The purpose of the study is to clarify the specifics of performing syntactic functions by verbal units in the Qurʾān text. The authors come to the conclusion that the identification of specific semantic features in the Arabic verbal system as applied to the subjunctive mood requires reference to the morphological and syntactic features of the verbal units that transmit the semantics of subjunctivity. The analysis of the grammatical terminology, used to characterize the means of subjunctiveness in the system of the Arabic verb, indicates the absence of the linguists’ common point of view on the issue of identification and classification of the forms of verbal moods. The subjunctive mood implements the tendency to polysemantics, which is explained by the semantic complexity and multidimensionality of this category. The grammatical meanings of the objective / subjective modality, as well as indications of the syntactic tense are denoted by the verb in the form of a certain mood, as the verbal predicate acts as the syntactic and semantic nucleus of any sentence. Furthermore, the category of the subjunctive mood in the Arabic language is a grammatical syntactic category, and its main function is to express the meaning of the possibility, purpose or duty. The semantic-syntactical analysis of the Quranic sayings shows that the formation of the grammatical category of the subjunctive mood depends on the verb type, verbal inflections, compatibility of the verb form with a particular syntactic particle and is accompanied by modifications of the semantics of the verb forms.
The principal unit of syntax in a language is a sentence, because it is the only unit of language that can act as a full-fledged means of idea expression and its transmission. Any developed language has its own system of means of constructing a sentence, the grammatical basis of which is usually the subject and predicate. From the point of view of the sentence structure, the most important grammatical term is the subject, while the predicate contains new information; for the purpose of its interpretation the whole sentence is constructed. The main part of speech that makes a statement is a verb, which has a set of features, expressing the main sentence grammatical categories — the modality and grammar tense.
Modality is considered as communicant’s assessment of the verbal action from the attitude to the reality (Frajzyngier, 2002). The facts of reality in the communication process can be considered as real, or possible / desirable, or necessary or quite unreal and impossible events (Barbiers, 2002). Modality is expressed in any language by pronunciation means, forms of verbal mood, as well as by lexical means – modal words and particles. In the linguistic literature there are different ideas about what modality is (cf.: (Palmer, 2001)) and how it is sub-categorised, but it should be noted that this category is certainly actualized, first of all, by means of the category of mood.
According to Šakhmatov (2001), it is advisable to distinguish between morphological and syntactic mood. The first type of mood implies only verbs, whose forms indicate the connection of the predicate with the subject, while the second type is presented by any morphological form, which can be expressed regarding to the objective reality of the action. The morphological category of the verbal mood is, on the one hand, a system of contrasted forms showing the relation of action (state) to reality, and, on the other hand, it is a unity of homogeneous grammatical meanings that are in opposition to each other. All traditional grammarians are certain to specify (1) indicative mood — the form of the verb used in ordinary statements: stating a fact, expressing an opinion, asking a question; (2) imperative mood, which is used to express a request or command; (3) a wish, a doubt, or anything else contrary to the fact is expressed by the subjunctive mood.
The investigation tries to find the answers to the research questions.
Does the grammatical syntactic category express the dependence of some words on others in different kinds of speech and denote the relationship between words and phrases without indicating how these relations are perceived by the speaker?
Does such interpretation allow speaking about synonymous equality (identity) of the grammatical syntactic category and subjective-objective category?
Purpose of the Study
In traditional linguistics forms of different moods are believed to be unequivalent and unequal to each other. Some verb forms can be classified not only due to the grammatical indicators, but mainly on the basis of common semantic criteria or, in the narrower sense, on the basis of different meanings of modal words (Vinogradov, 2001).
A slightly different point of view is held by Yušmanov (1999), Kovalev and Šarbatov (1998), Aartun (1981), Holes (2004) and other semitologists. According to their ideas, verbal moods in the Arabic language are identified by morphological and syntactic features. For example, when considering the system of moods, there was a conclusion that the view of Arab grammarians on the forms of moods appears to be more consistent. Their classification is not based on semantics, but on morphology, and is supported by the syntactic role of these entities (Aartun, 1981; Grande, 1998; Holes, 2004).
