Sentence Types and Word-Order Patterns in Written Arabic: Medieval and Modern Perspectives 9004170626, 9789004170629

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Sentence Types and Word-Order Patterns in Written Arabic

Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics Edited by

T. Muraoka and C.H.M. Versteegh


Sentence Types and Word-Order Patterns in Written Arabic Medieval and Modern Perspectives


Yishai Peled


This book is printed on acid-free paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Peled, Yishai. Word-order patterns in written Arabic : medieval and modern perspectives / by Yishai Peled. p. cm. — (Studies in semitic languages and linguistics) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-90-04-17062-9 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Arabic language—Word order. 2. Arabic language—Syntax. I. Title. II. Series. PJ6151.P45 2008 492.7’5—dc22

ISSN 0081-8461 ISBN 978 90 04 17062 9 Copyright 2009 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. printed in the netherlands

For Lia, Einat and Amir, Maya and Ayala

CONTENTS Preface .................................................................................................. Chapter One Introduction: Historical Background and Modern Approaches ...................................................................... 1.1 Sentence types versus word-order patterns ..................... 1.2 The Sībawayhian legacy: the theory of ʿamal and some of its concepts ............................................................ 1.3 Later grammarians on Arabic sentence types ................. 1.4 The medieval grammarians and general linguistics ....... 1.5 Some general notes relating to modern research into Arabic sentence types and word-order patterns ............. 1.5.1 Terminological preliminary remarks ................... 1.5.2 Some modern conceptions and methodologies .......................................................... 1.6 The aim of the present study and its organization ......... 1.7 Summary ...............................................................................


1 1 4 10 20 27 27 31 44 46

Chapter Two Type-1 Sentences: Verb+Subject .......................... 2.1 The concept of basic word order ....................................... 2.2 The medieval grammarians’ concept of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr ................................................................................. 2.2.1 The problem ............................................................. 2.2.2 The movement hypothesis ..................................... 2.2.3 The evidence: Sībawayhi ........................................ 2.2.4 The evidence: later grammarians .......................... 2.3 The grammarians’ formal account of VSO/VOS ............ 2.4 Pragmatic and textual aspects ............................................ 2.4.1 Medieval grammarians ........................................... 2.4.2 Modern writers ........................................................ 2.5 Summary ...............................................................................

49 49 53 53 56 57 59 65 76 76 80 82

Chapter Three Type-2 Sentences: Subject+Predicate ................ 3.1 Types of xabar: an overview .............................................. 3.2 Verbless sentence versus single-phrased xabar ............... 3.3 SVO and left-dislocation versus clausal xabar ................

83 83 87 89


contents 3.3.1 The concept of clausal xabar in the medieval grammarians’ writings ............................................ 3.3.2 Modern approaches versus the medieval tradition .................................................................... Functional Aspects ............................................................... 3.4.1 General principles ................................................... 3.4.2 Indefinite mubtadaʾ in the medieval tradition ... 3.4.3 S2 with a focus function ........................................ Mubtadaʾ-xabar (S2-P2) inversion .................................... Copula versus ḍamīr al-faṣl ................................................ 3.6.1 Medieval grammarians: ḍamīr al-faṣl .................. 3.6.2 Modern writers: copula .......................................... Summary ...............................................................................

96 111 111 114 116 121 126 126 131 134

Chapter Four Problems in the Theory of Sentence Types ....... 4.1 Introduction .......................................................................... 4.2 Qāʾimun Zaydun .................................................................. 4.3 Fīhā/fī l-dāri Zaydun ........................................................... 4.3.1 Sībawayhi .................................................................. 4.3.2 The istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis ................. 4.3.3 ʾAbū ʿAlī l-Fārisī ...................................................... 4.4 Obligatory fronting of the xabar ....................................... 4.4.1 Formal aspects ......................................................... 4.4.2 Fī l-dāri rajulun—pragmatic aspects .................... 4.5 Ibn Hišām’s tripartite division ........................................... 4.5.1 Background .............................................................. 4.5.2 Ibn Hišām’s categorization and definitions ......... 4.5.3 Problems ................................................................... 4.6 Modern approaches ............................................................. 4.7 Summary ...............................................................................

137 137 138 147 148 152 156 159 159 165 167 167 169 175 179 183


3.5 3.6


Chapter Five Extended Versions of Type-2 and Type-3 Sentences ......................................................................................... 5.1 Introduction .......................................................................... 5.2 Nawāsix al-ibtidāʾ ................................................................. 5.3 The verbal status of kāna and “sisters” ............................. 5.4 Word-order variations in kāna and ʾinna sentences ...... 5.5 Modern approaches ............................................................. 5.6 Non-referential formatting device versus ḍamīr al-šaʾn .....................................................................................


187 187 188 193 202 209 212



5.6.1 Ḍ amīr al-šaʾn in medieval Arabic grammatical tradition .................................................................... 5.6.2 Modern approaches to ḍamīr al-šaʾn ................... 5.7 Summary ...............................................................................

212 219 223

Summary and Conclusions ..............................................................


Bibliographical References ................................................................ Primary sources ............................................................................. Secondary sources ......................................................................... Index ....................................................................................................

229 229 230 237

PREFACE As is well known, Arabic grammar was one of the most developed disciplines in medieval Arabo-Islamic scholarship. In the area of syntax, the medieval grammarians developed a remarkably elaborate theory known as the theory of ʿamal. This theory, specifying the rules of case assignment by various operators (ʿawāmil), has been the backbone of traditional Arab grammatical thinking, and its traces can be easily discerned in modern studies of Arabic grammar. The decline of Islamic civilization in the late Middle Ages had its negative effect on the Arabic studies in general and Arabic grammar in particular. The development of Semitic philology in 19th century Europe led to a remarkable interest in the Arabic language, in particular its grammatical structure. In this period, scholars could already rely on medieval Arabic grammatical treatises, but it was only in the 20th century that the writings of the medieval Arab grammarians could be fully appreciated. The advent of modern linguistics with Saussure’s structuralism, followed later by Chomsky’s generative-transformational theory, as well as other related theories developed in Europe and the United States, greatly influenced the study of Arabic grammar. In particular, they opened new directions for linguists familiar with the Arabic language who made it their task to examine various grammatical phenomena from the viewpoint of the modern science of language. We may thus say that the study of Arabic grammar has taken various forms since Sībawayhi’s Kitāb in the 8th century AD. It has been the subject of inquiry for medieval grammarians, Semitic philologists, Arabists and modern linguists. By ‘modern linguists’ I am referring to scholars examining features of Arabic as part of their interest in language in general. For modern Arabists, Arabic is the starting point of their discussion, yet the influence of modern linguistic theories upon their grammatical thinking is often impressive. In view of the above, it would be interesting to compare the views of some prominent medieval grammarians working within the theory of ʿamal with those of modern philologists, Arabists and linguists— regarding certain major issues in Arabic grammar. I believe that such an endeavor can be expected to offer answers to the following questions: Given the medieval elaborate grammatical treatises, what sort of



contribution has been made by modern scholars uncommitted to the theory of ʿamal to the study of Arabic grammar? In particular, to what extent were modern writers influenced by, and in what respects did they diverge from, the medieval tradition? This book is an attempt to address these questions through focussing on an issue that was highly controversial already in the Middle Ages, and has remained the subject of serious debate for a long period of time. The topic of sentence types and word-order patterns in Arabic figures prominently not only in the debates between the two medieval schools of grammar, the Baṣran and the Kūfan, but also in arguments between grammarians of the same school. In modern times, issues of sentence types and word-order variations have been at the center of sharp disputes among Arabists and linguists. The present study will start by describing the development of the medieval theory of sentence types out of the theory of ʿamal. We will then examine in detail both structural and functional aspects relating to sentence types and word-order patterns in Arabic. For every major issue raised in this work, the position of modern writers will be compared to that of the medieval grammarians. We will look into some serious conceptual problems that confronted the grammarians, problems emanating from their commitment to the theory of ʿamal. In a similar way we will deal with some problems in modern studies influenced by current linguistic hypotheses. In particular, we will point to a tendency among modern scholars, notably those adhering to the Greenbergian paradigm, to confuse the two concepts of sentence types and word-order variations, in certain cases, indeed, to neglect the former in favour of the latter. Clearly, the grammarians’ positions on the issues discussed in this book have never ceased to be relevant. We will see that the majority of modern scholars, including those who subscribe to current linguistic theories, very often show due consideration of the basic views of the medieval grammarians. This is hardly surprising. A modern linguist familiar with the writings of the medieval Arab grammarians cannot fail to appreciate their outstanding achievements. Indeed, in a way, these grammarians may be regarded as linguists in the modern sense of the word. Their grammatical thinking, their description and analysis of grammatical structures, are often reminiscent of modern linguistic methodologies. In many cases they may be said to have predicted the kind of thinking prevailing today in modern linguistics.



Chapter Four in this book is an enlarged version of my article ‘Problems in the medieval Arabic theory of sentence types’, published in H. Motzki and E. Ditters (eds.), Approaches to Arabic Linguistics, Presented to Kees Versteegh on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday, Leiden, Brill, 2007 (pp. 149–188). Finally, I wish to thank an anonymous reader for many valuable comments and suggestions. Needless to say, I alone am responsible for any remaining mistakes and inaccuracies.


INTRODUCTION: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND MODERN APPROACHES 1.1 Sentence types versus word-order patterns The question of sentence types in Arabic has always intrigued medieval grammarians and modern Arabists alike. It may therefore look surprising that the two designations jumla fiʿliyya (“verbal sentence/clause”) and jumla ismiyya (“nominal sentence/clause”) appeared relatively late in medieval Arabic grammatical literature. Yet, the distinction between two basic sentence types is implicit already in the earliest stages of medieval Arabic grammatical writings. Sībawayhi (d. 793) in his Kitāb provides a detailed account of numerous syntactic structures in Arabic, but the main line of distinction is drawn by him (Kitāb I, 6; and see 1.2 below for further discussion) between two basic structures represented by the following two model sentences: (1) yad̠habu Zaydun (“Zayd goes”) (2) ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxūka (“ʿAbdullāh is your brother”)

Later grammarians designated these models as jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya respectively, and the terms can be found in most Arabic standard grammars to the present day. As to modern linguistic studies of Arabic grammar, we will see below that they have been conducted in large part within the Chomskian generative theory,1 and as far as word-order issues are concerned, many scholars have shown a tendency to follow Joseph Greenberg’s methodology focussing upon universals and typology. As is well known, Greenberg (1966) raised the idea that every language has some basic pattern of ordering the subject and object in the sentence relative to the verb, and further, that each word-order pattern, such as SVO, VSO and SOV (S = subject; V = verb; O = object), correlates with certain specific

1 In this book, most references to Chomsky are to the early versions of his theory, which appear to be relevant to some of the issues discussed.


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grammatical features. This gave rise to an extensive discussion along that line, elevating the concept of word order to the focus of linguists’ attention. In some cases, linguists even started to identify the concept of sentence type with that of word-order pattern (see, for instance, Bakir 1979:3; Comrie 1981:82). Greenberg’s formulation was subsequently modified, notably by the works of Lehmann (1973) and Vennemann (1974). Rather than presenting word-order patterns in terms of the position of the subject and object relative to the verb, Lehmann proposed to draw the line of distinction between VO and OV languages (object following- versus object preceding the verb). Vennemann’s typology is based on the distinction between XV and VX languages. He defined an XV language as “a language in which the normal position of the finite verb is the clause-final position in main declarative clauses.” A language displaying any other word-order pattern was defined as a VX language (Vennemann 1974:350; for an extensive discussion, see also Comrie 1981:86–97 and Dahlgren 1998:98–99). Furthermore, recent cross-linguistic research has challenged Greenberg’s paradigm by questioning the very idea of a basic word order (see 2.1 below) and offering alternative typologies. In these studies, scholars typically look into syntactic, pragmatic and cognitive considerations for explaining word order variation (for discussion, see, e.g. Payne 1992:2–3). Particularly interesting is Mithun’s (1992:15ff.) idea, drawing a distinction between syntactically and pragmatically based languages. She argues that syntactically based languages have a syntactically defined basic word order that may be altered, for pragmatic purposes, by right- and left-dislocation processes. In pragmatically based languages, in contrast, “all ordering reflects pragmatic considerations. Unusual situations are marked by other means (p. 58)”. She points out further that, whereas in syntactically based languages “reordering is usually assumed to result in a theme-rheme [in the present book’s terms: topic-comment] order” with new or newsworthy elements following the ‘old’ or ‘given’ information, in pragmatically based languages “the order is nearly the reverse (p. 58)”. This issue will be discussed in detail in Chapter Three. Finally, Brustad (2000:329ff.), drawing upon Li & Thompson (1976:459–464), has recently suggested a typology for Arabic that remarkably diverges from the Greenbergian paradigm, and seems to come closer to the medieval Arab grammarians’ approach. For discussion, see 1.5.2 below.



Yet, the Greenbergian paradigm has remained most influential in the study of word order, not least among Arabists and linguists focussing their research on Arabic. It should be noted, however, that for a general linguist, whose starting point is an Indo-European language like English, French or German, the verb is the core, or head, of every sentence; hence the tendency to specify the position of all other elements relative to the verb. In Arabic, as is well known, verbless sentences figure prominently both in classical and modern texts, and often share basic features with sentences containing a verb. But as we will see in 1.5.2, this does not seem to have greatly impressed general linguists (or even certain Arabists). In contrast to the medieval Arab grammarians, modern scholars have tended to draw the main dividing line between the two model sentences ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan, representing, for them, two word-order variations, VSO and SVO respectively. Evidently, this is consistent with the Greenbergian approach to word order, in which the verb is taken to be the point of reference. As we shall see, this issue has been a major source of controversy among modern scholars dealing with word-order patterns in Arabic. Indeed, this has been the practice mainly in studies of the structure of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and modern Arabic dialects. Moreover, in many cases these two word-order patterns have been presented as two, or rather, the two basic sentence types in Arabic. In the present book, where the designations “VSO”, “VOS”, “SVO” etc. are used, they refer to word-order patterns, not to sentence types—two distinct concepts which should by no means be confused. The concept of sentence type is not, however, straightforward or self explanatory, and by no means restricted to word-order patterning. Trask, in his dictionary of grammatical terms (1993:251), presents the traditional definition: Sentence type: One of the four traditional classes of sentence, in a classification which attends only to surface form and not to discourse function, the four types being statements, commands, questions and exclamations, conventionally associated with the four mood categories declarative, imperative, interrogative and exclamative. (Trask’s emphasis)2

2 For a different attitude to sentence types, attending both to syntactical structure and discourse function, see Lambrecht 1994:32–35.


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It is my belief that a sentence type may be defined in purely syntactic terms, along the line adopted by the medieval grammarians. We may thus assume that, for any given language, one may envisage one or more model sentences, that is, structurally well-defined minimal (nuclear) sentence units representing all possible sentences. These model sentences are defined on such parameters as word order, case marking and grammatical agreement. If, for a given language L, it can be shown that any given sentence, however complex, is reducible to one of a given number of such nuclear model sentences, these model sentences are defined as sentence types in L. Given this definition of sentence type, we will see that in Written Arabic the type of sentence is determined by the sort of its predicate and the location of the predicative constituents (subject and predicate) relative to each other. Any of the types may be used to make a statement or ask a question; a command is normally issued by a sentence headed by a verb in the imperative form. In principle, the classification of sentences into types applies to embedded clauses as well, given that a clause is defined as a sentence forming part of a larger sentence. This book, however, concentrates on main clauses, specifically, on singleclaused independent sentences. The following sections provide a survey of some of the major concepts and issues concerning the relationship between sentence types and word-order patterns in Arabic. The discussion will be based, throughout this book, both on the medieval grammatical literature and on modern research as conducted by various Arabists, philologists, and linguists representing a variety of viewpoints. 1.2 The Sībawayhian legacy: the theory of ʿamal and some of its concepts Medieval Arabic grammatical literature is based, in its early stages, on a system of underlying principles and rules applied by the grammarians when they attempt to explain various linguistic phenomena. The idea of a twofold division into sentence types, much like other fundamental principles, started to be expressed explicitly and systematically only at a fairly late stage in the development of Arab grammatical thinking. Over a long period of time, Arab grammarians had been drawing clear-cut distinctions between certain basic constructions in Arabic, primarily, as we have indicated, between those represented by such sentences as



ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and Zaydun munṭaliqun, without, however, explicitly referring to each of these as representing a sentence type. For Sībawayhi, whose Kitāb is the first comprehensive Arabic grammar known to us, the idea of the sentence is based on the principle of ʾisnād (though the term itself is rather uncommon in the Kitāb). ʾIsnād, whose literal meaning is “leaning”, is a term referring to the two predicative elements in the sentence, namely the subject and the predicate, implying that the one in some way leans on, or is supported by, the other. Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 6) uses the two model sentences ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxūka and yad̠habu Zaydun (cf. 1.1 above) as manifestations of ʾisnād. To the first of the two predicative elements he refers as musnad, and to the second as musnad ʾilayhi (for discussion, see Levin 1981; Goldenberg 1988:42ff.).3 However, Sībawayhi seems to have been interested not only in sentence structure, but also in sentence formation, that is, in the process leading to a certain sentence structure. To that end, he and his followers devised, and continually applied, the principle of ʿamal, which has figured throughout as the central concept in Arabic grammatical tradition. The term ʿamal is used by the vast majority of grammarians to refer to a one-directional process in which a constituent in a sentence acts upon another by assigning it case. The ʿāmil (“operator”) acts upon the maʿmūl (“affected”—occasionally maʿmūl fīhi), effecting its case ending (ʾiʿrāb). The ʿāmil is normally a verb or a particle (e.g. a preposition, or one of the ʾinna group); the maʿmūl is a nominal or, otherwise, a verb of the yafʿalu type (“imperfect”). The grammarians regarded it as their major task to explain the case endings in each construction in terms of the theory of ʿamal. The common designations, both in the Kitāb and in later grammatical writings, for the two predicative elements, particularly in sentences such as yanṭaliqu Zaydun and Zaydun munṭaliqun/yanṭaliqu, were fiʿl/ fāʿil and mubtadaʾ/xabar, to denote the (verbal) predicate and subject in the first case and the subject and predicate in the second. Significantly,

3 Talmon (1979:52) indicates that the terms musnad/musnad ʾilayhi occur only four times in the Kitāb, and that it is only in one out of these four cases that Sībawayhi uses these terms with reference to a verb followed by its subject. In all other cases, ʾisnād is used to refer to the relationship between the mubtadaʾ and the mabnī ʿalayhi. Talmon’s conclusion is that Sībawayhi used ʾisnād as a cover term for the two dichotomies fiʿl/ fāʿil and mubtadaʾ/mabnī ʿalayhi (see below for further discussion of the above mentioned terms).


chapter one

this is consistent with the theory of ʿamal, since, unlike musnad and musnad ʾilayhi, fiʿl and fāʿil (as well as mubtadaʾ and xabar, as we shall see), could be described in terms of ʿāmil (the former) and maʿmūl (the latter). In contrast, the terms musnad and musnad ʾilayhi, unrelated as they are to case assignment, are irrelevant to the theory of ʿamal. A central concept in the theory of ʿamal is taʿdiya, referring specifically to the transitivity of the verb, and typically used with reference to sentences displaying the VS(O) word order. Underlying the concept of taʿdiya is the assumption that in such sentences as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan it is the verb that determines the structure of the sentence as a whole. In other words, the verb ḍaraba affects the first nominal, the fāʿil (ʿAbdu-llāhi), assigning it the raf ʿ case. This effect of the verb extends (yataʿaddā) further, via the fāʿil, into the second nominal, the maf ʿūl (Zaydan), assigning it the naṣb case. It is this process originating from the verb that produces the final sentence structure displaying a verb and two nominal complements, one marked by the raf ʿ case ending and the other by the naṣb ending (see, e.g. Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 10–11). Unlike verb-initial sentences of the type exemplified above, whose structure could fairly easily be described in terms of ʿamal and taʿdiya, sentences like Zaydun munṭaliqun, lacking an overt ʿāmil, presented the medieval grammarians with the challenge of accounting for the raf ʿ case of the mubtadaʾ and the xabar. Later grammarians developed a theory, based no doubt on Sībawayhi’s Kitāb (see below), according to which the ibtidāʾ, that is, the very positioning of a nominal in sentenceinitial position so as to function as subject (mubtadaʾ) followed by a predicate (xabar)—should, as such, be conceived of as an ʿāmil maʿnawī (“abstract ʿāmil”), in contrast to regular operators which were described as ʿawāmil lafẓiyya (“formal operators”). It was the ibtidāʾ, then, that was described as the assigner of the raf ʿ case to the mubtadaʾ, and the latter was presented as assigning rafʿ to the xabar.4 The concept of ibtidāʾ is dealt with extensively both in the medieval grammatical literature and in modern studies (for an extensive discussion in the medieval literature, see, e.g. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī [d. 1181] ʾInṣāf I, 44–51). I will, therefore, not elaborate on the subject here, but some 4 The origins of this theory can be easily located in the Kitāb, for instance in Sībawayhi’s main chapter on ibtidāʾ (Kitāb I, 239), where he states: fa-ʾinna l-mabniyya ʿalayhi yartafiʿu bihi [i.e. bi-l-mubtadaʾ] kamā rtafaʿa huwa [i.e. the mubtadaʾ] bi-l-ibtidāʾ. For a detailed discussion of the grammarians’ attempts to reconcile the concepts of ʿamal and ibtidāʾ, see Peled 1992a.



remarks are in order for the sake of our later discussion. Sībawayhi did not provide a definition of ibtidāʾ, but the first line of his bāb al-ibtidāʾ (chapter 132) could give us an idea as to the meaning underlying this concept: hād̠ā bābu l-ibtidāʾ. fa-l-mubtadaʾu kullu ismin ubtudiʾa li-yubnā ʿalayhi kalāmun (“this is the chapter on ibtidāʾ. The mubtadaʾ is every noun you place at the beginning of the sentence in order to build upon it a complete sentence”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239).

Notice Sībawayhi’s use of ubtudiʾa, the passive form of the verb ibtadaʾa. This is indeed consistent with other occurrences of this verb in the Kitāb, where it is used by Sībawayhi as a transitive active verb with a direct object pronoun (ibtadaʾtahu, tabtadiʾuhu—see, e.g. Kitāb I, 23, 54, 138). On this basis one might attempt to read into the concept ibtidāʾ some kind of transformation along the lines of “movement” or “fronting” in modern linguistic terms. But that is not borne out by the above passage, nor indeed by other occurrences of ibtidāʾ/ibtadaʾa in the Kitāb (see above). Sībawayhi never uses ibtidāʾ as synonymous to taqdīm (“preposing”, not necessarily signalling a movement transformation—see 2.2 below). Moreover, his basic example of ibtidāʾ in the above passage is ʿAbdu-llāhi munṭaliqun, where no kind of movement transformation can be envisaged. So it stands to reason that ibtidāʾ was conceived by him primarily as a process by which a nominal element, say ʿAbdullāhi, is placed at the beginning of a sentence only to be joined by another element, say munṭaliqun, so as to create a sentence like ʿAbdullāhi munṭaliqun (“ʿAbdullāh is leaving”). This process is subsequently presented as the ʿāmil of the rafʿ in the mubtadaʾ: irtafaʿa . . . bi-l-ibtidāʾ (“[the mubtadaʾ] was assigned the rafʿ case by the ibtidāʾ”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239). Sībawayhi’s concept of ibtidāʾ was generally adopted by later grammarians, as manifested by the definition and discussion of the term in the medieval literature. Ibtidāʾ was normally presented (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš [d. 1245] Šarḥ I, 83–84) as consisting of two elements: (1) the absence (taʿarrī—“being stripped”) of any formal ʿawāmil such as ʾinna and kāna, and (2) ʾisnād (or ʾixbār), that is, attaching of a xabar constituent to the mubtadaʾ. Some grammarians (see, e.g. Jurjānī [d. 1078] Muqtaṣid I, 214) argued that the second element should not be included in the definition since the first element, that is, placing a nominal constituent at the beginning of the sentence without any formal ʿāmil, presupposes ʾisnād. For further discussion of the concept ibtidāʾ, see Peled 1992a:163ff.


