جمع = “to gather”

The way this blog ought to work, if it were really “Arabic Word a Day” like I named it, is that in between all the special holiday occasions when I write long, periodically interesting things about whatever occasion is at hand, and the grammar lessons, which I hate writing as evidenced by the fact that it’s been months since I wrote one, we’d also cover, you know, words. Just random words, whatever, pick a root out of the dictionary and toss it up there on the old tubes. That’s the way it ought to work, but of course it doesn’t. Except for right now!

Let’s take a look at an Arabic root, جمع or J-M-ʿ. You should know, or recall from reading it here, that the basic unit of Arabic, and indeed all Semitic languages, is not the word but rather the root. A root is like a word in that it’s an arrangement of letters, in Arabic usually three of them, that represents a thing or idea, and in fact every root is its own word (provided you add some short vowels). But roots are more than just the one word; if you know the right patterns, like the various verb forms or the ways in which participles are formed, you can plug in any given root and derive a whole bunch of other words that are related in some way to the original definition of the root itself.

The root we’re looking at today is a great example of the root concept because you can derive a number of important words from this root. Let’s start with the verbs:

  • Form I (root, “to do it”): جَمَعَ (jamaʿa)–to gather, to unite, to combine, to convene, to bring together, to make plural

Basically, the core meaning is “to take something and add stuff to it,” right? Now see how that plays out in the other verb forms (not every root uses every verb form, and some roots have forms that are now obsolete):

  • Form II (usually means “to cause someone to do it”): جَمَّعَ (jammaʿa)–to amass, to accumulate, to compile, to bring together
  • Form III (associative, “to do it with”): جامَعَ (jāmaʿa)–to have sex
  • Form IV (also causative, but more focused/intensive than Form II): أجمَعَ (ajmaʿa)–to agree (on something)
  • Form V (reflexive of Form II, “to cause oneself to do it”): تَجَمَّعَ (tajammaʿa)–to congregate, to assemble, to rally, to band together
  • Form VIII (reflexive of Form I: “to do it oneself”): إجتَمَعَ (ijtamaʿa)–to assemble, to meet, to convene, to come together
  • Form X (“to request or consider that it should be done”): إستَجمَعَ (istajmaʿa)–to gather, to collect, to summarize

Now, each verb form can be further manipulated to derive verbal nouns, participles, and other words that all will have some connection to the original root concept of gathering or combining. Some of the most important:

  • جَمع (jamʿ): gathering, crowd, throng, assembly, aggregation, collection, combination
  • جامِع (jāmiʿ): comprehensive, universal; the large mosque where public prayer is performed on Fridays
  • جُمعة (jumʿah): Friday, derived from the above for Friday communal mosque
  • جَمعي (jamʿī): collective, collectivist (also جَماعي/jamāʿī)
  • جَمعية (jamʿīyah): club, association, assembly, organization
  • جَماعة (jamāʿah): community (may also be مُجتَمَع/mujtamaʿ)
  • جَميع (jamīʿ): whole, entire, all
  • مَجمَع (majmaʿ): place of meeting, junction
  • إجماع (ijmāʿ): agreement, consensus
  • إجتِماع (ijtimāʿ): meeting, assembly, convention, rally
  • جامِعة (jāmiʿah): league, union, association, federation, university
  • مَجموع (majmūʿ): collected, gathered, whole, total

Get the idea?