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Comparative Constructions in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA): An HPSG approach.

Alsulami, Abeer S (2018) Comparative Constructions in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA): An HPSG approach. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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The aim of this thesis is to provide a description of comparative constructions in Modern Standard Arabic (henceforth MSA) and develop an analysis for some of the facts framed within Head - driven Phrase Structure Grammar (henceforth, HPSG). To the best of my knowledge, MSA comparative constructions have not been addressed before but present an interesting challenge for Arabic and general linguistics. MSA has simple and complex comparatives, which look rather like their counterparts in many other languages. Simple comparatives are indeed like those of other languages, in that it involves adjectives with a distinctive form and semantics and an extra PP complement. Complex comparatives, however, are quite different. They involve an adjective with a nominal complement, which may be an adjectival maṣdar (known in English as adjectival noun) or an ordinary noun, and are rather like so-called 'adjectival constructs'. Complex comparatives in English and many other languages might be analysed as involving periphrasis, where a slot in a paradigm is filled not by a single word but by a pair of words. My analysis, however, argues that MSA complex comparative construction is not a case of periphrasis. Instead, it is an independent construction that expresses the meaning that would otherwise be expressed by certain missing forms. Simple comparatives, complex comparatives, and adjectival constructs can all be analysed with lexical rules within HPSG. With a 'real' nominal comparative that quantifies a noun, the thesis shows that in MSA kutubun ʔakṯar 'more books' and kutubun ʔaḥsan 'better books' are syntactically essentially the same in which we have nouns with an attributive adjective. The thesis also shows that MSA has both ordinary clausal comparatives and phrasal comparatives. The former is introduced only by maa and involves adjectival and nominal gaps and adverbial gaps in subcomparative cases and the latter is introduced by free relatives maa , man and allḏai and have either nominal gaps or resumptives. It was also shown that maa comparatives with nominal gaps are ambiguous and can be either a clausal or a phrasal complement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Comparative Constructions, MSA, Adjectival Masdars, HPSG
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Abeer Alsulami
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2018 08:55
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2018 08:55

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