What is a Highly Irregular Verb in Arabic?
Verbs in the Arabic language are considered irregular when one of five things happens. Either they are Hamzated, they are assimilated, they are hollow, they are deficient, or they are duplicated. Studying each of these types of irregularities is crucial in being able to conjugate verbs correctly. And being able to recognize which of the mentioned irregularities applies to a particular verb is a crucial component in reading comprehension.
This is an advanced tutorial that deals with verbs in which two or more of the above mentioned irregularities are found simultaneously. Such verbs are termed Highly Deficient.
Up to three of the five mentioned irregularities may be seen in a single verb. This, however, is typically not a problem because the rules that govern irregular conjugation are mutually exclusive. This means that if a verb has multiple irregularities, the rules of each will be applied to the verb and they will not conflict.
There are two cases, though, that are worthy of separate mention and that have a few caveats. These irregularities are known as لفيف (Aggregated) and they are as follows.
Dispersed Aggregation – when a verb is both مثال and ناقص
Contiguous Aggregation – when a verb is both أجوف and ناقص, and perhaps مهموز
1. Identify the irregularities in each of the following verbs, then conjugate them in the perfect and imperfect tense.
c. [ء ي ن] آن
d. أد / يؤد
e. ود / يوَد
f. حي / يحيى
Fact 1: Theoretically
speaking, a verb may fall into four of the five categories of irregularities
Fact 2: In practice, the only verbs in which two base-letter همزة, two base-letter واو, or two base-letter ياء occur side-by-side are ح، ي، ي and ع، ي، ي
Task: Using facts (1) and (2), construct a syllogistic argument to show that Fact 1 can never be true in practice
if a verb is reduced to a single letter, the هاء السكت will be appended to it
Conjugate the verb وقى / يقي in the perfect, imperfect, and imperative tense. In doing this exercise, one will notice that the imperative conjugations start off with the verb قِ – that is the entire verb, reduced to a single letter after having undergone the changes of both assimilated verbs as well as the changes of deficient verbs. This is the case for the second-person, active, masculine, singular conjugation for all verbs of the irregularity type لفيف مفروق.
When a verb is reduced to one letter like this, it is awkward to keep it in isolation. In order to avoid this, it becomes necessary to append a non-vowelled هاء to the end of the verb. This هاء is typically reserved for poetry and is used to complete prosodic metre or maintain rhythm and rhyme. It is employed in this particular conjugation of these particularly irregular verbs in order to avoid single-lettered verbs. Hence the imperative conjugations look as follows.
Second-person active imperative active conjugations
for verbs with Dispersed Aggregation
Thankfully, this is the only caveat with respect to the لفيف مفروق irregularity. In all other conjugation tables, the beginning of the verb will simply follow the rules of assimilated verbs, while the end will follow the rules of deficient verbs.
Now conjugate the verb روى / يروي in the perfect tense as a start. One would expect both the rules of hollow verbs as well as the rules of deficient verbs to take effect. However, this is not the case. Recall Rule 6 from Hollow Verbs; the rule gave several exceptions regarding when تعليل will not be applied. One of those restrictions expressed that تعليل will not apply to a glide when that glide is the middle radical of a لفيف verb. And that is exactly the case with the واو in روى.
We can summarize this in a simple statement: when dealing with لفيف مقرون verbs, the Deficient aspect of the verb will be treated but the Hollow aspect will not. Below are the conjugations for the perfect tense; as an exercise, continue conjugating the imperfect and imperatives.
Perfect tense conjugations for verbs
with Contiguous Aggregation
Exercise: Conjugate the following verbs in the perfect and imperfect tense.
1. ولِي / يلي
5. أوى / يأوي
A Special Verb
Almost all verbs are accounted for now that verbal irregularities have been thoroughly discussed. But there remains a special verb which we still do not know how to conjugate quite yet. The verb is رأى, which can mean “to see” and it can also mean “to have an opinion about something”. It is a very, very common word used in many verbal paradigms for various purposes.
The special thing about this verb is that it loses its middle radical – the همزة – in the imperfect conjugations. This loss can be attributed to certain morphological rules and regulations, but, in reality, it is merely a consequence of excessive usage which required the simplification of the verb. The same goes for both the perfect and imperfect conjugations in paradigm إفعال. Partial tables are given below.
Imperfect for أرى
Perfect for أرى
Imperfect for رأى
Exercise: Construct the active and passive emphatic tables for رأى and أرى.