"Every Arabic word may be traced back to a verbal root consisting of three consonants from which are derived up to twelve different verbal modes, together with a number of nouns and adjectives. This is referred to as the trilateral root, and specific words are formed from it by the insertion of long and short vowels and by the addition of suffixes and prefixes. The root as such is 'dead' - unpronounceable - until brought to life, that is to say vocalized, by the vowels, and it is according to their placing that the basic meaning is developed in a number of different directions. The root has sometimes been described as the 'body' while the vowelling is the 'soul'; or again, it is from the root that a great tree grows."
-pg. 74 of Islam and the Desinty of Man by Charles Le Gai Eaton