In Arabic, the mood titles do not match the grammatical terms in European linguistics. The word combination “indicative mood” () is justified by the fact that this form expresses a real action. The term “subjunctive mood” is used in Arabic in a slightly different meaning than it is in European languages. This verbal mood is typical of subordinate clauses with the meanings of will, desire, purpose and consequence in the complex sentences (Brockelmann, 1960; Fischer, 2002). The term “truncated mood” () more characterizes the verbal form than indicates the semantic content of the category (Grande, 2001). But in contrast to the nominal and verbal systems of Indo-European languages, Arabic verbal units are difficult to distinguish by some reasons. Firstly, the most generalizing semantic features that characterize a particular case or mood in the Arabic language are hard to be identified, and, secondly, it is even more difficult to give such verbal forms the adequate namings in terms of Indo-European studies (Kjamilev, 1979). This approach leads to the conclusion that considering the category of mood in the Arabic language should be based on assessment of the reality or unreality of the action, described in the statement. The Arabic mood reflects the connection formed between the subject and the predicate in the communication process; in other words, the mood is linked with such a grammar category as modality. Many scientists believe it to be sufficient to give a systematic description of the morphological forms of verbs in different moods, without paying substantial attention to the semantic and syntactic specifics of verbal forms. Moreover, the “serious theoretical understanding of the mood in the Arabic language is largely hampered by the heterogeneity of morphological indicators in this category, the allocation of which is possible only on the basis of functional rather than formal criteria” (Guskova, 2012).
According to Sadan (2012), there is an urgent need to distinguish between the ‘naṣb’ and ‘raf’ moods. This distinction is based on the statement that if a person wants to express an action that he perceives as a fact (whether it was performed in the past, is performed in the present or will be performed in the future), the verb together with a certain particle will be used in the ‘raf’ mood. If the action indicated by the verb is considered not as a real fact, but only as a possible or desirable action in the future, in this case, the verb must be used in the ‘naṣb’ mood. One should make a small addition to the feature of the action expressed in the ‘naṣb’ mood: this action is expected to be performed in the future (Socin, 1885).
In the Arabic language, the system of different verbal mood types, expressing real / unreal modality, is one of the most complex and ramified in Semitic languages.
Grammatical means of expressing hypothetical or desirable real modality include forms of the present and / or future tense, which under the influence of certain grammatical morphemes are transformed into the forms of the subjunctive mood.
Depending on the final vowel, there are three grammatical categories called as moods:
1) with the ending - (dammah) — the indicative mood (“įaktubu”);
2) with the ending - (fathah) — the subjunctive mood (“a’n įaktuba”);
3) without the ending vowel (sukun) — the truncated (conditional) mood or the truncated form (“lam įaktub”).
From the traditional grammar point the mood division is based on the following statement: the mood depends on the inflection of the final vowel by the verb modifications (Grande, 2001). The sufficiently developed system of means expressing modality is owned only by the Arabic language, where there are vowel endings (Grande, 2001).
The main marker of the subjunctive mood in Arabic is a harakat called “fathah”. When adding this harakat, the verb in the present tense builds a subjunctive form.
(1) Lan yanāl Allah luḥumuhā wa-lā dimāu’hā wa-lakin yanāluhu al-taqwaā minkum kaḏalika saḫḫarahā lakum litukabbirū’ Allah ‘alā mā hadaākum wa-bashiri al-muḥsinīna (Qurʾān, 22).
[Neither their meat, nor their blood reaches GOD. What reaches Him is your righteousness. He has subdued them for you, that you may show your appreciation by glorifying GOD for guiding you. Give good news to the charitable].
The building of the subjunctive mood forms is occurring in the morphosyntactic way: the end vowels “dammah” are replaced by “fathah” in indicative mood forms and “nuns” are omitted in all verbal forms, ending in long vowels, excepting verbal f. pl. forms (Anghelescu, 1999; Gafos, 2018; Grande, 2001; Ryding, 2005).
The truncated forms of the 3rd m. pl. (hum) and the 2nd m. pl. (antum) will end in the ا (“a”), and the form of the 2nd f. s. (anti) will end in ي (“i”).
(2) Wa- taṣūmū’ ḫairun lakum i’n kuntum ta’alamūna (Qurʾān, 2).