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Furthermore, the concept of ibtidāʾ was applied by Sībawayhi not only to verbless sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun, but also to such sentences as Zaydun yanṭaliqu, where the xabar position is occupied by a verbal construction. Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 31) made it clear that yanṭaliqu in such sentences is “built upon” (see below) Zaydun, much like munṭaliqun. The term jumla ismiyya does not occur in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb, but assuming that jumla ismiyya is synonymous with ibtidāʾ construction, one may say that those constructions that were labeled by later grammarians as jumla ismiyya were categorized as such not by virtue of displaying a noun in sentence-initial position, but rather because they were regarded as ibtidāʾ constructions, in the sense that they were introduced by a nominative noun indicating that the raf ʿ was assigned by ibtidāʾ. And this is indeed the property that makes Zaydun yanṭaliqu, in medieval Arabic grammatical theory, distinct in type from yanṭaliqu Zaydun, where Zaydun is assigned the rafʿ case by the verb. It is noteworthy that, when introducing the concept ibtidāʾ, Sībawayhi uses the term mabnī ʿalayhi rather than xabar for the constituent juxtaposed to the mubtadaʾ. Indeed, the concept bināʾ figures prominently in Sībawayhi’s discussions of sentence structure. The use of this term is restricted by him basically to cases exhibiting such binary structures as ḍarabtu Zaydan (“I hit Zayd”), ḍarabtuhu ḍarban (“I hit him hardly”), Zaydun ʾaxūka (“Zayd is your brother”), fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi (“ʿAbdullāh is in it”). In cases like ḍarabtu Zaydan (or, for that matter, Zaydan ḍarabtu), Zaydan is presented by Sībawayhi as mabnī ʿalā (“built upon”) ḍarabtu, in the sense that Zaydan implements the function of the second complementary constituent in a two-unit sentence, and that adjoining it to ḍarabtu is thus a necessary requirement in order for the sentence to be complete. By contrast, in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu it is the “verb that is mabnī on the noun” (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 31).5 (For a thorough discussion of the terms mabnī and mabnī ʿalayhi in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb, see Levin 1985b.) We can see, then, that the concept bināʾ, much like ʾisnād,

5 Note, however, that Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 223) employs the concept bināʾ also in cases such as fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾimun (“in it ʿAbdullāh is standing”), where fīhā is presented as peripheral (laġw) to ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾimun, in which qāʾimun is said to be mabnī ʿalā ʿAbdu-llāhi. Regarding similar cases where qāʾim takes the naṣb case (qāʾiman), Sībawayhi states clearly that qāʾiman is not built upon the mubtadaʾ (for a detailed discussion of this type of sentence, see Chapter Four below).



cuts across the two basic sentence structures dealt with by Sībawayhi.6 Both refer to the conjoining of the two basic units of the sentence. The domain of bināʾ, however, extends over non-predicative constituents such as the direct and absolute objects (mafʿūl bihi and mafʿūl muṭlaq respectively): in cases such as ḍarabtuhu ḍarban, the absolute object ḍarban is presented as built upon ḍarabtuhu, much as Zaydan is built upon ḍarabtu in ḍarabtu Zaydan. While in a sentence like Zaydun munṭaliqun the second element is presented as “built upon” (mabnī) the first, in more extended structures, like ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan (“ ʿAbdullāh hit Zayd”), ʾinna ʿAbdallāhi ʾaxūka (“ ʿAbdullāh is your brother”), kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxāka (“ ʿAbdullāh was your brother”), and ẓanantu ʿAbda-llāhi ʾaxāka (“I believed ʿAbdullāh to be your brother”)—the concept bināʾ does not seem to be relevant. As for the first of the four cases, we have already described Sībawayhi’s employment of taʿdiya to account for the formation of a sentence of this type. The other three cases involve both ibtidāʾ and taʿdiya (ʾinna is treated as a verb-like particle—see 5.2 below). The elements ʾinna, kāna and ẓanantu are considered as ʿawāmil, accountable for the cases of ʿAbdu-llāhi/ʿAbda-llāhi and ʾaxūka/ʾaxāka, which would, otherwise, take the rafʿ case invariably as regular mubtadaʾ and xabar. Some later grammarians presented these ʿawāmil as nawāsix al-ibtidāʾ (“ibtidāʾ cancelers”), arguing that when they enter into a sentence of the mubtadaʾ-xabar type they replace the ibtidāʾ by filling the position of the ʿāmil, and assign cases to the following sentence constituents (see 5.2 below; and cf. Peled 1992a:149–150). And again, ʾaxūka/ʾaxāka, in each of these cases is replaceable by yanṭaliqu, to form sentences such as ʾinna ʾAbda-llāhi yanṭaliqu, etc. As a rule, then, sentence formation/structure was explained by the grammarians in terms of ʿamal. In other words, as shown by Owens (1988, chapter 2, esp. p. 55), the structure of a sentence was basically accounted for by an initial ʿāmil, whether a verb (e.g. ḍaraba, kāna, ẓanna), a particle (e.g. ʾinna and “sisters”) or, otherwise, an abstract ʿāmil (ibtidāʾ). On the basis of the theory of ʿamal, Sībawayhi established a division distinguishing between sentences like qāma Zaydun, displaying a verbal ʿāmil and transitivity (taʿdiya) on the one hand, 6

Given that the concept of bināʾ is applicable also to sentences such as fīhā rajulun, one may say that it cuts across what we will later present as the three basic sentence types in Arabic (see 1.6 below).


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and ibtidāʾ sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun, where the ʿāmil is the ibtidāʾ—on the other. Sentences such as Zaydun yanṭaliqu were treated as ibtidāʾ structures, analogous to Zaydun munṭaliqun rather than to yanṭaliqu Zaydun. While he did not offer any explicit division into two well-defined sentence types, Sībawayhi no doubt paved the way for later grammarians to construct a theory stipulating that any sentence in Arabic may be represented by one of the above two types: either a verb-introduced sentence ( jumla fiʿliyya), or, otherwise, a nounintroduced sentence ( jumla ismiyya) (cf. Levin 1985a:123–124). Indeed, his distinction between two types of ʿamal was later translated into an explicit theory of two corresponding sentence types. As we have seen, sentences introduced by ʾinna, kāna (or their respective “sisters”) were integrated into that system of division (for details, see Chapter Five below). Sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun and fīhā Zaydun presented a special difficulty and will be discussed in Chapter Four below. As we shall see in 1.5.2, modern scholars have often resented the idea that a sentence with a verbal predicate should be labeled “nominal”. But if one remains within the framework of medieval Arab grammatical thinking, then, given that the theory of sentence types developed out of the theory of ʿamal and had to be compatible with it, the later concepts of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya should pose no theoretical problem. Indeed, these two medieval concepts are widely held (especially by traditional Arabists) to the present day. 1.3

Later grammarians on Arabic sentence types

In their discussion of sentence types, the medieval Arab grammarians normally use the term jumla. Kinberg (1996:133) adduces evidence that Farrāʾ (d. 822) used this term in the sense of ‘clause’, among other terms (for an extensive discussion, see Talmon 1988:90–93). Sībawayhi, by contrast, did not use jumla as a grammatical term at all, though, as we have seen in 1.2, the notion ‘sentence’ was undoubtedly part of his grammatical thinking. (He did, however, use the plural jumal in a non-linguistic sense—cf. Talmon 1988:80; ʿAbd al-Latị̄ f 1996:18). The idea of two sentence types can be found in the grammarians’ writings, typically in their discussion of the types of jumal that may function as xabar following the mubtadaʾ. But it was only at a fairly advanced stage in the development of medieval Arabic grammatical theory that the



concept jumla began to be discussed in an explicit way with reference to an independent sentence.7 ʿAbd al-Latị̄ f (1996:19) points out that the first grammarian to use jumla in a linguistic sense was Mubarrad (d. 898). (cf. Goldenberg 1988:54, for the occurrence of this term in the early grammatical literature.) In his discussion of the fāʿil, Mubarrad states that the fāʿil takes the rafʿ case since it forms, together with the verb, a jumlatun yaḥ sunu ʿalayhā l-sukūtu wa-tajibu bihā l-fāʾidatu li-l-muxāṭabi (“a jumla that may be followed by silence, conveying a [complete] useful message for the addressee”—Mubarrad Muqtaḍab I, 146).

The above passage does not make it absolutely clear whether jumla in this case may be construed in the sense of such modern terms as ‘sentence’ or ‘clause’. To my mind it lends itself to a broader interpretation along the line of “a construction conveying a complete message”. However, Mubarrad goes on to present the combination of fiʿl+fāʿil (qāma Zaydun—“Zayd stood up”) as having the same status (manzila) as ibtidāʾ+ xabar (al-qāʾimu Zaydun—“the one who is standing is Zayd”). It may be inferred, then, that each of the two constructions was conceived by him as a kind of jumla. For an extensive discussion of Mubarrad’s use of the terms jumla and kalām, see Talmon 1988:93–96; for these two concepts in pre-Sībawayhian grammar, see Talmon 1997:282–283. Goldenberg (1988:53) points out that kalām and jumla, when denoting ‘sentence’, “are sometimes interchangeable, and often confused, but are not synonymous”. It seems that it is only at a fairly late stage that the grammarians drew a clear-cut distinction between the two, with jumla acquiring a broader sense, denoting both ‘clause’ and ‘independent sentence’ and kalām denoting an independent sentence only (see, Ibn Hišām [d. 1360] Muġnī, 490–492; and cf. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf 1996:19–21). I will not review the literature dealing with the two terms, but the reader is referred to Talmon (1988) devoted to the historical development of

7 The term kalām was, however, common from the outset. Kinberg (1991:239, 245) indicates that Farrāʾ defined kalām in terms of the ʿamal theory: the kalām is autonomous in that it contains a nominative noun, and none of its constituents is grammatically affected by any grammatical unit outside it. (For the use of the term kalām in the sense of ‘clause’, see Kinberg 1991:244–245.)


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their use, with special reference to Sībawayhi, Farrāʾ and Mubarrad.8 For an extensive discussion, see also Goldenberg 1988:53–61; Owens 1988:36–38. Modern researchers tend to regard Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 928) as the grammarian who, in his Kitāb al-ʾuṣūl fī l-naḥ w first made explicit the principles of the discipline of the medieval grammarians (see, e.g. Owens 1988:4). It is interesting to note, however, that in his ʾUṣūl, Ibn al-Sarrāj, much like Mubarrad, does not offer a division into well defined sentence types. Yet, when he outlines the various constructions that may occupy the position of the xabar following the mubtadaʾ, Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 64) indicates two types of jumal: one that consists of fiʿl+fāʿil and another that is composed of mubtadaʾ+xabar (cf. Ibn Jinnī Lumaʿ, 13). Significantly, he emphasizes that a jumla functioning as xabar is analyzed (ʾiʿrāb) exactly as it would be without a preceding mubtadaʾ (i.e. when occurring as an independent sentence): in Bakrun ʾabūhu munṭaliqun (“Bakr his father is leaving”), ʾabūhu munṭaliqun is analyzed into mubtadaʾ and xabar exactly as it would be without Bakrun (cf. Goldenberg 1988:54f.). According to Owens (1988:36f. and n. 66), it was ʾAbū ʿAlī l-Fārisī (d. 987) who, within the framework of a discussion of the concepts jumla and kalām, first suggested a division into three sentence types. Indeed, Fārisī adhered to the grammarians’ theory that a noun can be construed ( yaʾtalifu) with either a verb or another noun to form either a jumla fiʿliyya or a jumla ismiyya—respectively (Fārisī ʿAskariyya, 104–105; and cf. Goldenberg 1988:48). These constructions were defined by him as the main jumla types, in the sense that each type could be realized either as a complete independent sentence or, otherwise, as a clause forming part of a sentence. As we shall see in 4.3.3 below, sentences such as Zaydun fī l-dār (“Zayd is in the house”), with the subject followed by a prepositional phrase, could not in Fārisī’s view be represented by any of the above two types, and were therefore categorized as a sentence type in its own right. However, Fārisī pointed further to two cases where a construction consisting of a noun and a verb or, otherwise, of two nominals, could not, in itself, qualify as an independent sentence (kalām). The two

8 Mubarrad is presented by Talmon (1988:95) as “the missing link between the old grammarians Sībawayhi and al-Farrāʾ and the grammarians of the fourth century of Islam.”



cases were conditional sentences and oath sentences. As for conditional sentences, Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 123) points out that the protasis, while being composed of a verb and its subject, cannot in itself stand as an independent sentence; a further clause (the apodosis) must be joined to it, since the apodosis stands to the protasis as xabar to muxbar ʿanhu (Fārisī ʿAskariyya, 125).9 He remarks further that, analogously to the case of the ibtidāʾ construction, the protasis, introduced as it is by a conditional particle, could be appropriately assumed to operate upon the apodosis. (Later grammarians argued that the conditional particle acts upon the verb in the protasis, and through (bi-wāsiṭat) that verb upon the apodosis (see, e.g. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf II, 608; and cf. 3.2 below). Regarding oath sentences, Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 123–125) similarly maintained that this kind of sentence requires two clauses ( jumla): in bi-llāhi la-ʾaf ʿalanna (“by God, I will do it”) the first clause is a verbal clause consisting of an underlying verb (ʾaḥ lifu—“I swear”) and its complement bi-llāhi. The sentence as a whole, however, would not be valid without the second clause la-ʾaf ʿalanna. Fārisī pointed out further that the first clause might be nominal rather than verbal, as in la-ʿamruka la-ʾaf ʿalanna (“upon your life, I will do it”). In this case, he argued, the first clause is composed of a mubtadaʾ (la-ʿamruka) and a deleted (muḍmar) xabar. Regarding the type of jumla that may implement the function of xabar following a mubtadaʾ, Fārisī made it clear that he distinguished four types of xabar, either exhibiting one of the following three constructions: (1) fiʿl and fāʿil, (2) ibtidāʾ and xabar, (3) šarṭ and jazāʾ, or, otherwise, realized as (4) an adverbial (ẓarf ) (see Jurjāni Muqtaṣid I, 273; and cf. 3.1 below). Ibn Jinnī ([d. 1002] Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 27f.), who deals with the two concepts of jumla and kalām as synonyms, appears, however, as observed by Goldenberg (1988:56–57), to draw a distinction between two categories of kalām: 1. predicative constructions, 2. non-predicative constructions, such as exclamations. The first category is exemplified by such sentences as Zaydun ʾaxūka (“Zayd is your brother”), qāma Muḥ ammadun (“Muḥammad stood up”) and fī l-dāri ʾabūka (“in the house is your father”); the second is represented by ṣah (“hush!”), ruwayda (“slowly!”)

9 Fārisī’s muxbar ʿanhu may appropriately be interpreted as a synonym of mubtadaʾ. For the grammarians’ analogy between šarṭ and jawāb on the one hand and mubtadaʾ and xabar on the other, see 1.4 below.


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and other such expressions. He does not, however, refer explicitly to any of these constructions as sentence types. While some grammarians suggested the need for greater differentiation in sentence types, the division advocated by most involved two types: jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya, exemplified by such sentences as qāma Bakrun and Zaydun ʾaxūka—respectively (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 20). This, indeed, has become the standard presentation of Arabic sentence types. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 93–96), Fārisī’s commentator, takes up the concept of iʾtilāf (see p. 12 above), and asserts that a well-formed sentence (kalām) must take the form of either a jumla fiʿliyya, in which a noun is construed (yaʾtalifu) with a verb, or a jumla ismiyya, in which a noun is construed with another noun. Like Fārisī he emphasizes that no other combination can produce an independent sentence (kalām). Regarding sentences such as Zaydun fī l-dār, Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 94) seems to embrace the common position among the medieval Arab grammarians, i.e., that it represents a sub-type of jumla ismiyya in which the xabar is headed by the deleted verb istaqarra. Moreover, it is along this line that he interprets Fārisī’s position on the subject. He does not go into Fārisī’s claims regarding the special status of such constructions (see 4.3.3 below). As for the role of the particles in the division into sentence types, the grammarians pointed out that negative, interrogative and other particles could enter into sentences of either type, adding their respective semantic content without, however, affecting the sentence type as such. In Jurjānī’s (Muqtaṣid I, 94) words: laysa li-l-ḥ urūf taʾt̠īr fī ʾaṣli ʾtilāf al-kalām (cf. Chapter Four, n. 29 below). If the particles had an effect upon the type of the sentence, Jurjānī argues further, then their deletion would lead to an ungrammatical sentence lacking ʾifāda (i.e. communicative value). There is one case, however, where the grammarians, including Fārisī and Jurjānī, point to a sentence construction composed of a noun and a particle. They maintain (e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 95–96) that the vocative particle (ḥ arf nidāʾ) yā, construed with a following noun, creates an independent sentence. However, in yā Zaydu (“O Zayd”), the particle yā is said to function analogously to a verb (qāma maqām al-fiʿl),10 and the

10 Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 95–96) provides a fairly detailed argument in support of the claim that the particle yā implements a verbal function. He indicates that, unlike other



munādā is presented as a mafʿūl.11 The address form yā ʿAbda-llāhi is related to the underlying sentence ʾadʿū ʿAbda-llāhi (“I call ʿAbdullāh”). The verb ʾadʿū, so the argument goes, is replaced by the “compensating” (ʿiwaḍ) particle yā, so as to differentiate between an address sentence and a declarative sentence (ʾan lā yaltabisa l-nidāʾ bi-l-xabar). Sentences like fī l-dāri rajulun are normally conceived of as a sub-type of jumla ismiyya, much like tamīmiyyun ʾanā (“a Tamimite I am”): the two sentences are viewed as cases of taqdīm (fronting), but whereas in the latter case taqdīm is presented as optional, the former is viewed as a case of obligatory taqdīm (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 92–93). In any case, sentences such as fī l-dāri rajulun represent, in our view, a sentence type in its own right, and will be dealt with in detail in Chapter Four. Another case that proved problematic for the grammarians’ theory of sentence types is the structure qāʾimun Zaydun (“standing is Zayd”), where it is a participle that occupies sentence-initial position. As we shall see in 4.2, various ways of classifying and analyzing this kind of sentence were proposed. Indeed, it looks as though this structure was treated by many grammarians as consistent with neither of the two basic sentence types, jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya.12 Ibn Hišām al-ʾAnṣārī (d. 1360) was the first grammarian, after Fārisī, to devote a full chapter to the concept of jumla, its relationship with kalām, and the distinction between types of jumla. His treatment of sentence types in Muġnī l-labīb apparently represents the next stage in the development of the Arab grammarians’ approach to sentence types (cf. Owens 1988:38), and should, indeed, be regarded as a major

particles, but in a similar way to certain verbs, yā may be pronounced with ʾimāla (the pronunciation of the vowel a with a shade of e). Furthermore, Jurjānī argues, yā may be followed by another particle as in yā la-Zaydin, which would be disallowed if yā did not have a verbal status, since a particle may not act upon (lā yaʿmalu fī) another particle. 11 Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 96) maintains, however, that, in principle, as a maf ʿūl, the noun following yā should not be considered as a basic sentence-constituent (lā ḥ aẓzạ lahu fī ʾtilāfi l-kalām fī l-ʾaṣl); the fāʾida of the sentence rests, rather, in the underlying verb ʾadʿū (“I call”) which embodies the two indispensable predicative constituents, the subject and the predicate. Since, however, the munādā is an indication to the existence of that verb (in an underlying level), and to its replacement (on the surface) by yā, it may be considered as one of the basic constituents of the sentence, that is, as having a status similar to that of the fiʿl or the fāʿil in a jumla fiʿliyya. 12 Another problem arose with sentences introduced by lā l-nāfiya li-l-jins. However, in this case the grammarians generally agreed upon regarding this structure as modeled upon ʾinna sentences. They often analyzed the two constituents following lā as ism lā and xabar lā, i.e. as versions of mubtadaʾ and xabar respectively.


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departure from the prevailing division into two types, fiʿliyya and ismiyya. Ibn Hišām presented a clear-cut division into three sentence types: ismiyya, fiʿliyya and ẓarfiyya. The last category is represented, according to him, by sentences introduced by an adverbial (which may or may not be realized as a prepositional phrase) followed by a noun phrase. He criticized Zamaxšarī (d. 1144) for using the designation jumla ẓarfiyya for sentences such as Zaydun fī l-dār (cf. 4.3.3 below, for Fārisī’s treatment of the third sentence type). But let us now return to the standard binary division into jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. Goldenberg (1988) is devoted to demonstrating that the medieval grammarians, despite their preoccupation with case marking (ʾiʿrāb) and operators (ʿawāmil ), were fully aware of subject-predicate relations within the sentence. They pointed out that any well-formed sentence must contain a nominative (raf ʿ) constituent, whether a mubtadaʾ, a fāʿil, or a mafʿūl lam yusammā fāʿiluhu (a subject of a passive verb), since no predication is attainable without such a constituent (Baṭalyūsī [d. 1127] Ḥ ulal, 144). In other words, the grammarians appreciated that there is a sense in which the fiʿl and fāʿil in a jumla fiʿliyya fill the same function as the mubtadaʾ and xabar in a jumla ismiyya.13 Further, the grammarians (e.g. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 58–59) often speak of a resemblance (muḍāraʿa) between the mubtadaʾ and the fāʿil, in the sense that each of the two requires a predicate in order for the sentence to be complete. The difference between the two is that the mubtadaʾ precedes the ḥ adīt̠, whereas the fāʿil follows it. Indeed, the predicate is often referred to as ḥ adīt̠ (“message”), as opposed to muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu (“[the constituent signalling] what the message is about”)—the subject. This is how the resemblance between the mubtadaʾ and the fāʿil (as well as between the xabar and the fiʿl) is stated by Baṭalyūsī: kullu wāḥ idin minhumā muḥ addat̠un ʿanhu musnadun ʾilayhi ġayra ʾanna ḥ adīt̠a l-mubtadaʾi baʿdahu wa-ḥ adīt̠a l-fāʿili qablahu (“each of them is an element of which something is told, acting as support to another element. The only difference between them is that what predicates of the mubtadaʾ follows it, whereas the predicate of the fāʿil precedes it”—Batạ lyūsī Ḥ ulal,


Goldenberg (1988:40) rightly asserts that the grammarians’ distinction between the structures Verb+Subject and Subject+Verb does not “imply a ‘double definition of the sentence’ [cf. his n. 7, p. 41] failing to perceive the actual division common to both nominal and verbal sentences into subject and predicate.”



