Variations on a Verb...


I am no linguist, but as far as I can remember I have always held a strange fascination for Language.

There are so many kinds of languages, so many forms, so many levels of understanding Language...

Language is a world by itself...Hence it is no wonder that in the beginning was the Verb.

The Verb is the Source from which all ensues...at least in Arabic, it is.

From the Verb comes the noun and the adjective, the past, the present and the future.

Take for instance the verb Kataba which means to write. From Kataba you have Kitab - a book or a written text. Then you have Maktab - an office or desk where things are written. You also have Kateb - a writer. And you have Maktoob - a letter or a pre-written, pre-ordained Destiny.

This is just one example of the Verb branching out, in the Arabic language. So many branches from one Verb and so many Verbs...

It is simply impossible to understand a people without at least a partial cognizance of their language. Language is the window and the door. The entry points. But knowing a language as in speaking it is not enough. You need to get into it. Re-read that again please - GET INTO IT.

By getting into a language, past -- the alphabet, the syllables, the phonetics, spelling and pronunciation, past the grammar, past...pass through and you will get into the structure, into the edifice, and from there on you can wander around, contemplate and understand all you need to understand...

The Arabic language is a very powerful language. It is rich, varied, deep and bears multi layered meanings and symbols. And it is one of the most difficult languages to "master". Content yourself with a few words here and there, and you will be making a total fool out of yourself...Mastering the Arabs means mastering their Language. And no foreigner has managed that, not even your Lawrence of Arabia nor your Isabelle Eberhart, neither your Glubb Pashas...They were all eventually subdued...one way or another.

The Arabic language is a captivating one. It contains a combination of deep passion and at the same time a high logicality to it. It is both highly poetic and rational. And the non-semitic mind is incapable of experiencing both at the same time.

The Arabic grammar is both -- terribly tedious and at the same time exhibits a high level of Logic, almost mathematical. Yet the logic transmutes itself in heavily loaded words with such deep meanings, almost esoteric, that ramify themselves just like branches from one tree, ad infinitum... Covering all the subtleties, nuances, intensities of a single Verb.

For those who are literalist in thinking and language, it can prove almost impossible for them to capture the essence of what I am trying to convey.

Take another example - the verb to Love in Arabic. There are over 99 ways to express the concept/feeling/state of Love in Arabic.

I am yet to come across a language that prides itself on its Love variations like in Arabic.

Love through and under all of its states is to be found in different verbs expressing the one thing -- Love. A yearning Love, a longing Love, a passionate Love , a liking Love , a burning Love, an infatuating Love, an ecstatic Love, a deep Love, a missing Love, a caring Love, a friendly Love, a bitter Love, a sorrowful Love, a grieving Love, a cruel Love, a platonic Love, a lustful Love, a waiting Love, a jealous Love, a possessive Love, a conquering Love....and keep counting over 90 variations of the verb to Love.

One state of Love in Arabic is "Shagan". "Shagan" is excessively hard to translate into English. Shagan is a state of Love where one experiences - yearning, longing, lamentation, waiting, nostalgia, tinged with a subtle taste of bitterness of something that has gone to pass but one is still hoping for...but nonetheless a creative, inspired state of Love, almost melodious in its Hopefulness...

See what I mean - this is the brilliance of the Arabic language, a language that combines in one word Shagan all those seemingly contradictory states of both despair and hopefulness -- of finally meeting and uniting with your Beloved, against all odds.

The state of Love produced by "Shagan" is a very peculiar one...It is an almost obsessive one...because everything reminds you and takes you back to the Beloved.

Everything - a smell, a color, a look, a familiar face, a taste, a perfume, a memory, a song, a melody, a scenery, a text, a letter, a book, a name, a word, a verb, a Language...


Painting: Iraqi artist, Abdul Hussain Al-Twaij.

