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Verbs of Perception and Evidentiality in Standard Arabic

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This dissertation provides an account of evidentiality of a number of selected verbs of perception in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). The verbs are divided into three categories: activity, experiential, and

This dissertation provides an account of evidentiality of a number of selected verbs of perception in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). The verbs are divided into three categories: activity, experiential, and source-based, following Viberg (1983). The data shows that the activity P.Vs in MSA are rarely used evidentially whereas the experiential and the source-based ones are commonly used to indicate evidential meaning. It also shows that while the source-based verb is mostly used with an inferred evidential meaning, the evidentiality encoded by the experiential perception verbs is determined by the complementation pattern and the person of the subject (first or third person subject). With the non-finite complement, these verbs indicate a direct evidentiality when having a first person subject, and a reported evidentiality when having a third person subject. With the finite CP complement, they indicate an indirect evidentiality. This corpus-based study also examines the grammaticalization of these verbs when used evidentially. I argue that only the verb ra’aa of the selected experiential verbs is fully grammaticalized, but only when it is in the past tense and followed by a verbal non-finite complement. In this usage, it becomes a light verb. The source-based verb badaa/yabduu when indicating an evidentiality, it is grammaticalized into copulative verb when followed by an adjectival predicate, and modal verb when followed by a finite complement.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Gradience in Split Intransitivity and Lexical Aspect in Modern Standard Arabic

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The Split Intransitivity Hierarchy (SIH) proposed by Sorace (2000) is an aspectually gradient classification of unaccusative and unergative verbs. This hierarchy has been attested in many Western European languages. However,

The Split Intransitivity Hierarchy (SIH) proposed by Sorace (2000) is an aspectually gradient classification of unaccusative and unergative verbs. This hierarchy has been attested in many Western European languages. However, little is known about typologically different languages. This dissertation provides an account of the gradience in aspectual and thematic specification of intransitives in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). It seeks to confirm whether the SIH exists in Arabic and whether it applies to its syntactic characteristics of split intransitivity. Following Sorace’s classifications, Arabic intransitives are divided into seven categories: change of location, change of state, continuation of a pre-existing state, existence of state, uncontrolled process, controlled motional process, and controlled nonmotional process. To test the behavior of these verb classes, the researcher applies diagnostics of split intransitivity and carries out tests of telicity, stativity, and durativity. In addition, the researcher examines the contribution of the outer/grammatical aspect to the inner/lexical aspectual specification of the verb in MSA. Native speakers’ judgment is utilized to distinguish grammatical examples from ungrammatical ones.
The results confirm the existence of the SIH in Arabic. Arabic intransitives are subject to systematic variation in their lexical aspect as they show different degrees of telicity and durativity. Specifically, verbs of change of location show core unaccusative/telic behavior, while verbs of change of state oscillate in their telicity. Verbs in the middle of the hierarchy are the most indeterminate about their aspectual and thematic realization. The findings also reveal that Arabic verbs of continuation are durative, while verbs of existence are mostly stative. Moreover, durative classes in Arabic show variable degrees of durativity. In particular, the class of uncontrolled process displays the lowest degree of durativity. Verbs of controlled motional process are more unergative/durative than verbs of uncontrolled process and less categorical in their behavior than verbs of controlled nonmotional process. Finally, verbs that denote controlled nonmotional processes are core unergative/durative and the most unambiguous in their behavior. Overall, Arabic intransitives keep their original aspectual classification even when changing the outer aspect from perfective to imperfective.

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Date Created
  • 2021