146; and cf. Goldenberg (1988:44; 46–51), for further discussion and quotations illustrating this point).14

See also Mubarrad Muqtaḍab I, 146 and Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 72–73; and cf. Levin 1985a:118, incl. nn. 2 and 3; Goldenberg 1988:41–51 provides an illuminating discussion of the terms used by the grammarians for the predicative relation: musnad/musnad ʾilayhi, muxbar/muxbar ʿanhu15 and muḥ addat̠/muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu. However, the comparison between the mubtadaʾ and the fāʿil raised the question as to which of the two should be regarded as basic or higher in rank (martaba), relative to the other. Some grammarians pointed to the fact that in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb the fāʿil and other verb complements were discussed before the mubtadaʾ+xabar construction. They maintained, accordingly, that the mubtadaʾ takes the raf ʿ case since it is modeled on the fāʿil. Others claimed, to the contrary, that the mubtadaʾ should be considered higher in rank, equally basing themselves on the Kitāb (see Batạ lyūsī Ḥ ulal, 145).16 Other grammarians, still, maintained that the mubtadaʾ, occupying, as it does, sentence-initial position, stands to the xabar as a fiʿl to its fāʿil. In other words, the mubtadaʾ was presented as analogous either to the fāʿil, as muxbar ʿanhu, or to the fiʿl, as a constituent occupying sentence-initial position, acting (as ʿāmil) upon the following constituent much as a fiʿl acts upon its fāʿil.17 Baṭalyūsī’s ( Ḥ ulal, 147) position was that the mubtadaʾ is higher in rank than the fāʿil. He indicated, for instance, that the mubtadaʾ precedes its predicate, whereas the fāʿil follows it; that the fāʿil and its predicate (ḥ adīt̠) may occupy a xabar position, whereas a mubtadaʾ+xabar construction may not replace the predicate of the fāʿil; that the rafʿ of the mubtadaʾ

14 Baṭalyūsī subsequently cites Quṭrub (d. 821) as claiming that Zaydun in Zaydun qāma functions as fāʿil; i.e. that it implements the function of fāʿil in preverbal position, as it does in postverbal position. Baṭalyūsī remarks that this claim points to a lack of differentiation between a formal-grammatical (lafẓī) fāʿil and a semantic (maʿnawī) fāʿil, signalling the performer of the action. In any event, Qutṛ ub’s claim, attributed also to T̠aʿlab (d. 904), was rejected by the vast majority of grammarians on grounds which will be outlined in 3.3.1 below. 15 Note Goldenberg’s remark (1988:50) that the term ʾisnād (and its derivatives) are more general in application than ʾixbār, since the latter is restricted to declarative sentences. 16 Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 145) suggests that this position was shared by Ibn al-Sarrāj and Fārisī, since both discussed the ibtidāʾ before the fiʿl+fāʿil construction. 17 The analogy between the mubtadaʾ and the fiʿl is normally based on Sībawayhi’s statement that the mubtadaʾ assigns raf ʿ to the xabar. For details, see Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239 and Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 146, including n. 5.


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is not assigned by any formal ʿāmil, whereas the rafʿ of the fāʿil always involves some visible formal operator. In other words, the mubtadaʾ in this respect appears to be simpler, and therefore more basic, than the fāʿil. But Baṭalyūsī’s most interesting claim is that the fāʿil may be realized, through the process of inversion (yanʿakisu), as mubtadaʾ, as long as it does not display an attached pronoun coreferring with the object; as regards the mubtadaʾ, implementing the function of fāʿil is often disallowed, particularly in cases where there is no verb involved. (For further details and discussion, see Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 144–148.) However, the grammarians assumed that their definitions of subject and predicate had to make reference also to the difference between the two basic sentence types representing, as has already been indicated (1.2 above), two types of ʿamal. This is manifested by the pairs of terms fiʿl/ fāʿil and mubtadaʾ/xabar which they employed in order to denote the predicate and subject in a jumla fiʿliyya and the subject and predicate in a jumla ismiyya—respectively: fiʿl (1) ḍaraba



maf ʿūl



(“ʿAbdullāh hit Zayd”).


(2) Zaydun rajulun / munṭaliqun / yanṭaliqu / fī l-dār (“Zayd is a man / is leaving / leaves / at home”). Figure 1

An important point to take note of is that within the framework of their discussion of the fāʿil, the grammarians made reference to the direct object (mafʿūl) and sometimes even to other verb complements. In a jumla fiʿliyya, the position of the fāʿil must obligatorily be filled by a nominative nominal constituent. The occurrence of an accusative maf ʿūl is dependent on the taʿdiya of the verb. The jumla ismiyya, in contrast, was described as consisting of a mubtadaʾ followed by a xabar (see (1) and (2) above). The former was described as a noun (ism—the grammarians did not have the concept of a noun phrase), and the latter as either a noun/adjective, an adverbial (including a prepositional phrase), or a clause. The mubtadaʾ and the xabar were thus portrayed as a single-phrased constituent followed by a further constituent that



may be realized either as a single-phrased or as a clausal constituent. These were conceived of, in other words, as two blocks linked together in a predicative relationship, so as to form a complete sentence. I return to this point in 1.4 and in Chapter Three. All the above shows that the two model sentences, ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and Zaydun rajulun/munṭaliqun/yanṭaliqu/fī l-dār, represented for the grammarians two sentence types, each having its own syntactic properties, even though the explicit designations jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya came only in a relatively late period. From the grammarians’ way of employing the above concepts one may infer that, while recognizing the predicative relation in both types of sentence, they conceived of the distinction between fiʿl and fāʿil as different in kind from the distinction between mubtadaʾ and xabar. Indeed the grammarians presented ibtidāʾ and fāʿiliyya as two different modes of predication ( ʾisnād). Neither fāʿil nor mubtadaʾ was used by them as the equivalent of “subject” in the modern sense. It looks as though the grammarians regarded the distinction between subject and predicate as involving one linguistic level of analysis in the case of jumla fiʿliyya, and two levels in the jumla ismiyya. Dealing with the jumla fiʿliyya they emphasized the formal aspect of the distinction: the fiʿl is the verb, and the fāʿil is the nominative (raf ʿ) noun phrase following the verb. In many cases the fāʿil was described as the element that is “built upon” the verb (see, e.g. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 72) or as the one “you lean the verb upon” (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 74). With respect to jumla ismiyya, in contrast, we can find a highly developed two-level distinction. On the formal syntactic level the subject is defined as the nominative noun phrase introducing the sentence, receiving its case from the ibtidāʾ; the predicate is the phrase/clause following it. But when dealing with the jumla ismiyya the grammarians never fail to emphasize the pragmatic functions of the mubtadaʾ and the xabar; i.e. that the former represents the “given”/“old” information, whereas the latter represents the “new” information (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 85–87). The grammarians’ interest in the pragmatic aspects of language will be elaborated on in the next section. Right from the outset, the grammarians were interested in word order varieties within each type they discussed. Later grammarians, after defining the basic structures of the jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya, deal comprehensively with taqdīm wa-taʾxīr (“preposing and postposing”) of the fāʿil and the maf ʿūl in the former type, and of the mubtadaʾ and the


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xabar in the latter. Depicting fiʿl+fāʿil+mafʿūl and mubtadaʾ+xabar as the basic structures of a jumla fiʿliyya and a jumla ismiyya respectively, they outline the cases where taqdīm/taʾxīr is either obligatory, optional, or disallowed. The notion of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr will be discussed in detail in 2.2 (for jumla fiʿliyya) and in 3.5 (for jumla ismiyya). 1.4 The medieval grammarians and general linguistics Given the achievements of the medieval Arab grammarians in the description and analysis of Classical Arabic, it is hardly surprising that among modern writers there are many who can hardly deal with any grammatical subject in Arabic without making some reference to the relevant discussion in the medieval literature. However, as could only be expected, the medieval grammarians’ writings confront modern scholars with tremendous difficulties, particularly in interpreting various grammatical terms they employ. This applies, indeed, to some of the most basic terms, such as fiʿl, fāʿil, mafʿūl, xabar, as well as taqdīm wa-taʾxīr (cf. 2.2 below). In Peled (1999) I discuss some such undifferentiated terms, i.e. expressions about which the reader can never be sure as to whether they are used as technical grammatical terms or, rather, as nonlinguistic expressions. Various additional terminological problems will be raised in this and the following chapters, in correspondence with the issue(s) discussed in each case. On the whole, modern scholars have shown a high appreciation of medieval Arab grammatical thinking. The medieval grammarians’ writings appeal to traditional Arabists on the one hand, and to Arabic linguists subscribing to various linguistic (in particular syntactic) theories—on the other. However, a modern linguist might raise, apart from the terminological issues just mentioned, some further questions as to the medieval grammarians’ linguistic approach. For instance, to what extent were the medieval Arab grammarians concerned with grammatical phenomena outside the Arabic language? Were they aware of the universal aspects of language? Did they show any interest in contextual aspects of language use? Questions of this kind are likely to have crossed the minds of, and probably continue to be of interest to, general linguists reading the grammatical literature left by the medieval Arab grammarians. A thorough and comprehensive answer to these questions would, no doubt, require a book-length study in its



own right. What I can do here is bring up some points which can be seen as relevant to the present study. Clearly, the grammarians’ declared purpose is to provide a description and analysis of the Arabic language. Other languages are rarely mentioned, and only in a distinctly marginal manner. Arabic dialects are dealt with by some grammarians, usually in a sporadic form, without reference to the social aspects of their use. In other words, one cannot find in the grammarians’ writings anything that is in any way similar to modern typological or sociolinguistic studies. To a modern linguist it would appear that the medieval grammarians’ accounts are strictly formal, concentrating on the purely syntactic features of the sentence without paying due attention to pragmatic functions related to speech situation. True, the grammarians did not propose a three-level linguistic analysis—syntactic, semantic and pragmatic (for Jurjānī’s exceptional approach, see below); and discourse analysis as practiced today was utterly unfamiliar to them. Their account is in most cases based on an analysis of single sentences, either invented or quoted from the Qurʾān or pre-islamic poetry. Most of their examples are examined out of context, definitely not within large stretches of text or discourse. This is not to say, however, that the medieval grammarians were uninterested in the universal aspects of language, particularly those relating to the relationship between syntactic structure and human communication. Indeed, most of the grammarians did not fail to make reference to semantic and pragmatic aspects of the linguistic phenomena they described. Carter (1973a:147ff.) has already pointed to Sībawayhi’s terminology as evidence to his conception of language as a communicative system. Three centuries after Sībawayhi, it was ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī (d. 1078) who, in his Dalāʾil al-ʾiʿjāz, elevated the inquiry into semantic and pragmatic issues to a central position in the study of the Arabic language, repeatedly stating the priority of meaning (maʿnā) over form (lafẓ). As to word order in Arabic, Jurjānī provides a pragmatic discussion that is comprehensive, systematic and demonstrably insightful. (Jurjānī’s treatment of word order is discussed in detail in Peled 1997.) It is true that the mainstream of Arabic grammatical writing did not follow Jurjānī’s path. For most of the grammarians the starting point was formal rather than functional. But it can equally be said that both before and after the Dalāʾil the grammarians showed continuous interest in the universal communicative aspects of language, even though their


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study of these aspects is in most cases integrated into their noticeably formal syntactic analysis of the language. Examples for this abound in the medieval grammatical literature, but I will restrict myself to three issues relating to subject-predicate relationship. The medieval grammarians seem to agree that the mubtadaʾ introducing the sentence should, in principle, be definite, and that if the sentence consists of two nominal phrases, one definite, and the other indefinite, the definite one should be assigned the function of mubtadaʾ, whereas the indefinite one should be analyzed as xabar (e.g. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 59).18 When Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 85) asserts that the mubtadaʾ should, in principle (ʾaṣl), be definite, and the xabar indefinite, his argument is strikingly similar to any modern pragmatic discussion of the subject. He explains that the purpose of using a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction (ʾixbārāt) is to provide the addressee with information that is not in his possession (mā laysa ʿindahu), so as to place the addressee on an equal footing with the speaker regarding that particular piece of information. Predicating (ʾixbār) of a an indefinite noun, he argues, has no communicative value ( fāʾida), and for illustration he adduces the phrase rajulun qāʾimun. Ibn Yaʿīš states that such a construction has no fāʾida (and is thus inadmissible as a sentence conveying the meaning “a man is standing”). He explains: li-ʾannahu lā yustankaru ʾan yakūna rajulun qāʾiman [. . .] fī l-wujūdi mimman lā yaʿrifuhu l-muxāṭabu wa-laysa hād̠ā l-xabara llad̠ī tunazzilu fīhi l-muxāṭaba manzilataka fīmā taʿlamu (“because the existence of a standing [. . .] man not known to the addressee—is undeniable; this cannot be the piece of information that is needed in order to make the addressee equal to you in knowledge”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 85; cf. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 59 and Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 20).

18 Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 305–309), among other grammarians, distinguishes between three types of definiteness combinations regarding the mubtadaʾ-xabar construction: 1. One of the constituents is definite and the other indefinite 2. Both constituents are definite 3. Both constituents are indefinite. He emphasizes, however, that among the different possibilities it is the definite mubtadaʾ followed by an indefinite xabar that is consistent with the basic principle of predication (al-ʾaṣl fī l-ʾixbār). The possibility of an indefinite mubtadaʾ followed by a definite xabar is rejected by him as inconceivable (muḥ āl—some grammarians remark that such sentences may be admitted only by poetic license; see, e.g. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 67; Mujāšiʿī [d. 1087] Šarḥ , 86). A sentence where both the mubtadaʾ and the xabar are definite is valid only under certain pragmatic conditions (see below), and, similarly, there are certain restrictions imposed on constructions displaying an indefinite mubtadaʾ followed by an indefinite xabar, or, otherwise, by a clausal xabar (see this section below, and 3.4.2).



Note that such key expressions as ʾixbār(āt) (as well as the second occurrence of xabar) and fāʾida—are used by Ibn Yaʿīš in a way that makes it hard for a modern reader to determine whether he intends them as technical linguistic terms. In fact, his discussion here consists in explaining a grammatical feature (an indefinite subject in sentenceinitial position) in pragmatic terms. Thus, ʾixbār in this context could be used either (1) as a formal grammatical term, to mean the use of an element in the sentence as predicate, or (2) as a pragmatic term, to mean what modern linguists would refer to as “comment” or “rheme”, or (3) as an extra-linguistic expression, with the meaning of “telling a story” or “conveying a piece of information”. Likewise, when Ibn Yaʿīš says that there is no fāʾida in making an ʾixbār about an indefinite noun, fāʾida could be interpreted as either “predication”, “communicative value”, or, in a non-linguistic sense, as “usefulness” or “benefit”. Obviously, Ibn Yaʿīš did not consider this kind of differentiation, and it is particularly this iconic, rather than arbitrary, use of terminology that makes it so difficult for a modern reader to determine the exact meaning of expressions like these (cf. Peled 1999). Another important point to note, regarding Ibn Yaʿīšʿs above argument, is that he uses falsifiability as a criterion for predication, indeed, for sentence acceptability. This principle can be found already in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb (e.g. I, 20). A construction such as rajulun qāʾimun is unacceptable as a sentence because it is unfalsifiable. Unlike Zaydun qāʾimun, which may be shown to be false, rajulun qāʾimun is irrefutable, because there is no ground for denying that there exists a man, unknown to the addressee, who is standing. But even more significant and interesting than Ibn Yaʿīš’s argument is Ibn al-Sarrāj’s suggestion that there is a condition under which rajulun qāʾimun could be accepted as a well-formed independent sentence. Like most other grammarians, Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 59) rejected rajulun qāʾimun as unacceptable, on grounds similar to those outlined by Ibn Yaʿīš. He pointed out, however, that rajulun qāʾimun was admissible as an answer to a question such as ʾa-rajulun qāʾimun ʾam imraʾatun? (“is it a man that is standing or a woman?”). In other words, Ibn al-Sarrāj envisaged a context in which this construction, normally interpreted as a noun phrase, could have a communicative value, and thus be appropriately used as a perfectly grammatical sentence. Straightforward-looking sentences where both the mubtadaʾ and the xabar are definite were not automatically accepted as valid. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 65–66) claimed that the validity of the sentence Zaydun ʾaxūka


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(“Zayd is your brother”) was context-dependent: such a sentence would be acceptable only if the addressee knew that he had a brother, and knew Zayd, but did not know that Zayd was his brother, perhaps because the two had been separated from each other for a long period of time. Ibn al-Sarrāj argued that in such cases, that is, when a definite nominal is used to predicate of another definite nominal, the communicative value resides in both constituents jointly ( fī majmūʿihimā): in the sibling relationship between Zayd and the addressee, not in the constituent ʾaxūka alone. Similarly, a sentence such as Muḥ ammadun nabiyyunā (“Muḥammad is our Prophet”) is pragmatically valid only when said to non-believers; otherwise it can only be uttered as a praise which, by definition, does not have an informative value. Moreover, sentences such as al-nāru ḥ ārratun wa-l-t̠alju bāridun (“fire is hot and snow is cold”) are devoid of any communicative value, even though they display an indefinite xabar.19 On the whole, Ibn al-Sarrāj concluded, ʾaṣl al-kalām mawḍūʿ li-l-fāʾida (“speech is designed primarily for conveying information”). And even more significant for the point being made here is his following statement regarding the main criterion for sentence acceptability: wa-jumlatu hād̠ā ʾannahu ʾinnamā yunẓaru ʾilā mā fīhi fāʾidatun fa-matā kānat fāʾidatun bi-wajhin min al-wujūhi fa-huwa jāʾizun wa-ʾillā fa-lā (“As a general rule, a construction is judged by its communicative value. If it is found to have a communicative value, in any sense whatsoever, it is admitted [as an independent sentence]; if not, not”—Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 59).

Earlier we mentioned falsifiability as a criterion for the validity of a construction as a well-formed independent sentence. This is relatable to our second example below, illustrating the grammarians’ interest in the universal aspects of language. Commenting on Zamaxšarī’s faṣl on the two kinds of xabar (mufrad and jumla—see 3.3.1 below), Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 87) states that between the mubtadaʾ and the xabar it is in the latter that the benefit for the addressee resides (al-juzʾ al-mustafād allad̠ī yastafīduhu l-sāmiʿ). He bases his argument on the fact that it is the xabar that determines whether the sentence as a whole is true or false. 19 For a detailed (and similar) discussion of this issue, see Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 306–307), who also adduces the sentence Zaydun Zaydun (“Zayd is Zayd”) conveying the meaning that Zayd has not changed, i.e. that he is the same as you have always known him.



In Ibn Yaʿīš’s words, in ʿAbdu-llāhi munṭaliqun (“ ʿAbdullāh is leaving”) the truth or falsehood of the proposition ʾinnamā waqaʿā fī nṭilāqi ʿAbdi-llāhi lā fī ʿAbdi-llāhi li-ʾanna l-fāʾidata fī nṭilāqihi (“resides in ʿAbdullāh’s [actual] leaving, not in ʿAbdullāh himself, because the communicative value [of the sentence as a whole] lies in his leaving”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 87; and cf. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 62; for further discussion of the truth value of the clausal xabar, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr [d. 1270] Šarḥ I, 346–347).

Here again the argument is based on the notion of fāʾida: Between the mubtadaʾ and the xabar, it is the latter from which the addressee actually benefits. Then, however, Ibn Yaʿīš returns to the notion of ʾisnād, the grammarians’ departure point in their discussion of mubtadaʾ and xabar. Turning to the mubtadaʾ, representing as it does a piece of information already known to the addressee, Ibn Yaʿīš defines its function as a “support” for the xabar (li-tusnida ʾilayhi l-xabar). Another mubtadaʾ-xabar-related example illustrating the grammarians’ interest in the universal aspects of language concerns the analogy drawn by them between the two clauses of a conditional sentence on the one hand and the mubtadaʾ and xabar on the other. In an article entitled “Conditionals are Topics” published in 1978, John Haiman (see References) reemphasized the close relationship between topic-comment constructions and conditional sentences that had been demonstrated by linguists in various genetically unrelated languages. His main argument, based largely on Hua (a Papuan language), is that the similarity in meaning between the two constructions is reflected in significant morphological similarities between the protasis in a conditional sentence and the topic in a topic-comment sentence. Haiman’s observation has since been widely quoted in general linguistic studies devoted to conditional sentences. His findings were shown to be applicable to a number of genetically unrelated languages (including English), with the suggestion that the phenomenon in question is universal. (For further references, see Khan 1988:57, n. 83.) The similarity between a conditional sentence and a mubtadaʾ-xabar sentence was fully appreciated by the medieval Arab grammarians. Already Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 59) pointed out that a sentence such as allad̠ī yaʾtīnī fa-lahu dirhamun (“anyone coming to me will get a dirham”) has a conditional meaning (maʿnā l-jazāʾ), and that the particle fa- in this case introduces the xabar, functioning in the same way as in


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a conditional sentence (xabar al-jazāʾ) (cf. Khan 1988:57).20 Similarly it was indicated by Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 325) that a sentence such as kullu rajulin yaʾtīnī fa-lahu dirhamun (“every man coming to me will get a dirham”) has the same status (manzila) as ʾin yaʾtinī rajulun falahu dirhamun (“if a man comes to me, he will get a dirham”): both constructions convey the meaning that getting a dirham is dependent on coming to the speaker (cf. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 99–101). In a later period, Ibn Yaʿīš, within his elaborate discussion of conditional sentences in Arabic, drew a clear analogy between the protasis and the apodosis of a conditional sentence on one hand, and the mubtadaʾ and xabar on the other (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VIII, 156). He indicated that a conditional sentence originates from two independent sentences. A conditional particle placed in front of the first sentence has the effect of linking the two sentences together so as to create one [complex] sentence out of the two (cf. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 43). The result is that each of the two originally independent sentences becomes a dependent clause within a larger sentence. Here is where the analogy with mubtadaʾ and xabar enters into the picture: a protasis in a conditional sentence requires an apodosis much as a mubtadaʾ in a jumla ismiyya requires a xabar. Ibn Yaʿīš’s conclusion, then, is that al-jumla l-ʾūlā ka-l-mubtadaʾ wa-l-jumla l-t̠āniya ka-l-xabar (“the first clause [= the protasis] is like a mubtadaʾ and the second clause [= the apodosis] is like the xabar”). For Fārisī’s position, see p. 13 above. A similar analogy is drawn by the grammarians between ʾammā . . . fasentences and conditional sentences. Zamaxšarī (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ IX, 11) presents ʾammā (within his section devoted to conditional particles) as having a conditional meaning ( fīhā maʿnā l-šarṭ). He quotes Sībawayhi’s statement that ʾammā Zaydun fa-munṭaliqun (“as for Zayd, he is leaving”) is paraphrasable by mahmā yakun min šayʾin fa-Zaydun munṭaliqun (“whatever happens, Zayd is leaving”). Sībawayhi ends his statement indicating that the particle fa- is obligatory (lāzima) in ʾammā sentences (much as in conditional sentences where it functions as an apodosis introducer). See Sībawayhi Kitāb II, 339; and cf. Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 80ff. 20 Sībawayhi points out that, unlike allad̠ī yaʾtīnī fa-lahu dirhamun, a sentence such as Zaydun fa-lahu dirhamun is unacceptable. This suggests, as Khan (1988:57) rightly indicates, that the particle fa- as an introducer of the xabar is only allowed where the mubtadaʾ is generic (in analogy to a conditional protasis) rather than specific. For a detailed discussion of this issue in the medieval literature, see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 99–100.



