A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Reference Grammars)

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Demonstrative pronouns and their functions; Relative pronouns and relative clauses; Arabic numerals and numeral phrases; Prepositions and prepositional phrases; Questions and question words; Connectives and conjunctions; Subordinating conjunctions: the particle 'inna and her sisters; The classes of Arabic verbs; Verb inflection: a summary; Form I the base form of the triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns and participles; Form II triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form III triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form IV triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form V triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form VI triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form VII triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form VIII triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form IX triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Form X triliteral verb: verb types, verbal nouns, and participles; Community Reviews.

Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 12, Jonathan Mckay rated it really liked it. What makes Arabic hard? This question is one of the fundamental and repeated queries of the Arabic student. Since many grammar rules are never exposed in most verbal or written texts, it is possible for even advanced students of the language to maintain little more than an elementary proficiency i What makes Arabic hard? Since many grammar rules are never exposed in most verbal or written texts, it is possible for even advanced students of the language to maintain little more than an elementary proficiency in syntax and grammar.

I even remember one Saudi student in Spokane telling me it was easier for him to write papers in English than it was for him to write them in Arabic. So, it became inevitable that I should read a grammar book other than the isolated although deftly composed lessons in the Al-Kitaab series. Ryding, and I have not been disappointed. Perhaps contrary to the expectations of the author, I read the text straight through and was gratified to see it start from letters and continue on to words, with the most difficult part of verbs and conjugation coming at the end.

The mast surprising thin about this book was its accessibility. I read it all in about 4 days, and while it will certainly take me more time to memorize and internalize all the new concepts and words I feel like I have a vastly improved knowledge of Arabic grammar than before I read this book. The most helpful tool for this is the fact that the majority of the pages is devoted to phrase-level and sentence level examples, from form XII verbs to rules governing the seat of Hamza within words.

While the book covers all the rules a student would practically want to know, references to other works are made throughout to more detailed analyses. Finally the nearly complete lack of linguistic terminology was a significant boon to my comprehension. In the rare instances that a linguistic term English was used, it was always clearly explained before being used by the author. There were three drawbacks to the book, none of which were particularly troublesome.

First Ryding has a troubling tendency to state when patterns can be used, not when they cannot. I still have no clear idea when I should use one over the other. Even explaining the use as idiomatic or that it is difficult to discern would have been more helpful. Also, many rules are repeated through different section of the book, without the addition of any real new information. Finally, the placement of Verbs at the end of the book and the organization of dividing based on pattern I-XV rather than verb type, such as hollow or weak, would have been extraordinarily confusing were I not already familiar with the rules via Al-Kitaab.

As a reference book or grammar study guide, this book is far more useful than Al-Kitaab, Arabic Grammar by W. Wright, or any of the paperback sized books that cover the main rules but do not give the depth of analysis or the myriad of examples given by a serious reference work like this.

Oct 30, Alexandra rated it it was amazing. This book is really good. It is easy to use, was written by someone who knows English, and is really comprehensive.

A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic - Karin C. Ryding - Google книги

Examples similar to the introductory examples in 6 — 12 are found in reference grammars of MSA Cantarino ; Badawi et al. Yet in none of these sources do the authors explicitly distinguish between OC and NC predicates. Nevertheless, this question is addressed from a functionalist perspective by Persson and from a generative linguistics perspective in a study by Habib The selecting predicates are semantically classified as manipulative, cognitive , or utterance predicates. Modality predicates are excluded from this study, since Persson assumes that they obligatorily require the complement clause subject to be coreferent with the matrix subject.

As examples she gives sentences which are similar to 10a ambiguous with matrix subject , 12a ambiguous with embedded subject , and 11 different matrix and embedded subjects. There are two different types of clausal complements in MG: oti clauses 15a and na clauses 15b. The mood of oti -complements is always indicative, and their tense is variable. Na -complements, on the other hand, have subjunctive mood and invariable present tense. Furthermore, oti -complements can be separated from the verb by different elements; na must be adjacent to its selecting verb, with only the possibility of a negative element intervening.

Roussou distinguishes between the verb types which select for each complement clause. Following is the set of predicate types which take na complements. Of those, the first three types can only take na -complements, whereas the rest can also appear with other types of complement clauses e. Unlike the infinitive, the subjunctive predicate in a na -clause is a finite form, which fully agrees in person and number with its understood subject. Roussou claims that of the predicate types listed above, modals and aspectuals enforce obligatory coreference of the subject of their na -complements.

