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Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

By David Crystal

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Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

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Academic Paper


Title: Subject-verb order in spoken Arabic: Morpholexical and event-based factors
Author: Jonathan Owens
Institution: Universität Bayreuth
Author: Robin Dodsworth
Institution: North Carolina State University
Author: Trent Rockwood
Institution: University of Maryland
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Typology
Subject Language: Arabic, Standard
Portuguese
Abstract: This article explores the relationship between the global functions of variable subject-verb order and morpholexical class of subjects in the spoken Arabic of the Arabian peninsula. Using corpus-based methods, it is shown that lexical class—pronoun, pronominal, noun—definiteness, and the discourse-defined lexical specificity of a noun all correlate significantly with subject-verb or verb-subject word order. The global function of the two orders is explored using an array of measures to show that verb-subject order prototypically presents events, while subject-verb signals available referentiality. Using the quantitatively based study of Anthony Naro and Sebastiao Votre ([1999]. Discourse motivations for linguistic regularities: Verb/subject order in spoken Brazilian Portuguese. Probus 11:75–100.) on Brazilian Portuguese as a point of comparison, a typological framework is developed for understanding languages with variable subject-verb order.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Language Variation and Change Vol. 21, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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