To “accuse of stealing” in Berber and Arabic

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?

2 Responses to To “accuse of stealing” in Berber and Arabic

  1. Lameen Souag says:

    You know, it strikes me that another explanation is possible for the Arabic case: taking the “accuse of” verb to be derived not directly from the verb but from the noun “thief” (is that sarraag or saareg in Libya?) If that explanation pans out, then the Berber cases would have to be calqued from the Arabic.

    • kato says:

      Libyan sarrāg. Yes, sarrag = “to make smn. out as a sarrāg” seems quite possible. I’d still want to know if similar cases can be found outside of Libya.

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