[But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew].
(3) Fa-waswasa lahumā al-shaiṭān lijubdia lahumā mā uriā ‘anhumā min saua’tihimā wa-qāla mā nahaakumā rabbukumā ‘an haẓihi‘l-shajara i’llā takūn malakaini a’u takūn min’l-ḫālidīna (Qurʾān, 7).
[The devil whispered to them, in order to reveal their bodies, which were invisible to them. He said, “Your Lord did not forbid you from this tree, except to prevent you from becoming angels, and from attaining eternal existence.”].
(4) Fā’afū’ wa-a’ṣfaḥū’ ya’tiy Allah bia’mrihi i’nna Allah ‘ala kulli shay’in qadīrun (Qurʾān, 2).
[You shall pardon them and leave them alone, until GOD issues His judgment. GOD is Omnipotent].
The verbal forms, combined with the corresponding syntactic particles, which include ‘to’; ‘to’; ‘so’; ‘then to’; ‘to’ and some other ones, are supposed to be morphosyntactic forms in the Arabic language. In modern Arabic grammars there is no unified viewpoint on the question, by what grammatical means the form of subjunctive mood is built. In different linguistic theories, such grammatical means that have a direct impact on the formation of the subjunctive mood are recognised as different parts of speech. For example, Semenov (1941) speaks of “syntactic particles”. The similar terminology is followed by Whightwick and Gaafar (2008), who title these grammatical means by the terms “particular words” or “particles”. Ryding (2005) calls them “subjunctivising particles”, conveying thereby their specific functional value. Černov (1995) calls these words “modal particles”. Fassi Fehri (1982), Hammo et al. (2014) name them “complementizers”. Grande (2001), Tjureva (2014) and Weninger (2011) identify them as “conjunctions”.
Analysis of these and some other linguistic works shows the absence of a unified grammatical glossary that Grande confirms, saying the following idea: The Arab grammarians call them particles, putting the verb in the “naṣb” form or using it with a similar conjunction and its sisters (Grande, 2001). There is also a very amazing conception about the essence and naming of these functional words in a Grammar of Arabic, which was proposed by Al-Ṣanhādjī (2019): these grammatical means are called as “nasbators” and “jazmators” (The equivalents of the corresponding Arabic terms are offered by the translator of Al-Ṣanhādjī’s book, I.F. Sarbulatov).
In this contribution, following the classical terminological tradition, the being described grammatical means are named as “syntactic particles”, as this grammar term is the most common one used in the modern linguistic literature.
The subjunctive mood is formed by combining the imperfect or, more rarely, present verb tense form and the appropriate syntactic particle denoting an externally conditioned or internally motivated action (Abu-Chacra, 2018).
(5) Jurīdu Allah bikum al-jusra wa-lā jurīdu bikum al-‘usra wa-tukmil’ ’l-‘idda wa-tukabbir’ Allah ‘ala mā hadākum wa-la’allakum tashkurūna (Qurʾān, 2).
[GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfil your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation].
Verbs in the subjunctive mood have both forms of active and passive voice.
The subjunctive mood is often expressed by different tense verbal forms in combination with certain particles and/or their combinations, which are believed to rule the verb in the subjunctive mood (Fathi et al., 2015).
Below there are samples, which show the functional potential of particles involved into the verbal government used in the Qurʾān text:
(a) particle ‘to’.
This particle with the verb in the present-future tense forms the subjunctive mood with the semantics of the wish, intention, request, call to action and only in the case, if the intention or possible result of an action is expressed (Fischer, 2002). As Fischer notes, this rule is applicable for the particle, which will be described below. is used in combination with the certain types of verbs, sometimes called as “matrix verbs”, which denote relation to action, feeling or sensation that arises in connection with the effect produced (Eisele, 2006; Ryding, 2005). In this regard, it is difficult to disagree with the statement that the subjunctive mood in Arabic can only be used in specific syntactical environment (Wright, 1898).
(6) Jurīdu Allah juḫaffif ‘ankum wa-ḫuliqa ‘l-insānu ḍa’īfan (Qurʾān, 4).
[GOD wishes to lighten your burden, for the human being is created weak].
