner of categorizing s, s, s, s, and s according to their traditionally corresponding s within a given , , or . In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, s, participles, prepositions, numerals, art ...
, such as
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, al-ʿarabīyah al-fuṣḥā) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, ...
, the modifying noun in a genitive construction is placed in the
genitive case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
in addition to marking the head noun with the construct state (compare, e.g., "that book of John's" where "book" is in the rough English equivalent of the construct state, while "John" is in the genitive ossessivecase). In some non-Semitic languages, the construct state has various additional functions besides marking the head noun of a genitive construction. Depending on the particular language, the construct state of a noun is indicated by various phonological properties (for example, different suffixes, vowels or stress) and/or morphological properties (such as an inability to take a definite article). In traditional grammatical terminology, the possessed noun in the construct state ("Queen") is the ''nomen regens'' ("governing noun"), and the possessor noun, often in the genitive case ("Sheba's"), is the ''nomen rectum'' ("governed noun").


Semitic languages

In the older Semitic languages, the use of the construct state is the standard (often only) way to form a
genitive construction In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, ...
with a semantically definite modified noun. The modified noun is placed in the construct state, which lacks any
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a that has a or as its or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common , and the ...
(despite being semantically definite), and is often phonetically shortened (as in
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroas ...
). The modifying noun is placed directly afterwards, and no other word can intervene between the two, though in
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroas ...
a prefix often intervenes, as in the case of śimḥat ba/qāṣîr in Isaiah 9:2. For example, an adjective that qualifies either the modified or modifying noun must appear after both. (This can lead to potential ambiguity if the two nouns have the same gender, number and case; otherwise, the agreement marking of the adjective will indicate which noun is modified.) In some languages, e.g.
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroas ...
and the modern
varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univer ...
, feminine construct-state nouns preserve an original ''-t'' suffix that has dropped out in other circumstances. In some modern Semitic languages, the use of the construct state in forming genitive constructions has been partly or completely displaced by the use of a preposition, much like the use of the modern English "of", or the omission of any marking. In these languages (e.g.
Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew ( ), is the ...
and
Moroccan Arabic Moroccan Arabic ( ar, اللهجة المغربية, ), known as Darija in Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark gree ...

Moroccan Arabic
), the construct state is used mostly in forming compound nouns. An example is Hebrew ''bet ha-sefer'' "the school", lit. "the house of the book"; ''bet'' is the construct state of ''bayit'' "house". Alongside such expressions, the construct state is sometimes neglected, such as in the expression ''mana falafel'' (a portion of
falafel Falafel (; ar, فلافل, ; is a Deep frying, deep-fried ball or patty-shaped fritter made from ground chickpeas, Vicia faba, broad beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, Middle Eastern food, commonly served in a ...

falafel
), which should be ''menat falafel'' using the construct state. However, the lack of a construct state is generally considered informal, and is inappropriate for formal speech.


Arabic

In
Arabic grammar Arabic grammar or Arabic language sciences ( ar, النحو العربي ' or ar, عُلُوم اللغَة العَرَبِيَّة ') is the grammar of the Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language ...
, the construct state is used to mark the first noun (the thing possessed) in the
genitive construction In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, ...
. The second noun of the genitive construction (the possessor) is marked by the
genitive case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
. In Arabic, the genitive construction is called '' ʼiḍāfah'' (literally "attachment") and the first and second nouns of the construction are called ''muḍāf'' ("attached"; also the name for the construct state) and ''muḍāf ʼilayhi'' ("attached to"). These terms come from the verb ''ʼaḍāfa'' "he added, attached", verb form IV from the root ''ḍ-y-f'' (Form I: ضاف ḍāfa) (a hollow root). In this conceptualization, the possessed thing (the noun in the construct state) is attached to the possessor (the noun in the genitive case). The construct state is one of the three
grammatical state In linguistics, definiteness is a semantic feature of noun phrases (NPs), distinguishing between referents or Sense and reference, senses that are identifiable in a given context (definite noun phrases) and entities which are not (indefinite noun ...
s of nouns in Arabic, the other two being the indefinite state and the definite state. Concretely, the three states compare like this: In
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, al-ʿarabīyah al-fuṣḥā) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, ...
, a word in the construct state is semantically definite if the following word is definite. The word in the construct state takes neither the
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a that has a or as its or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common , and the ...
prefix ''al-'' nor the indefinite suffix ''-n'' (
nunation Nunation ( ar, تَنوِين, ' ), in some Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinenta ...
), since its definiteness depends on the following word. Some words also have a different suffix in the construct state, for example masculine plural ' "teachers" vs. ' "the teachers of ...". Formal Classical Arabic uses the feminine marker ''-t'' in all circumstances other than before a
pause
pause
, but the normal spoken form of the literary language omits it except in a construct-state noun. This usage follows the colloquial spoken
varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univer ...
. In the spoken
varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univer ...
, the use of the construct state has varying levels of productivity. In conservative varieties (e.g.
Gulf Arabic Gulf Arabic ( ' local pronunciation: or ', local pronunciation: ) is a variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra ...
), it is still extremely productive. In
Egyptian Arabic Egyptian Arabic, locally known as Colloquial Egyptian ( ar, العامية المصرية, ), or simply ''Masri'' (), is the spoken vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people tha ...
, both the construct state and the particle ''bitāʿ'' "of" can be used, e.g. ''kitāb Muḥammad'' "Muhammad's book" or ''il-kitāb bitāʿ Muḥammad'' "the book of Muhammad". In
Moroccan Arabic Moroccan Arabic ( ar, اللهجة المغربية, ), known as Darija in Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark gree ...

