RESOURCES FOR LEARNING GE'EZ: THE CLASSICAL LANGUAGE OF ETHIOPIA

RESOURCES FOR LEARNING GE'EZ-- THE CLASSICAL LANGUAGE OF ETHIOPIA

April 27, 2012

19: Adjectives

The majority of adjectives in Gəʿəz, as in other Semitic languages, are verbal participles. A smaller number are denominal. They appear in a few different patterns and I’ve explained these patterns further below. Adjectives always reflect the number, gender and case of the nouns they modify and all the patterns follow, more or less, the following scheme:


M
F
Sng.
- / -
- / -t
Pl.
-ኣን / -ān
-ኣት /- āt

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As in other Semitic languages, adjectives usually adjectives appear after the noun(s) they modify, so:

ሐነጹ፡ንጉሥ፡ምሁር፡ወአግብርቱ፡ጠበብት፡ሀገረ፡ሠናይተ፡ለካህናት፡ጻድቃን
ḥeneṣu nəguš məhur waʾagbərtu ṭababt hagara šannāyta lakāhnāt ṣādəqān //
The learned king, and his skilled servants, built a beautiful city for the pious priests.

ዴገነት፡ንግሥትነ፡ክብርት፡ሊቃነ፡ዕልዋነ፡ወእሙንቱ፡ጐዩ፡ብሔረ፡ባዕደ
deganat nəgəštna kəbərt liqāna ʿələwāna waʾəmuntu gʷayyu bḥera bāʿəda //
Our mighty queen pursued the rebellious elders and they fled to another land.

Similarly, cardinal / ordinal numbers and some quantifying adjectives generally precede the noun(s) they modify.

ቀለመ፡ብዙኃነ፡መጻሐፍተ፡ወተርጐመ፡ጸሓፊሁ፡ክታቦ፡ቅዱሰ፡ለካልእተ፡ልሳነ።
qalama bəzuxāna maṣāḥəfta watargʷama ṣaḥāfihu kətābo qəddūsa lakālʾəta ləsāna //
He authored many books and his scribe translated his sacred writing into another language.

And, as you would expect, adjectives are also fully functioning nouns. They can thus appear as predicates or in the construct state:

ራትዕ፡ነቢይክሙ።ራትዓን፡አንትሙ።እኩያነ፡ለብ፡ወነዳያነ፡መንፈስ፡አንትሙ።
rātʿə nabiykəmu // ʾirātʿān ʾantəmu // ʾəkuyāna ləbb wanaddāyāna manfas antəmu //
Your prophet is righteous. You all are not righteous. You all are evil of heart and poor of spirit.

ADJECTIVAL PATTERNS

1. The most frequently appearing adjectival pattern is characterized by an /-u/ on the second radical, so: ቱል (qətul) from B-verbs; ቅቱል (qəttul) from D-verbs and ቁቱል (qutul) from L verbs. Note that the –u is absent in the feminine singular inflection:

መሀረ mahara = to teach :
ምሁር məhur = educated / learned


M
F
Sng.
ምሁር
ምህር
məhur
məhərt
Pl.
ራን
məhurān
məhurāt

ነጸሐ naṣaḥa = to be pure :
ንጹሕ nəṣuḥ = pure / innocent / sincere


M
F
Sng.
ንጹሕ
ንጽሕ
nəṣuḥ
nəṣəḥt
Pl.
ንጹሓን
nəṣuḥān
nəṣuḥāt

ሰበሐ sabbaḥ = to praise :
ስቡሕ səbbuḥ = honorable / glorious / praised


M
F
Sng.
ስቡሕ
ስብሕ
səbbuḥ
səbbəḥt
Pl.
ስቡሓን
ስቡሓት
səbbuḥān
sebbuḥāt

Slight phonetic change accommodates roots that end with a -የ or a -ወ, so:

