Ism al-fāʿil
(2,500 words)

It is characteristic of medieval terminology not to be specific to one analytical level, thus, for example, ḥarf ‘particle’ can refer to anything from phonemes to paragraphs. The word fāʿil is no exception. It is discussed here on four levels.

1. Lexically, fāʿil means ‘doer, person doing’. An obscene metaphor, doubtless coined by a grammarian, pairs it with another technical term, mafʿūl bihi ‘done to’, viz. ‘direct object’, for the active and passive members of a homosexual relationship.

2. At the morphological level, fāʿil has three applications:

(a) Fāʿil stands for any word in…

Cite this page
Michael G. Carter, “Ism al-fāʿil”, in: Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard, Rudolf de Jong. Consulted online on 21 October 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1570-6699_eall_EALL_SIM_vol2_0031>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004177024, 20090831



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