Verbs of vague application 2

6 04 2007

Wright concludes the chapter as follows:

§8: 18. Since the differentiation between a verb of specific application and one of vague application very often resides simply in a difference of short vowels, the beginner reading unvocalized material will often face a problem in deciding which is intended. Here again (as with the case of the ambiguity over the status of a prepositional phrase mentioned in §2: 11) the overall structure of the sentence is the deciding factor. When a verb is of such a nature that it implies the participation of two entities, then it can only have a specific application if either the sentence itself or the context in which it is placed mentions two entities: if mention is made of only one, then the reader must assume that the other entity is unmentioned and that the veb is a form of vague application. Take the following example:

قتل بعضهم اللُصُوص الذين هجمول على القَرْية فى تلك اللَيْلة

mentions two entities, and the verb is therefore of specific application, and the sentence is capable (according to contextual likelihood) of standing for either ‘the robbers who attacked the village on that night killed some of them’ or ‘some of them killed the robbers who attacked the village on that night’; but if قتل بعضهم is a complete sentence, then it may represent ‘he killed some of them’ provided that the context suggests the participation of a previously mentioned ‘he’ in the action, but if this is not so then the verb must be assumed to be of vague application, and the statement represents ‘some of them were killed’.