Variations on the same theme: Sentential negation and the negative copula 
in Arabic

Elabbas Benmamoun, Mahmoud Abunasser, Rania Al-sabbagh, Abdelaadim Bidaoui, Dana Shalash

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The main aim of this paper is to provide both synchronic and diachronic evidence that Standard Arabic and the spoken dialects pattern the same way with regard to the syntactic mechanisms that govern the relationship between lexical categories and functional categories. The focus is on sentential negation and more specifically the so-called negative copula in verbless sentences – as demonstrated by laysa in Standard Arabic and negative pronouns in the modern dialects. Despite the surface differences between Arabic varieties, the underlying syntax is the same, particularly with regard to clause structure and the interaction between tense, negation and the predicate. This interaction that is governed by the same mechanisms and the options they allow helps explain why the same system keeps getting reproduced over time.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Arabic Linguistics XXIV–XXV
Subtitle of host publicationPapers from the annual symposia on Arabic Linguistics. Texas, 2010 and Arizona, 2011
EditorsSamira Farwaneh, Hamid Ouali
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Electronic)9789027270665
ISBN (Print)9789027200297
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameStudies in Arabic Linguistics
ISSN (Print)2212-8042


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