These are all examples where a topic-comment construction is presented as analogous to a conditional sentence. There is no doubt that the grammarians fully recognized both the formal and the pragmatic non-language-specific similarities between the two constructions. They never failed to observe that, between the protasis and the apodosis in a conditional sentence, it is the former that represents the presupposed or given information, much like the mubtadaʾ in a jumla ismiyya; the apodosis, in contrast, represents the asserted new information, much like the xabar in a jumla ismiyya. This is not to suggest that the medieval grammarians intended to present the similarity between conditionals and topics as a universal phenomenon. But such an analogy between two constructions so dissimilar in category, must be construed as an argument extending far beyond Arabic. Put differently, a claim like this could be made only by a linguist/grammarian whose linguistic thinking is by no means limited to the language of his study. 1.5 Some general notes relating to modern research into Arabic sentence types and word-order patterns 1.5.1

Terminological preliminary remarks

Since terminology has always occupied a central position in modern studies of the Arabic linguistic tradition, let me start with some terminological issues. Modern linguists typically distinguish between three levels of sentence analysis: syntax, semantics and pragmatics. The syntactic analysis normally deals with sentence structure, using such concepts as “subject”, “predicate”, “object”—each referring to a certain grammatical relation. The semantic discussion concentrates on meaning, employing such concepts as “agent” and “patient” referring to the “performer of the action” and the “receiver of the action”—respectively. Finally pragmatics deals with meaning in context; as such it employs such concepts as “topic” and “comment”, referring respectively to “what the sentence is about” or “the given”, and “what is said in the sentence” or “the new”. Coming now to the medieval grammarians’ writings, using the above concepts appears to be problematic. Mubtadaʾ, for instance, is often rendered in modern research as “topic” or “theme”, as opposed to fāʿil, normally translated as “subject” or “agent” (see, e.g. Owens 1988:32;


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Beeston 1970:63).21 Indeed, looking at the grammarians’ usage of the term mubtadaʾ, particularly when dealing with such sentences as Zaydun qāʾimun (“Zayd is standing”—see 3.2 for details), it is easy to see why modern writers have opted for the term “topic”. But as is well known, the grammarians also employed the terms xabar and mubtadaʾ to refer, respectively, to the prepositional phrase and the noun phrase in such sentences as fī l-dāri rajulun (“in the house there is a man”). They often used in such cases the concepts of taqdīm al-xabar (“preposing of the xabar”) and taʾxīr al-mubtadaʾ (“postposing of the mubtadaʾ”), thus creating a problem for those among modern writers who equate mubtadaʾ with topic (see Chapter Four for discussion). However, as a matter of fact, the grammarians’ attitude is not surprising. For in their discourse, mubtadaʾ and xabar normally refer to syntactic constituents in the sentence. In other words, the concepts ibtidāʾ, mubtadaʾ and xabar are integral to the grammarians’ syntactic analysis. The notions of ‘given’ and ‘new’ do figure in the medieval writings, but they normally form part of the syntactic discussion. As has already been indicated, no clear-cut distinction is offered between syntactic concepts on the one hand and semantic or pragmatic ones on the other (though context often makes it clear that concepts from different levels are integrated into the discussion). If one considers, for instance, a sentence such as Zaydan raʾaytu (“Zayd I saw”), a modern linguist would presumably construe Zaydan as topic, but it is not presented as mubtadaʾ in the medieval literature. For the grammarians this is rather a case of a fronted (muqaddam) direct object in a verbal sentence ( jumla fiʿliyya). Indeed, the medieval grammatical terminology gave rise to sharp criticism from various modern scholars dealing with Arabic linguistics. Abdul-Raof (1998:5), for instance, claims that by assigning the term fāʿil to the nominative NP occurring post-verbally the grammarians confused syntactic and semantic principles. Regarding the mubtadaʾ, he states that the grammarians failed to provide a thorough account of its pragmatic or semantic functions.22 It is true, as we have indicated, that the medieval grammarians did not draw a distinction between syntactic relations and semantic roles; A fortiori, most of them did not have the conception of map21

As we shall see in 1.5.2, some Western Arabists use the term ‘subject’ for both fāʿil and mubtadaʾ, a fact that is rightly criticized by Versteegh (1997:81). 22 See, however, Jurjānī’s (Dalāʾil, 189) interesting discussion of the mubtadaʾ’s syntactico-semantic function.



ping semantic roles onto syntactic relations. As I have already shown elsewhere (Peled 1999), the kind of “confusion” described applies first and foremost to terms of parts of speech and grammatical relations. It stems from the fact that these terms originated from homonymous extra-linguistic everyday expressions. I pointed out, further, that later grammarians were aware of the ambiguous nature of these terms, and fāʿil is certainly a case in point. It is very often difficult to determine whether, in a given sentence, fāʿil should be construed as a grammatical technical term signalling the subject in a jumla fiʿliyya, or, rather, as an extra-linguistic expression meaning “the performer of the action”. The grammarians were aware of the misleading nature of the term fāʿil. For them, the problem manifested itself particularly in passive, as well as in negative and interrogative sentences, where the fāʿil could not actually be described as “the performer of the action”.23 They therefore emphasized that fāʿil should be construed as a grammatical relation, in terms of ʾisnād. Ibn al-Warrāq (d. 991) (ʿIlal, 377) asserted that the reason for the raf ʿ case of the fāʿil is the fact that it is predicated of (yartafiʿu bi-l-ʾixbār ʿanhu). The term fāʿil should not be conceived of as denoting (what for a modern linguist would be) a semantic role (see, for instance, Jurjānī Muqtqṣid I, 325–327; ʾAstarābād̠ī [d. 1286] Šarḥ I, 185). A similar problem is presented also by the term mafʿūl, which is used by some grammarians to denote not only the direct object (and patient) but also the subject of a passive verb (see, e.g. Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 10; Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 76f.).24 We may thus say that the medieval grammarians combined the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic aspects of their analysis into an integrated unified linguistic discussion. The three-level differentiated analysis is a modern “invention”. Finally, the terms jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya, particularly the latter, have proved to be problematic for some modern writers. Translated into English as “verbal sentence” and “nominal sentence”, they are reminiscent of the corresponding concepts used by traditional linguists. But in Indo-European linguistics, for instance, “verbal sentence” denotes

23 The same applies for verbs such as māta (“die”), saqaṭa (“fall”) and fāza (“win”). For further discussion, see, e.g. Ibn al-Warrāq, ʿIlal, 383–384. 24 Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 144) indicates that the mafʿūl whose fāʿil is not specified (al-mafʿūl allad̠ī lam yusammā fāʿiluhu) takes the rafʿ case when the fāʿil is not present. Note that the first fāʿil can reasonably be construed as referring to the performer of the action whereas the second evidently signals a grammatical relation.


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a sentence whose predicate is headed by a verb (irrespective of the position of the verb within the sentence); a “nominal sentence” in this framework is a verbless sentence. For Benveniste (1971:135ff.), even a sentence with the verb ‘to be’ should be considered verbal rather than nominal. He emphasizes the difference between the two types, claiming (p. 137) that “the nominal sentence in Indo-European asserts a certain “quality” (in the most general sense) as belonging to the subject of the utterance, but outside any temporal or other determination and outside all relation to the speaker.” Mehiri (1993:48) advocates a similar kind of distinction between jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya for Arabic.25 For further discussion, especially for Blachère’s position, see 1.5.2 below. In medieval Arabic grammatical tradition, from the Middle Ages to the present day, jumla fiʿliyya, as we have seen, denotes a sentence whose subject follows its verbal predicate, without regard to the position of any other constituent in the sentence. Jumla ismiyya, by contrast, refers (1) to sentences whose subject is followed by the predicate, including a clausal predicate, or otherwise, (2) to sentences with a non-verbal predicate preceding the subject. Among modern linguists and Arabists alike there is a discerned tendency to present Written Arabic as basically a “VSO language” (see, e.g. Abdul-Raof 1998:43ff. and his references). This is very often based on statistics from which a further conclusion is drawn, namely, that other configurations are, in one way or another, “derived” from the VSO structure in order to fill some semantico-pragmatic function. Abdul-Raof (1998:31ff.) even claims that this thesis was advanced already by the “classical” grammarians. But I have found no evidence in the medieval grammarians’ writings that bears this out: The grammarians provide a detailed account of various ibtidāʾ constructions, but none is presented as in any way “secondary” ( farʿ) or “derived” from a supposedly “basic” (ʾaṣl) VSO structure. As we shall see in Chapter Three, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 88) even provides an elaborate argument that a nominal predicate following the mubtadaʾ (xabar) is ʾaṣl, whereas a 25 Mehiri (1993:44) is aware of the implications of this semantically based distinction between jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. Judging by these semantic criteria, a sentence such as al-qiṭāru ʾātin baʿda ḥ īn (“the train will be coming shortly”) must be classified as a jumla fiʿliyya, since the active participle ʾātin behaves in this case analogously to a verb. Mehiri cites Maxzūmī (1964, e.g. p. 40), for whom a sentence composed of a subject and a participial predicate should be considered jumla fiʿliyya. Mehiri himself, however, is more cautious, claiming that further investigation is needed in order to confirm the validity of this generalization.



clausal predicate is farʿ. In other words, Zaydun qāma (“Zayd stood up”; or, for that matter, Zaydun qāma ʾabūhu [“Zayd his father stood up”]) is secondary to Zaydun munṭaliqun, but all these sentences represent a sentence type in Arabic that is no less “basic” than the one represented by qāma Zaydun. 1.5.2

Some modern conceptions and methodologies

As we have seen, the medieval theory of sentence types is derived from—indeed, it may be seen as a sub-theory of—the theory of ʿamal. Modern linguists uncommitted to medieval Arabic grammatical theory often discuss Arabic sentence types within the framework of the Greenbergian paradigm, blurring, as we have indicated, the difference between sentence types and word-order patterns. This is manifested by the fact that they do not normally include the two concepts of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya in their linguistic discourse. Instead they use such designations as VSO, SVO, VOS etc. that were originally designed to refer to a variety of word-order patterns rather than to sentence types. As we proceed we will see that these designations are widely used in different types of research representing different approaches to Arabic grammar. A remarkable exception is Weiss’s (1985:616f.) assessment of the medieval grammarians’ view of “the contrast between the nominal sentence and the verbal sentence as regards the linguistic means by which an ascriptive linkage between two terms is expressed.” He indicates that in the case of the verbal sentence this linguistic means is clearly the verb itself [. . .] the verb signifies the ascriptive linkage as part of its meaning [. . .] As for the nominal sentence, it plainly does not contain a word to which this function may be assigned. We have no other recourse, therefore, than to assign it to the formal structure of the sentence (Weiss 1985:616).

Weiss (1985:617) rightly dismisses the idea that word order is the major criterion for the distinction between jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya in Arabic. While appreciating the factor of word order in the distinction between the two types, Weiss maintains that, for the grammarians, the fundamental difference between the verbal and the nominal sentence lay in the way in which the verb, in contrast to the noun, functioned as a predicate-expression: the verb carried within itself the demand for completion into a sentence, the noun did not; hence the verb could function


chapter one only as predicate-expression, whereas the noun was syntactically versatile (Weiss 1985:617; and cf. p. 71 below).

Bearing Weiss’s argument in mind, let us now go back to the preGreenbergian philological approach to Arabic sentence types. Wright (1896–1898, II:251) presents the medieval concepts of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya as follows: Every sentence which begins with the subject (substantive or pronoun) is called by the Arab grammarians jumla ismiyya a nominal sentence. Whether the following predicate be a noun, or a preposition and the word it governs [. . .], or a verb, is a matter of indifference [. . .]. What characterises a nominal sentence, according to them, is the absence of a logical copula expressed by or contained in a finite verb. On the contrary, a sentence of which the predicate is a verb preceding the subject [. . .] or a sentence consisting of a verb which includes both subject and predicate [. . .] is called by them jumla fiʿliyya a verbal sentence.

As we shall see below, Wright’s definitions of jumla ismiyya and jumla fiʿliyya are based on the grammarians’ approach, with no reference, however, to some of their important qualifications. His remark concerning the “absence of a logical copula” as a characteristic of a “nominal sentence” apparently reflects the influence of Indo-European philology, as we will see shortly.26 Subsequently, Wright (1896–1898, II:255–256) groups sentences such as Zaydun māta (“Zayd died”) and ʾanā qultu (“I said”) together with Zaydun bnuhu ḥ asanun (“Zayd his son is nice”) and Zaydun māta ʾabūhu (“Zayd his father died”), referring to them all, in line with the grammarians’ outlook, as compound sentences. He (II, 252–255) refers also to the medieval controversy over such sentences as Zaydun ʿindaka (“Zayd is with you”) and ʿalayya daynun (“I am in debt”), which will be dealt with in Chapter Four. Regarding the terminology used by the grammarians, he says the following: A sentence, of which the predicate is a preposition with a genitive indicating a place, is called by the Arabs jumla ẓarfiyya a local sentence [. . .] and if the genitive indicates any other relation but that of place, it is said to be jumla jāriya majrā al-ẓarfiyya a sentence which runs the course, or follows the analogy, of a local sentence. As, however, the expression ẓarf is often used in the general sense of jārr wa-majrūr

26 Wright (1896–1898, II:251–252; and cf. p. 255) refers also to the difference between the two types in terms of discourse, as presented by the grammarians: a jumla fiʿliyya “relates an act or event, [a jumla ismiyya] gives a description of a person or thing.”



[. . .], any sentence commencing with a preposition and its genitive as the predicate may be called jumla ẓarfiyya. (Wright 1896–1898, II:253).27

It looks as though Wright’s position regarding the concept jumla ẓarfiyya reflects the controversy surrounding this term in the medieval literature. From the last sentence in the above excerpt one may infer that only a sentence with a predicative prepositional phrase preceding its subject may be defined as jumla ẓarfiyya. Indeed, Wright (II, p. 253, and cf. above) maintains that when the subject precedes its adverbial/prepositional predicate, the sentence is “nominal” ( jumla ismiyya). However, in his discussion of nominal sentences with an indefinite subject, Wright (1896–1898, II:260–262) uses jumla ẓarfiyya as a cover term for all cases where the predicate is an adverbial/prepositional phrase, without regard to its position relative to the subject. The problematical aspects of the concept jumla ẓarfiyya will be further illustrated in Chapter Four. Finally, Wright (II, pp. 256–258) deals with the grammarians’ approach to sentences where the subject is preceded by an adjectival predicate. However, when referring to such cases as ʾa-qāʾimun Zaydun (“is Zayd standing?”), he does not go into the special theoretical significance of the interrogative particle ʾa-, as presented by the medieval grammarians (for discussion, see 4.2 below). Brockelmann (1908–1913, II:171) emphasizes the fact that for the Arab grammarians, a sentence such as Zaydun māta (“Zayd died”) is a nominal sentence where the subject is followed by a verbal-clause predicate: im Arab. ist die Wortfolge VS. im Gegensatz zu SP. des Nominalsatzes so fest, dass die Originalgrammatiker Sätze des Typus SV. überhaupt nicht als Verbalsätze gelten lassen, sondern sie als Nominalsätze, deren Prädikat ein Verbalsatz sei, auffassen.

As a comparative Semitist working within the European philological tradition, Brockelmann criticizes sharply the fact that what he regards as a verbal sentence displaying an (inverted) SV word order is conceived by the medieval grammarians as a nominal sentence, just because the verbal type is strictly associated by them with the VS order (cf. Cantarino 1975, I:27–28, 41–42; Badawi 2000b:4; 2000a:8f.).

27 Similarly, Reckendorf (1921:3, n. 2) indicates that the terms jumla ẓarfiyya and jumla jāriya majrā l-ẓarfiyya refer particularly to nominal sentences where the prepositional-phrase predicate occurs at the beginning of the sentence.


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Similarly, for Reckendorf (1895–1898:1–2), a sentence whose predicate is a finite verb is a verbal sentence; otherwise the sentence is nominal. Much like Brockelmann, Reckendorf directs sharp criticism at the grammarians’ strict association of the jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya with (what he views as) the position of the subject relative to the verb. Striving to show the ill consequences of the grammarians’ definitions of Arabic sentence types, he points, like Brockelmann, to the fact that a sentence such as Zaydun ḍaraba is conceived by the grammarians as a zusammengesetzter Nominalsatz, where the predicate verb is analyzed as an embedded clause, so that Zaydun ḍaraba is interpreted as Zeid, er schlug (cf. Reckendorf 1921:10, including n. 1). And conversely, he says, a sentence such as qāʾimun Zaydun, which should be conceived of as a Nominalsatz mit Inversion, is analyzed by the grammarians as a verbal sentence (cf. 4.2 below). Then he remarks that classifying a sentence such as fī l-dāri rajulun as jumla fiʿliyya was indeed going too far for some of the grammarians, so they resolved to analyzing it as an inverted nominal sentence. What Reckendorf resents, in sum, is that the grammarians, in his view, made a secondary feature, namely the position of the subject relative to the verb, an essential criterion by which to define the two sentence types in Arabic. As we shall see, the grammarians’ conception of Arabic sentence types was much more complex than the picture portrayed by Brockelmann and Reckendorf. This will be demonstrated in Chapter Three with regard to sentences such as Zaydun ḍaraba, and in Chapter Four, dealing with such cases as qāʾimun Zaydun and fī l-dāri rajulun. Blachère (1952:387–388), in his turn, defines the Arabic nominal sentence as consisting of a subject and an attribut, with no specific time reference.28 A verbal sentence, in contrast, must contain a verb in addition to the subject; it conveys an action, either progressive or located at a certain point in time. The position of the verb relative to the subject is immaterial (Blachère 1952:391–392). He remarks, however (p. 392), that Arabic prefers to place the verb at the beginning of the sentence due to its richness in content. When the subject precedes the verb, he maintains, it is because one wishes to focus the attention on it. Blachère outrightly rejects both (1) the theory that a nominal sentence should be considered as belonging to a special category of verbal sentences

28 Cf. Ayoub & Bohas (1983:38), for the inadequacy of such terms as ‘sujet’ and ‘attribut’ when referring to medieval Arabic grammatical categories.



with an underlying verb of existence, and (2) the grammarians’ theory which, in his view, considers as nominal any sentence that does not begin with a verb. Specifically, he rejects the grammarians’ analysis of Zaydun yamūtu which, in his view, “is based on the conception that Zayd mourra = Zayd sera il meurt, where il meurt is analyzed as an attribut” (p. 387, n. 1). The medieval grammarians’ theory, regarding Zaydun yamūtu (“Zayd will die”) as jumla ismiyya, is likewise rejected by the Semitist David Cohen, in as much as jumla ismiyya is interpreted as synonymous with “nominal sentence”. More precisely, he does not accept the grammarians’ theory that Zaydun yamūtu is modeled on Zaydun munṭaliqun, on the basis that in both cases a predicative relationship exists between Zayd and the following constituent (Cohen 1970:226; and cf. Goldenberg 1988:41). But on the other hand, he does not accept the traditional philologists’ view, based on research into Indo-European languages, that a sentence of this kind must be interpreted as an inverted verbal sentence. Unlike Brockelmann, Reckendorf and Blachère, Cohen recognizes the sentential value of yamūtu in Zaydun yamūtu, which leads him to the conclusion that yamūtu in such sentences is a sentential unit (verbal predicate+subject) preceded by a nominal element appended to the sentence as a whole (Cohen 1970:228). Brockelmann, Reckendorf and Blachère can be said to represent the traditional Western approach to Arabic sentence types. Two types are normally discerned: a nominal verbless sentence, and a verbal sentence whose verb may either precede or follow the subject. The position of the subject relative to the verb is often presented in functional terms (see below). No attempt is made by the above mentioned Arabists to appreciate the distinction made by the Arab grammarians between fāʿil and mubtadaʾ. For them, Zaydun implements the function of ‘subject’ in both qāma Zaydun and Zaydun qāma, hence their criticism of the grammarians’ conception of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. We return to this issue in Chapter Three. As we have already indicated, recent linguistic research concentrates mainly on word order rather than on sentence types. Turning now to this kind of research, we can discern six different approaches to the subject, which may be characterized as follows: 1. Greenberg’s (1966) approach rests on the assumption that languages may exhibit several variant word-order configurations, but that there is always one dominant pattern, that is, a word-order pattern that occurs


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more frequently, compared to the other types. All word-order patterns are presented in terms of the position of the verb in the sentence— relative to the subject and object. The discussion concentrates on main declarative clauses with full nominal (as opposed to pronominal) subject and object. According to Greenberg’s quantitative investigation, of the six logical word-order variations, VSO, SVO and SOV normally occur as dominant word-order patterns, whereas VOS, OSV and OVS rarely occur at all. This leads to Greenberg’s first universal stating that in declarative sentences with nominal subject and object, the dominant order is almost always one in which the subject precedes the object (Greenberg 1966:76–77).

Further investigation leads him to the conclusion that among the three most common word-order patterns, SVO is the most frequent, whereas VSO is “a definite minority”. “This means”, he indicates, “that the nominal subject regularly precedes the verb in a large majority of the world’s languages” (Greenberg 1966:77). Further, Greenberg’s sixth universal states that all languages with dominant VSO order have SVO as an alternative or as the only alternative basic order (Greenberg 1966:79).

In light of the above, it is hardly surprising that Written (especially Classical) Arabic is presented by modern linguists as a VSO language, also displaying such word-order variations as SVO, VOS and others. El-Yasin (1985:107ff.) argues further that Arabic has changed from a VSO language in its classical form into an SVO language in its modern dialects—as exemplified by Jordanian Arabic, the dialect examined in his study. This, he maintains, is consistent with Greenberg’s claim that VSO is a word-order pattern exhibited by a minority of the world’s languages. 2. A serious challenge to Greenberg’s sentence typology is presented by Li & Thompson (1976, esp. pp. 459ff.), as quoted by Brustad (2000:328–330) within the framework of her discussion of sentence types in modern Arabic dialects. Li & Thompson suggest that Greenberg’s typology, based on the order of S(ubject) and O(bject) relative to the V(erb), should be replaced by a classification of languages into four categories according to topic/subject prominence. Thus, a language could be either 1. topic-prominent, 2. subject-prominent, 3. both topicand subject-prominent and 4. neither topic- nor subject-prominent. Brustad finds Written Arabic and Spoken Arabic to share the same



basic sentence types. Both varieties of Arabic display topic-introduced sentences (mubtadaʾ+xabar, in the classical terms), with the option of inversion, as well as verb+subject sentences, and both types may be taken as basic. Drawing upon Li & Thompson, Brustad considers the first type to be topic-prominent and the second subject-prominent. She thus concludes that Spoken Arabic (much like Written Arabic) is both subject- and topic-prominent. Of all modern approaches presented here, Brustad’s typology for Arabic is clearly the closest to that of the medieval Arab grammarians. To an Arabist, Brustad’s conclusions (in particular when referring to Written Arabic), consistent as they are with the linguistic paradigm of the medieval Arab grammarians, look sound and convincing. Yet, in modern linguistic research conducted by Arabists and linguists alike, Greenberg’s typology continues to prevail. 3. A different position is taken by linguists adhering to Chomsky’s (old) transformational-generative (TG) theory. Within this paradigm, the first attempt to outline the Arabic sentence types was made by Anshen & Schreiber (1968:792), whose study is devoted to what is referred to by them as a “focus transformation” in Modern Standard Arabic. They advocate a tripartite division into three sentence types along two parameters: verbal/nominal and equative/non-equative. The three sentence types proposed are thus: 1. nominal non-equative (al-rajulu d̠ahaba—“the man went”), 2. nominal equative (al-rajulu ṭawīlun—“the man is tall”) and 3. verbal non-equative (d̠ahaba l-rajulu—“the man went”).29 By referring to sentences such as al-rajulu d̠ahaba as “nominal” they obviously follow the medieval grammarians’ theory of sentence types. As for Anshen & Schreiber’s “focus transformation”, this seems to be equivalent to what linguists now refer to as topicalization or leftdislocation. This will be dealt with in detail in Chapter Three. (For real cases of focussing, as opposed to topicalization, see Chapter Two.) Bakir’s (1979) approach is based apparently on a more elaborate version of the Chomskian theory, and his work reflects some degree of interaction with the Greenbergian typological approach, as is often the case with Chomskian linguists. Bakir argues that his analysis is consistent with that of the medieval Arab grammarians. In his words (p. 4) “the latest proposals within TG theory have, in effect, bridged the gap

29 For Abdul-Raof ’s division into equative and non-equative sentences, see AbdulRaof (2001:103–107).


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between the analyses conducted within the Arabic grammatical tradition and those conducted within these recent proposals of TG theory”. For Bakir, VSO is the basic word order in Arabic; other patterns, such as VOS and SVO are derived from VSO by certain displacement transformational rules. This issue will be taken up in 2.2 below. ʿAbdo’s (1983) article, in contrast, presents SVO (in his words, fāʿilfiʿl-mafʿūl) as the underlying or basic word order (al-bunya l-dāxiliyya) in Arabic. Unlike the medieval theory, he makes no distinction between a post-verbal ( fāʿil) and a pre-verbal (mubtadaʾ) subject, using the term fāʿil in both cases. According to ʿAbdo, this obviates the division into two sentence types. All that is required is an obligatory transformational rule moving an indefinite subject into post-predicate position. For further details, see 3.3.2 below. Mohammad (1999) is likewise written from a generativist’s standpoint. However, much like the philologists discussed earlier, he presents alwaladu jāʾa (“the boy came”) in the same way as jāʾa l-waladu, that is, as a verbal sentence. Verbless sentences, such as al-waladu mujtahidun/ fī l-bayti/wāqifun (“the boy is industrious/in the house/standing”) etc., are presented by him as equative sentences. Ayoub & Bohas (1983), in their account of sentences such as Zaydun yanṭaliqu and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu likewise resort to the transformationalgenerative theory. They rightly criticize the accounts of the “Orientalists” Wright, Blachère and Cohen for misrepresenting the medieval grammarians’ conception of jumla ismiyya. They take pains to show (pp. 32–36) that the grammarians’ definitions of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya are based on an underlying level of analysis, and thus apply to an abstract basic structure (= ʾaṣl in the medieval grammatical phraseology), rather than to the surface structure. In other words, ʿAmran ḍaraba Zaydun (“ʿAmr was hit by Zayd”) is not a jumla ismiyya, though introduced by a noun, and, by the same token, qāma ʾabūhu Zaydun (“Zayd his father stood up”) is not a jumla fiʿliyya, despite the verbal form at the beginning of this sentence. They argue that these two sentences are analyzed by the grammarians as the transformed structures of ḍaraba Zaydun ʿAmran and Zaydun qāma ʾabūhu, respectively representing a jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. Ayoub & Bohas (1983:36) maintain that the “Orientalists” rejected the grammarians’ definitions of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya in favour of contemporary definitions of verbal and nominal sentences: A sentence is defined as a verbal sentence only if its predicate is a verb, otherwise it should be regarded as nominal.