Moroccan Arabic
, the construct state is used only in forming compound nouns; in all other cases, ''dyal'' "of" or ''d-'' "of" is used. In all these varieties, the longer form with the "of" particle (a
periphrastic In linguistics, periphrasis () is the usage of multiple separate words to carry the meaning of prefixes, suffixes or verbs, among other things, where either would be possible. It is a device where grammatical meaning is expressed by one or more f ...
form) is the normal usage in more complicated constructions (e.g. with an adjective qualifying the head noun, as in the above example "the beautiful queen of the nation") or with nouns marked with a dual or sound plural suffix.


Aramaic

In
Syriac Aramaic The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ...

Syriac Aramaic
, the construct state evolved much in the same way as in Modern Hebrew, becoming a relic by the time of the
Peshitta The Peshitta ( syc, ܦܫܺܝܛܬܳܐ ''or'' ') is the standard version of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, He ...

Peshitta
.


Hebrew

In
Hebrew grammar Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic language Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have emerged from Proto- ...
, the construct state is known as ''smikhut'' () (, lit. "support" (the noun), "adjacency"). Simply put, smikhut consists of combining two nouns, often with the second noun combined with the definite article, to create a third noun. : — — "(a) house" : — — "the house" : — — "house-of" : — — "(a) book" : — — "(a) school" (''literally'' "house(-of) book") : — — "the school" (formal; ''literally'' "house(-of) the book") : — — "cake" (feminine) : — — "cheese" : — — "cheesecake" : — — "speech" : — — "freedom" (an example of a noun for which the ''smikhut''-form is identical to the regular form) : — — "freedom of speech" (''literally'' "freedom(-of) speech") : — — "the freedom of speech" (''literally'' "freedom(-of) the speech") As in Arabic, the ''smikhut'' construct state, the indefinite, and definite states may be expressed succinctly in a table:


Modern Hebrew

Modern Hebrew grammar Modern Hebrew grammar is partly analytic language, analytic, expressing such forms as dative case, dative, ablative case, ablative, and accusative case, accusative using prepositional particles rather than declension, morphological cases. On the o ...
makes extensive use of the preposition ''shel'' (evolved as a contraction of ''she-le-'' "which (is belonging) to") to mean both "of" and "belonging to". The construct state ( ''smikhút'') — in which two nouns are combined, the first being modified or possessed by the second — is not highly productive in Modern Hebrew. Compare the classical Hebrew construct-state ''’em ha-yéled'' "mother:CONSTRUCT the-child’ with the more analytic Israeli Hebrew phrase ''ha-íma shel ha-yéled'' "the-mother of the-child’, both meaning "the mother of the child", i.e. "the child’s mother". Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006)
Complement Clause Types in Israeli
''Complementation: A Cross-Linguistic Typology'' (RMW Dixon & AY Aikhenvald, eds),
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
, Oxford, pp. 72–92.
However, the construct state is still used in Modern Hebrew fixed expressions and names, as well as to express various roles of the dependent (the second noun), including: * A qualifier (e.g. ''repúblika-t banánot'' "Banana Republic"; ''hofaa-t bkhora'' "premiere", lit. "performance-CONSTRUCT precedence") * A domain (e.g. ''mevakér ha-mdiná'' "the State Comptroller", lit. "critic:CONSTRUCT the-state"; ''more derekh'' "guide", lit. teacher:CONSTRUCT way") * A complement (e.g. ''orekh din'' "lawyer", lit. "arranger:CONSTRUCT law") * A modifier (e.g. ''menora-t kir'' "wall lamp", lit. "lamp-CONSTRUCT wall"). Hebrew adjectival phrases composed of an adjective and a noun feature adjectives in the construct state, as in e.g. ''sh'vúr lév'' ("heartbroken", lit. "broken-CONSTRUCT heart").


