LINGUIST List 4.460

Tue 15 Jun 1993

Sum: Case Uniqueness in Arabic

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  1. Haidar A. Moukdad, Sum: Case Uniqueness in Arabic

Message 1: Sum: Case Uniqueness in Arabic

Date: Sat, 12 Jun 93 16:48:09 -0Sum: Case Uniqueness in Arabic
From: Haidar A. Moukdad <>
Subject: Sum: Case Uniqueness in Arabic

I posted several days ago to Linguist asking for references to the Case
Uniqueness Hypothesis, and for the difference between Modern Standard
Arabic and Classical Arabic. The responses I have received are the



You might find some interesting information in Everhard Ditters, A Formal
Approach to Arabic Syntax, the Noun Phrase and the Verb Phrase, Ph.D.
Thesis, Catholic University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 1992.

Dr Ditters can be contacted directly through e-mail at


Hope this helps,


I saw your query in the LINGUIST list. I know of one excellent study of
syntactic differences between the MSA of writers who began their careers
before the second World War and younger writers. The lagnguage of the
former group is much more Classical, so the study may answer your needs.
It is:

Rammuny, Raji M. 1978. Functional and semantic developments in negation as
used in Modern Literary Arabic prose after World War II. Journal of Near
Eastern Studies 37.245-264.

If you are interested in oral use of MSA, there are two interesting

Schulz, David Eugene. 1981. Diglossia and variation in formal spoken
Arabic in Egypt. Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Wisconsin--Madison.

Hussein, Riad Fayez Issa. 1980. The case for triglossia in Arabic (with
special emphasis on Jordan). Ph.D. diss., SUNY at Buffalo.

most sources compare various dialects, with only more or less incidental
comparison with MSA as such.

but various books by DeLacy O'Leary, ranging from fairly scholarly to
fairly popular, will be helpful to you.


I'd be very interested to hear what response you get. I've never heard it
 referred to as a hypothesis before. There is a formulation of a principle
 of Case Uniqueness in my 1992 syntax text (MIT)--is this what you had in
 mind? My impression is that such a principle was at least tacitly
assumed in the earliest work on Case theory (note that
Chomsky's "On Binding" was written in 1978, though it wasn't
published until 1980). As far as I know, no one stated it
explicitly--though I thought I had read an MIT dissertation
circa 1981 that proposed a Case principle corresponding to
the Theta Criterion (i.e. every NP receives one and only one
Case; and each Case is assigned to one and only one NP).
However, my search though the obvious candidates and
discussion with colleagues who were at MIT at the time have
failed to locate it. Note that the "Case Criterion" involves
Case Uniqueness in two directions: an NP cannot be assigned
more than one Case and a particular Case cannot be assigned
to more than one NP.


Thanks to all who replied.
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