They indicate that this position of the “Orientalists” stems from the traditional discipline of classical languages teaching. Particular attention is given by Ayoub & Bohas (1983:37–38) to Blachère’s rejection of what is regarded by him as the grammarians’ analysis of Zaydun yamūtu (see above). They rightly see no reason for an analogy between the grammarians’ analysis of Zaydun yamūtu and the position of the Aristotelian logicians in which le cheval court = le cheval est courant. They point out that for the medieval Arab grammarians, the following three sentences all demonstrate a relationship of ʾisnād: Zaydun ʿālimun (“Zayd is a knowledgeable man”), Zaydun yamūtu (“Zayd will die”) and Zaydun yamūtu ʾabūhu (“Zayd his father will die”); but whereas the last sentence exhibits an anaphoric pronoun referring to Zayd, in the first two sentences, the linking element establishing the syntactic relationship between the two predicative constituents is the implicit pronoun in ʿālim and yamūtu respectively.30 And this obviously leads to Ayoub & Bohas’s conclusion that the grammarians’ jumla ismiyya should not be construed as a “nominal sentence” in the Indo-European philologists’ sense (i.e. as a verbless sentence). Thus far, Ayoub & Bohas’ position appears to be compatible with that of the grammarians, and opposed to that of the “Orientalists” (Wright, Brockelmann, Reckendorf and Blachère—as we have seen). However, adhering to the Chomskian paradigm they maintain (p. 40), much like Bakir (see above), that VSO (ḍaraba Zaydun ʿAmran) is the basic word order in Arabic, signalling une assertion neutre, while in a sentence such as Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran, not being a neutral utterance, Zaydun functions as a topic rather than as subject. Yet, the very distinction made by Ayoub & Bohas between subject and topic corresponds with the grammarians’ distinction between fāʿil and mubtadaʾ. And, significantly, while presenting the topic as occupying a position en dehors du domaine minimal S (p. 42), Ayoub & Bohas, contrary to Bakir (see above), do not treat the topic Zaydun in Zaydun yamūtu in terms of topicalization/ left-dislocation; i.e, their conception of topic is not directly associated with a movement transformation whereby a constituent is moved from its position in the underlying structure to the beginning of the sentence

30 In 3.1 below, I touch upon cases such as Zaydun rajulun (“Zayd is a man”) where the predicate does not contain any linking element to the subject.


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(in the surface structure) (see Ayoub & Bohas 1983:44, n. 17). This will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter Three. 4. The Greenbergian, as well as the TG-approach to word order, are distinctly formal in nature. But in much of recent linguistic research the starting point is semantico-pragmatic rather than purely syntactic. Modern cross-linguistic research has shown that the order of constituents in a clause is determined both by discourse status and grammatical complexity. This is illustrated in an article by Arnold, Wasow, Losongco & Ginstrom (2000). As we shall see in the following chapters, the distinction between given and new information was made already by the medieval grammarians. In modern linguistic writings, a constituent within a sentence is referred to as “given” or “new”, depending on whether its referent has already been mentioned in the discourse, or, otherwise, can be inferred from something else that was mentioned. A nominal is regarded as new if its referent has not been mentioned before and cannot be inferred (Arnold et al. 2000:30). The most commonly cited principle of information structure is that whatever is given, old or presupposed tends to precede the new and asserted information (see Arnold et al. 2000:30; Brown & Yule 1989:155).31 While discourse status refers to the newness of a constituent, complexity has to do with its “heaviness” that is normally measured by the number of words of which a given constituent consists. Modern research has shown that within a given clause, the heavier constituent tends to occur later than the lighter one (e.g. Arnold et al. 2000:29). This end-weight principle has been shown to correlate with the given-new principle. Arnold et al. (2000:34) explain that “items which have been recently mentioned tend to be accessible to both speaker and hearer, and require less complex descriptions than items which are not [. . .] Therefore, items that are new to the discourse tend to be complex, and items that are given tend to be simple”. The new and heavy element in the clause thus tends to be postponed to the end (for further discussion, see Arnold et al. 2000:31–33). Coming now to modern research into word order in Arabic, one observes a growing tendency among scholars to focus their attention on some functional (non-formal) aspects which are seen to be the 31

For a modern theory that runs counter to this principle, see Arnold et al. (2000:30, n. 2). Mithun (1992:27–29) cites evidence from a number of languages where, she observes, indefinite phrases signalling the ‘new’ precede definite phrases signalling the ‘given’—rather than the other way around. We return to this issue in 2.4.2 below.



determiners of word order in the various varieties of Arabic. Sentences are analyzed with due attention to their linguistic context, as well as to the speech situation in which they are uttered (where relevant). Highlighted in this type of research are such concepts as “topic” (or “theme”), “agent”, “given/new information” and “focus”. The studies of Holes (1995) and Abdul-Raof (1998) are good examples. As we have already mentioned, the role of discourse status in determining word order was familiar already to the medieval grammarians. This cannot be said of the principle of end weighting that, according to Arnold et al. (2000:29) was first stated by Otto Behaghel in 1910. The interaction of these two principles is nicely illustrated by Holes (1995:203–210). Regarding the given-new principle, Holes furthermore demonstrates (pp. 208–209) how “right-located ‘new’ elements in any given sentence often [. . .] form the thematised (and hence left-positioned) ‘known’ element in a subsequent sentence.”32 The principle of end weighting is linked by Holes (p. 206) to the fact that “the rhythmic break in an Arabic sentence [. . .] typically falls at, or slightly before, the halfway point in the sentence”. He further indicates, however, that in cases of conflict between the two principles, “the information-structural principle usually wins”.33 As we shall see in the following chapters, the principles of givennew and end-weight are consistent with the end-focus principle. These principles, as could be expected, are operative across all three sentence types in Arabic. However, ‘heavy’ constituents of ‘new’ referents often occur sentence-initially, for the sake of emphasis and contrast. Holes (1995:211) remarks, with reference to Spoken Arabic, that a ‘heavy’ subject preceding its verb might be motivated by the “need to avoid a lengthy dislocation between an initial verb and its complement(s)”. This seems to apply to Modern Written Arabic as well. 5. It looks as though the diglossic situation in Arabic has made sociolinguistic research most appealing to modern scholars. Particularly attractive appear to have been different varieties of Arabic along

32 Arnold et al. (2000:32) indicate that “beginning a sentence with reference to something that has been mentioned before provides a link between what has already been said and what is about to be said. This lends continuity to the discourse, which would facilitate comprehension for the listener.” 33 According to Arnold et al. (2000:50), “when there is a big weight difference between constituents, there is a strong tendency to produce the light argument early, and discourse status may not play as large a role. In contrast, when one argument is extremely accessible, by virtue of having been mentioned in the immediately preceding clause, discourse status will influence constituent ordering more than weight.”


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the continuum between the classical language on the one hand, and the “pure” modern dialects, on the other. As far as word order is concerned, Holes (1995:210) has rightly rejected the claim that “SVCOMP is the basic order in the dialects just as VSCOMP is the basic order in MSA”.34 Similar attention has been given to genre differences (literary texts, newspapers, speeches, drama, etc.), to the social background of the speaker (educated/uneducated) and to the speech situation (formal/ non-formal). Typical examples of this approach are the studies of Holes (1995), Parkinson (1981), Pashova (2003), as well as Dahlgren’s work on word order and topicality in the Qurʾān (Dahlgren 2001). As regards Modern Standard Arabic, Holes (1995:205–208) maintains that the order of sentence constituents is relatively fixed, and much like in Classical Arabic,35 reflects a division into ‘event-oriented’ messages normally realized as VS sentences, typically with a faʿala verb, versus ‘entity-oriented’ messages (such as states and durative actions), normally realized as S-first sentences.36 In the latter case, where the predicate contains a verb, it typically takes the yafʿalu form functioning analogously to a nominal predicate following its subject (for further discussion, see Chapter Three below). Special attention is given by Holes (1995:263–266) to word order in journalistic Arabic. Newspaper headlines typically exhibit SVCOMP with yaf ʿalu, whereas in the main body of the reports, the order of constituents is normally VSCOMP with faʿala. This, as Holes rightly remarks, runs parallel to European journalistic norms.37 In his study of word order in the Qurʾān, Dahlgren (2001:23) draws a distinction between three different discourse types: expository, dialogue and narrative. He concludes (pp. 34–35) that in narrative discourse, SV is

34 For an extensive discussion of word order in modern Arabic dialects, including a comparison with Classical Arabic, see Dahlgren 1998. For an interesting discussion of sentence types and word-order patterns in modern Arabic dialects, see Brustad (2000), chapter 10. 35 For Classical Arabic he refers (1995:243, n. 4) to Khan 1988:30–31. 36 It would be interesting, however, to note the following statement made by Longacre (1995:333, cited by Brustad 2000:328): “If storyline clauses in narrative discourse in a given language are VSO, then that language should be classified as a VSO language.” 37 Cf. Pashova’s article (2003, esp. pp. 14ff.), providing a detailed discussion of the VS/ SV alternation in Modern Written Arabic from a textual perspective. In modern Arabic literature, as demonstrated by Somekh (1991:32–33), SV is typically used in interior monologues, whereas VS occurs in descriptions of exterior events. For an extensive discussion of the VSO/SVO word-order patterns, as determined by discourse considerations and the type of text in modern Arabic dialects, see Brustad 2000:320ff.



much less common than in expository discourse. In general, the rate of SV sentences increases with the topicality degree of the subject noun: rational subjects are higher in topicality than non-rational subjects. And the topicality of the super-human is the highest: One of Dahlgren’s (p. 34) interesting conclusions is that the rate of SV order is higher in sentences where the subject is Allāhu, compared to sentences with other definite nouns. 6. Finally, in a recent article, Badawi (2000a:9ff.; and cf. 2000b:2) abandons what he sees as the traditional three-fold sentence type division in favour of a semantically-based multi-type system. In fact, his study diverges not only from the medieval grammarians’ theory of sentence types, but also from the traditional philologists’ view, as well as from modern linguistic studies based either on the Greenbergian or the Chomskian paradigm. Here the main line of distinction is drawn between types signalling the factual and the absolute (al-t̠abāt wa-l-ʾiṭlāq) and others signalling the changing, the shifting, and the transformed (al-taḥ awwul wa-l-tajaddud). The distinction between the two is presented as scalar rather than discrete. That is to say, between the types signalling the absolute and those signalling the transformed there are others that signal various “mixtures” of absoluteness and transformedness. Various word forms represent various degrees of verbality ( fiʿliyya), the highest degree being that of the finite verb, whereas substantives and pronouns feature zero verbality. A sentence such as hād̠ā ʾaxī (“this is my brother”) thus represents no verbality; it signals the pure factual and absolute. Badawi argues further for a correspondence between his system of sentence types and the case system in Arabic. In other words, various patterns of case marking encode different meanings in terms of absoluteness and transformedness (for the various functions of the case markers in Arabic, see Badawi 2000a:11–12). For instance, the case markers u and a occur in Arabic in all four possible combinations: u+u, u+a, a+u and a+a. Structurally all four signal ʾisnād, that is, a predicative construction. The first case marker in each pair is assigned to the subject and the other to the predicate. But they differ semantically, in that each combination is designed to convey a different meaning. Thus, the u-a variation, represented in kāna sentences, correlates with the meaning of time, a-a with that of doubt etc. We return to this in Chapter Five. As can be seen, a common feature in modern studies of Arabic word-order patterns is that they concentrate, guided as they are by the


chapter one

Greenbergian paradigm, on sentences containing a verb. VSO is commonly presented as the “basic” word-order pattern, and the other patterns are depicted as secondary or derived. “Other patterns”, to be sure, are such word orders as SVO, VOS and OVS. One may hold classical philology and the teaching of classical languages accountable for the insistence of such scholars as Brockelmann, Reckendorf and Blachère that yamūtu Zaydun and Zaydun yamūtu are two word order varieties of the same sentence type. Similarly we may say that modern linguists have often been led to the same conclusion by the Greenbergian paradigm (Ayoub & Bohas represent the exception, as we have seen). Verbless sentences such as Zaydun ʾaxūka (“Zayd is your brother”) are often labeled “equational” (or “equative”), and conveniently excluded from the discussion as irrelevant. In this regard, however, the works of Holes and Badawi seem to be exceptional. Holes (1995:204ff.) does attend to such constructions, using the designation SCOMP, where COMP stands for ‘complement’, whether an object, an adverbial, or otherwise a predicate in a non-verbal sentence. In Badawi (2000a), verbless sentences figure prominently, representing a special type signalling the semantic value of absoluteness and stability. 1.6 The aim of the present study and its organization Given the medieval legacy and the different modern approaches to grammar, it is not surprising that sentence types and word-order variations in Arabic have been variously portrayed by different scholars, reaching eventually different conclusions. The aim of the present study is to reconsider the two concepts ‘sentence types’ and ‘word order’ as viewed by the medieval grammarians within their theory of ʿamal, and as used by modern scholars influenced by current linguistic theories. In particular, we will try to assess the contribution to the study of Arabic grammar of such fundamental concepts as basic word order (as opposed to secondary word order), VSO as opposed to VOS on the one hand and to SVO on the other, topicalization, focussing etc. We will start our discussion of each sentence (sub)type reviewing the medieval grammarians’ approach. This will be followed by a review of the relevant modern studies. What will emerge throughout is that in Arabic it is not only the case that sentence types and word-order patterns do not necessarily coincide, the question how many, and what exactly are the basic sentence types,



still requires careful consideration. I will argue that ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan represents a certain sentence type as well as the VSO word-order pattern, as opposed to ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi, representing the same sentence type while displaying the VOS word order. By contrast, sentences such as ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan do not represent the SVO word order in the Greenbergian sense, but rather the sentence sub-type Subject+(clausal)Predicate. In other words, Written Arabic shows no symmetry between VSO and SVO, and the applicability of the latter to this variety of the language will indeed be questioned. Sentences such as fī l-dāri rajulun are treated in this book as representing a sentence type in its own right. By contrast, fī l-dāri Zaydun is regarded as the inverted version of Zaydun fī l-dār (contrary to the position of some of the grammarians, as we will see in Chapter Four). In accordance with the above, then, I will present in the following chapters a tripartite division into three basic sentence types in Arabic: Type 1 (T1): verbal Predicate+Subject; Type 2 (T2): Subject+Predicate; Type 3 (T3): non-verbal Predicate+(indefinite) Subject. As we have indicated, the term ‘subject’ cannot adequately be used for both fāʿil and mubtadaʾ. The term ‘topic’ that is often used by modern scholars for mubtadaʾ is inadequate, in that, as an essentially pragmatic term, it fails to represent the syntactic function of the mubtadaʾ as subject, particularly in verbless sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun. Moreover, in sentences such as fī l-dāri rajulun, the subject rajulun can by no means be described as ‘topic’. Therefore, when dealing with modern views of Arabic sentence types, the subject and predicate will often be designated in correspondence with their respective sentence type, as follows: The predicate in a T1-sentence (i.e. the verb) will be designated P1; the subject in this type will be designated S1; In a T2-sentence, the subject will be presented as S2, and the predicate as P2; In a T3-sentence, the predicate will be referred to as P3, and the subject as S3. Pragmatically speaking, as we shall see, S2 = P3 = topic, and P2 = S3 = comment. We will discuss each sentence type in a separate chapter, specifying the relevant syntactic structures as well as the semantic and pragmatic functions. Special attention will be given to modern studies dealing with functional aspects of word order in Arabic. T1-sentences will be dealt with in Chapter Two. Due consideration will be given to cases such as ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi, which will be presented as inverted T1-sentences. Chapter Three deals with T2-sentences, with phrasal (3.2)


chapter one

and clausal (3.3) predicates. Section 3.6 deals with the phenomenon referred to in medieval Arabic grammatical tradition as ḍamīr al-faṣl. Chapter Four is devoted to T3-sentences. Sentences introduced by a particle of the ʾinna group, or by an auxiliary verb (AUX), will be presented as extended T2 and T3 sentences, and will be dealt with in Chapter Five. This chapter will also deal with the function of ḍamīr al-šaʾn (5.6) as presented both in the medieval literature and in modern studies. Finally, it should be pointed out that the present study concentrates on main clauses, and the order of subject, predicate and object therein. Embedded clauses, word order within the noun phrase, and the position of adverbials, will not be discussed. Likewise, exclamatory and presentative sentences38 will not be dealt with in this book; in the present author’s view they deserve a separate discussion. 1.7


While the medieval Arab grammarians recognized a basic subjectpredicate relationship (ʾisnād, ʾixbār etc.) obtaining in every sentence, irrespective of type, they consistently discerned at least two types of subject and two types of predicate, in correspondence with their theory of sentence types based on the theory of ʿamal. A discussion of each ʿamal type (later, sentence type) was normally followed by presenting word-order varieties available for the type in question. Semitists like Brockelmann, Reckendorf, Blachère and Cohen gave due attention to the medieval concept of Arabic sentence types. They failed, however, to appreciate the fact that in the medieval tradition these sentence types originated from ʿamal types. This is reflected in their sharp disagreement with the grammarians’ definitions of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya, in particular the categorizing of a sentence such as Zaydun māta as jumla ismiyya. Modern linguistic research, as we have seen, concentrates mainly on word order rather than on sentence types. In as much as this research is based on the Greenbergian paradigm, the concept ‘predicate’ is often absent from the discussion. Instead, the sentence is portrayed as consisting of a verb and complements (including the subject). A sentence

38 For an extensive discussion of presentative sentences, see Bloch (1986), chapters 4 and 5.



type is accordingly viewed as a model depicting the location of the complements relative to the verb. A remarkable tendency among modern linguists is to give considerable attention to functional and sociolinguistic aspects. Their studies typically deal with the relationship between syntactic structure on the one hand, and context, genre, register etc.—on the other. In particular they strive to show how the syntactic structure of any given sentence is dependent upon various functional considerations.



The concept of basic word order

In T1-sentences, the post-verbal subject is an obligatory nominative complement of the verb. Any complement beyond the subject takes the naṣb case. However, the flexibility of the order of the subject and object relative to the verb has given rise to a long debate over the “basic” word order in the language. Modern studies of word order in Written Arabic never fail to emphasize the markedly high frequency of the pattern VSO. Indeed, this variety of Arabic is often portrayed as a “VSO language”, that is, a language in which VSO is the “dominant”, “basic” or “unmarked” word-order pattern (see, e.g. Ayoub & Bohas 1983:40; Badawi et al. 2004:344; El-Yasin 1985:110–115; Fassi Fehri 1993:19; Mohammad 1999:1, 49, 51; Thalji 1986a:111–118).1 Bakir (1979:11–16; and cf. Majdi 1990:133–137) outlines a number of arguments to support his claim that VSO is the basic, unmarked word-order pattern in Arabic, whereas the other patterns are the result of some kind of displacement transformation.2 First he states that, unlike VSO, all other variations are specifically designed to serve such purposes as emphasis, focus and supplying information about a topic already known to the addressee.3

1 Within the framework of transformational grammar, however, three suggestions have been made as to the underlying word order of the Written-Arabic sentence: SVO, VSO and VOS. For a detailed discussion and references, see Majdi 1990:129–142. 2 Apart from VSO, VOS, OVS and SVO, Bakir (1979:9–10) mentions the word-order variations OSV and SOV. However, the examples he gives are markedly dubious if not inadmissible. For instance, he offers Muḥ ammadun kitāban ištarā (“Muḥ ammad bought a book”) as an example of SOV, but the acceptability of such a sentence in Written Arabic prose (as opposed to poetry) is highly questionable. Mohammad (1999:2, n. 5) states that SOV and OSV are marginal without a resumptive pronoun. Much like Bakir, he cites such dubious sentences as al-tuffāḥ ata al-waladu lan yaʾkula (“the apple, the boy will not eat”—Mohammad 1999:30) in order to exemplify the word-order pattern OSV. We return to this issue in Chapter Three. 3 Mohammad (1999:1) likewise presents VSO as the “discourse neutral” word order (and cf. his discussion pp. 49, 51). He sees, however, no a priori reason to assume that the “discourse neutral surface word order should be the underlying word order”. In this regard it would be interesting to note Bakir’s remark that in ištaraytu kitāban


chapter two

Then he maintains that VSO is the most frequently used pattern, that certain interrogative particles impose the use of VSO, that VSO is the typical word-order pattern of embedded clauses introduced by certain subordinating particles. Finally he adduces the medieval grammarians’ rule that a sentence ambiguous between VSO and VOS (such as ḍaraba Mūsā ʿĪsā “Mūsā hit ʿĪsā”—see below; and cf. Fassi Fehri 1993:20) must obligatorily be interpreted as VSO (cf. Ibn al-Warrāq ʿIlal, 378).4 Some of Bakir’s arguments are challenged by ʿAbdo (1983) who, among other things, (1) claims that in modern Arabic usage SVO is not emphatic anymore than VSO, (2) presents evidence to show that the frequency of occurrence of VSO is not higher than that of SVO and (3) argues that the obligatory analysis of Mūsā as subject in cases such as ḍaraba Mūsā ʿĪsā only shows preference for SO over OS without regard to the position of the verb relative to the subject (see below). However, Bakir (1979:10) goes even further to claim that, although Arabic exhibits a “rather free” word order, it is considered to be a VSO language not only by European Arabists, but also by the medieval Arab grammarians. He refers the reader to the writings of three medieval grammarians, including Sībawayhi, but, not surprisingly, fails to quote any explicit statement to that effect. Apart from Jurjānī (Dalāʾil, e.g. 128–141; and cf. Peled 1997:135), who evidently regarded VSO as the unmarked word-order pattern, as opposed to SVO/OVS, there is no evidence that the medieval grammarians conceived of Arabic as a VSO language; the dominance of VSO is stated in their writings with reference to VOS, not to SVO. In 2.2 we will see that Sībawayhi did refer to sentences such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan (“ ʿAbdullāh hit Zayd”) as representing ḥ add al-lafẓ (“the regular, basic, unmarked form”). But this was intended to express a preference for the subject to precede the object, all other things being equal; Sībawayhi did not even attempt to claim any superiority for the VSO pattern, especially in comparison with the ibtidāʾ pattern. Indeed, the problem with Bakir’s statement is that it reads a modern typological-universal linguistic concept into

(“I bought a book”) the object is “under contrastive focus” when the sentence is uttered as a reply to the question hal ištarayta sāʿatan? (“did you buy a watch?”), even though no displacement is involved. 4 Comrie (1981:88) notes a cross-linguistic “tendency for subjects to precede objects”. He suggests that this “may be explainable in terms of the correlation between subject and agent, the correlation between object and patient, and the tendency for agents to be more salient perceptually than patients.” But cf. 2.4.2 below, for a radically different view.