As for the volitionals, Roussou notes that the category is rather vague, and is interpreted differently by different researchers. Within this group, she finds that verbs like dare, be willing , and intend , as well as verbs of permission such as allow, encourage , and prevent , enforce coreference with a matrix argument. Roussou notes that the type of so-called volitionals that require coreference have an implicit root dynamic modal reading, which is associated with ability or permission or lack thereof. Other volitionals such as want, try and manage strongly favor coreference, but also allow disjoint reference.

The control continuum Roussou In comparing the class of control predicates in MG with that of English, Roussou notes that the presence of agreement marking on the embedded verb in MG, but not in English, accounts for the smaller number of control predicates in Greek. PRO in OC is interpreted as a bound variable, which is co-indexed with a co-dependent of the matrix clause. He proposes that the key to distinguishing between OC and NC is found in two dimensions according to which complement clauses can be classified: semantic tense [T] and overt morphological agreement [Agr].

The tense specification of complement clauses depends on whether or not their tense is anaphoric to the tense of the matrix clause. Thus, when the complement clause is semantically tensed the matrix and embedded events can be temporally mismatched 17a , but when the complement clause is untensed they must match 17b.


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Based on this characterization, Landau categorizes the types of predicates which select tensed or untensed complement clauses. The temporal properties, he claims, are by-products of non- attitude contexts. Attitude domains are evaluated according to the epistemic state of the participant in the reported situation, and not to the actual world. Thus, the temporal mismatch in 17a with the desiderative predicate plan is accounted for by the fact that the predicate is attitudinal: Tom can have an attitude about an event in a different time period.

Conversely, the non-attitudinal implicative manage in 17b is simultaneous with the embedded event and is therefore incompatible with temporally mismatched modifiers. The combination of the agreement [Agr] parameter and the semantic category of the predicate regardless of whether it is stated in terms of tense [T] or attitude produces four different options, which interact with control.

One implication of this generalization is that in languages such as MSA, where the complement clause exhibits overt morphological agreement, non-attitude predicates will enforce obligatory control. We show in Section 4. The picture that emerges from the studies presented so far is that the distinction between OC and NC predicates is directly linked to their semantic properties.

Persson , Roussou and Landau all identify modality predicates as typically OC predicates. Roussou describes a continuum ranging from aspectuals and modals on the one side, to volitionals and epistemics on the other. Landau , on the other hand, proposes a categorical bifurcation between two types of predicates, based on the semantic in dependence of the tense of their complement clause, as well as the manifestation of morphological agreement on its predicate. Based on these studies, we would predict that if there were OC predicates in MSA they would belong to the modals and aspectuals, and possibly the implicatives.

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These predictions notwithstanding, we should note that Habib denies the existence of obligatory subject control in MSA. In order to determine whether OC predicates exist in MSA we conducted a corpus study, which focused on a number of predicates discussed by Landau and Roussou As mentioned above Section 2 , MSA is not a natively spoken language, and its users are all native speakers of a wide variety of dialects. Nevertheless, it is has emerged as a lingua franca of the Arab world, and the corpus we use represents a well defined language, especially when restricted to the journalistic register and domain, which is our focus in this work.

The morphological tagging of the corpus provides a way of defining queries which target particular person, number and gender features, as well as Case and mood. Consequently, we were able to retrieve instances where the matrix predicate and the embedded predicate match in their gender and person agreement, as well as those where there is a mismatch. Furthermore, we could control for the existence or lack of a possible subject i.

Nevertheless, the search results are not exhaustive. There are numerous instances of erroneous morphological tags, which contributed to false positive results as well as false negatives. Moreover, we decided to favor precision over recall, and limited the distance between the predicates. Consequently, instances with longer NP subjects or intervening adverbials were not retrieved. These limitations notwithstanding, in what follows we provide examples of coreference and disjoint reference for a representative set of predicates.

Due to the non-exhaustive nature of the searches we do not present quantitative data with regard to the distribution of coreference and disjoint reference. We do, however, note whether we found dozens of similar examples or whether there were only several examples of a particular pattern. In what follows we present corpus-based examples of coreference and disjoint reference with each of the aforementioned predicates.

