1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Arabic
  4. >
  5. "Khartoum is the capital of S…

"Khartoum is the capital of Sudan."

Translation:اَلْخَرطوم عاصِمة الْسّودان.

July 27, 2019

32 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NezihD
  • 1904

why is it "عاصمة " but not " العاصمة" here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

Because here, عاصمة is added to another noun: السودان. This is addition of nouns (or as they call it in Western grammar books: Genitive case).
In such compound of nouns, in Arabic, the "AL" is attached to the SECOND noun and not the first. However, if the second noun is a proper name, AL might not be added at all. Example: the capital of Turkey would be عاصمة تركيا (3ácimatu Turkyá). No "AL" was added to تركيا.

"C" here is for ص - I just like to type it that way instead of "ss" or "S".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vsandl

Thank you. Duo should have explained about that. Have a point.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AniOhevYayin

In other Semitic languages it works the same and is called the construct state. The second element of the construct state gets the definite article. Same in Hebrew, etc.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Does Hebrew also only have one article?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AniOhevYayin

Hebrew does not have an indefinite article, although sometimes it uses echad, "one," in that way. Arabic can signify indefiniteness with tanween or nunation, but Hebrew does not have anything comparable. The definite article in Hebrew hā (הָ), works the same as Arabic; thus when you have a phrase "the X of the Y," in Hebrew you put the definite article with the second Y element. So, e.g., "the student of the teacher," is talmid hamoreh. The definite article would not go with the first word. Any basic grammars will supply an overview. Here's a brief Hebrew overview: https://duolingo.fandom.com/wiki/Hebrew_Skill:Construct_State_1 Arabic brief overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%E1%B8%8D%C4%81fah


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AniOhevYayin

I can't respond to your post about Bethlehem there, so will do so here. Yes, לחם can mean bread but also grain. Beth can mean house but also storage house. So the name refers to storage place of grain. It's a toponym without a definite article. Construct chains can be indefinite (a storage house of grain rather than the storage house of grain). Perhaps consider taking the DL Hebrew. Good luck.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Thank you very much, AniOhevYayin. Interesting. Could you tell me if there's any well-known "the X of the Y" type construction, like the Arabic Dar es Salaam? I can't think of any other Arabic ones.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

AniOhevYayin, I recently told a friend of mine about iDaafa in Arabic, and gave Dar Es Salaam as an example, and she told me that when she was in Israel, she was told that Bethlehem means "house of bread" (apparently the Hebrew for house is the same as Arabic, and lehem means bread). But I can't see any definite article before "lehem". Has she got it wrong, or have I misunderstood something? I look forward to your reply.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

AniOhevYayin, thanks for your reply about Bethlehem. Yes, I see it's a toponym, but are you telling me it's not an example of a "construct state"? I don't quite understand, because you say it means "storage place of grain". Is that not a construct state? Or could you explain why the second word isn't preceded by the definite article? In addition, could I ask you to give me an example of a Hebrew construct state which is well known as a phrase or a name internationally? Like the Arabic Dar es Salaam.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HaroldGarr6

bless you TJ_Q8


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vsandl

Oh, it seems I cant give you a point. Sorry and thanks again.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CeeCeeSong

I do not understand this. Is there any easier explanation?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

Any specific point you're having hard time with?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Duolingo marked my answer right, but with a typo. But it wasn't a typo. I thought "capital" would need the article. Surely, grammatically, the Duolingo correct answer could mean "Khartoum is a capital of Sudan"? It seems to me that it's only the meaning of "capital" that prevents that. If اَلْخَرطوم عاصِمة الْسّودان means "Khartoum is the capital of Sudan", what would اَلْخَرطوم العاصِمة الْسّودان mean?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

In Genitive relationships (X of Y), the second term only gets (AL); That is if the compound is to be definite.
Some country names in Arabic do need (AL) by default, such as السودان (in fact most names require AL). Thus, The capital of Sudan would be عاصمة السودان, and it cannot be العاصمة السودان (this one is meaningless in fact) nor العاصمة سودان (this one doesn't make sense but it's like saying *the capital is Sudan).

