Linguistic Observations: "إزدحمت السوق"

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3 months ago

Souq. Marketplace. Shop. Bazaar. Random thoughts about the word "Market."

Let's talk about the word "Market" today. Market is called "Souq" (سوق) in Arabic. Markets are places you Shop at, but the words are used in different contexts from each other. I got interest in the topic the past few days and I'm writing what I found.

Market (noun)*

1 - "A regular gathering of people for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other commodities."

2 - "An area or arena in which commercial dealings are conducted."

Market is different from shop. A shop is a place you buy various goods. Market is usually a gathering of shops or stands. Since the word market is so general, it can also refer to a one Shop.

Since I mentioning this topic, I'll also mention Bazaar. It's essentially the persian word for Marketplace, but when use it in Arabic context, we usually mean a Market that covers a whole district. I only started hearing people say "Bazaar" recently in Libya.

Market is usually compromised of multiple Shops and the word for Shop is "متجر" (Matjar) in Arabic. (Plural: "Matajir"/"متاجر.")

The word Souq is taken from the root ساق which means "Leg" in Arabic. Because Markets are places in which people's legs go everywhere all the time.

I got interested in looking up this word after reading an article on Hive that gave the "Market" feminine pronouns. It reminded me that Souq (سوق) is mainly a feminine word in Classical Arabic.

As I said in a previous article, each Arabic word must be either Masculine or Feminine. Interestingly, the word سوق can be used in both Masculine and Feminine contexts. (According to this credible source.)

Now let's get to the fun part: Despite being mainly a feminine word in Classical Arabic, a lot of modern Arab cultures treat the word Souq as a masculine word.

Or so I thought before researching for this article. Apparently: "Souq" can be used as either feminine and masculine with no preference! There are as much Classical Arabic sources of Arab Poets using it in Feminine form, as there are using it in Masculine form. This discussion I found gave us examples of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ using it like this and like that.

In Libya, we use it exclusively in Masculine form. Which is funny because we say "السوق السوداء" (Black Market) in the feminine form, but some of us still use the Masculine Grammer around it.

In Libya we say "فتح السوق" and never rarely "فتحت السوق." The difference between the two phrases is that the second one is feminine.

This is the reason, a lot of Arabs use masculine pronouns for Souq even when we speak in Modern Standard Arabic I believe a lot of us don't know that you can use Female prounouns for it. The ones who know, like me, are so used saying it masculainly in our native dialects.

What do you think?

This article is an expansion on one of my Hive Microblogs on DBuzz. My (quick) research for it was very rewarding. I might be wrong in some of the above. After all, these are my observations. Feel free to correct anything I said.

Does your culture have variatons of the word Market? Please tell us in the comments: What it's like using these words in your own culture? Or if you find anything interesting about it.

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