Volitionals are predicted by Roussou and by Landau to be NC predicates. While the matrix and embedded verbs share a subject in 21a , in 21b the matrix verb bears 3 PM agreement whereas the embedded verb bears 3 SF agreement and has an overt subject. Clearly, the two subjects do not share a reference.

Thus, the prediction is that it will enforce coreference, or in other words, be an OC predicate. However, as 22b shows, this is not the case. Admittedly, the disjoint reference example presented here is the only one we were able to find with this predicate. However, here too we find evidence of both types of reference relations, with several instances of disjoint reference. The prediction is therefore that they would enforce coreference. This prediction, however, does not hold.

Aspectuals are another class of predicates that are predicted by Roussou and Landau to enforce coreference. Importantly, we found disjoint reference examples of modals and aspectuals, which were predicted to enforce coreference. Interestingly, in many disjoint reference examples e. This coreference creates cohesion between the two events denoted by the two clauses. Nevertheless, it is not obligatorily present cf. The diagnostic which teases tensed complements apart from untensed ones, namely modification with temporally mismatched adverbs, is not applicable to corpus searches.

Consequently, we consulted a highly competent speaker of MSA, who provided grammaticality judgments. Consider, for example, 22b , repeated here as 27a and its modified counterpart 27b. Building on insights from previous research on the MSA phenomenon, on a related construction in Modern Greek, and on cross-linguistic distinctions between OC and NC, we identified a class of candidate predicates.

While it is indeed possible that this verb is in fact an OC predicate, possibly the only one in MSA, we conjecture that it is either a raising predicate or that due to its relatively low frequency the lack of instances of disjointness is coincidental. Consequently, in the following sections, where we discuss and present a formal analysis of this construction, we ignore this lacuna. For languages which do have OC predicates alongside NC predicates it is natural to assume that each is associated with a distinct syntactic structure.

Indeed, Landau proposes an analysis of the two types of constructions in Modern Greek, as part of his investigation of the phenomenon of finite control and its theoretical implications. These constructions, according to his analysis, differ in the types of complement clause each predicate selects.

Controlled subjunctives C-subjunctives are clauses with PRO subjects, while free subjunctives F-subjunctives are clauses with pro subjects. Roussou proposes a different account. Unlike Landau, she does not attribute the difference between the two constructions to the structure of the complement clause. On the contrary, she assumes that the na -clause is identical across the two constructions. In her account the na particle is a nominal locative element, which introduces a variable and creates an open predicate. The difference between OC and NC is in the combination of the embedding predicate and its complement.

OC predicates trigger clause-union, which creates, by composition, a single-event interpretation of the events denoted by the matrix and embedded predicates which also accounts for the tense identity. In this case, the variable introduced by na can only be bound by a matrix argument.


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  • Conversely, the NC construction does not involve clause-union and the variable has free reference. Regardless of whether languages have OC and NC predicates, like MG, or whether they only have NC predicates, as we are claiming is the case with MSA, one issue which requires further examination is the case of coreference with an NC predicate. Consider for example the MG sentence in 16b , repeated here as 28 , with its coreference interpretation.

    What is the syntactic structure of such sentences? There are at least three different types of answers to this issue. Habib , in her analysis of MSA as having only NC predicates, considers coreference as a special case of NC, one where the freely referring unexpressed embedded subject happens to share its reference with the matrix subject. This entails that there are no syntactic reflexes to the fact that coreference does occur. Sentences such as 28 have one syntactic structure with different interpretations, dependent on semantico-pragmatic constraints.

    Obviative languages impose a constraint against coreference between a matrix subject and an unexpressed subject of a subordinate clause. Thus, for example, the referent of the unexpressed embedded subject in Spanish 29 can refer to anything 3rd person-singular but the referent of the matrix subject.

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    Terzi proposes that despite surface appearances MG does impose subject obviation, but that its presence is masked by the co-existence of an alternative structure. NC is restricted to disjoint reference, that is, the unexpressed embedded subject cannot corefer with the matrix subject. The coreference interpretation is licensed by a control construction. Thus, the combination of NC predicates with their complement clause is licensed by two distinct constructions — control and no control with obviation — depending on the reference pattern.

    The proposal that MG exhibits obviation is not trivial. Thus, in Spanish, for example, alongside the subjunctive complement clause illustrated in 29 there are infinitival clauses, which exhibit control behavior. The Balkan languages including Romanian , however, lack infinitives. Consequently, with no subjunctive-infinitive rivalry, no obviation effects are found Dobrovie-Sorin For this reason, MG, a Balkan language with no infinitives, is not an immediate candidate for obviation.

