How Persian uses the Arabic root جمع

Over at the Arabic blog, we’re talking about all the words that can be derived from the Arabic root جمع (J-M-ʿ), which means “to gather” or “to collect.” Here I want to illustrate how Persian incorporates the Arabic root into its lexicon.

The simplest way that Persian uses Arabic roots is simply by adopting them outright, so جَمع (jamʿ) becomes a Persian word meaning “collecting,” or “assembling.” Nearly as often, Persian adopts these Arabic roots by sticking them in front of the verb کَردَن (kardan), which means “to do” but is also added to nouns to make compound verbs. In this case, جَمع کَردَن (jamʿ kardan) means “to assemble” or “to collect.” Persian may place the same root in front of multiple verbs to create several compound verbs with distinct, but related, meanings. A presumably earlier Persian word, گِرد (gird) has the same meaning (although it can also mean “circumference” or “around”) and can also be combined with these verbs to form equivalent or at least similar vocabulary. For example:

  • جَمع آوَردَن (jamʿ āvardan): to gather; گِرد آوَردَن means “to accumulate”
  • جَمع شُدَن (jamʿ shudan): to be assembled, to be gathered together
  • جَمع بَستَن (jamʿ bastan): to join together (بَستَن means “to join/fasten”), although پَیوَستَن (payvastan) may be the better choice
  • جَمع آمَدَن (jamʿ āmadan): to be collected (آمَدَن means “to come”); گِرد آمَدَن means “to convene”

Any Arabic word that is derived from the root may also have been brought into Persian, and can be used in the same way, as a standalone noun/adjective and/or as part of a compound verb. HOWEVER, you can’t always assume that the word that got absorbed into Persian carries the same meaning that it has in modern Arabic. Persian got most of its Arabic loanwords centuries ago, and as languages develop over time and the meaning of words can be altered, it may be that Persian borrowed an Arabic word that then evolved in a different direction in Arabic than it did in Persian. This is just to say that you still need to consult a Persian dictionary even when you’re dealing with a word that has Arabic origins.

Here are some of the more important Persian words/verbs deriving from the Arabic جمع (and more common Persian alternatives):

  • جامِع (jāmiʿ): comprehensive, universal; the large mosque where public prayer is performed on Fridays
  • جُمعه (jumʿah, “jom-eh”): Friday, derived from the above for Friday communal mosque
  • جامِعه (jāmiʿah): society, community (one Arabic meaning, UNIVERSITY, is دانِشگاه/dānishgāh, “place of learning,” in Persian)
  • جَمعی (jamʿī): collective, cumulative
  • اجتِماع (ijtimāʿ): meeting, assembly, convention, rally (MORE COMMONLY USED: جَلسه/jalsah, from the Arabic verb جلس “to sit”)
  • اجماع (ijmāʿ): agreement, consensus, gathering
  • مَجمَع (majmaʿ): place of meeting, junction
  • انجُمَن (anjuman): club, association, assembly, organization (جَمعیه/jamʿīyah in Arabic)
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