Query: Negation and case marking

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Fri Oct 30 13:59:07 UTC 2009


Dear John,
just a brief note: The selection of the accusative case is not confined 
to (or just typical for) arab./ laysa/ 'is not': It is also given e.g.  
with the past 'equational' /ka:na/ 'was', e.g.
/
ka:na                  'l-walad-u             jami:l-a-n/
be:PAST:3Sg:m   ART-boy-NOM      nice-ACC-INDEF
'The boy was nice'

laysa 'is not' just behaves like ka:na (being inflected as a perfective 
verb just as it it treu for ka:na). The accusative also replaces the 
nominative (among others) with:

- the focal particles /'inna  /and /'anna /
- the /'ayyuha:-/vocative
- the /ya:/-vocative, in case the referent is absent or contextually 
definite
- the negative copula /la: /
- the mirative

In fact, the selection of the accusative has much to do with the heavily 
debated nature of the original Semitic case pattern (S=A;O (ACC) or 
S=O;A (ERG)), but not with negation as such.
For some more details see: Michael Waltisberg 2002. Zur 
Ergativitätshypothese im Semitischen. /ZDMG/ 152,11-62.
Best wishes,
Wolfgang
 


john.stewart at IUED.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE schrieb:
> Dear Matti,
>
> There is a related, but maybe not directly relevant phenomenon in Arabic.
> Modern Standard Arabic has various negative particles that
> occur together with verbs in different tenses and aspects. But
> "equational" sentences in the present tense work differently (Arabic has
> no copula). In a positive equational sentence, the predicate is marked
> with nominative case.
>
> 'as-samaa'(u) saafiya(tun)
> DEF.ART-sky-NOM clear-NOM.INDEF
> The sky is clear.
>
> But in the negated counterpart to this sentence, the negative verb
> 'laysa' is used, and the predicate then takes the accusative case:
>
> ('a)s-samaa'(u) laysat saafiya(tan)
> DEF.ART-sky-NOM is-not clear-ACC.INDEF
> The sky is not clear.
>
> On the other hand, it is not only the negative verb 'laysa' that can 
> have this
> effect on phrases in the predicate; adverbs in Arabic are always in 
> the accusative case.
>
> Corrections/elaborations are welcome from anyone better versed in 
> Arabic grammar!
>
> Cheers,
> John Stewart
>

-- 

*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang 
Schulze    *                                                               
 

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