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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Reference in English and Arabic: A contrastive study Add Dissertation
Author: Hazim Al- Dilaimy Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Baghdad, PHD Program (Linguistics)
Completed in: 1998
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
Director(s): Abdullatif Al-Jumaily
Khalil Al-Hamash
Adnan Al-Jubouri

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 prominent 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.