Berber

In
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...
, the construct state is used for the possessor, for objects of prepositions, nouns following numerals, and subjects occurring before their verb (modified from the normal VSO order). In some cases, (not) applying the construct state could completely alter the meaning of the phrase. The Berber particle d means "and" and "is/are". To decrease the confusion the Berber word for "and" can be written "''ed''". Also, a large number of Berber verbs are both transitive and intransitive, according to context. In the intransitive case, the construct state is required for the subject. Examples: *''Aryaz ed weryaz'' — lit. "The man and the man" — (instead of *''Aryaz ed aryaz''). *''Taddart en weryaz'' — lit. "The house of the man" — (instead of *''Taddart en aryaz''). *''Aɣyul ed userdun'' — lit. "The donkey and the mule" — (instead of *''Aɣyul ed aserdun''). *''Udem en temɣart'' — lit. "The face of the woman" — (instead of *''Udem en tamɣart''). *''Afus deg ufus'' — lit. "Hand in hand" — (instead of *''Afus deg afus''). *''Semmust en terbatin'' — lit. "Five girls" — (instead of *''Semmust en tirbatin''). *''Yecca ufunas'' — "The bull has eaten" — (while ''Yecca afunas'' means: "He ate a bull"). *''Ssiwlent temɣarin'' - "The ladies have spoken" - (instead of *''Ssiwlent timɣarin'').


Dholuo

The
Dholuo language The Dholuo dialect (pronounced ) or ''Nilotic Kavirondo'', is a dialect of the Luo languages, Luo group of Nilotic languages, spoken by about 4.2 million Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania, Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania, who occupy parts of the ea ...
(one of the
Luo languages The dozen Luo, Lwo or Lwoian languages are spoken by the Luo peoples The Luo are several ethnically An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is ...
) shows alternations between voiced and voiceless states of the final consonant of a noun stem. In the "construct state" (the form that means 'hill of', 'stick of', etc.) the voicing of the final consonant is switched from the absolute state. (There are also often vowel alternations that are independent of consonant mutation.) * 'hill' (abs.), (const.) * 'stick' (abs.), (const.) * 'appearance' (abs.), (const.) * 'bone' (abs.), (const.) * 'book' (abs.), (const.) * 'book' (abs.), (const.)


Similarities in other language-groups

It has been noted since the seventeenth century that
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
and other
Insular Celtic languages Insular Celtic languages are the group of Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language ...
have a genitive construction similar to the Afro-Asiatic construct state, in which only the last noun can take the definite article. Examples include: * Breton: ''dor an ti'' oor the house'the door of the house' * Welsh: ''drŵs y tŷ'' oor the house'the door of the house' * Irish: ''doras an tí'' oor.NOMINATIVE the-house.GENITIVE'the door of the house' (Compare, for example, colloquial Arabic ''bāb al-bayt'' oor the-house'the door of the house' and Classical Arabic ''bāb-u l-bayt-i'' oor.NOMINATIVE the-house.GENITIVE) It has been suggested that the Insular Celtic languages may have been influenced by an Afro-Asiatic
substrate language In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
, or that languages in both groups were influenced by a common substrate language, now entirely lost. However, it is also possible that the similarities with the construct state are coincidental.


See also

*
Compound (linguistics) In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
*
Definiteness In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...


References

{{Refimprove, date=January 2008 Semitic linguistics Grammatical cases