The syntax of ostensible categories in Arabic

Abdel Hady, Saleem (2020) The syntax of ostensible categories in Arabic. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English; also: Other] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (2MB)


This dissertation examines the syntax of ostensible categories, categories whose surface form disguises their syntactic behavior, in Arabic, and whether Speech Act Projections (SAPs) impact their categorization. The study examines two types of ostensible categories: ostensible lexical categories (OLCs) and ostensible grammatical categories (OGCs). OLCs lexical categories include a set of lexical items that traditional Arab grammarians refer to as ʔism ʔal-fiʕil ‘Names of Verbs’ (NoVs). OGCs compromise functional items that have received little attention in syntactic investigations due to their multifunctional behavior. The study utilizes the Minimalist Program for data analysis. The contributions of this dissertation are three-fold. First, it refines the previous categorization of ostensible categories and settles the debate regarding their syntactic category. Second, the dissertation presents evidence for the use of allocutivity and expressivity in the language. Despite their importance, these phenomena have not received sufficient attention in the literature. Third, the study offers a new mechanism for understanding how non-peripheral particles ground information syntactically. Dedicated to OLCs, chapter three shows that the data requires that NoVs originate in a position appropriate for verbal roots, but that they move to a higher position where they are unlike from regular verbs. The high landing site is connected with allocutivity in the Arabic language and highlights its impact on categorization. The bottom-line that sets allocutivity as a vital component in categorization is that allocutive exponents do not have thematic roles. Chapter four examines four types of OGCs: confirmatory particles, attitudinal particles, ostensible complementizers and call particles. By examining the function and syntactic position of those particles, the study provides evidence for their association with a Grounding Projection. Given the nature of the first three types, I propose a mechanism for grounding valuation. I show that SAPs have unvalued but interpretable features of grounding. The unvalued grounding feature scans for a valued grounding goal, the syntax links grounding markers with the grounding layer, regardless of their linear distance. The fourth type highlights the impact of allocutivity on generating warning calls. The final chapter opens new areas of research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 15020
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 192-203).
Keywords: Ostensible Categories, Speech Act Projections, Syntax, The Minimalist Program, Discourse Markers, Expressive Projections, Allocutive Agreement
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: December 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Arabic language--Grammatical categories; Arabic language--Syntax; Speech acts (Linguistics).

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics