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X-Bar Syntax

(5,399 words)

Author(s): Mark S. LeTourneau
1. Introduction: The X-bar schema Early generative grammar, from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, factored grammatical descriptions into two main components: the base component, consisting of (the lexicon and) phrase-structure rules, and the transformational component. X-bar syntax is the designation for a theory of phrase structure that originated in the context of an intramural debate within the generativist camp in the late 1960s concerning the proper way to characterize relationships among expressions like (1a,b,c). (1) a. John proved the theorem b. John's proving of the …
Date: 2018-04-01


(3,683 words)

Author(s): Mark S. LeTourneau
Government is a concept in Arabic grammatical theory, both traditional and modern, with a long history. For instance, Wright (1974:3.I.A.3, B.2) discusses functions of the cases under the rubric of verbal and nominal governance. The medieval Arab grammarians designated it by the terms ʾiʿmāl and ʿamal, together with the corollary role assignments ʿāmil ‘governor [operator]’ and maʿmūl ‘governed [operand]’ (Farghal 1986:7; Gaballa 1986:24; Haq 1998:61–63). In both traditions, the word designates the relationship holding between a verb or, secondarily,…
Date: 2018-10-24


(4,201 words)

Author(s): Mark S. LeTourneau
Subordination refers to a syntactic dependency between clauses in a multiclausal sentence, in which the subordinate clause must be annexed to an independent clause but not conversely. As such, subordination in Arabic is a large topic, various aspects of which are dealt with in other entries (circumstantial clauses; ḥāl clauses; ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā; relative clauses). This entry deals with the form of subordination known ascomplementation, whereby a subordinate clause bears a nominal function signaled by a particle introducing it, known as a complementizer. As nominal constitu…
Date: 2018-04-01

Case Theory

(3,839 words)

Author(s): Mark S. LeTourneau
Case is a concept with deep historical roots in Western and indigenous Arabic grammatical theory. In modern linguistics, case refers not only to the morphological shape of nominals and their modifiers but also to their syntactic and semantic roles within a sentence (Ura 2003:334), for example subject and object or agent and theme (case roles; theta roles). Arabic grammar, medieval and modern, recognizes three cases of nouns: nominative ( rafʿ ‘promotion’), accusative ( naṣb ‘demotion’), and genitive ( jarr ‘abatement’), realized as the suffixes -u, -a, and -i respectively (Gaballa…
Date: 2018-09-15

Theta Roles

(4,005 words)

Author(s): Mark S. LeTourneau
Theta roles (hereafter θ-roles) are the semantic roles borne by noun phrases in a sentence that designate ‘agent of action’, ‘patient of action’, and so forth. As such, they constitute an essential part of a sentence's semantic interpretation. The concept, though not the name, is used in the beginnings of Arabic grammatical study. Saad (1982:87) observes that the medieval grammarians classified sentence elements semantically, for example as fiʿl ‘action’, fāʿil ‘actor’, and mafʿūl ‘acted upon’. …
Date: 2018-04-01