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LINGUIST List 17.1499

Tue May 16 2006

Diss: Semantics: Al-Dilaimy: 'Reference in English a...'

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        1.    Hazim Al- Dilaimy, Reference in English and Arabic: A contrastive study

Message 1: Reference in English and Arabic: A contrastive study
Date: 16-May-2006
From: Hazim Al- Dilaimy <hazimaldilaimyhotmail.com>
Subject: Reference in English and Arabic: A contrastive study

Institution: University of Baghdad
Program: PHD Program (Linguistics)
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1998

Author: Hazim Hakkush Al- Dilaimy

Dissertation Title: Reference in English and Arabic: A contrastive study

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard (arb)
                            English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Dr. Abdullatif Alwan Al- Jumaily
Dr. Adnan Jabbar Al-Juboury
Dr. Khalil Ibrahim al- Hamash

Dissertation Abstract:

Reference, as a universal semantic phenomenon that holds between an
expression and its referents, is important for achieving the purpose of
identifying entities in a written or spoken discourse. To achieve this aim,
various definite or indefinite referring expressions are used. Although
this notion has been extensively treated by linguists and philosophers,
most of the literature is devoted to the definite referring expressions.
The reason behind this attention is that such expressions provide more
explicit information about the referents identified. Indefinite
expressions, on the other hand, have received comparatively less attention.
Thus part of the motivation for the investigation is the desire to explore
some areas in linguistics that have not been treated in depth.

The research tries to discuss, compare and analyze the relationships of the
interacting factors of semantics and syntax in the use of the various
referring expressions. The discussion is based on two main principles. The
first principle is that successful identification is mainly realized by
definite reference, and that indefinite reference has the ability to
identify items but at a lower degree of identifying power. The second
principle is that both definite and indefinite categories of reference and
their subtypes have varying degrees of identifying powers.

The study aims at describing the nature of reference in English and Arabic
as a semantic concept. It also tries to find out any definite or indefinite
distinctions that are realized in both languages. In order to achieve a
synthesis of the semantic and syntactic components of the investigation,
the study has been divided into two main parts; a theoretical part and an
empirical part. The theoretical part provides a survey of the notion of
reference in the literature of semantic and linguistic studies. It also
includes a detailed description and analysis of the definite and indefinite
referring expressions in each language separately. This is followed by a
contrastive analysis that manipulate different views and findings of
prominant scholars in both languages.

Compared to English, it has been found out that Arabic tends to use the
definite article more frequently than English to express both generic and
specific reference. Moreover, there is a tendency in English to employ pronouns,
pro-forms, deletion of some noun phrases, and the use of one- anaphoric
expressions when there is a second mention of a referent. In Arabic, however,
a referent is adequately identified when it is repeated in a written or spoken
discourse or more information is provided by noun modifiers for its descriptiom.
Furthermore, generic reference in English is expressed by the use of both definite
and indefinite expressions, whereas in Arabic the definite referring expressions are
basically employed in this respect.

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