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


medieval writings. And, obviously, his position runs counter to the long grammatical tradition stipulating a binary division of Arabic sentences into jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. Moreover, Bakir’s argument runs into difficult theoretical problems within his own system of Generative-Transformational grammar (presumably one of the earliest versions). For if Arabic is categorically a VSO language, in the sense that VSO is not only the most common word-order pattern, but also the one underlying other patterns, it follows that Arabic sentences have no VP (= verb phrase) constituent in the generative-transformational sense. This is, indeed, a claim made by Bakir (1979:23–25; and cf. Thalji 1986b:130–135). Mohammad (1999:51–52) adduces four word-order patterns that have been suggested as the basic patterns in Arabic—each by a different scholar: 1. VSO, 2. VOS, 3. V-initial with the subject and object varying in position with respect to each other, 4. SVO. He then argues that the four variations may be grouped as follows: “SVO and VOS imply that there is a VP in Arabic, and VSO and VNP imply that there is not (VNP represents both VSO and VOS)”. Mohammad, himself a proponent of the generative theory, argues extensively (chapter 2) for the presence of VP in Arabic. In 1.5.2 we saw that Ayoub & Bohas, advocating a generative approach to the issue at hand, drew a distinction between the function of Zaydun in Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran (“Zayd hit ʿAmr”) and in Zaydun ḍaraba ʾabūhu ʿAmran (“Zayd, his father hit ʿAmr”). In the latter, Zaydun was presented as topic rather than as subject. They argued further (Ayoub & Bohas 1983:41–42) that the subject in the first of the two sentences is implicit in ḍaraba, whereas in the second it is ʾabūhu. Ayoub & Bohas thus seem to agree with the grammarians’ view that in darasa Zaydun (“Zayd studied”), darasa is “empty” (cf. 2.3 below), whereas ḍaraba in Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran contains an implicit subject. Out of context, the verbal form darasa is ambiguous between a VS sentence and an empty (non-sentential) verb. The form darasā, by contrast, unmistakably represents a full VS sentence, albeit without an explicit subject NP (= noun phrase).5 Givón (1995:192–195) maintains that the existence of rigid VSO languages does not in itself undermine the cross-linguistic validity of 5

In such cases, the morpheme ā is presented by them (Ayoub & Bohas 1983:41), in line with Chomsky’s theory, as an agreement (AG) suffix. And they point out that when the subject is a full NP (as in darasa l-Zaydāni—“the two Zayds studied”), AG does not occur.


chapter two

the VP node. His claim, based on text-frequency counts of overt versus unexpressed arguments in continuous narrative, is that constructions actually displaying non-adjacency between verb and object are rare; in most cases, “in coherent connected discourse the subject tends to be overwhelmingly continuous and anaphoric. For this reason, the frequency of an actual VSO transitive clause in discourse in a VSO language [. . .] is often rather low, while the frequency of VO transitive clauses [. . .] is rather high.” This amounts to claiming, as Givón indeed does, that “the difference between VSO and SVO (or VOS) is largely non-existent.” Givón’s observation may be valid with regard to spoken languages, including Spoken Arabic. But to Written Arabic texts, whether classical or modern, it is hardly applicable. For while such clauses as ḍarabahu are indeed common, sentences such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan cannot be claimed to be rare (cf. below). Dahlgren (1998:210), who conducted a quantified research into Classical Arabic texts (mainly the Sīra of Ibn Hišām), reports that “Early Arabic [. . .] has rigid VO order in all types of discourse, and is somewhat flexible in terms of the VS/ SV and the SO/OS parameters”. The relevance of types of discourse to word-order patterns will be taken up in 2.3 and 2.4. In any event, a basic claim of the present study is that ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan represents not only a word order pattern, but, first and foremost, a basic sentence type in Written Arabic. As for sentences such as ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan, it will be argued in Chapter Three that they represent another basic sentence type, where the subject of the sentence is followed by a clausal predicate. No transformational relationship will be assumed to exist between the two types. A judicious statement regarding word order patterns in Modern Standard Arabic is made by Holes (1995:204), who, drawing a distinction between verbal and verbless sentences in Arabic, indicates that “in the structurally simplest type of verbal sentence, the most statistically frequent order is VSCOMP.6 In verbless sentences, it is SCOMP.” Holes

6 COMP in Holes’s study stands for ‘complement’, and is used as a cover term for all types of objects and adjuncts. In note 3 (1995:243) Holes refers the reader to Agius’s (1991:42–43) report of studies of word order in modern Arabic writing, indicating that “VSCOMP accounts for about 70% of sentences containing a verb”.

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


prudently refrains from describing VSCOMP as the basic word-order pattern in Modern Standard Arabic. As a matter of fact, the very concept of basic word order has recently been called into question by some modern linguists. They question Greenberg’s assumptions (cf. 1.1 above), indicating (Mithun 1992:16) that “for many languages [. . .] nearly all logically possible constituent orders appear with sufficient regularity in main clauses to render identification of even a ‘preferred order’ difficult”. Further, they show that the criteria by which the basic word order is normally determined—usually statistical frequency, descriptive simplicity and pragmatic neutrality— are in many cases hardly reliable. Among these criteria, pragmatic neutrality has been shown to be particularly problematic (for discussion, see Payne 1992:1f.; Mithun 1992:15–16, 47, 51ff.). In any case, the idea of a variety of word-order patterns, where one is basic and the others are derived from it under pragmatic considerations—appears to be inapplicable to Arabic, particularly when one draws, as we do, a sharp distinction between sentence types and word-order patterns. This will become clearer in the next two chapters, where we consider the status of SVO in Arabic, as well as verbless sentences with the predicate either following the subject or preceding it (cf. Mithun 1992:15f.). As part of our inquiry into T1-sentences, it would be interesting to examine the grammarians’ position regarding the relationship between VSO and VOS sentences. It is to this question that we address ourselves in the following two sections. 2.2

The medieval grammarians’ concept of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr 2.2.1 The problem

In the last section we indicated that the VSO word-order pattern was viewed by the medieval Arab grammarians as basic (ʾaṣl), relative to VOS and OVS. But in what sense is this pattern “basic”? The term ʾaṣl in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb has been studied meticulously by Baalbaki (1988). His work deals mainly with phonological and morphological aspects of this important concept, but his results are undoubtedly relevant to our discussion of word-order patterns in the medieval grammarians’ writings. Significantly, Baalbaki does not offer a single definition for


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ʾaṣl as it is used in the Kitāb;7 rather, he outlines a variety of meanings conveyed by this term, indicating (pp. 171f.) that Sībawayhi’s usage of ʾaṣl was adopted by later grammarians. Of the five categories of ʾaṣl presented by Baalbaki (1988:163f.), the following two seem to be the most relevant for our discussion: 1. A form, pattern or construction is referred to as the ʾaṣl when it is viewed as representing the qiyās, that is, the norm or the more frequent usage in comparison to a related form/pattern.8 In modern linguistic terms we may say that the ʾaṣl in this sense represents the ‘unmarked’ as opposed to the ‘marked’, representing the less frequent item (see below for further discussion). Thus, a sentence consisting of a definite mubtadaʾ followed by an indefinite xabar represents the ʾaṣl as opposed to a sentence displaying an indefinite mubtadaʾ in sentence-initial position (for further discussion of the relationship between ʾaṣl and qiyās, see Baalbaki 1988:164ff.). 2. The term ʾaṣl may refer to some root version of a form, pattern or construction from which one or more secondary versions are derivable. Thus, lam yakun is the ʾaṣl of lam yaku, in the sense that the latter is derived from the former by the deletion of the n in yakun. For further discussion of ʾaṣl, see Ayoub & Bohas 1983:32f. Returning now to the issue under discussion, sentences such as ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi (VOS) are normally presented by the grammarians as resulting from taqdīm (“preposing”) of the object, implying (occasionally stating) that ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan (VSO) is the basic (ʾaṣl ) pattern. The VOS pattern is thus conceived of as a secondary ( farʿ) version. But in what sense does the second sentence represent an ʾaṣl version relative to the first in the grammarians’ eyes? The term taqdīm that is normally used by the grammarians to refer to the syntactic relationship between the two sentences, is often used in conjunction with taʾxīr (“postposing”), to indicate that preposing one sentence constituent

7 Sībawayhi himself could hardly be expected to define a methodological concept like this. For the issue of terminology in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb, see Peled 1999, esp. section 2. 8 Note, however, that the term qiyās may also refer to some underlying (logical) rule that is never realized in actual usage. Thus, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 75) states that al-qiyās fī l-fiʿl min ḥ ayt̠u huwa ḥ arakatu l-fāʿil fī l-ʾaṣl ʾan yakūna baʿda l-fāʿil li-ʾanna wujūdahu qabla wujūdi fiʿlihi (“Logically, the verb, signalling in principle the action of the doer, must follow the subject, because the existence of the performer of the action is prior to the action performed by him”).

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


automatically results in the postposing of another. Frequently the notions of preposing and postposing are expressed, respectively, by the verbal forms qaddamta and ʾaxxarta—in the second person. The term taqdīm, as is well known, figures prominently in the writings of the medieval Arab grammarians, particularly in connection with word order. The concept of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr is used in relation to a wide range of constructions across the three sentence types. But we will restrict our discussion here to questions relating to the position of the subject ( fāʿil) and the direct object (mafʿūl) relative to the verb. The problem with this term is that it presupposes the concept of ʾaṣl in either of its two senses as outlined above. As we shall see in 2.2.2, some modern linguists, in particular those adhering to Chomsky’s transformational theory, have interpreted the concept taqdīm in terms of movement transformation: VOS results from moving the object in the VSO basic structure into a pre-subject position. This kind of interpretation falls in line with Baalbaki’s second category of ʾaṣl. However, bearing Baalbaki’s categorization of ʾaṣl in mind, when we look at the grammarians’ use of the term taqdīm when presenting VSO as the ʾaṣl pattern and VOS as secondary ( farʿ)—the conclusion is not necessarily that the latter is derived from the former by a movement transformation. Under a different interpretation of taqdīm, it could be maintained that a sentence such as ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi results from placing the object before the subject, and that this construction represents the marked, as opposed to the unmarked (qiyās) construction ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan. Under this interpretation no movement transformation is posited. Rather, the two sentences represent two word-order variations, motivated by different pragmatic considerations (cf. 2.4 below). This interpretation of taqdīm is consistent with Baalbaki’s first category of ʾaṣl. The question to which we address ourselves here is this: Given that VOS is described by the grammarians as a case of taqdīm, and further, that VSO represents the ʾaṣl in relation to VOS, what is the appropriate interpretation of taqdīm: does this term refer to a process of movement, or does it signal the option of forming a sentence with the object preceding the subject, as opposed to the normal (qiyās) VSO pattern? For the sake of convenience I will henceforth use the denotations Tm to refer to taqdīm in the sense of movement transformation, and Tp to refer to taqdīm in the sense of ‘placement before’ (with no transformation involved).


chapter two 2.2.2 The movement hypothesis

It should be said, right from the outset, that the following discussion is not intended as a critique of the concept of movement transformation, but rather to question the claim that it was held by the Arab grammarians. For linguists adhering to the movement hypothesis, Tm denotes a process of moving a constituent from its position in the underlying structure into the beginning of the sentence, or, otherwise, to a position that is nearer to the beginning of the sentence. VSO represents a basic, or underlying, word order in the language, which may be transformed through the process of preposing the object (with the obvious automatic result of postposing the subject). We have already seen (2.1 above) that for Bakir (1979), VSO is the basic unmarked word order in Arabic. In section 1.4.4 of his book he argues extensively also for the adoption of VSO as the underlying order from which VOS is derived by a rule of preposing that moves the object to a position immediately to the right of the verb. Similarly, OVS is derived by an optional transformation moving the object into a preverbal position. Significantly for our discussion, this type of analysis is presented by Bakir (1979:4) as being in accordance with the medieval grammarians’ assumptions and analyses. Similarly, Ayoub & Bohas (1983:34–36) maintain that ʿAmran ḍaraba Zaydun (“ʿAmr was hit by Zayd”) is derived by taqdīm (ʿantéposition’) from what they refer to as the ‘abstract representation’ ḍaraba Zaydun ʿAmran. While Ayoub & Bohas’s arguments draw heavily upon Chomsky’s Transformational Grammar, it is not clear whether their ‘abstract representation’ should be interpreted in the sense of ‘deep structure’. For a discussion of this issue, see Owens 1988:220, esp. n. 268. One should bear in mind that the notion of deriving a “surface” form/construction from some related underlying or basic version figures prominently in the medieval grammarians’ writings. This is evidenced by such concepts as ʾaṣl-farʿ, taqdīr, ʾiḍ mār etc., often used by the grammarians in this sense. Moreover, it should be indicated that the underlying basic version, as presented by the grammarians, does not necessarily represent an acceptable form/construction. Thus, Zaydan ḍarabtuhu (“Zayd, I hit him”) is said by Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 31–32) to be derived from ḍarabtu Zaydan ḍarabtuhu through the obligatory elision (ḥ ad̠f ) of ḍarabtu. The underlying construction, exhibiting a double occurrence of the verb ḍarabtu, is inadmissible (see 3.4.3 below for discussion; and cf. Ayoub & Bohas 1983:35f.; for unattested ʾaṣl

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


forms, see Baalbaki 1988:164, 168–169, 171; for the notion ʾaṣl marfūḍ, see 4.4.1 below). It is not surprising to see linguists adhering to, or otherwise, influenced by, the generative-transformational paradigm, opt for Tm as an interpretation for taqdīm. But it turns out to be the case that Tm has been advocated also by scholars whose approach to the grammarians’ writings is surely not “Chomskian”. The study of Bohas et al. is a case in point. (Another is Baalbaki’s, whose approach to Sībawayhi’s usage of taqdīm will be dealt with in 2.2.3. below.) Stating the grammarians’ rule that the ʿāmil must precede the maʿmūl fīhi in the unmarked wordorder pattern, Bohas et al. go on to say that the “canonical” VSO can be later changed, under specific conditions, by transfer rules (taqdīm wa-taʾxīr, literally ‘anteposition and postposition’). For instance, on the basis of a ‘canonical’ verbal sentence such as ḍaraba Zaydun ʿAmran [. . .] it is possible to derive ḍaraba ʿAmran Zaydun and ʿAmran ḍaraba Zaydun by transfer of the object (Bohas et al. 1990:57).

As can be seen, Bohas et al. do not invoke the concepts of underlying (or deep) structure and surface structure, but they leave no doubt that in their view VOS and OVS are “derived” from VSO (the “canonical” construction) by “transfer rules”, moving the object into pre-subject and pre-verb positions respectively. The adoption of Tm by these authors to account for the grammarians’ view of the syntactic relationship between VSO and VOS/OVS—is thus stated unambiguously.9 2.2.3 The evidence: Sībawayhi The syntactic relationship between ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan on the one hand and ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi and Zaydan ḍarabtu on the other—is dealt with by Sībawayhi in a rather laconic manner. What is important for our discussion is that there is no evidence that wa-ʾin qaddamta l-maf ʿūla wa-ʾaxxarta l-fāʿila (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 10–11) should be interpreted as conveying the idea of movement transformation. Sībawayhi makes it clear that both VSO and VOS are legitimate word-order patterns in Arabic, though the former is the more common and preferable one (ḥ add al-lafẓ—the term ʾaṣl does not occur in this particular case). He points out that the speaker’s choice between the

9 Cf. Bohas et al. (1990:38–40), for a discussion of Sībawayhi’s treatment of wordorder varieties in sentences displaying the cognitive verb ẓanna.


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two is dependent upon the speech situation (see 2.4.1 below for further discussion). As for Zaydan ḍarabtu, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 31) presents this sentence as ʿarabiyyun jayyidun kamā kāna d̠ālika ʿarabiyyan jayyidan (“good Arabic, just as the former [ḍarabtu Zaydan] is good Arabic”). So there is no evidence that his expression qaddamta l-isma in this case suggests a movement transformation (Tm). And with the absence of such evidence, Tp appears to be at least as appropriate an interpretation as Tm. A rather more extensive discussion is offered by Sībawayhi when he deals with sentences such as kayfa Zaydan raʾayta (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 39; and cf. Baalbaki 1988:169) as opposed to kayfa raʾayta Zaydan (“how have you found Zayd?”). He argues that kayfa, as an interrogative, when occurring in a verbal sentence, should be followed by the verb rather than by the noun, to produce the latter (VSO) rather than the former (OVS) word-order pattern (cf. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ [d. 1289] Basīṭ I, 277). In Sībawayhi’s words: wa-ḥ urūfu l-istifhāmi [. . .] buniyat li-l-fiʿli ʾillā ʾannahum qad tawassaʿū fīhā fa-btadaʾū baʿdahā l-ʾasmāʾa wa-l-ʾaṣlu ġayru d̠ālika. [. . .] fa-ʾin qulta kayfa Zaydan raʾayta wa-hal Zaydun yad̠habu qabuḥ a wa-lam yajuz ʾillā fī šiʿrin li-ʾannahu lammā jtamaʿa l-fiʿlu wa-l-ismu ḥ amalūhu ʿalā l-ʾaṣli (“Interrogative particles are [. . .] construed with verbs, but the rule was extended to allow a noun+verb construction introduced by an interrogative. Yet, the norm, the basic structure (ʾaṣl) is different. [. . .] If you say kayfa Zaydan raʾayta and hal Zaydun yad̠habu [“is Zayd going?”], these are ill-formed sentences, allowed only in poetry. For, when a[n interrogative] sentence consists of a verb and a noun, it is the basic (ʾaṣl) word-order pattern that should be selected”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 39).

Baalbaki (1988:169) includes Sībawayhi’s treatment of kayfa Zaydan raʾayta within a list of ten cases where attested forms/structures display “a change introduced to the ʾaṣl”. In eight of these cases, the ʾaṣl is an unattested theoretical form, which means that the “change” is obligatory. This, in turn, argues for an obligatory movement transformation in these cases. By contrast, in the case here under discussion, the ʾaṣl is not only attested, it represents the norm. It is the sentence resulting from the extension (tawassuʿ ) of the rule that is described as ill-formed (qabīḥ ). As has already been said, cases displaying “a change introduced to the ʾaṣl ” are treated by Baalbaki as distinct from those where the ʾaṣl represents the norm (qiyās) or the unmarked rather than the rarer, marked related cases. Most of the evidence adduced by him, in par-

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


ticular his phonological and morphological examples, argue in favour of this kind of distinction. When it comes to word-order patterns, in particular the relationship between VSO and VOS, the question becomes more complicated. As we have seen, the sentence kayfa Zaydan raʾayta was regarded by Sībawayhi as resulting from an extension of the rule of word order in interrogative sentences. His use of the term tawassuʿ, and in particular his insistence that the construction in question is an undesired (qabuḥ a) option, suggest in my view that Sībawayhi did not intend to argue for a movement transformation. Rather, his treatment of kayfa Zaydan raʾayta indicates that taqdīm in his usage should be interpreted as Tp rather than as Tm. 2.2.4

The evidence: later grammarians

As is well known, the term taqdīm is by no means restricted to the grammarians’ treatment of VOS and OVS as secondary ( farʿ) word-order patterns relative to VSO. In various discussions of constituent order, the terms taqdīm and taʾxīr are used unambiguously in the sense of “placing [a constituent] before, and [another constituent] after, relative to each other”, without any act of movement (i.e. change in position) involved. Thus, when the grammarians state the rule of taqdīm al-fāʿil wa-taʾxīr al-maf ʿūl, or when Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 588) uses the phrase yalzamu l-xabar al-taʾxīr, or when Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 353) uses yalzamu taqdīm al-mubtadaʾ, no transformation of any kind is intended. The xabar is not conceived of as postposed, nor is the mubtadaʾ claimed to be preposed in terms of “movement”, since in these cases each of the mubtadaʾ and xabar (or fāʿil and maf ʿūl, for that matter) already occupies its “basic” (ʾaṣl) position.10 As for the relationship between VSO on one hand and VOS/OVS on the other, later grammarians seem to follow Sībawayhi’s use of taqdīm, providing no clear-cut evidence for Tm. By and large, taqdīm is used to refer to an option of placing the object in pre-subject or pre-verb position with no movement involved (Tp). To give but a few representative


Similarly, the term ibtidāʾ may be interpreted as denoting either a process of “moving to the front” or “placing in sentence-initial position” (i.e. without any movement involved), or, otherwise “the state of occupying sentence-initial position, so as to function as subject (mubtadaʾ) to be followed by a predicate (xabar)”. For discussion, see Peled 1992a:163f.


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examples, Mubarrad (Muqtaḍab III, 95), Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl II, 228) and Zajjājī [d. 950] ( Jumal, 10) use the term taqdīm in the sense of Tp; at least we can say that there is no indication for a Tm interpretation. In most cases, the term taqdīm is used without an explicit reference to VSO as ʾaṣl (but Zajjājī indicates that taqdīm al-fāʿil ʿalā l-maf ʿūl is the wajh, which I interpret as synonymous with ḥ add al-lafẓ—cf. 2.2.3 above). But even in cases where the term ʾaṣl does occur, it does not necessarily warrant a conclusion that taqdīm (or taqdīm wa-taʾxīr) should be construed as Tm. Consider, for instance, Zamaxšarī’s statement of the rule dealing with the position of the fāʿil relative to the fiʿl: wa-l-ʾaṣlu ʾan yaliya l-fiʿla li-ʾannahu ka-l-juzʾi minhu fa-ʾid̠ā quddima ʿalayhi ġayruhu kāna fī l-niyyati muʾaxxaran (“Basically, [the subject] should immediately follow the verb, because virtually it forms part of the verb. If a [non-verbal] constituent is placed before the subject, then that constituent’s position is, by intention, after [the subject]”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 75).

