Views Concerning the ʿāmil of the Predicate of the Nominal Sentence Incorrectly Ascribed to Sībawayhi

In: From Sībawayhi to ʾAḥmad Ḥasan al-Zayyāt: New Angles on the Arabic Linguistic Tradition
Author: Aryeh Levin

Abstract

In Sībawayhi’s view, the mubtadaʾ, i.e., the subject of the nominal sentence is the factor (ʿāmil) producing the case-ending in the predicate (al-mabnī ʿalā l-mubtadaʾ or al-ḫabar). Most grammarians do not accept this view, and some of them even ascribe to Sībawayhi views concerning the ʿāmil of the ḫabar, which he does not hold. Some grammarians, including the famous commentator al-Sīrāfī, declare that Sībawayhi in fact holds more than one view concerning this ʿāmil. Such an incorrect ascription to Sībawayhi of views he does not hold was adopted by Raphael Talmon, who believed that Sīb. I, 126.14–20 confirms that to Sībawayhi the ʿāmil of the ḫabar is not the mubtadaʾ, but the combination of two of the ʿawāmil, known as al-mubtadaʾ and al-ibtidāʾ. However, Talmon’s translation and interpretation of the above excerpt are incorrect.

This article proposes to show that the only view held by Sībawayhi concerning the ʿāmil of the ḫabar is that this ʿāmil is the mubtadaʾ.