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This paper details the demonstratives’ functions and semantic characteristics, according to Sībawayhi’s Kitāb. Although Sībawayhi does not devote a separate chapter to demonstratives, a scrutiny of their occurrences in his Kitāb shows that for Sībawayhi demonstratives pertain to the group of al-ʾasmāʾ al-mubhama ‘the dubious, or vague, nouns’; they serve to indicate, or point to, nearby or far objects or persons; they have diminutive and dual forms; and they can be used as names of persons. Among the demonstratives in Sībawayhi’s example sentences there are quite a few that have the meaning of a verb in the imperative, ‘behold!’ or ‘see!’, a meaning that Sībawayhi explicitly mentions.

The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics III

The development of a tradition: Continuity and change


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