    Restricting coreference to a control configuration, as Terzi does, would not be compatible with these findings. Consequently, Landau proposes that sentences such as 28 are structurally ambiguous; they are licensed by two different constructions, a control configuration with a PRO subject and a pro -structure with accidental coreference.

    The existence of obviation in MG is thus ruled out. Barring evidence for a syntactic distinction between the two interpretations, a straightforward account is to propose one NC structure for all cases. The clause itself is in a VSO configuration and is headed by a subjunctive verb. Its subject is either a lexical NP or pro. There are no constraints on the agreement relations between the two predicates, and therefore they do not need to match.

    Consequently, what can be construed as subject control is in actuality just a case where the two subjects have identical agreement features and reference, and one of them, either the matrix subject in the backward pattern, or the embedded subject in the forward pattern or both is pro -dropped. There is, however, one pattern that poses a challenge to this straightforward analysis — the backward pattern with the embedded subject illustrated in 12a and repeated here as This simple example masks a more complex agreement pattern which is only discernable with plural human subjects, for which agreement varies depending on the position of the subject relative to the verb.

    Consider the minimal pair in 32 , which differ only with respect to the agreement marking on the matrix predicate. The difference in the agreement marking on the matrix predicate correlates with a difference in the interpretation of the two sentences. Sentence 32a is ambiguous. The understood subject of the matrix clause can either be construed as the embedded subject or as a different singular-feminine unexpressed subject.

    Sentence 32b , with its plural-marked matrix predicate, can only have a disjoint reference interpretation, where the understood subject of the matrix clause is a plural—feminine referent distinct from the embedded subject. A coreference reading requires the matrix predicate to exhibit partial agreement with the embedded subject, as is the case with simple VS clauses.

    The backward patterns exhibited in 32 provide counter-evidence to the NC analysis proposed above, which assigns an identical structure to coreference and disjoint reference, and attributes the distinction to semantico-pragmatic constraints. If coreference and disjoint reference share the same syntactic structure it is not clear what accounts for the absence of a coreference reading in 32b.

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    Considering the ambiguity of 32a , the absence of the coreference reading in 32b is even more intriguing. If the two subjects can be co-indexed in 32a , why is co-indexation not possible in 32b? Moreover, these data are problematic for an analysis which builds on pro -drop. Assuming that predicates of pro -dropped subjects always exhibit full agreement with the unexpressed subject see 2 , the analysis proposed above would predict i an unambiguous disjoint reference reading of 32a with a singular-feminine pro -dropped subject the second reading provided above , and ii an ambiguous reading of 32b , where the pro -dropped subject can either corefer with the embedded subject or refer to a different contextually retrieved subject they.

    A difference in interpretation between the forward pattern and the backward pattern is also found with F-subjunctives in Greek Alexiadou et al. While the forward pattern in 33a is ambiguous between coreference and disjoint reference, the backward pattern in 33b can only have a disjoint interpretation. Alexiadou et al. The embedded referential subject, Janis , cannot be bound by the matrix pro subject. Coreference with F-subjunctives then is possible only in the forward pattern. With C-subjunctives, on the other hand, a coreference reading is the only option, and it is available in both the forward pattern and the backward pattern The fact that there is no Principle C effect in this case is taken by Alexiadou et al.

    Returning to MSA, given the NC analysis we proposed in 30 above, the same explanation can be applied to account for the ungrammaticality of the coreference reading of the MSA example in 32b , namely a Principle C violation. However, unlike MG, MSA does provide a way of expressing coreference with an embedded subject 32a , yet this interpretation cannot be accounted for by the NC analysis proposed above. In the following section we probe deeper into the backward pattern by first conducting a corpus-based study of this construction.

    Our corpus study of the backward pattern focused on two issues: i the types of predicates which occur in this construction and ii its agreement patterns. The embedded subjects appear in boldface. It should be noted that in all the example sentences below the shared subject is followed by additional VP-internal material. The existence of VP-internal material after the subject constitutes evidence against an alternative extraposition analysis, which would place the subject in a matrix position to the right of the embedded clause.

    While instances of the coreferring backward pattern were retrieved for the verb categories listed above, we found that the distribution of this pattern is restricted to a particular set of predicates. With respect to the correlation between the agreement marking on the matrix predicate and the reference pattern, our corpus findings conform with the generalization stated in Conversely, when the matrix predicate is plural, the unexpressed subject is construed as a plural human referent, distinct from the embedded subject.

