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Query Details

Query Subject:   Arabic: Yes/No Questions
Author:   May Mahdi Al-Ramadan
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Syntax
Subject Language(s):  Arabic, Standard
Arabic, Gulf

Query:   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
LL Issue: 21.4595
Date posted: 16-Nov-2010


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