Gender and Number Agreement in Arabic


This book offers a comprehensive survey of the agreement phenomena found in written and spoken Arabic. It focuses on both the synchronic description of these agreement systems, and the diachronic question of how they evolved. To answer these questions, large amounts of data have been collected and analysed, ranging from 6th century poetry and Quranic Arabic to the contemporary dialects. The results presented by the authors of this research greatly improve our understanding of Arabic syntax, and challenge some well-established views. Can Arabic be envisioned as possessing more than only two genders? Are some contemporary dialects more similar to the pre-Classical version of the language than MSA is? And is the Standard rule prescribing feminine singular agreement with nonhuman plurals a more recent development than previously thought?

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Simone Bettega works as a researcher at the University of Turin, where he received his Ph.D. in Linguistics in 2016. His researches mainly focus on linguistic typology, syntax, historical linguistics and the documentation of the Arabic dialects of south-eastern Arabia.

Luca D’Anna holds the position of Associate Professor of Arabic Dialectology at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, after serving as an Assistant Professor of Arabic at The University of Mississippi. His research focuses on Arabic Linguistics and Dialectology, Eastern Maghrebi dialects, Judeo-Arabic and historical linguistics.
List of Tables and Figures
A Note on Terminology
Introductory Note

1 Previous Studies on Agreement in Arabic
 1.1 Agreement through Time: Arabic Old and New
 1.2 Classical and Modern Standard Arabic
 1.3 Spoken Arabic

2 Describing the Systems
 2.1 Agreement from a Typological Perspective
 2.2 Morphological Markers of Gender and Number in Arabic
 2.3 The Spoken Dialects
 2.4 Pre-Classical Arabic: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Quran
 2.5 The Odd Ones Out: Classical and Modern Standard Arabic
 2.6 Summary

3 A Diachronic Account of Agreement: Formal and Written Arabic
 3.1 An Overview of Agreement in Central Semitic
 3.2 Methodological Issues in the Selection of the Corpora
 3.3 A Change in Progress? Resemanticization in Pre-Islamic Poetry
 3.4 Down the Agreement Hierarchy: Evidence from the Quran
 3.5 Post-7th Century Poetry
 3.6 The Dawn of Arabic Prose: Translated Syntax in Kalīla wa Dimna
 3.7 From [-Individuated] to [-Human]: The Reanalysis of Semantic Features in Classical Arabic
 3.8 After the 10th Century: What Escaped Standardization
 3.9 Nabaṭī Poetry: Poetic Register or Survival of the Old System?
 3.10 Summary

4 The Approach of Traditional Grammar: An Attempt at Reconstruction
 4.1 Scope of the Chapter
 4.2 Early Arabic Grammarians: From Sībawayh to al-Mubarrad
 4.3 From 10th Century Grammars to Didactic Manuals: Further Developments
 4.4 Between Tradition and Standardization: Arabic Grammar during the Nahḍa
 4.5 Summary

5 A Diachronic Account of Agreement: Spoken Arabic
 5.1 Feminine Singular Agreement with Plural Controllers: Modern Innovation or Ancient Retention?
 5.2 The Loss of Feminine Plural Agreement
 5.3 Summary

Index of Languages and Dialects
General Index
The book is addressed to specialists in the field of Arabic language, linguistics and dialectology. Its ideal readership also includes PhD, MA and BA students in the field of Arabic.
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