The Location of Sentential Negation in Arabic Varieties

in Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
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This paper revisits the issue of the representation of sentential negation in Arabic varieties with particular reference to Standard Arabic and four colloquial varieties, Egyptian Arabic, Gulf/Kuwaiti Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, and Jordanian Arabic/Levantine Arabic. The goals are both empirical and conceptual. Empirically, the paper incorporates data from different Arabic varieties including varieties that have not figured prominently in recent debates about sentential negation in Arabic. Conceptually, the paper aims to engage the important topic of the location of the negative projection relative to the projection that carries the temporal information of the clause. The paper also discusses some patterns that, so far, have not received extensive attention and which provide strong support for locating the negative projection above the temporal projection. The overall goal is to broaden the debate about the syntax and morphology of negation in Arabic varieties and add critical and novel facts that any diachronic or synchronic analysis would want to take into account.

The Location of Sentential Negation in Arabic Varieties

in Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

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2

See Travis (1984) and Rizzi (1990). The main thrust of the minimality-based analysis of head movement is that movement of one head to a higher head position is blocked by an intervening head. It is still debatable whether the generalizations that fall under head movement should be dealt with in the syntactic component or in the morpho-phonological interface (Matushansky 2006 Roberts 2010). We very briefly discuss this issue below in the context of the merger between Arabic sentential negation and its lexical or functional host.

5

See Holes (1990).

8

See also Zanuttinni (1997) for a similar proposal about the realization and structure of sentential negation in some Romance languages.

11

As Brustad (2000) points out there are pragmatic differences between the two options.

20

Fassi Fehri (1993) projects negation above TP in Standard Arabic but also locates the projection of the negative laysa below TP. It is not clear to us why laysa should be located in a different position. Under our analysis laysa is just a variant of laa that carries agreement an assumption that as far as we know is not controversial.

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