Now let us look at an excerpt from Ibn Yaʿīš’s comments on Zamaxšarī’s statement: rutbatu l-fiʿli yajibu ʾan yakūna ʾawwalan wa-rutbatu l-fāʿili ʾan yakūna baʿdahu wa-rutbatu l-mafʿūli ʾan yakūna ʾāxiran. wa-qad tuqaddimu l-maf ʿūla li-ḍ arbin min al-tawassuʿi wa-l-ihtimāmi bihi wa-l-niyyatu bihi l-taʾxīru wa-li-d̠ālika jāza ʾan yuqāla ḍ araba ġulāmahu Zaydun [. . .] fa-huwa fī l-ẓāhiri ʾiḍmārun qabla l-d̠ikri lākinnahu lammā kāna mafʿūlan kānat-i l-niyyatu bihi l-taʾxīra li-ʾannahu lammā waqaʿa fī ġayri mawḍiʿihi kānat-i l-niyyatu bihi l-taʾxīra ʾilā mawḍiʿihi (“The verb should be placed in sentence-initial position, the subject should follow, and the object should be placed sentence-finally. The object may occasionally be placed before [the subject] by way of extending [the above rule] when the focus of interest is on [the referent of] the object. But the [underlying] intention is to place it after [the subject]. That is why a sentence such as ḍaraba ġulāmahu Zaydun (‘Zayd hit his slave’) is admissible [. . .] On the face of it, this is a case of a pronoun preceding the noun it refers to. However, since [the noun to which the pronominal suffix is attached] is an object, it should, in principle, be placed after [the subject]. For if [an object] occurs in a position other than the one it should occupy, then the [underlying] intention is to move it into its [appropriate] position after [the subject]”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 76).

In Zamaxšarī’s statement, VSO is explicitly presented as the ʾaṣl word order. This principle is repeated by Ibn Yaʿīš, who also uses the term ʾaṣl earlier in his commentary. In the above passage, however, it is the term rutba (“basic position”) that is used with regard to the position

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


of each of the three constituents. The term niyya (lit. “intention”) in Zamaxšarī’s statement is repeated three times in Ibn Yaʿīš’s commentary. In the grammarians’ usage, this term denotes, much like maʿnā and taqdīr, a basic underlying structure/form to which the grammarian refers in order to explain a related less common, secondary grammatical feature (often referred to as lafẓ). As far as word order is concerned, the grammarians do not offer any specific rule, e.g. a rule of transformation, by which the lafẓ order is derived from the ʾaṣl, or, for that matter, the niyya order. (in 3.3.1 below we will see that in other cases the grammarians did invoke the conception of deriving one structure from another.) Furthermore, placing the object before the subject is presented by Ibn Yaʿīš as ḍarb min al-tawassuʿ motivated by ihtimām. The latter term refers to the ‘importance’ of the referent of the object, as a pragmatic consideration for placing it in pre-subject position. As for tawassuʿ (“extension [of a rule]”—cf. below, Chapter Five, n. 29, for ittisāʿ), we have already seen (2.2.3 above) that Sībawayhi used this term when dealing with the sentence kayfa Zaydan raʾayta. It will be recalled that Sībawayhi referred to this kind of tawassuʿ as infelicitous (qabīḥ ). Obviously, in the case under discussion here, it is inconceivable that Ibn Yaʿīš regarded ḍaraba ġulāmahu Zaydun as qabīḥ . What is, however, common to both cases is that they provide no clear-cut evidence to suggest that placing the object in pre-subject position results from the application of some movement rule. It would be interesting to note the phrase al-taʾxīr ʾilā mawḍiʿihi occurring in the last sentence in the passage quoted from Ibn Yaʿīš (and cf. nuwiya bihi [i.e. bi-l-maf ʿūl] al-taʾxīr ʾilā maḥ allihi—Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 333). Perhaps more than any other expression used by the grammarians in the context of word-order variations, this phrase, with the preposition ʾilā signalling direction, may be construed as indicating movement transformation. Yet, the direction of movement in this case is opposite to that of Tm: the object is moved into its ‘basic’ position rather than to a pre-subject position. Indeed, the phrase in question does not rule out a Tp interpretation; one could well interpret al-taʾxīr ʾilā mawḍiʿihi as ‘placing the object in its basic position after the subject’. One thing is clear: the phrase al-taʾxīr ʾilā mawḍiʿihi cannot, as such, serve as firm evidence that taqdīm al-maf ʿūl ʿalā l-fāʿil should be interpreted as Tm. For an extensive discussion of the relationship between VSO and VOS, including the problem of cataphora, see Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 330–336; Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 68–70; and cf. Peled 1992b).


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It is not difficult to understand how the grammarians’ use of the term lafẓ with reference to VOS, and maʿnā, taqdīr, niyya when referring to VSO could lead a modern linguist to a Tm interpretation. This is particularly noticeable in the grammarians’ treatment of cataphora (see further below). But again, there is no evidence that the lafẓ-maʿnā (or, for that matter, farʿ-ʾaṣl) relationship should necessarily be construed in terms of deep and surface structure in the Chomskian sense. Owens (1988:217–220) refers to Baṭalyūsī’s discussion of VOS- as opposed to VSO-sentences (see 2.3 below). He rightly concludes that the relationship between the former and the latter parallels the modern linguistic distinction between marked and unmarked; this is, indeed, how he understands the grammarians’ distinction between farʿ and ʾaṣl in general. Furthermore, Owens (1988:220–226) argues forcefully against suggested parallels between the ʾaṣl-farʿ relationship and the generative-transformational theory of deep versus surface structure, where the latter is derived from the former through the application of transformation rules. Owens (p. 226) seems to be right in claiming that while “there are a few cases where the analogy is valid [. . .] the fundamental context of the ʾaṣl/farʿ distinction is that of markedness.” For cases where the analogy to deep-surface structure is valid, see 2.2.2 above, as well as the discussion below. However, the view of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr as described above, with respect to the relationship between VSO and VOS, was by no means universal. A strong opposition was offered by Ibn Jinnī (d. 1002) (Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 294–298) who seemed to challenge both Tm and Tp. This outstandingly original grammarian rejected the idea of a unidirectional ʾaṣl-farʿ relationship between VSO and VOS. He criticized the above theory claiming that al-fāʿil laysa rutbatuhu al-taqdīm (“it is not the case that the basic position of the subject is before [the object]”—Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 294). He based his claim on his observation that VOS was a very common word-order pattern in Arabic. To support this claim he adduced the Qurʾānic verse ʾinnamā yaxšā llāha min ʿibādihi l-ʿulamāʾu (“From among His servants it is those who have knowledge that fear God”— Qurʾān 35.28), as well as a number of poetry verses. Furthermore, he quoted Fārisī’s statement that taqaddumu l-maf ʿūli ʿalā l-fāʿili qismun qāʾimun bi-raʾsihi kamā ʾanna taqadduma l-fāʿili qismun ʾayḍan qāʾimun bi-raʾsihi wa-ʾin kāna taqdīmu l-fāʿili ʾakt̠ara (“the occurrence of the object before the subject represents a [word-order] pattern in its own right, much like the occurrence

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


of the subject before [the object]; though preposing the subject is more common”—Ibn Jinnī Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 296).

Ibn Jinnī (Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 298) argues that VOS is so common a patten in the language, that the position of the object before the subject should be considered as its mawḍiʿ, that is, as its basic, rather than secondary ( farʿ) position. He goes as far as to admit sentences such as jazā rabbuhu ʿAdiyya bna Ḥ ātimin (“ ʿAdī b. Ḥ ātim was rewarded by his Lord”), where ʿAdiyya bna Ḥ ātimin and hu in rabbuhu are identical in reference. Such sentences are rejected by the vast majority of grammarians on the ground that they display an anticipatory pronoun in both the surface and the underlying structure (lafẓan wa-maʿnan). Ibn Jinnī dismisses this claim, arguing that the above sentence represents the surface structure on the assumption that underlying (muqaddar) it is the sentence jazā ʿAdiyya bna Ḥ ātimin rabbuhu. In other words, the latter sentence, with the object preceding the subject, represents a basic word-order pattern. In Ibn Jinnī’s words: fa-ʿalā d̠ālika ka-ʾannahu qāla jazā ʿAdiyya bna Ḥ ātimin rabbuhu t̠umma qaddama l-fāʿila ʿalā ʾannahu qad qaddarahu muqaddaman ʿalayhi mafʿūluhu (“In accordance with this [principle], the basic word order [of the verse in question] is jazā ʿAdiyya bna Ḥ ātimin rabbuhu [VOS] to which taqdīm [Tm] of the fāʿil is then applied on the assumption that in the taqdīr [i.e underlying] structure, the object precedes the subject.”— Ibn Jinnī Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 298).

It is Ibn Jinnī’s use of the word t̠umma (“then”) in t̠umma qaddama l-fāʿila that invites an analogy with movement transformation (cf. 3.3.1 below). Obviously, the transformation in this case is applied in a direction opposite to the one that would be consistent with the medieval mainstream view of word order. In the last analysis, however, for Ibn Jinnī both VSO and VOS are basic word-order patterns. Inasmuch as VSO may be viewed as basic relative to VOS, the reverse holds with equal validity. For further discussion, see 2.3 below; and cf. Peled 1992b:105–108. An important contribution to the medieval theory of word order is Jurjānī’s presentation of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr in his Dalāʾil al-ʾiʿjāz (pp. 106–107). In his opening remarks he characterizes taqdīm as “moving a constituent from one position to another” (ḥ uwwila l-lafẓ ʿan makān ʾilā makān). However, his specific discussion of the VSO-VOS relationship does not unequivocally require a Tm interpretation: al-maf ʿūl ʾid̠ā qaddamtahu ʿalā l-fāʿil does not rule out a Tp interpretation (the


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phrase taqdīm ʿalā niyyat al-taʾxīr occurs here as in similar discussions of word order—see above). But then Jurjānī turns to establish a relationship between ḍarabtu Zaydan and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, and it is here that Tm appears to be remarkably appropriate. However, this issue falls beyond the scope of the present chapter, and will be taken up in 3.3.1 below. On the whole, then, one may point to two cases where the grammarians’ discussion of word order is reminiscent of the concepts of deep structure and surface structure in transformational grammar. The first case relates to sentences displaying a cataphoric pronoun, such as ḍaraba ġulāmahu Zaydun and jazā ʿAdiyya bna Ḥ ātimin rabbuhu, with which we have already dealt. Regarding the latter, the Tm interpretation is based on Ibn Jinnī’s idiosyncratic view of the relationship between VSO and VOS. However, as we have seen, his final conclusion was that neither pattern should be regarded as inherently basic (or secondary) relative to the other. Interrogative sentences present another case where the grammarians’ ʾaṣl can arguably be construed as analogous to the modern ‘deep structure’. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 334–335) adduces the sentence mā ʾaradta (“what did you want?”) as an OVS sentence, paraphrasable by ʾayya šayʾin ʾaradta (“what thing did you want?”). In this case, the object mā, being an interrogative, must obligatorily be placed sentence-initially ( fī ṣadr al-kalām—cf. 4.4.1 below), just like ʾayya šayʾin in the paraphrase. A sentence such as ʾaradta ʾayya šayʾin, where the object is postposed into its basic position (tuʾaxxiruhu ʾilā mawḍiʿihi—cf. above), is disallowed. In other words, VSO, normally presented as the niyya/taqdīr etc. in relation to VOS/OVS, is in this case excluded. One might therefore argue that the grammarians’ treatment of mā ʾaradta may be interpreted in transformational terms: the deep structure (= ʾaṣl) ʾaradta mā is transformed into mā ʾaradta, through the obligatory application of a rule moving the interrogative object mā into sentence-initial position (Wh-movement). Cf. 4.4.1 below, for Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ’s similar approach to sentences such as ʾayna Zaydun? (“where is Zayd?”). Jurjānī then goes on to deal with other cases where an object interrogative is obligatorily placed sentence-initially. Significantly, however, he points out (Muqtaṣid I, 35f.) that interrogatives are basically ( fī l-ʾaṣl) particles. An interrogative function implemented by a noun should be viewed as incidental (ʿāriḍ—for discussion, see Ibn Jinnī Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 294–301; and cf. Peled 1992b:105f.). Such “incidents”, he argues, by

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


no means invalidate the constant principle (al-ʾaṣl al-mustamirr) from which one must not deviate. Though Jurjānī does not spell it out, it is more than likely that what he intends to say is that an interrogative is normally a particle, that is, a constituent which does not interfere with the basic principle that the object, normally a nominal, should occur post- rather than pre-verbally. Again, the evidence seems to suggest that al-ʾaṣl al-mustamirr refers to the basic, in the sense of the common, the unmarked, rather than the deep or underlying structure in the Chomskian sense. To sum up, it is not easy to determine conclusively whether Tm or Tp is the appropriate interpretation of taqdīm in the medieval grammarians’ writings. However, in the light of what we have seen, Tm must in some cases be excluded, and in most cases it cannot be unequivocally confirmed by the grammarians’ analyses. I am therefore inclined to advocate Tp as the appropriate interpretation of taqdīm in the vast majority of cases. This is consistent with Owens’s claim (see above) that the ʾaṣl-farʿ relationship should be understood in terms of markedness rather than as analogous to the Chomskian deep structure and surface structure where the former is converted into the latter by a rule of transformation. In 3.3.2 we will point to Holes’s use of the term “leftpositioning” when dealing with sentences such as Zaydun yanṭaliqu (“Zayd is leaving”) and Zaydun yanṭaliqu ʾabūhu (“Zayd, his father is leaving”). This term appears to be neutral between ‘moving’ and ‘placing’, and would therefore be appropriate also with regard to VOS/OVS. It stands to reason that the medieval grammarians, especially the earlier ones, did not really differentiate between Tm and Tp. The term taqdīm in their usage apparently covered both. Given, however, that the concept of transformation was included in their grammatical discourse, one would expect that if it was Tm that they intended in taqdīm, it would have been spelled out rather than be left to the reader’s intuition to recover from the context. It is for this reason that, if I had to choose between Tm and Tp, I would opt for the latter, as I have already said. 2.3

The grammarians’ formal account of VSO/VOS

We have already indicated (1.3 above) that the medieval Arab grammarians defined the jumla fiʿliyya as a sentence where the subject is preceded by the verb, and that they conceived of the fāʿil as represented


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by a nominative constituent in ʾisnād relationship to the preceding verb. In Jurjānī’s words: wa-ṣifatuhu ʾan yusnada l-fiʿlu ʾilayhi muqaddaman ʿalayhi (“it is characteristic of the fāʿil that the verb is made to lean upon it in a position preceding it”—Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 325).

Moreover, the grammarians emphasized, as we have seen, the functional aspect of the term fāʿil, pointing out that it should by no means be interpreted in a semantic sense, since it does not necessarily refer to the performer of the action. However, as regards T1–sentences displaying both a subject and a direct object, the question that figured at the centre of the grammarians’ discussion was the assignment of the rafʿ and naṣb cases to the fāʿil and the maf ʿūl respectively. Mainstream grammarians usually agreed that in sentences such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan the verb assigns raf ʿ to the fāʿil and naṣb to the maf ʿūl (see, e.g. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 79 and Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 75; for the controversy over the assigner of naṣb to the mafʿūl, see Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 78–81). Since the medieval concepts underlying case assignment are, as we have seen, ʿamal and taʿdiya, it would be useful to go back to Sībawayhi in order to examine the original use of these concepts. In chapter 9 in his Kitāb, Sībawayhi presents such minimal strings as d̠ahaba Zaydun (“Zayd went”) and ḍuriba Zaydun (“Zayd was hit”). Subsequently he proceeds to more elaborate structures, where the verb takes more than one complement, a direct object or otherwise. His argument throughout suggests that the fiʿl should be conceived, in one way or another, as accountable for both the number and the case marking of the nominal constituent(s) in the sentence. However, a caveat is here in order. We cannot be certain that in such phrases as al-fāʿil allad̠ī yataʿaddāhu fiʿluhu ʾilā maf ʿūl (“the fāʿil whose fiʿl extends beyond it to a maf ʿūl”), typically used by Sībawayhi when dealing with the taʿdiya of various verbs (see, e.g. the titles of chapters 9 and 10 in the Kitāb), the expressions fiʿl, fāʿil and mafʿūl are used by him as purely technical grammatical terms. The word yataʿaddā may be understood as referring to transitivity in the broad sense of this concept. What one cannot decide with certainty is whether Sībawayhi is referring to a verb exercising some effect upon the subject, an effect which then extends over to a direct object, or whether fiʿl, fāʿil and mafʿūl respectively refer to the action, the performer of the action and the person/object affected by the action (see Levin 1979a, for discus-

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


sion). I argued elsewhere (Peled 1999:56–61) that Sībawayhi (as well as later grammarians) used these expressions in cases like these as meta-grammatical intuitive terms, relying heavily on the readers’ ability to associate these originally non-linguistic expressions with some grammatical meaning. In any event, while taʿdiya is a key concept in Sībawayhi’s discussion of sentences such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, he uses the verb taʿaddā to signal the effect of the fiʿl beyond the fāʿil, that is, the indirect effect extended to a maf ʿūl or any other accusative complement via the fāʿil. For the relationship between the verb and the fāʿil he uses the term šaġala (“to engage, involve something with”).11 Having established the transitive quality of the fiʿl in cases such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, Sībawayhi turns to a brief consideration of the position of the mafʿūl relative to the fāʿil (before he goes on to outline further examples of taʿdiya between the fiʿl and various accusative complements). His pragmatic considerations in this regard will be discussed in the next section. At this point let us look at the way he deals with object preposing: wa-ʾin qaddamta l-maf ʿūla wa-ʾaxxarta l-fāʿila jarā l-lafẓu kamā jarā fī l-ʾawwali wa-d̠ālika qawluka ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi (“if you prepose the object and postpose the subject, the formal [case] marking is identical to that of the first construction; for example: ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdullāhi”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 11).

As we have already indicated in 2.2.3, Sībawayhi’s qaddamta and ʾaxxarta in the above excerpt should be respectively interpreted as ‘placing before’ and ‘placing after’. There is no reason to suppose any movement transformation. A note is in order here regarding Sībawayhi’s treatment of sentences such as d̠ahaba Zaydun (“Zayd went”), and d̠ahaba (“he went”), corresponding to what modern linguists describe as VS sentences. As for the former, the question of word order is not raised by Sībawayhi, but dealt with by later grammarians, as we shall see in Chapter Three. Sentences such as d̠ahaba do not receive a separate treatment by Sībawayhi, but from his discussion of cases like ḍarabtu Zaydan (Kitāb I, 31) it may be inferred that he conceived of such cases as sentences of the same

11 Occasionally, however, Sībawayhi uses šaġala to denote the kind of rection manifested in cases of a verb taking a pronominal direct object. See, for instance, Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 31, lines 21–22.


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type as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, only that in the former the fiʿl and the fāʿil are represented in one word. In light of the above, it would be interesting to look at the grammarians’ treatment of sentences such as d̠ahabtu, consisting of a verb displaying a first- or second-person ending. Specifically, what is the position of the fāʿil in such sentences? The basic claim is that the fāʿil forms part of the fiʿl, and therefore must not be preposed to the fiʿl (see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 327; Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 95–96). In support of his claim that the fāʿil is part of the fiʿl, Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 327–330) offers an elaborate discussion, basing his argument on morpho-phonological grounds. He argues that the absence of a vowel after the third radical in forms like ḍarabtu (∗ḍarabatu) indicates that tu in such forms is not a suffix added to a stem, but rather an integral part of the word. He explains that the absence of a vowel after the radical b is designed to obviate a situation in which four consonants, each followed by a short vowel occur consecutively in one word. He indicates that such a string is admissible where the last syllable functions as a suffix adding some semantic content to the stem. This is for instance the case, as he demonstrates, in ḍarabaka (“he hit you”), where the suffix -ka is added to ḍaraba with no deletion of the vowel a following the b, since -ka actually represents a different word from ḍaraba. The fact that in ḍarabtu the ending tu does require the deletion of the preceding a, is presented by Jurjānī as evidence that tu forms part of the word and should not be conceived of as an added (external) suffix functioning as a separate word. This is how Ibn Yaʿīš explains the position of the fāʿil, basing his argument on the assumption that it forms part of the fiʿl: wa-ʾid̠ā kāna l-fāʿilu ka-l-juzʾi min al-fiʿli wajaba ʾan yatarattaba baʿdahu wa-li-hād̠ā l-maʿnā lā yajūzu ʾan yataqaddama ʿalayhi ka-mā lā yajūzu taqdīmu ḥ arfin min ḥ urūfi l-kalimati ʿalā ʾawwalihā (“and since the fāʿil is like a part of the verb, it should be placed after it, and must not precede it, just as it is disallowed for any letter in a word to be placed before the first letter”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 75; for further discussion, see Goldenberg 1988:62–64).12

12 Goldenberg (1988:61–67) offers an extensive critical discussion of the verb form in Arabic. He starts out from the idea that Semitic verb forms are, in fact, “contracted nominal sentences”. He indicates that this idea was not alien to the Arab grammarians, and points out their use of “ordinary terms of predication” (derived from the roots s.n.d, x.b.r and ḥ .d.t̠) in analyzing verb forms. Talmon (1988:93, esp. n. 55) indicates that already Farrāʾ “was aware of the existence of nexus relationship between a verb

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


In other words, the fāʿil is analogous to a letter in a word, and as such it may not precede the word of which it forms part. Ibn Yaʿīš concludes that the right word order should be: fiʿl + fāʿil + maf ʿūl. The maf ʿūl comes last because of its status as faḍla, an optional constituent in the sentence, as opposed to the fiʿl and fāʿil which, like the mubtadaʾ and xabar, represent the ʿumda, that is, the two basic indispensable parts of the sentence.13 Ibn Yaʿīš then indicates the option of making the object precede the subject li-ḍarb min al-tawassuʿ wa-l-ihtimām bihi (“as a kind of extension [in cases where it holds] special interest”—Šarḥ I, 76), but makes it clear that such cases are secondary, and that al-niyya bihi l-taʾxīr; that is, the mafʿūl precedes the fāʿil only in the lafẓ, not in the maʿnā. The grammarians thus made their position clear that d̠ahaba Zaydun and d̠ahaba equally fall within the category of sentences where the fiʿl is followed by the fāʿil. This means, however, that the constituent d̠ahaba is analyzed differently in each of the two sentences: Whereas the single-word sentence d̠ahaba contains both fiʿl and fāʿil, d̠ahaba in d̠ahaba Zaydun represents the fiʿl only and is depicted as “empty” of any nominal element.14 This concept of “emptiness” can be traced already to Sībawayhi. Consider the following excerpt dealing with cases such as d̠ahaba Zaydun and ḍuriba Zaydun: hād̠ā bābu l-fāʿili llad̠ī lam yataʿaddahu fiʿluhu ʾilā mafʿūlin wa-l-mafʿūli llad̠ī lam yataʿaddā ʾilayhi fiʿlu fāʿilin wa-lā taʿaddā fiʿluhu ʾilā mafʿūlin ʾāxara fa-l-fāʿilu wa-l-mafʿūlu fī hād̠ā sawāʾun yartafiʿu l-mafʿūlu kamā yartafiʿu l-fāʿilu li-ʾannaka lam tašġal-i l-fiʿla bi-ġayrihi wa-farraġtahu lahu kamā faʿalta d̠ālika bi-l-fāʿili (“This chapter deals with the subject the grammatical effect of whose verb does not extend beyond it [= the fāʿil] to an object, and with the mafʿūl [= subject of a passive verb] that is not affected by a verb taking a subject [ fāʿil], nor does its verb act upon a further mafʿūl [= direct object]. For [in such cases] the fāʿil and the mafʿūl

and its unrealized 3rd person pronoun when they jointly occupy (without an adjunct) the position of a single noun.” Referring to Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 410, Talmon points out that Sībawayhi, while not having any specific term for ‘clause’, “often conceived of the verb alone ( fiʿl) as the counterpart of mubtadaʾ+xabar.” 13 Jurjānī Muqtaṣid (I, 421) points out that, unlike the mafʿūl that cannot as faḍla be implicit (yastakinnu) in the verb, the fāʿil can. He regards this as proof that the fāʿil is part of the fiʿl. 14 This remains, indeed, the common analysis of modern writers; but see Brockelmann (1908–1913, II:171) for the view that the subject nominal following the verb should be analyzed, rather, as an apposition to the pronominal subject contained in the verb (cf. Cohen 1970:224).


chapter two behave identically in this respect [= case marking]: the mafʿūl takes the raf ʿ case much like the fāʿil, because you do not engage the fiʿl with any other complement, but leave it empty for the mafʿūl, just as you do when the fiʿl is followed by a [full lexical] fāʿil”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 10).

