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En réponse à David Peterson <[log in to unmask]>:

> Arabic.  (There is a term "umi" which is like "mom", though.)

And 'abi' for 'dad'. If I remember correctly, 'waalid(un)' and 'waalida(t(un))'
(the real mark for feminine in Arabic is the 't' which is just usually not
pronounced, and triggers a 'a' vowel in front of it are technical terms,
referring to any father and mother (they can be indefinite). 'abii'
(litterally: 'my father') and 'umii' (litterally 'my mother') are always
definite (they always refer to actual people) and normally always followed by a
possessive (at least a personnal suffix).

>     So, my big question is: What's the deal?  Has anyone done a lot
> study on
> Semitic languages?  How did ordinary human beings naturally develop
> this
> system and, what's more, preserve it?  It absolutely mystifies me.
>

Such a system also eludes me, just like the system of derived verbs from a
single triconsonnantal root (there are nine usual forms, numbered from 2 to 10,
since the 1st is the 'normal' underived verb(s) of the root). I had tried such
a system in an early conlang of mine when I didn't know anything of Arabic, and
I had found the system so artificial that I had abandoned the project. Still,
when I discovered Arabic, I discovered that my derivations were not that
artificial...

Who knows, things happen in the world that we cannot grasp. Maybe it's just
because we speak a language which puts as much importance on consonnants and
vowels that we find the Semitic system unnatural. The Arabic system seems to be
quite stable, so it doesn't seem to be in contradiction with naturality.

Christophe.

http://rainbow.conlang.free.fr