Wh-questions in Arabic
|Author:||O L Zavitnevich|
|Submitter Email:||click here to access email|
For Query: Linguist 12.1699
Earlier this month I posted a question about the formation of wh-questions
in Arabic and Arabic dialects. I am very grateful to all who
replied to my queiry. Here is the summary of the information that I got:
In Modern Standard Arabic the question word appears sentence initially
(to the right of the sentence):
"qara?a al-waladu kitaaban" (The boy read a book)
mann (who) qara?a kitaaban?
limaaDa (why) qara?a al-waladu kitaaban?
maaDa (what) qara?a al-waladu?
?ayna (where) qara?a al-waladu kitaaban?
However, constructions of the following type is possible
qara?a kitaaban mann (who)?
qara?a al-waladu maaDa (what)?,
"qara?a al-waladu maaDa (what)"? may be used in scholastic settings to
elicit answers from pupils.
In Tunisian Arabic, the sub-dialect of Sfax, the examples from MSA become
(i) shkun (who) qara ktaab? (who read a book?)
(ii) ?alash (why) qara iT-Tfil ktaab? (why did the boy read a book?)
(iii) ?ish (what) qara iT-Tfil? (what did the boy read?)
(iv) wiin/fiin qara iT-Tfil l-ktaab? (where did the boy read the book?)
The position of a wh-phrase affects the meaning of a sentence, thus:
iT-Tfil qara ktaab shkun (who) ? (whose book did the boy read?)
the meaning changes into asking about the genetive.
In North African Arabic (Algerian dialect) wh-question-phrases
always have to be topicalized, and thus appear sentence-initially.
Moroccan Arabic is similar English. Wh in-situ is possible only in Echo
Egyptian Arabic mainly uses wh-in-situ strategy, clause-initial
position is not very common only in idiomatic expression like "eh da"
`what is this supposed to be?' (angrily) instead of normal "da eh" `what
Shalom Lappin and David Johnson, Local Constraints vs Economy, CSLI
Monographs in Linguistics Series, CSLI, Stanford, CA, 1999, contains an
extensive discussion of wh-questions in Iraqi Arabic.
Modes of Intorregation, by Lina Choueiri and Joseph Aoun in the
semitic archives hosted by the ling dept at USC on Lebanese Arabic
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