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LINGUIST List 21.4595

Tue Nov 16 2010

Qs: Arabic: Yes/No Questions

Editor for this issue: Danielle St. Jean <daniellelinguistlist.org>

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        1.     May Mahdi Al-Ramadan , Arabic: Yes/No Questions

Message 1: Arabic: Yes/No Questions
Date: 16-Nov-2010
From: May Mahdi Al-Ramadan <mal_ramadanhotmail.com>
Subject: Arabic: Yes/No Questions
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My name is May Mahdi Al-Ramadan, from Saudi Arabia. I am a lecturer
and I am studying for a PhD in Applied Linguistics in King Saud
University in Riyadh.

I am working on a paper about the formation of Yes/No questions in
Arabic. What interests me about this subject is the claim that I read in
Carnie (2007) that complementizer particles and subject/verb inversion
are in complementary distribution. He states that languages can either
have this or that but not both. In Standard Arabic, a complementizer
(Hal) is used at the beginning of yes/no questions. The verb precedes
the subject in Standard Arabic in both sentences and questions. An
example for this is as follows:

1) Hal  thahaba  abouka?
    C    went       father-your
    "Did your father go?"

In Saudi Arabic, on the other hand, the complementizer is dropped.
Subject/verb inversion is used instead. An example:

2) Obouk          raH?
    Father-your   went
    "Did your father go?"

My question is that, how is it possible to incorporate the view that
complementizers vs. subject/verb inversion are in complementary
distribution into the analysis of Arabic that obviously has both methods
of forming questions? Or possibly is it more valid to assume that the
two varieties of Arabic are distinct and no generalization can be made
with reference to both of them?

I would appreciate any suggestions and resources from the List!

Thank you so much,

May Mahdi Al-Ramadan


Carnie, A (2007). Syntax: A Generative Introduction. Blackwell

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard (arb)
                            Arabic, Gulf Spoken (afb)

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