Comments

Anonymous said…
erm.....ok
Anonymous said…
layla you need to interact more with your readership....
Anonymous said…
Shukran jazeelan for this post, Layla! I find Arabic, both written and spoken, truly rich and fascinating. Trying to learn the language has been a challenge, but extremely rewarding, particularly written Arabic. I agree that Arabic cannot be easily translated into English because, as you correctly state, the essence would be lost in the translation. Somehow, this also seems to be the case with other non-English languages, such as Spanish, etc.

In solidarity.
Anonymous said…
What's the proper word for your love of:

- Allah

- Iraq

- Your mom

- S. Hussein

- Che Guevara

- Omar

- Paola Pisi

- Your teenage Persian crush

- Your dead date palm tree

- Little Deer

- The man of the souk in Dimashq

- Me
Layla Anwar said…
panama, the literalist,

ok...will do.
Layla Anwar said…
Hiya Little Deer,

Yes it is a difficult language, so why do people take it for granted...
Obviously this post was about Iraq, and the shagan for it...
Bless you.
Layla Anwar said…
linguist,

ask a translator :

"meen al Hobee ma Qatal."
Anonymous said…
But no translator could know what verb is more fit to describe YOUR particular feeling for each of those people/things.

You just write them all in Arabic, I shall look for the English translations on my own.
Anonymous said…
Hey Janice, did you hear your idol Christine Stephen Daly played Saddam's mistress by an Israeli actor's side in House of Saddam?
Anonymous said…
Do you think there is a chance that Russia will start more or less covertly helping the Resistance to take back Iraq from the Americans ?
Anonymous said…
Aussie

I have never heard of Christine Stephen Daly I'm intrigued and will joogle

Fave actresses are Mariska Hargitay Lisa Maxwell and Nicole Kidman


:)
Anonymous said…
Hello Layla!!! Long time no see!!!

I'm starting feeling a little uncomfortable asking you the same thing every time, but believe me it's really very important for me to know... any new info on the enigmatic Iraqi author of "Trilogy of Self" ?

Keep up the good job, I'll forever be on your side.
Anonymous said…
I was Layla Anwar's talent scout !
Anonymous said…
KMWR--REPLY TO QUESTION ABOVE regarding Russia. I cannot see Russia supplying the Iraq resistance with weapons. Nice idea, but, I can not see it happening. Perhaps others. Of course, events can always take a sudden turn, such as the Russian Revolution.
Regarding Georgia--for Layla--some of it is in my last blog. But, there will be much more to come about this subject. Merely the opening salvo.
Ya Salam! And all that jazz.
Anonymous said…
"Perhaps others"

Others who ?

Please don't say "Islamic" Iran (hahahaha) or "Baathist" Syria (another hahahaha) because I could puke.
Anonymous said…
Poor dear Layla, I hope this Omar is giving you at least 1% of the love you have for Iraq.

You have suffered too much, you would deserve to be literally flooded under with joy.
Anonymous said…
Like you Layla, I love words, I love playing with them and putting them together, taking them apart, studying the origin of words and phrases. English is a fairly young language and is a bit of a scavenger as so many words are taken from other languages. I believe that until you learn another language you'll never understand or discover the beauty of different cultures and thought patterns. I lived in Japan for one year, and took intense language (written & spoken) classes, culture, geography, literature before an exam that if passed would allow you to attend regular Japanese classes (I did really well in the English class)

Before this experience I had taken some French and Norwegian but the study of Japanese fascinated me because of the different layers of meaning in the language depending on who was speaking and how subtle the shades of meaning really are..... I didn't understand the people and the culture until I could at least converse in somewhat passable (but full of colloquials) Japanese, at the same time I couldn't relate to the language until I understood the history and culture.

So for me to truly understand Arabic I need to understand the culture and history, but to understand the culture and history I have to know the language.....at 47 I don't think I have the gray cells to even learn elementary Arabic but I do strive to study, at a minimum your history, customs and artistic culture, but it takes patience to unravel the swirling, evolving political and cultural bias's in the ME.