Notice that the whole Genitive compound here, عاصمة السودان, takes the place of a predicative (Arabic: خبر: xabar) - while Khartoum الخرطوم is the subject of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Thank you very much. Yes, I knew, and had forgotten, that in a "of" construction, only the second noun has the definite article, unless it is a proper name. So I can see now why اَلْخَرطوم عاصِمة الْسّودان means Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. But how would you say "Khartoum is a capital of Sudan" ? Or, if that's problematic, how, grammatically (because I don't know the vocabulary!), would you say eg "prickly pear is a plant of the desert"? Secondly, I don't understand your point about the subject and the predicate. Surely it's exactly the same in English and other European languages? Or have I missed something?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

Well, forget my point about the predicate. It's just how we see Arabic grammar and that would branch to another discussion.

Now, what I understood from your sentences is that you want to express something like: X is one Y of the Z; Meaning, something like partitive (if my term is correct here). So , it's like you are saying (Khartoum is a capital of Sudan, among other cities). In this situation (if I understood you correctly here) then we can say this in Arabic in various ways:

  • الخرطوم هي إحدى عواصم السودان (al-xarTúm hiya iHdá 3awácimi -ssúdán): Literally Khartoum is one of the capitals of Sudan.
  • الخرطوم من عواصم السودان (al-xarTúm min 3awácimi-ssúdán): Literally Khartoum is "one" from the capitals of Sudan.

Note: 3awácim عواصم is the plural of عاصمة (3ácimah).

And maybe there are other ways I didn't think of right now. As you can see the idea in Arabic is to give the listener the impression many (plural) and tell the listener that X is one of the many Ys of Z.
Hope I got this right for you.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Thank you. About the predicate, it seems to me it's the same in Arabic and in English: [Khartoum] (subject) [is the capital of Sudan] (predicate). Do you feel there is a difference?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

In terms of order, I would say almost No.
However, each language has its peculiar system. For example, in specific situation, we can advance the predicate (put it in the beginning) and place the subject later. This is beside the fact that in nominal sentences we don't use any auxiliary verbs or (to be) copulation to connect the subject and the predicate. Things, sometimes, can be a bit complex in Arabic when we go higher up in eloquence and rhetoric in relation to grammar and sentence order, but that's something for literature seekers, and Quran learners.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Thanks. You say that in specific situations you can put the predicate at the beginning. That suggests that the standard order would have the predicate AFTER the subject? Same as in English. And English too can change the order of subject and predicate for effect, most often in poetry I think. Secondly, the lack of copula isn't unique to Arabic; it's the same in Russian, at least, in the present tense. Does this also apply only in the present tense in Arabic?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karuppa

Why is it alkhartoum and not Khartoum?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

In Arabic it is so. Many capital names in Arabic are defined with AL, specially if the name is purely of Arabic origin. There are many of course without (AL), but Sudan's capital is defined. As well as many country names.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

KatieC993112 Yes, the natural order is deemed to be subject-predicate for nominal sentences. And yes, this feature is common in Russian as well (that is not using the verb "to be" in present or general aspect). Though Russian does not deal with any form of definite and indefinite articles, while Arabic deals with some of that and it is a main factor in forming the idea of what is a subject and what is a predicate.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

Oh, of course, you're right - the absence of any article in Russian makes it very different from Arabic. And of course there must be countless other differences. I was just picking up on what you said about the lack of copula in Arabic. Incidentally, I'm grateful to you for making me aware of the concept of "nominal sentence". I have studied linguistics, but don't remember coming across that. And no wonder, I've just found in Wikipedia that "Historically, nominal sentences have posited much controversy regarding their identity as an existent linguistic phenomenon." It was the Arab grammarians who introduced the concept, while Western grammarians, basing themselves on Greek grammar as you said, paid little attention to it, except as an exception to normal grammar. This is so eye-opening, TJ. I'm going to have to look into it a lot more. جزيل الشكر (I hope that's correct Arabic)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

Most welcome. Yes, your phrase is correct though not very common in that order. Typically it would be شكرًا جزيلًا9.

The controversy of the nominal sentence continued even in between Arab grammarians in modern times, with various theories and considerations and methods of classifications.
Anyway, the most conventional method and what is taught in schools right now, away from the Academic circles, is that a nominal sentence is a sentence starting with a noun, while a verbal sentence is one starting with a verb. Beyond that, considerations delve into the circle of Academics.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

OK. I can't quite read شكرًا جزيلًا9. Would you mind transliterating it for me? In particular, I don't recognise what looks like a figure nine at the end.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

how funny that i made a typo while writing "typo"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8
  • 1360

oh hehe sorry - that was a type. It should be like this:

شُكْرًا جَزيلًا

šukran jazílan


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatieC993112

type => typo! Thank you very much anyway.

Learn Arabic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.