LINGUIST List 13.1848

Wed Jul 3 2002

Diss: Syntax: Mahmoud "A Contrastive Study..."

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  1. atmahmoud4, Syntax: Mahmoud "A Contrastive Study of Middle and Inchoative..."

Message 1: Syntax: Mahmoud "A Contrastive Study of Middle and Inchoative..."

Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 10:38:14 +0000
From: atmahmoud4 <>
Subject: Syntax: Mahmoud "A Contrastive Study of Middle and Inchoative..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Program: Department of General Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1989

Author: Abduljawad T. Mahmoud 

Dissertation Title: 
A Contrastive Study of Middle and Inchoative Alternations in Arabic and English

Linguistic Field: 
Syntax, Semantics, Morphology, Lexicography

Subject Language: 
English, Arabic, Standard

Dissertation Director 1: Lori Levin
Dissertation Director 2: Sarah Thomason
Dissertation Director 3: Richmond Thomason

Dissertation Abstract: 

This study presents a detailed analysis of the semantic, syntactic and
morphological features of the middle and inchoative (unaccusative)
alternations in Arabic and English. The issue of the middle/
unaccusative contrast and the question of whether middles constitute a
semantically and syntactically uniform class are also addressed. On
the basis of this analysis, a new typology of the middle and
unaccusative verbs in the two languages has been proposed. In
addition to the semantic properties and the syntactic behavior of
these verbs, this typology is conditioned by some contextual and
pragmatic factors. The following are the main conclusions of this
study: (i) Given the class of the unmarked unaccusatives and the class
of the morphological intransitives, the morphological condition for
the formation of Arabic unaccusatives is neither necessary nor
sufficient. (ii) Unlike English, Arabic does not have semantic or
syntactic restrictions analogous to those that distinguish the
English middles from unaccusatives. (iii) The English verbs known un
the literature as middles do not constitute a semantically or
syntactically uniform class. (iv) Despite the fact that Arabic and
English are typologically different and genetically unrelated, the two
languages exhibit significant similarities with respect to the
semantic and syntactic properties of the middle and unaccusative
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