21.4595, Qs: Arabic: Yes/No Questions

Tue Nov 16 19:26:01 UTC 2010

LINGUIST List: Vol-21-4595. Tue Nov 16 2010. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 21.4595, Qs: Arabic: Yes/No Questions

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Date: 16-Nov-2010
From: May Mahdi Al-Ramadan [mal_ramadan at hotmail.com]
Subject: Arabic: Yes/No Questions

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 14:24:26
From: May Mahdi Al-Ramadan [mal_ramadan at hotmail.com]
Subject: Arabic: Yes/No Questions

E-mail this message to a friend:

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 

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard (arb)
                     Arabic, Gulf Spoken (afb)

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