In North Africa, the oath wəḷḷah والله, literally "by God", is used so frequently to emphasize statements - religious scruples notwithstanding - that a more appropriate synchronic translation might be "seriously". (It can even be used with imperatives, which can hardly be read as committing the speaker to the truth of any given statement.) Perhaps as a result of their high frequency, constructions with wəḷḷah have a number of unique morphosyntactic characteristics. Negation after wəḷḷah uses ma ما alone, whereas in most other contexts negation is bipartite ma... š(i) ما... شي. Positive sentences after wəḷḷah are introduced by what seems to be a complementiser, ɣir غير or la لا, which in other contexts mean "just, only". What struck me this time is that in certain syntactic contexts this complementiser systematically shows up twice, once right after the oath and once at the start of the main clause proper; I've come across this in topics:
wəḷḷah la lyum la sxana والله لا اليوم لا سخانةand in conditionals with the condition preposed:
by.God just today just heat
By God, today, it's hot.
wəḷḷah ɣir anaya ɣir dərt-ha والله غير أنايا غير درتها
by.God just I.EMPH just did.1sgPf-3FSgAcc
By God, me, I did it.
wəḷḷah ɣir lukan t-dir-ha ɣir nə-ʕṭi-k ṭṛayħa والله غير لوكان تديرها غير نعطيك طرايحةIn generative grammar, it is generally supposed that sentences are complementiser phrases. The complementiser is unpronounced in normal declarative sentences here, as in many languages, but is pronounced overtly in specific circumstances such as, here, oaths. A popular hypothesis in the cartographic approach to generative grammar proposes that the complementizer phrase needs to be split into a more fine-grained set of projections: Force > Topic > Focus > Topic > Finiteness, following Rizzi 1997. Prima facie, this complementiser-doubling data suggests otherwise: it looks very much as though right-adjunction of both topics and conditions is being handled by embedding the CP within another CP.
by.God just if 2Sg-do-3FSgAcc just 1Sg-give-2SgAcc beating
By God, if you do that I'll give you a beating.
Free choice indefinites
In traditional Algerian Arabic, it seems pretty clear that the function of free choice indefinites ("anyone could do that", "take anything (you want)") isn't very strongly grammaticalised. In French, however, it's expressed using a relatively frequent, dedicated series of forms based on "no matter" plus the interrogative pronouns: n'importe qui/quoi/quel "anything, anyone, any..." Younger speakers of Algerian Arabic have borrowed the morpheme n'importe, but not the construction as a whole; instead, they simply prefix n'importe to existing indefinite nominals, in which interrogative pronouns play no role. Thus the phrase I heard today:
fə-z-zit wəlla f næ̃mpoṛt ħaja في الزيت ولا في نامبورت حاجة
in-the-oil or in any thing
in oil or in any thing
More children's morphology
Algerian Arabic has very few native bisyllabic words ending in the vowel u, but in loanwords it's not so unusual; for instance, it uses French triku تريكو (ie tricot) for "t-shirt". The first person singular possessive has two allomorphs: -i after consonants, -ya after vowels. I caught the younger of the two kids mentioned in the last post saying trikuww-i تريكوّي "my T-shirt" and trikuww-ək تريكوّك "your shirt"; his father (and everyone else, as far as I've noticed) says triku-ya تريكويَ and triku-k تريكوك. So it would seem that this kid has reanalysed the word as phonologically /trikuw/. Further inquiries are called for.
This little piggy...
I've encountered two finger rhymes in Algerian Arabic around Dellys; compare them to a Kabyle version below from Hamid Oubagha:
|Dellys A||Dellys B||Kabyle|
|hađa ʕaẓẓi məskin|
هاذا عزّي مسكين
This one is a robin, poor thing
|hađa sɣiṛ u ʕaqəl|
هاذا سغير وعاقل
This one is small and gentle
|Wa meẓẓiy, meẓẓiy meskin !|
This one is small, poor thing!
|u hađa ṣbəʕ əssəkkin|
وهاذا صبع السكّين
And this one is the knife-finger
|u hađa ləbbas əlxwatəm|
وهاذا لبّاس الخواتم
And this one is the ring-wearer
| Wa d Ɛebḍella bu sekkin !|
This one is Abdallah of the Knife!
|u hađa ṭwil bla xəsla|
وهاذا طويل بلا خسلة
And this one is long without function
|u hađa ṭwil u məhbul|
وهاذا طويل ومهبول
And this one is tall and crazy
|Wa meqqer, meqqer bezzaf !|
This one is big, very big!
|u hađa ləħħas əlgəṣʕa|
وهاذا لحّاس القصعة
And this one is the dish-licker
|u hađa ləħħas ləqdur|
وهاذا لحّاس القدور
And this is one is the licker of pots
|Wa d ameccaḥ n teṛbut !|
This one is the dish-licker!
|u hađa dəbbuz əlgəmla|
وهاذا دبّوز القملة
And this one is the louse-club
|u hađa dəbbuz ənnəmla|
وهاذا دبّوز النملة
And this one is the ant-club
| Wa d adebbuz n telkin !|
And this one is the lice-club
|u yəmma tqul: mʕizati, mʕizati, mʕizati!|
ويمّا تقول: معيزاتي، معيزاتي، معيزاتي
And mother says: my little goats, my little goats, my little goats!
|dəbb əđđib, dəbb ənnəmla, dəbb əđđib, dəbb ənnəmla...|
دبّ الذّيب، دبّ النملة، دبّ الذّيب، دبّ النملة...
Debb the wolf, Debb the ant, Debb the wolf, Debb the ant...
All three clearly share a common background. Obviously, Dellys B has been deliberately made more posh - ants substituted for lice, pots (with urban q) for dishes (with villagers' g), ring-finger for knife-finger... Dellys A remains defiantly unrefined, but shows at least one sign suggesting an original in Kabyle: ʕaẓẓi məskin "a robin, poor thing" makes a lot less sense for referring to the little finger than meẓẓi meskin "small, poor thing", but sounds almost the same. On the other hand, Dellys A shows a near-rhyme between verses 3, 4, and 5 which doesn't work at all in the attested Kabyle version. It would be interesting to compare more versions in both languages