16 June 2015 2 Comments
What do the following two utterances have in common?
kann-ak tsarrag fi-ya? كنك تسرّق فيا؟ (Arabic, Benghazi)
part.2SGM steal.CAUS.2SGM. in.1SG
“Why are you accusing me of stealing?”
šẹk dīma tsukāret dgī شك ديما تسُكارت دْگي (Berber, Sokna)
you always steal.CAUS.2SGM. in.1SG
“You always accuse me of stealing!”
The answer is that they both use the causative form of the word “to steal” to mean not *”to cause to steal” but rather to mean “to accuse of stealing”. We can add to this the Zwara Berber causative verb ysǝxnǝb with the same meaning. In this Arabic dialect, as in many others, the causative is expressed by Form II of the verb, while these Berber varieties use the –s– causative (note that in Zwara the verb happens to be a loan from Arabic).
|“Steal”||“Accuse of stealing”||Place|
|yisrig يسرق||īsarrag ايسرّق||Benghazi|
|yukȫrr يُكور||ysukāret يسُكارَت||Sokna|
|yǝxnǝb يخنب||ysǝxnǝb يسخنب||Zwara|
Of course, Classical Arabic سرّق sarraqa already means “to accuse someone of theft, call someone a thief”. This being the case, the Benghazi form is hardly surprising and the Berber forms are likely to be calques of the Arabic. But I do not know to what extent Arabic dialects outside of Libya use a reflex of sarraqa in the same way. Is it more widespread than just Libya? Furthermore, do other Berber varieties also use a causative of “to steal” in the same way? Can readers of this blog find or think of examples besides these in other languages of North Africa?