The Absolute Superlative

Detail, “Vexillophilia,” oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in. (JMN 2020)

Blachère (364) describes how Arabic expresses the “absolute superlative” — i.e., the uttermost degree of something, with no comparison:

Par des noms au cas direct indéterminé de valeur adverbiale dont le sens primitif est paroxysme, degré suprême, rendus en franç. par très, fort… [By certain nouns in undetermined accusative case with adverbial value whose primitive sense is paroxysm, supreme degree, rendered in French by “very,” “exceedingly”…]

“Grammaire de l’Arabe Classique (1952)
[jidd(an)] “seriously,” [gaAya-t(an)] “extremely,” and [nihaAya-t(an)] “finally.”

The three adverbs cited are: [jidd(an)] “seriously,” [gaAya-t(an)] “extremely,” and [nihaAya-t(an)] “finally.” Blachère’s example is: [huwa kabiYr(un) jidd(an)] il est fort gros [he is exceedingly big].

[huwa kabiYr(un) jidd(an)] il est fort gros [he is exceedingly big].

A variant could be: [kaAna gaAya-t(an) fiY-l-kibri], literally “he was of an extreme limit of bigness.”

[kaAna gaAya-t(an) fiY-l-kibri], literally “he was of an extreme limit of bigness.”

Since [gaAya-t(an)] shares a root with verb [gayyaY] meaning “to hoist a flag,” the barbarism “he was flag-hoistingly big” can be entertained, conveying a whiff of the affiliation between pushed limits and flags.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to The Absolute Superlative

  1. Image 3, looks like wood grain. I think your script is improving with the markers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      Thank you for weighing in, OA. My dinghy floats in uncharted waters with these lettering experiments. The energy of the Arabic characters holds up even to torpid renderings such as mine. The Copic markers have their merits, but even the “brush” tip and not the nib gives an effect of assertive crosshatching; I’d like something less strokey and more washy. I mean these sketches to illustrate with a bit of eye-catchiness points of Arabic grammar that I’m working to assimilate, and the labor of inking in backgrounds seems more tedium than the result justifies. Maybe I should brush some tone on the paper with other medium, then draw and ink the lettering over it? I’m a novice to the mixing of media.

      Liked by 1 person

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