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'Addad' : a study of homo-polysemous opposites in Arabic

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Author al-Khamash, Salim Soliman.
Broad Subject Language and linguistics
Summary Addad (plural of didd "opposite") is the term employed by Arab philologists to designate the Arabic words of which each denotes two opposite meanings such as jawn "dark" and "bright". The peculiarity of this phenomenon in Arabic has attracted the attention of scholars of different disciplines from the middle ages up to the present. The traditional Arab philologists list about four hundred items while some modern studies limit the number to about twenty items. Opinions differed also in respect to its reality, criteria and explanation.

The chief aim of this study is to close the gap between these views by suggesting that each lexical item of Addad involves semanticambiguity. To language users is a pragmatic, practical and synchronic lexical issue and to historical linguists is a diachronic linguistic question that needs explanation. Therefore, this phenomenon is not different from those involving homonymy or polysemy except in the degree of ambiguity. Thus, an attempt was made to give a detailed account of proper Addad supported with textual and linguistic (phonological, derivational, or semantic) evidence. Beside the theoretical aspects and the practical implications which this study addresses a host of other related issues were examined. The controversy of the claimed dialectical Addad were investigated in light of Arabic literary traditions. More efforts were focused on bringing in more textual evidence in support of each item of Addad.

This study is divided into three chapters. The first deals with the phenomena of Addad in general. Chapters II and III provide a detailed account of Addad with textual evidence coupled with phonetic, derivational or semantic explanation.

Conclusions. This study proposes a new list of Addad consisting of 116 items that are supported by textual evidence or by phonological, derivational or semantic justifications. In about 90% of the occurrences of these items, the intended meaning can be understood from context. This seems to indicate that the speaker is consciously aware of the semantic ambiguity that such items may create. A number of these words are attested expressing opposite meanings in the poetry of the same poet or in that of members of his tribe or region.

Language English
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