The interpretation of the content of this verse from the semantic and grammatical point of view is as follows.
[In order to resist the satanic calls to sin and endure the human temptations and passions, a man is required to make purposeful constant efforts and follow the self-discipline; he constantly needs the spiritual support of Allah].
(7) Wa‘l-muṭallaqāt yatarabbaṣna bia’nfusihinna thalāthata qurū’in wa-lā yaḥillu lahunna yaktum mā ḫalaqa Allah fi a’rḥāmihinna i’n kunna juu’minna bi’llahi wa’l-yaumi ‘l-āḫiri (Qurʾān, 2).
[The divorced women shall wait three menstruations. It is not lawful for them to conceal what GOD creates in their wombs, if they believe in GOD and the Last Day].
(8) Al-ṭalāq marratāni fa-i’msākun bi-ma’arūfin a’u tasrīḥun bi-i’ḥsānin wa-lā yaḥillu lakum taa’ḫuḏ’ mimmā a’taitumūhunna shay’an (Qurʾān, 2).
[Divorce may be retracted twice. The divorced woman shall be allowed to live in the same home amicably or leave it amicably. It is not lawful for the husband to take back anything he had given her].
The particle can be used as a part of the short form, consisting of and, expressing the meaning of negation (Fischer, 2002) (cf.: (e) particle of negation).
(9) Mā manaʽaka tasjuda ’idh ’amartuka? (Qurʾān, 7).
[“What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?”];
(b) particle ‘in order to’.
The correlation of this particle with the verbal form includes the semantics of the will / desire to perform a purposeful action / the encouragement to an action.
(10) Lilā taa’sa’ ‘alā mā fātakum wa-lā tafraḥ’ bimā a’taakum wa-Allah lā juḥibbu kulla muḫtālin faḫūrin (Qurʾān, 57).
[Thus, you should not grieve over anything you miss, nor be proud of anything He has bestowed upon you. GOD does not love those who are boastful, proud].
(11) Fa-radadnāhu i’la u’mmihi taqarr ‘ainuhā wa-lā taḥzan wa-litaa’llama a’nna wa’ada Allah ḥaqqun wa-lakinna a’ktharahum lā ya’alamūna (Qurʾān, 28).
[Thus, we restored him to his mother in order to please her, remove her worries, and to let her know that GOD's promise is the truth. However, most of them do not know];
(c) particle ‘to’.
The use of this particle with verbs in the present tense conveys the meaning of the wish to perform a certain action both by the author himself and by other members of the community. As Aartun (1981) notes, the particle in combination with a verb in the subjunctive mood acts as a conjunction, introducing subordinate clauses of the goal.
(12) Qul i’nna hudaā Allah huwa ‘l-hudā wa-u’mrinānuslim lirabbi ‘l-‘ālamīna (Qurʾān, 6).
[Say, “GOD’s guidance is the right guidance. We are commanded to submit to the Lord of the universe.”].
The interpretation of this sentence may be as follows.
[In order to be aware, that Allah’s way is the only true and only possible way, we need to pray for Allah’s help and mercy to move forward].
(13) Wa-mā kāna Allahju’aḏḏibhum wa-a’nta fīhim wa-mā kāna Allah mu’aḏḏibahum wa-hum yastaġfirūna (Qurʾān, 8).
[However, GOD is not to punish them while you are in their midst; GOD is not to punish them while they are seeking forgiveness].
The interpretation of this sentence may be as follows.
[In order for people to constantly pray for forgiveness and remember Allah, the Lord gives hope that they will not be put to the rack].
(14) Wa-lā ta’kulū’ a’mwālakum bainakum bi’l-bāṭili wa-tudlū’ bihā i’lā ‘l-ḥukkāmita’kul’ farīqan min a’mwāli ‘l-nās bi’l-i’thm wa-a’ntum ta’alamūna (Qurʾān, 2).
[You shall not take each other’ money illicitly, nor shall you bribe the officials to deprive others of some of their rights illicitly, while you know];
(d) particle ‘to’, ‘until’.
