Arabic Indefinites, Interrogatives, and Negators: A Linguistic History of Western Dialects
Oxford University Press, 2014 - 245 pages
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 Wilmsen draws 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 and probably 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 level upwards, particularly all those working on Arabic and other Semitic languages.
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Theory conventions and the assessment of facts
An unresolved question
The functions of šī
Early evidence of grammatical ši
5 Interrogation and negation with ši in North African and Levantine Arabic
Southern Arabia or the Levant?
7 ProtoSemitic and ProtoArabic origins of grammatical ši
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3rd person pronouns adduces affixed al-Andalus Al-Jallad Andalusi Arabic appears Arabian Peninsula Arabic dialects Arabic speakers Arabic varieties Arabic vernaculars Arabic writing attested Behnstedt Benmamoun Classical Arabic clitic construction copular interrogative Corriente demonstratives derived dialects of Arabic Egyptian Arabic enclitic enclitic š evidence examples existential particle explain Fertile Crescent formal linguistics function grammatical markers grammaticalization historical Ibn Quzmān indefinite determiner interpreted interrogation and negation interrogative aš Islam Jespersen’s Cycle Levant Levantine Levantine Arabic lexical Lucas Maltese meaning Mehri miš Modern South Arabian Moroccan Arabic Muslim negation with š nevertheless North African noun Obler occur origin Owens Palestinian plural polar interrogative post-positive pre-Islamic proto-Arabic Proto-Semitic proverb pseudo-verb Qur’ān reanalysis reflexes of š šay Semitic languages South Arabian languages southern speech spoken Arabic spoken vernaculars syntactic Syrian texts Tunisian Arabic usage variability varieties of Arabic verb vowel West Semitic Woidich written Arabic Yemeni