The linguistic essence of all words [Archives:2005/902/Reportage]

December 12 2005

Every language in the world starts with a few words and gradually builds up the vocabulary to thousands of words. Sometimes origional words become obsolote and new words are added to the language. Words in any language are categorised into different grops such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs… etc. Mr. Abdulkhaliq Obad is a language researcher from Ba'adan in Yemen. He had done many researches about language and structure. Recently he has expolored the similarities between the origions of words and how meaning is reflected through the similarities of word structure. Examples of this are revenge and avenge, turn and return tc. These words have similar meaning as well are derived from the same strcutural source linguistically. Abdulkhaliq Obad explained that such research helps translators and academics in their interpretation work.

Recently Mr. Obad has come up with a new challanging idea. Through his research he had discovered that the noun is the origion of all word groups. “I started wondering about this when I reflected on a verse in the Quran, Surat al-Baqara, that says (“And He – God – has taught Adam all nouns …”). I was introgued that how come God said he taught Adam nouns and not verbs or adjectives tc”, said Abdulkhaliq Obad explaining his new research. As it is known, Adam was the first humanbeing and the first who spoke a language. Hence, Abdulkhaliq sees that nouns are the basis of the rest of the word groups. As an illustration of this the adjective “short” could mean:

1. Short = nearer “As a result of its formation meaning with “cut” short-cut”

2. Short = imperfect “as a result of its formation meaning with either “electric” or “coming” electric-short, short coming”

3. Short = brief “As a result of its affixation meaning of the verbs “shorten” = brief , abbreviate”

4. Short = lack “As a result of its affixation meaning of the noun “shortage”

According to him, in any given sentence one can recognize the meaning of the adjective or verb by their colocation with the noun .

Other examples:

Heavy rain = abundant

The boy runs = go rapidly

Heavy meal = doughy

The car runs = operate , function

Heavy blow = fierce

The clock runs = revolve

Heavy sea = rough

The nose runs = covered with a flew

Heavy thunder = loud

Heavy taxes = oppressive

As the word “verb” implies that it is a derived word from the world “adverb”, So we can recognize the meaning of the verb through the adverb or adverbial phrase .

Examples :

The journey will occupy three days . “take”

Iraq occupied Kuwait . “colonized” , settled” .

Also the adverb can replace the verb

E.g – he will be back ten minutes. “return”

He certainly will come . “promised”

Also the adverb can take the adjectives on a journey through their family tree, for instance the word “very” can take the adjective “difficult, easy” through their family ladder activity.

difficult, rough, complicated, complex, challenging, daunting, awkward, impossible

easy, simple, straight, forward, user friendly, plain, simplified

Abdulkhaliq Obad argues that although a language starts with only a few nouns, it grows through its lexernes either by borrowing or through affixation . The purpose of his research is to generate a rhetorical mode in certain context of situation with similar relation of the interchangeable word and language function .

It is noteworthy that the two following structures have the same language function, which is comparison :

A. Action speaks louder than words

B. Pen is mightier than sword

So we can say:

A- Action is mightier than words

B- Pen is mightier than sword

C- Writer is mightier than warrior

D- Policy is mightier than force

E- Tongue is mightier than money

Note that B, C are similar in meaning this called “metonymy” which means the name of an attribute is used for that of the thing meant .

E.g. Crown “for king” Pen “for writer” Sword “for warrior”

He also feels that his research would help in generating new idiomatic expressions .


He has a good ear for music

He has a good eye for colors

He has a good nose for accents

He has a good tongue for speech

Finally, he aims with his research to bridge the cultural boundry gap of any source language and target language. As he discovered that many proverbs used in one language are present in a very similar form in the other cultures. For examples: The American saying: “Like taking candy from baby ” is very much like the Arabic one saying: “like taking a bone from a dog”.

“Personally I feel there is great benefit if this idea was exapnded further, especially to help translators in their work. For instance, suppose that you have gotten acquainted with the idiom “Al-Qaid AL-A'ala lil Quat Al-Musallahah” which is Commander in chief .This structure will smooth the way for them to be in tune with other idioms of different structure of the Arabic idioms but with similar language function.” Mr. Obad concluded.