Arabic Indefinites, Interrogatives, and Negators: A Linguistic History of Western Dialects

Hardcover | November 5, 2014

byDavid Wilmsen

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This book traces the origins and development of the Arabic grammatical marker s/si, which is found in interrogatives, negators, and indefinite determiners over a broad dialect area that stretches from the southern Levant to North Africa and includes dialects of Yemen and Oman. David Wilmsendraws on data from old vernacular Arabic texts and from a variety of Arabic dialects, and shows that, contrary to much of the literature on the diachrony of this morpheme, s/si does not derive from Arabic say 'thing'. Instead, he argues that it dates back to a pre-Arabic stage of West Semitic andprobably has its origins in a Semitic demonstrative pronoun. On this theory, Arabic say could in fact derive from s/si, and not vice versa. The book demonstrates the significance of the Arabic dialects in understanding the history of Arabic and the Semitic languages, and claims that modern Arabic dialects could not have developed from Classical Arabic. It will be of interest to historical linguists of all persuasions from graduate levelupwards, particularly all those working on Arabic and other Semitic languages.

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This book traces the origins and development of the Arabic grammatical marker s/si, which is found in interrogatives, negators, and indefinite determiners over a broad dialect area that stretches from the southern Levant to North Africa and includes dialects of Yemen and Oman. David Wilmsendraws on data from old vernacular Arabic texts...

David Wilmsen is Professor of Arabic in the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages at The American University of Beirut. He has spent 30 years studying Arabic, and 20 years living in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. He has previously held posts at The American University in Cairo and Georgetown University, and his work has been pu...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pagesPublished:November 5, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198718128

ISBN - 13:9780198718123

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. On the age and origins of spoken Arabic vernaculars3. fis wa biddis:: The functions of si4. Andalusi Arabic negators and interrogatives: Early evidence of grammatical si5. Interrogation and negation with si in North African and Levantine Arabic6. Origins of grammatical si: Southern Arabia or the Levant?7. Proto-Semitic and Proto-Arabic origins of grammatical si8. On explanation and theory in Arabic linguistics