    Predicates which were found to be incompatible with the backward coreference pattern do appear in the FA pattern. In both cases, although the number—gender agreement marking on the matrix predicate is the same as the number—gender properties of the embedded subject the understood matrix subject cannot be construed as the embedded subject. Instances of the backward pattern attested in the corpus reveal important facts with regard to its distribution and its agreement variation.

    More specifically, we found instances of backward control with volitionals, implicatives, modals and aspectuals. With these predicates sentences such as the one given in 46 are ambiguous between coreference and disjoint reference. With these predicates, structures such as the one illustrated with a BC predicate in 46 are unambiguous, with only a disjoint reference reading available A similar situation occurs with F-subjunctives in Greek see 33 above. This observation will become relevant when we propose our analysis in Section 6. An additional aspect, of course, is the agreement patterns exhibited by the matrix predicate in the backward pattern.

    This is precisely the type of evidence that motivates an analysis which introduces a syntactic distinction between the coreference and disjoint reference interpretations. Consequently, we will assume that the NC analysis proposed in Section 5. In what follows we discuss two alternative approaches to the analysis of the MSA backward control construction. First, we examine whether the backward control construction can shed light on the debate regarding control theory.

    Subsequently, in light of the differences between the two constructions and our findings regarding the distribution of the backward control construction, we propose an alternative analysis, which associates the backward coreference pattern in MSA with restructuring. The phenomenon of backward control plays an important role in the debate regarding the analysis of control, which, broadly speaking, centers around two opposing approaches: the PRO-based approach e. The PRO-based approach to control originates in the theory of Government and Binding Chomsky : and subsequent work , in which raising and control are given distinct analyses.

    In both cases the complement clause is an infinitival clause with a thematic yet case-less subject position. Raising is viewed as movement of the embedded subject to receive case in the matrix subject position, while control involves a silent anaphoric pronominal PRO subject which is bound by a local c-commanding antecedent and which does not require case. One motivation for the PRO-based analysis of control is the theta criterion, according to which every argument must receive a unique theta role and every theta role must be assigned to a unique argument.

    Since subjects of control predicates appear to be interpreted in two distinct theta roles, assigned by the matrix predicate and the embedded predicate, the theory assumes that there are two syntactic arguments, the overt matrix subject and the embedded phonologically empty PRO, and each is assigned its own theta role.

    Assuming the PRO-based analysis, the structure of backward control should be as illustrated in Yet this structure is problematic for a number of reasons. First, the anaphoric PRO in the matrix position cannot be bound by the embedded subject with which it is co-indexed. Moreover, the embedded subject Bill appears in what is considered a case-less position. An additional related challenge is posed by languages such as MG, where the subject of OC predicates can appear either in the matrix position or in the embedded clause see According to these approaches, the elimination of D-structure in the Minimalist Program made it unnecessary to maintain the theta criterion; arguments can now bear more than one theta role.

    Furthermore, the ban on movement into theta positions was eliminated. With these two changes in place, Hornstein argues that the PRO-based analysis of control is not necessary, and propose a movement analysis for both raising and control.


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    Consider the following representations of the derivation of subject control 50a and subject raising 50b. In both cases subjects originate in the embedded [Spec VP] position, where they receive a theta role. At this point the derivations diverge. With control predicates the subject moves to matrix [Spec VP] to check the external theta role of the matrix verb, and then it moves to [Spec IP] to check the D-feature of the IP and its own Case.

    Raising predicates do not assign a theta role to the subject, so the subject skips the higher [Spec VP] position and moves directly to [Spec IP]. The MTC provides a straightforward way to account for the phenomenon of backward control. The movement theory assumes a chain of subject copies, which begins in the embedded clause and ends in a matrix subject position. Although in the English examples in 50 the spelled out copies occupy the highest subject position, this is not necessarily the only option. They propose that this construction is derived similarly to the English derivation illustrated in 50a except that in Tsez backward control the subject is not only introduced but also spelled out in the embedded clause, and its subsequent movement to matrix position takes place covertly.

    They provide evidence for the existence of an unpronounced copy in the matrix position, which includes phenomena such as subject—verb agreement in the matrix clause and the licensing of matrix depictives and reflexives, which require a c-commanding antecedent.