This particle with a verbal form in the present tense explicates the subjunctive mood with the meaning of focusing on a certain action with a particular result (cf.: (a) particle ‘to’). Besides, the role of this particle in the government, the verb in the subjunctive mood could be discussed, if the statement expresses the intention of the agent to perform an action, the success of which depends on the agent’s will, or, if the action is understood by the speaker as expected one in the future. If the statement loses the seme of agent’s will or the meaning of the expectation of the described event, the subjunctive mood is replaced by the indicative forms (Caspari, 1887).
(15) Qālū’ lan nabraḥa ‘alaihi ‘ākifīna yarji’ i’lainā Mūsa (Qurʾān, 20).
[“We will continue to worship it, until Moses comes back.”].
The interpretation of this sentence may be as follows.
[We will not give up praying fervently that Musa (Moses) will return to us as soon as possible and judge us justly].
(16) Wa-i’shrabū’ yatabaiin lakum al-ḫaiṭ ‘l-a’biḍ min’l-ḫaiṭi ‘l-a’swadi min’l-fajri thumma a’timmū’ ‘l-ṣiyāma i’lā ‘l-laili (Qurʾān, 2).
[You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset].
(17) Wa-a’timmū’ ‘l-ḥajj wa’l-‘umra lillahi fa-i’n u’ḥṣirtum famā i’staisara min’l-hadi wa-lā taḥliqu’ ru’usakum yabluġ ‘l-hadju maḥillahu (Qurʾān, 2).
[You shall observe the complete rites of Hajj and ‘Umrah for GOD. If you are prevented, you shall send an offering, and do not resume cutting your hair until your offering has reached its destination].
The interpretation of this sentence may be as follows.
[...Do not shave your heads till oblational animals could reach the place of slaughter].
Under the influence of this particle, the verbal form of the present indicative mood is transformed, as it is shown, into a subjunctive form. The meaning that this particle gives to the verbal unit includes both the goal setting and the seme of the message about the finite, time-limited situation presented in the principal clause of the complex sentence; cf.: (Wahrmund, 1898);
(e) particle of negation (< *).
The functional of the particle lan consists of the denial of acts committed in the future (Aartun, 1981; Fischer, 2002; Ryding, 2005). Paying attention to the context, therefore it can only be translated with the negative semantics, using the negation ‘not’ or the negative pronoun ‘nothing’ (Šagal’ et al., 1983). There are other particles with the similar value, such as () ‘lest’;,, and, ‘in order not to’, and some others. One should be noted, that the particle expresses the negation of the verbal action in a stronger, more categorical form in comparison with other means of negation in the Arabic language (Abu-Chacra, 2018; Bergsträsser, 1914).
Lipiński (1997) specifies the use of the particle, saying that the sentences containing such a particle should not be considered as a simple denial of any action, but as a phrase in which the agent does not assume or expect that the action described will take place in the future; cf.:, ‘he will not do’ and (), ‘he will do’.
(18) Qāla i’nnaka tastaṭī’ ma’ia ṣabran (Qurʾān, 18).
[He said, “You cannot stand to be with me.”].
(19) Wa-qālū’ yadḫul ‘l-janna i’llā man kāna hūdan a’u naṣāra tilka a’mānijjuhum qul hātū’ burhānakum i’n kuntum ṣādiqīna (Qurʾān, 2).
[Some have said, “No one will enter Paradise except Jews or Christians!” Such is their wishful thinking. Say, “Show us your proof, if you are right.”].
As the study shows, in the verbal forms of different classes, form building has minor differences. On the whole, the subjunctive mood is mostly formed by the help of additional particles with the semantics of a possible action.
To distinguish the usage of specific particles, marking the subjunctive mood, is rather difficult, as these particles are almost full synonyms. The most frequent particle is the particle, more rarely the syntactic units and are used.
The set of lexical means by which the subjunctive mood is formed also includes:
a) modal words and phrases: min’l-mumkini, min’l-ḍarūrī, yajibu ‘ala;
b) modal verbs, which, according to their semantics, express different modal meanings:,,.