That said.....the only way to learn and understand the Middle East would be to live there to soak up the richness of the language and culture but I would be concerned about accidentally offending someone inadvertently by my presence alone (Divorced mother for 19 of my daughter's 23 years, totally self-sufficient) So is there a way we non ME types can ever truly understand your language? Not until the ME truly desires and encourages other cultures to understand and welcome curiosity rather than intimating we'll never understand.....and keep telling us it's really none of our business.
Kali Manitou said…
Hey 'adele', just couple of question:
DId you watch Obama's speech? If so, did you have tears in your eyes?
Just wondering, if you like to sing 'kumbaya' sometime..
Layla Anwar said…
Adele,

thank you for your interesting expose on language and culture...but typical and as expected, you had to conclude with the all o'so classic paternalism that I am so well acquainted with.

Adele, you seem to be living on another planet, made of little white bubbles, make sure they don't burst in your collective faces.

Oh the arrogance !

"Not until the ME truly desires and encourages other cultures to understand and welcome curiosity rather than intimating we'll never understand.....and keep telling us it's really none of our business."


For the average westerner and am starting to believe you are definitely one, this is the typical cliche you can come up with.

So we have to encourage you to understand our culture do we ?
and what else dear? Lay a red carpet at your feet and give you permanent bases too. All the while you folks are bombing the shit out of us, occupying us, practicing double standards, digging holes of denial, engaging in murder and torture...

My, you people will never learn. Arabic or no Arabic, the only language you understand is your OWN.

Now do come up with another expose on what your language is.
Layla Anwar said…
I adore,

well thank you, very touched...I am like Noah and his flood and am looking for a life saving raft for the time being. But I do appreciate your good wishes.
Anonymous said…
I'll apologize for what you interpret as paternilistic, I certainly didn't mean it to be although after another read through I can see how you might think what you think... I am trying to find an avenue where we have some common ground I had hoped it would of been the love of language and linguistics that we both share. I love how you use metaphor and usually I'm amused by those who interpret your words as literal but not so enthralled with some of your regulars who are in love with the sound of their own keyboard.....

My bottom line.....I strive to understand the world I live in, because we are a 'global' community that includes all nations and all races. To understand I need to communicate, to communicate you need more than one person in the room and I'm having problems finding someone in the ME willing to step into the room. I'm willing.....are you?
Adele
bARABie said…
"To understand I need to communicate, to communicate you need more than one person in the room and I'm having problems finding someone in the ME willing to step into the room."

This is just TYPICAL jewish maggot propaganda BS only worded differently.
Just like the jewish maggot terrorists "governing" Palestine always bark "we want to talk peace but we can't find a parnter blah blah blah".
You little ho of a donkey make me sick.

Btw maggot who "loves" languages, the following contains an error, "...it would of been the love of language blah blah blah".
:)
What a bimbo..
Anonymous said…
Salaam Layla,
I have heard there were a hundred ways, and was waiting to know what they were. Hmnnnnn... like food for the spirit, and the imagination, for us fell gringos. The eventuality of silent du'a.
"Qultu akoonu bi jaufil Layli wa kaanal haadira nooru Muhammad"
onix said…
' the non-semitic mind' thats racist. Personally i have a fascination with language, for me goes the best is the one children aprehend the quickest, becus that would be the one people get the most profit in using, lifting their consciousness (with words) over the ones that put them years in disadvantage.
as such you made a strong plea against arabic language.

as an exmaple it takes the average child 3 more years to speak in french then in dutch, the average dutch has 3 more years of communicating experience then, and 3 more years of being taken seriously (potentially) in their expressions. That besides foreigners may stand a chance to undersatnd what we say before they die of old age.

so whats ur point?
arab is very useless in communication? i would say.. so what? it shows...

bah, my mood not very positive today.
Sinbad said…
Beautiful!

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