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Q&A

What explains Arabic "Greater Etymology"?

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This article discusses "Greater Etymology" (الاشتقاق الكبير) in Arabic, which "recognizes the common meanings words with different base letters share," as opposed to "Lesser Etymology" (or morphology, as it is also referred to), which "works at the level of a set of base letters and [...] recognizes the common meanings that different words with the same root letters share."

Using examples (from my understanding of the article), Lesser Etymology would discuss the relation between a root word, ق و ل (q-w-l), and its derived forms, like the ones listed here, such as تَقَوَّلَ (taqawwala) and مَقَال (maqāl).

However, Greater Etymology goes a step further and finds the relations between several root words. One example given in the article is the related meanings of all the roots formed by permutations of the letters ق و ل (q w l), that is, the roots ق و ل (q-w-l), ق ل و (q-l-w), و ق ل (w-q-l), و ل ق (w-l-q), ل و ق (l-w-q), and ل ق و (l-q-w) all "give the abstract connotation of nimbleness and haste." There are other ways of connecting root words given in the article. One instead of comparing the permutations of the root letters, assesses the "occurrence of a specific letter in the same position of different bases."

The article sources the millenium-old book of Abu l-Fatḥ ʿUthmān b. Jinnī or ابن جني (Arabic Wikipedia), al-Khaṣā’iṣ or الخصائص, accessible on Arabic Wikisource.


Is this just coincidence? If not, what explains these relations between different roots? Or how did they come to be?

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