ሠነየ šannaya = to be beautiful :
ሥኑይ šannuy = adorned / decorated


M
F
Sng.
ሥኑይ
šannuy
šannit

ለበወ labbawa = to understand :
ልብው ləbbəw = wise / prudent


M
F
Sng.
ልብው
ləbbəw
ləbbut

2. Another adjectival pattern is characterized by an /-ā/ on the first radical, so: ቃትል (
qātəl). The ordinal numbers appear in this pattern (ኃምስ xāməs = fifth), which inflects quite simply:

ረትዐ ratʿa = to be righteous :
ራትዕ rātəʿ = righteous / just


M
F
Sng.
ራትዕ
ራትዕት
rātəʿ
rātəʿt
Pl.
ራትዓ
ራትዓት
rātəʿān
rātəʿāt

ብዕለ bəʿla = to be / become wealthy :
ባዕል bāʿəl = rich / wealthy


M
F
Sng.
ባዕል
ዕልት
bāʿəl
bāʿəlt
Pl.
ባዕላን
ባዕላት
bāʿəlān
bāʿəlāt

3. The third adjectival pattern includes few, albeit important, adjectives and is characterized by a /-i/ on the second radical, so: ቀቲል (qatil) from B-verbs and ቀቲል (qattil) for D-verbs. Note that the feminine form does not contain a /-t/ and that there is a common plural form:

ሐደሰ ḥaddasa = to restore :
ሐዲስ ḥadis = new


M
F
Sng.
ሐዲስ
ሐዳስ
ḥadis
ḥadās
Pl.
ሐደስት
ḥadast

ዐብየ ʿabya = to enlarge :
ዐቢይ ʿabiy = large


M
F
Sng.
ዐቢይ
ዐባይ
ʿabiy
ʿabāy
Pl.
ዐበይት
ʿabayt

4. The fourth adjectival pattern contains a characteristic doubling and elongation of the second radical, so: ቀታል (qattāl). Note that this form resembles the f. sing. form in the previous pattern.

ኄረወ xerawa = to be good :
ኄር xer = good


M
F
Sng.
ኄር
ኄርት
xer
xert
Pl.
ኄራ
ኄራት
xerān
xerāt

ሠነየ šannaya = to be beautiful :
ናይ šannāy = beautiful


M
F
sng.
ሠናይ
ሠናይት
šannāy
šannāyt
pl.
ሠናያ
ሠናያት
šannāyān
šannāyāt

5. Gəʿəz also derives adjectives from nouns. Whereas a few denominal adjectives have idiosyncratic patterns, e.g. ዐብድ ʿabd = ignorant, from ዐብድ ʿabd  = a fool, most denominal adjectives are formed with the suffix –āwi or –āy.

ዓለም ʿālam = the world :
ዓለማዊ ʿālamāwi = worldly


M
F
Sng.
ዓለማዊ
ዓለማዊት
ʿālamāwi
ʿālamāwit
Pl.
ዓለማዊያን
ዓለማዊያት
ʿālamāwiyān
ʿālamāwiyāt

መንፈስ manfas = the spirit / the essence :
መንፈሳዊ manfasāwi = spiritual


M
F
Sng.
መንፈሳዊ
መንፈሳዊት
manfasāwi
manfasāwit
Pl.
መንፈሳዊያን
መንፈሳዊያት
manfasāwiyān
manfasāwiyāt

2 comments:

  1. Billion times thank you! I was looking for some geez info for years! Please continue :) Thank you - you are my true hero. Just reached your blog via Wikipedia and I'm shocked and excited ha. Right now I'm starting to read from the beginning and the only thing I'm asking - please don't stop in the middle of your project as this is often the case with many similar endeavours. Thank you again. Greetings and best wishes from Poland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful! I'm so glad to hear this -- it's really motivating. This blog has become a way for me to unwind after a day of studying, so I really do hope to continue. I'm really pleased to hear there are other Ge'ez aficionados out there!
      I should note: some of the earlier posts are a bit unpolished, so I apologize for that in advance. I also modified my transliteration system half way through, so I hope that doesn't cause too much confusion. Good luck, and please keep me updated on your progress!

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