Has anyone come across a similar phenomenon in any other Arabic variety?
Monday, December 09, 2013
wləd/wlid- "boy, son": An irregular development
There's a curious feature I recently noticed about the Arabic of Dellys in Algeria (I can't imagine what took me so long, since it's in my own idiolect as well!). In Morocco and western Algeria "boy" and "son" are both ولْد wəld, corresponding regularly to Classical Arabic وَلَد walad. In Dellys, "boy" is ولد wləd, again corresponding regularly (in Morocco, CaLaC and CaLC, where C is any consonant and L is a sonorant, both end up as CəLC; in central Algeria, the former becomes CLəC, the latter CəLC). But with a possessor – ie, in the sense of "son" – is not wləd, but وليد wlid. You can say وليد خويا wlid xu-ya "my brother's son" or وليدك wlid-ək "your son", but not *wləd xuya or *wəld-ək. It's not obvious how to explain this historically; on the face of it, it looks like a completely irregular development. There are a few other nouns derived from the pattern CaCaC – for instance حنش ħnəš "snake", حبق ħbəq "basil" – but I can't think of any cases offhand which frequently occur in the construct state (that is, with a possessor directly following them). It might be compared to the diminutive, but in present-day Dellys Arabic anyway, the diminutive is وليّد wliyyəd, not wlid.