From the syntactic point of view, the action characteristic, expressed by the verbal form in the subjunctive mood, plays an integral role. The form of this Arabic mood, as a rule, conveys a nuance of the future tense and at the same time a seme of hypothetical or desirable action, which, in its own turn, indicates the expression of the real modality. Forms of subjunctive mood have specifics in the use and in comparison with the future verbal forms in the indicative mood. These differences demonstrate that the subjunctive mood mainly denotes the speaker’s intention or his will, while the indicative mood of the future tense depicts mainly the foresight or prediction of the action in the future.
Analytical forms of the Arabic subjunctive mood can be formed by the help of the modal verbs with the semantics of the expression or obligation, but also with some verbs of motion.
The use of several modal verbs can be exemplified by the following sayings from the Qurʾān:
(20) Wa- yatamannahu a’badan bimā qaddamat a’idīhim wa-Allah ‘alīmun bi’l-ẓālimīna (Qurʾān, 2).
[They never long for it, because of what their hands have sent forth. GOD is fully aware of the wicked].
(21) Fa-i’n kāna al-laḏī ‘alaihi ’l-ḥaqqu safīhan a’u ḍa’īfan a’u lā yastaṭī’u jumill huwa fa-ljumlil walijjuhu bi’l-‘adli (Qurʾān, 2).
[If the debtor is mentally incapable, or helpless, or cannot dictate, his guardian shall dictate equitably].
In these sentences modal verbs combined with other verbal forms in the subjunctive mood are used. Such subjunctive verbal forms are typical of some European languages (e.g. English, German or Russian). After a modal verb the infinitive is known to be applied (Whightwick & Gaafar, 2008) (cf.: rus. ‘ne mogu sdelat’ čto-l.’ / ‘khoču sdelat’ čto-l.’; engl. ‘(I) cannot do smth.’ / ‘(I) need to do smth.’; germ. ‘(ich) kann nicht etw. machen’ / ‘(ich) will etw. machen’). However, it is worth saying that different meanings of Arabic modal verbs do not refer to their syntax (Homeidi, 1986).
In combination with modal verbs, subjunctive forms contain semantic features of the advice, order, plea, prohibition, and can also transfer some other particular meanings. In some cases these forms can be translated into other languages by nouns, verbal nouns, verbals or the equivalent verbal forms in the subjunctive mood (Šagal’ et al., 1983).
When considering the category of the mood in the Arabic language, the study should be based on the assessment of the reality or unreality of the verbal action or the statement in general.
The identification of specific semantic features in the system of the Arabic verb in relation to the subjunctive mood is complicated enough, hence, it causes the purposefulness and usefulness of the research described, establishing the syntactic verbal features with the meaning of the reality/unreality.
The subjunctive mood in the Arabic language tends to be polysemantic, and this trend is elicited by the semantic complexity and multidimensionality of this grammatical category.
The main grammatical meanings of the objective/subjective modality, as well as indications of the syntactic tense, are denoted by the verb in the form of a certain mood (the indicative or the subjunctive), as the verbal predicate acts as the syntactic and semantic nucleus of any sentence. Furthermore, the category of the subjunctive mood in the Arabic language is a grammatical syntactic category, and its main function is to express the meaning of the possibility, purpose or duty.
The subjunctive verb forms are widely used in the Qurʾān. The semantic-syntactic analysis of the Qurʾān sayings shows that the formation of the grammatical category of the subjunctive mood depends on the verbal type, verbal endings, the ability of the verb to be linked with a particular syntactic particle, and form building is accompanied by modifications of the semantics of verbal forms.
The topological analysis of the syntactic structure of the Arabic sentence, including subjunctive forms, reveals the presence of correlation between the frequency of subjunctive verb forms and the type of subordinate clause in a compound sentence. Thus, the most numerous subjunctive forms of the Arabic verb are recognised in compound sentences with subordinate clauses of the object and purpose. The subjunctive forms of the verb as a part of impersonal-modal constructions are also marked by a high degree of frequency.
The analysis of the grammatical terminology, used to characterize the means of subjunctiveness in the system of the Arabic verb, indicates the absence of the linguists’ common point of view on the issue of the identification and classification of the forms of verbal moods.
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Ivanova, R. A., Ivanov, A. V., & Ivanova, A. A. (2021). The Semantic-Syntactical Aspect Of The Arabic Subjunctive (As Exemplified By Qurʾān Sūras). In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 697-707). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.96