Note that taʿdiya is here referred to in negative terms. Sībawayhi’s starting point in this case is the non-occurrence of taʿdiya. He indicates, however, that the fiʿl is made empty for the following constituent with which it is “engaged”. This constituent could be either a fāʿil or a mafʿūl of a passive verb (referred to by later grammarians as nāʾib al-fāʿil).15 The verb in such cases is considered “empty” ( fāriġ), in the sense that it does not contain any nominal element referring to the subject (in contrast to cases such as Zaydun d̠ahaba, where it does (see, e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 167). The “emptiness” hypothesis appears to be sound enough when the subject is masculine, whether singular, dual or plural: d̠ahaba Zaydun/ al-waladāni/al-ʾawlādu (“Zayd/the (two) children went”). But it could be challenged by cases such as qāmat Hindun (“Hind stood up”), where the subject is feminine. The grammarians’ argument is that the suffix -t in qāmat should not be analyzed as a referential pronoun, but rather as a feminine marker (tāʾ al-taʾnīt̠), signalling agreement in gender between the verb and the following subject.16 By the same token the claim was made that in sentences such as kataba Zaydun, kataba contains no pronoun but a ḥ arf implementing the function of gender-agreement marker.17 Addressing the question of constituent order in verbal sentences, Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 72–73) associates the position of the fāʿil with the concept of bināʾ (1.2). He presents the fā‘il as:

15 Citing Ibn al-ʾAnbārī, Suleiman (1999:121, 123) states that “the rafʿ case of the nāʾib al-fāʿil stems from the fact that, like the fāʿil, it stands in relationship of ʾisnād (predication) to the verb.” 16 In contrast to qumtu, where the suffix -tu is considered a nominal element. Owens (1989:220) cites Mubarrad’s (Muqtaḍab IV, 248) statement that -tu in qumtu fills the same position as Zaydun in qāma Zaydun. 17 Ibn Ya‘īš (Šarḥ I, 88) maintains that in sentences of the type under discussion the fiʿl must not contain a referential pronoun (ḍamīr), since it cannot assign the raf ʿ case to two subjects (lā yarfaʿu fāʿilayni—cf. Levin 1989:47–48). Similarly, in such uncanonical cases as qāmū l-Zaydūna (normally referred to as manifesting luġat ʾakalūnī l-barāġīt̠—for a detailed discussion, see Levin 1989), al-Zaydūna is analyzed as fā‘il, whereas the ending ū is presented as a (non-referential) ḥ arf (for discussion and references, see Levin 1989, as well as Levin 1985a:119–121, esp. n. 21; cf. also Ibn Ya‘īš al-Ṣan‘ānī [d. 1282], Tahd̠īb, 105–106).

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


al-ismu [. . .] llad̠ī banaytahu ʿalā l-fiʿli llad̠ī buniya li-l-fāʿili (“the noun that you build upon the verb which is built for the fāʿil”—Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 72).

Ibn al-Sarrāj emphasizes the pre-fāʿil position of the verb, indicating further that his phrase banaytahu ʿalā l-fiʿli llad̠ī buniya li-l-fāʿil18 should be understood as referring specifically to the placement of the verb before the nominal ( fāʿil); for in cases where the verb is placed after the nominal subject (where the verb is built upon the noun), the latter is assigned the raf ʿ case by the ibtidāʾ (rather than by the verb, and as such it implements the function of mubtadaʾ rather than fāʿil). Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 75) states that the fāʿil should in principle precede the fiʿl, since the performer of the action logically precedes the action itself, and this should appropriately be reflected in the order of the constituents signalling the actor and the action.19 Similarly, ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 229) argues that the fāʿil, being analogous to the mubtadaʾ, should, in principle, precede the verb, which is analogous to the xabar. For an explanation of the VS order, both grammarians resort to the theory of ʿamal, claiming that the verb, as an ʿāmil, should precede the fāʿil (the maʿmūl). ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 230) further explains that the verb in a jumla fiʿliyya precedes the fāʿil because the verb, as a rule, requires a noun for the formation of a complete sentence, whereas a noun does not require a verb for the same purpose. Placing the fāʿil after the verb is thus designed to signal that the “deficient is completed by the complete” (tatmīm al-nāqiṣ bi-l-kāmil). Furthermore, when the verb precedes the subject, the sentence is identified, from its very beginning, as a jumla fiʿliyya; if the fāʿil preceded the verb, the addressee would not be able to determine the type of sentence from the initial noun, since the latter could be followed by another noun to complete the sentence. The grammarians took great pains to refute the idea of a reverse order in which the fāʿil precedes the fiʿl. In his ʾAsrār (pp. 83–84) Ibn al-ʾAnbārī adduces the following evidence: 1. In a sentence containing a fāʿil, that fāʿil may not be replaced by another (that is, by a noun 18 The passive verb is referred to by Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 73) as al-fiʿl allad̠ī buniya li-l-mafʿūl (cf. above). 19 Dahlgren (1998:107) cites a similar approach based on the principle of iconicity in syntax: Sentence constituents are ordered so as to reflect the order of the stages of an event. The subject, signalling the initiator of the action should, accordingly, come first, and then be followed by the verb signalling the action that affects the receiver. The latter is represented by the object which should appropriately occur in post-verbal position.


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phrase with a different referent). If qāma Zaydun could alternate with Zaydun qāma, then a sentence like Zaydun qāma ʾaxūhu (“Zayd, his brother stood up”) would be disallowed (since Zayd and the fāʿil of qāma, i.e. ʾaxūhu, are disjoint in reference). The fact that Zaydun qāma ʾaxūhu is admissible indicates that Zayd in Zaydun qāma is assigned the rafʿ case not by the verb but by the ibtidāʾ, and may not therefore be analyzed as fāʿil. 2. qāma Zaydun and Zaydun qāma exhibit two different kinds of agreement. This becomes evident when Zayd is replaced by al-Zaydāni or al-Zaydūna. Qāma l-Zaydāni/qāma l-Zaydūna is opposed to al-Zaydāni qāmā and al-Zaydūna qāmū, the latter exhibiting full number-gender agreement between the subject in initial position and the verb following it. For Ibn al-ʾAnbārī this is another proof that Zaydun in Zaydun qāma receives its rafʿ case from the ibtidāʾ and not from the verb, which rules out analyzing it as fāʿil. Notice that for Ibn al-ʾAnbārī, qāma Zaydun and Zaydun qāma represent two different kinds of construction, since each of them exhibits a different ʿāmil assigning the rafʿ case to Zayd. And this, in turn, is tantamount to claiming that the two represent two different sentence types.20 See also 3.3.1 below. We have already indicated (2.2.3, 2.2.4 above) the medieval grammarians’ preference for the subject ( fāʿil) to precede the object (mafʿūl). It is normally stated that between VSO and VOS, the former is the basic version whereas the latter only occurs under specified conditions. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 330–331) went as far as asserting that a VOS sentence unmotivated by the principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām (2.4.1 below) is unacceptable. We have seen that in his discussion of transitivity (taʿdiya) in cases such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, Sībawayhi referred to the VSO order as representing ḥ add al-lafẓ (“the regular, basic, ‘unmarked’ form”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 11). Other grammarians (e.g. Fārisī, as quoted in Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 330) preferred a slightly different phrasing of the same principle, saying that the martaba of the fāʿil is to precede the maf ʿūl. The use of the word martaba in this connection is intended to convey the idea that the fāʿil in some way “enjoys” a higher rank in the sentence, relative to the maf ʿūl. In other words, VSO is presented by the grammarians as dominant over VOS. And, obviously, if the fāʿil must, in principle, follow the 20 There is evidence to suggest that some Kūfan grammarians allowed a fāʿil-fiʿl order. Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 159–161) indicates that, on this view, a sentence such as Zaydun qāma is the inverted version of qāma Zaydun. In other words, the latter is the taqdīr of the former. For discussion, see Owens 1990:23f.; cf. ʿAbdul-Raof 2001:100.

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


verb and precede the object, it follows that cases where it follows the object represent a secondary ( farʿ) structure, resulting from taqdīm wa-taʾxīr (see 2.2 above). Later grammarians recognized two categories of taqdīm: A. They stipulated an obligatory preposing of the maf ʿūl to the fāʿil, associated with certain well defined structures. B. They associated preposing with some pragmatic-situational conditions.21 It was emphasized, however, that preposing the direct object to the subject could be implemented only when it did not lead to ambiguity (ʾiškāl). Thus, in a sentence such as ḍaraba Mūsā ʿĪsā (“Mūsā hit ʿĪsā”) Mūsā and ʿĪsā must be analyzed as the subject and object respectively, because, unlike Zayd or ʿAmr, these two nouns do not take any case ending, which, as a disambiguating element, could allow subject-object permutation (see Bat ̣alyūsī Ḥ ulal, 97–98;22 and cf. Mohammad 1999:3–7, for a detailed discussion of cases where the subject and object are not phonologically marked for case). The following outline of obligatory and non-obligatory preposing of the object to the subject is based mainly on Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 97–99. As regards obligatory fronting, four cases are normally adduced. The first case is that of interrogative sentences introduced by interrogative nominals such as mā/man/ʾayy. The grammarians point out that the interrogative word must obligatorily be placed clause-initially, regardless of its syntactic function. Thus, in a sentence such as (1) mā ʾaradta? (“what did you want?”—Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 334; and cf. Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 98),

the constituent mā implements the function of direct object to the verb ʾaradta, yet it occurs sentence-initially, because as an interrogative word it can only be placed at the beginning of the sentence (ṣadr al-kalām). For further discussion of this issue, see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 334–336; and cf. p. 64 above. Some grammarians also illustrate this case by conditional nominals (al-ʾasmāʾ allatī yujāzā bihā) such

21 Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 98–99), however, lists eight cases where placing the object before the subject is the norm, without distinguishing between cases where this is grounded in formal restrictions, and others where it is motivated by pragmatic conditions. See below for details. 22 Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 97) criticizes Zajjājī for failing to state the rule that preposing the direct object to the subject is disallowed in cases where it leads to ambiguity.


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as man, behaving like interrogative nominals: man yaḍrib Zaydun ʾaḍrib (“whoever Zayd hits, I shall hit”—see Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 99).23 The “privilege” of the interrogative particle to occupy sentenceinitial position is often stated by the grammarians in semantic terms. ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 257) extends this rule to expressions of condition (cf. above), wish (tamannī) and proposing (ʿarḍ), arguing that all such expressions should occur sentence-initially since they affect the meaning of the sentence as a whole. The occurrence of an interrogative particle, for instance, at the beginning of the sentence signals that the sentence it introduces is a question. This would not be self-explanatory, so the argument goes, if the interrogative occurred in a different position in the sentence; the hearer/reader would not be sure as to the scope of the interrogative: is it the portion of the text preceding or following the interrogative expression that should be understood as a question.24 The second case is that of a pronominal direct object which must be attached to the verb, and therefore precede the subject: (2) ḍarabanī Zaydun (“Zayd hit me”—Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 99).

In Baṭalyūsī’s words, in such cases placing the subject before the object would result in detaching what should, by rule, be attached (infiṣāl mā ḥ ukmuhu l-ittiṣāl), i.e. the object pronoun. In the third case of obligatory subject-object permutation, placing the subject after the object is required by the rhyme, whether in rhymed prose or in poetry (see, e.g. Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 99). The fourth case of obligatory object preposing concerns the use of an anticipatory pronoun (Batạ lyūsī Ḥ ulal, 98; and cf. Fassi Fehri 1993:21–22; Majdi 1990:136–137), as in: (3) ḍaraba Zaydan ġulāmuhu (“Zayd was hit by his slave”).

The word order displayed by (3) is obligatory if Zayd and -hu in ġulāmuhu are identical in reference. Its obligatoriness stems from the need to avoid the situation in (3)a: ∗(3)a ḍaraba ġulāmuhui Zaydani (“Zaydi’s slave hit himi”),

23 For an elaborate discussion of sentences such as ʽalimtu ʾayyuhum fi l-dar (“I knew which of them was in the house”), see ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 259f. 24 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 257) also points out that if a nominal takes an interrogative or a conditional expression as a genitive complement, then that nominal, heading as it does a genitive construct, must occupy sentence-initial position: ġulāmu man qāma (“whose slave stood up?”).

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


where -hu is an anticipatory pronoun referring to Zaydan. It is not that cataphora (al-ʾiḍmār qabla l-d̠ikr) as such is totally excluded in medieval Arabic grammatical theory. An anticipatory pronoun is perfectly grammatical in cases such as (3)b ḍaraba ġulāmahui Zayduni (“Zaydi hit hisi slave”),

conceived by the grammarians as representing a secondary word-order pattern of a jumla fiʿliyya. They maintain that since (3)b can easily be rephrased as (3)c ḍaraba Zaydun ġulāmahu,

displaying the basic/intended (ʾaṣl/niyya) structure, the anticipatory pronoun in (3)b should be admitted as a lafẓ- rather than as a maʿnāfeature. In (3)a, by contrast, the anticipatory pronoun occurs in a sentence displaying already the basic word-order pattern of a jumla fiʿliyya ( fāʿil+maf ʿūl), and that is why this sentence is unacceptable. Indeed, the above suggests a conflict in medieval Arabic grammatical theory between the basic principle of word order stipulating that the fāʿil should precede the mafʿūl on the one hand, and the basic principle that a pronoun should be anaphoric rather than cataphoric, on the other. This issue is discussed in detail in Peled 1992b. (for a generativist’s critical review of the question, see Mohammad 1999:153–158.) I will, therefore, not pursue it any further in the present work. Some grammarians indicate that the object is obligatorily preposed to the subject when the latter is construed with the exceptive ʾillā, or, otherwise, modified by ʾinnamā. Thus, in the following two sentences the OS order is obligatory and may not be reversed: (4) mā ḍaraba Zaydan ʾillā ʿAmrun (“no one hit Zayd except ʿAmr”). (5) ʾinnamā ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAmrun (“only ʿAmr hit Zayd”).

Obviously, in such cases a reverse order would yield a different meaning to the sentence. For a detailed discussion, see Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 276f. Another interesting discussion of the position of the fāʿil and the maf ʿūl relative to the verb is provided by Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 276–278). He points to cases allowing for either taqdīm, taʾxīr or tawassuṭ (‘occurring in the middle’) of the object, and regards them all as ʾaṣl. All other cases, where the object obligatorily fills a specific position in the sentence, are viewed by him as resulting from ṭawāriʾ (‘intervening factors’). In the last analysis, however, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ


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(Basīṭ I, 276) agrees with the vast majority of grammarians that the post-subject (taʾxīr) position is the basic (ʾaṣl) position of the object in the sentence. 2.4

Pragmatic and textual aspects 2.4.1 Medieval grammarians

Having looked at cases where the patterns VOS/OVS are structurally obligatory, let us now turn to the more interesting cases where object preposing is pragmatically motivated. Taking up the issue of word order in sentences such as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, where the subject and the object are both (definite) proper nouns, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 11) maintains that subject-object is the preferred pattern, but that ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi, resulting from placing the object in pre-subject position—is equally grammatical. Sībawayhi explains that ʿAbdu-llāhi and Zaydan in the VOS variety take the same case endings as in the basic (VSO) construction, since, semantically, both sentences are identical. He recognizes, however, an extra-linguistic aspect in which the two sentences are demonstrably different; he is aware, that is, of the need to relate the sentence to the speech situation in which it is uttered. This is what modern linguists would refer to as the pragmatic aspect of word order. Sībawayhi, as in many other cases, does not elaborate the point. Yet, his differentiation between the syntactico-semantic aspect on the one hand, and the pragmatic aspect on the other—is unmistakable. Moreover, the following quotation representing Sībawayhi’s view regarding subject-object permutation may well be understood as a general statement delineating the pragmatic motivation behind wordorder patterns in general: ka-ʾannahum ʾinnamā yuqaddimūna llad̠ī bayānuhu ʾahammu lahum wahum bi-bayānihi ʾaʿnā wa-ʾin kānā jamīʿan yuhimmānihim wa-yaʿniyānihim (“It looks as though they prepose whatever they are more interested in and concerned to specify, although both [constituents] are of interest and importance to them”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 11).25

25 The same argument is offered by Sībawayhi when he explains the pragmatic considerations underlying the choice between ḍarabtu Zaydan and Zaydan ḍarabtu (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 31).

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


Sībawayhi makes reference to this principle in different places in the Kitāb where he deals with word order issues (see Kitāb I, 21, 31, 245). Later grammarians refer to it as the principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām. However, Sībawayhi’s laconic statement, as quoted above, left some unresolved questions for subsequent grammarians and modern scholars alike. For instance, what is the essence of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām; that is, by what criteria can the referent of the subject or the object be judged as “more important” or “more interesting”? To what extent is the given-new dichotomy relevant? And further, is the assumption of importance made with reference to the speaker or the hearer? Some medieval grammarians, as well as modern writers, took the above passage to mean simply that the constituent referring to the more important referent precedes the less important one (cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 330–331). But the more “important” is normally identified with the asserted, the “new” and the focus—as opposed to the presupposed, the “given” or the old information. The above interpretation then seems to be odd, since Sībawayhi evidently adhered to the principle that in unmarked cases the “given” precedes the “new”, and not the other way around (see, e.g. Kitāb I, 17; and cf. 1.5.2 above). Does the above passage from the Kitāb lend itself to a different interpretation? Did Sībawayhi intend to say that “they” prepose whatever is more important for them to clarify? If so, the preposed constituent is not in itself more important than the other one; rather, it signals what the speaker is anxious to clarify, while the following constituent, representing as it does the clarification itself, is indeed the more important, signalling the new information. These questions are crucial for a better understanding of Sībawayhi’s principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām, and the fact that they were left open gave rise to various interpretations by later grammarians invoking this principle when discussing word-order issues (for the principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām in ibtidāʾ sentences, see Chapter Three, n. 7; and cf. Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 147–148). In his chapter devoted to the auxiliary kāna, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 17) states that when the two nominals following kāna are definite and indefinite, it is the definite one that must obligatorily be assigned the raf ʿ case. He argues that these sentences are modeled on the ibtidāʾ construction, where it is the definite constituent representing the ‘given’, or the ‘more known’, information that normally begins the sentence (tabtadiʾu bi-l-ʾaʿraf ). The principle that the definite must precede the indefinite is not, however, applied by Sībawayhi to sentences starting


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with a transitive verb like ḍaraba. Thus, a sentence such as ḍaraba rajulun Zaydan (“a man hit Zayd”) is readily accepted by him on the ground that rajul and Zayd are disjoint in reference, unlike the two coreferring nominals in kāna sentences.26 Among the medieval Arab grammarians it was Jurjānī who, quoting Sībawayhi’s above statement regarding the VSO/VOS variations, elevated the concept of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām into a central linguistic principle governing word order in sentences of all types. In Dalāʾil al-ʾiʿjāz (pp. 107–108) he explains this principle as referring to the speaker’s assumptions as to what is of the utmost concern for the hearer in a given (extra-linguistic) situation. In his Kitāb al-muqtaṣid, a commentary on Fārisī’s grammar ʾĪḍāḥ , Jurjānī presents the placement of the object before the subject as an option whose realization must be based on al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām: the object may be placed prior to the subject only if it holds greater interest (here Jurjānī refers specifically to the addressee). Placing the object in pre-subject position where there is no special ʿināya in the object—is disallowed (lam yaḥ sun—Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 330–331). Subsequently, Jurjānī adduces the sentence ʾinnamā yaxšā llāha min ʿibādihi l-ʿulamāʾu (“From among His servants it is those who have knowledge that fear God”—Qurʾān 35.28), claiming that the motivation behind placing the object Allāh prior to the subject in this case is to teach the believers respect for God. In other words, the noun Allāh, signalling as it does the name of God, deserves more attention, and therefore, under the principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām, should precede the subject al-ʿulamāʾ.27 This kind of argument is echoed in Dahlgren’s

26 In Modern Standard Arabic, a definite object is normally preposed to an indefinite subject. This rule is discussed by Holes (1995:205–207), who indicates further that it applies also to cases of indirect objects. He rightly points out that such cases conform to the principle that new and heavier constituents follow given and lighter ones (cf. 1.5.2 above), and that such a highlighted indefinite subject can become the theme in the subsequent development of the narrative. Note, however, that Mohammad (1999:9) accepts sentences such as qābala rajulun al-walada, but remarks (p. 10, n. 9) that “in MSA there seems to be a preference for VOS when the subject is indefinite”. 27 Similarly, Bat ̣alyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 98) stipulates that subject-object permutation is in order where the direct object refers to a person higher in rank (ʾajall) than the person referred to by the subject. He illustrates this principle by the sentence: šatama l-xalīfata l-sufahāʾu (“the caliph was vilified by the insolent people”). Interestingly enough, Bat ̣alyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 98–99) draws a distinction between cases like these, and others where permutation is motivated by a greater interest (ʿināya), on the part of the addressee, in the referent of the object, in comparison to the referent of the subject: ḍaraba ʾaxī Zaydun (“my brother was hit by Zayd”). Note, however, that the formal rule of cataphora (cf. 2.3

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


study of word order in the Qurʾān (2001:25–26). He reports, with reference to the distribution of SV as opposed to VS, that “with increasing importance of the subject, due to its might and ability to have an impact on the lives of ordinary human beings, more instances with SV order are to be expected”. Subsequently he demonstrates (2001:32–33) that in negative sentences the rate of SV order is markedly higher where the subject is Allāh, compared to other cases with a definite subject. According to Dahlgren, one of the reasons for this “is undoubtedly the higher topicality of Allāhu, due to its importance and awesomeness, compared to other definite nouns”. However, this is not how the matter is viewed by some Qurʾān commentators. Bayḍāwī (Tafsīr), for instance, states that placing the object before the subject in the above verse is designed to narrow down the reference of the fāʿil (ḥ aṣr al-fāʿiliyya), that is, to restrict the quality of fearing God to those who really know Allāh. This is obviously consistent with the function of ʾinnamā, whose restrictive effect applies, as a rule, to the last constituent in the sentence. Moreover, the word order displayed in the Qurʾānic sentence at issue conforms to the given-new principle (see above). Evidently, then, Jurjānī’s conception of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām is incompatible with the given-new principle, to which, as we have indicated, reference is made already in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb. In our case, one can hardly accept an analysis by which Allāh is the focus of the sentence. Rather, the valid analysis seems to be that of the commentators, based as it is on the given-new principle of information structure. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 229) treats ʿAbda-llāhi ḍarabtu and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍarabtuhu as two cases of fronting (cf. 3.3.1 below; Dalāʾil, 106–107). Most of the grammarians, however, draw a clear-cut distinction between the two, emphasizing that the latter is a case of ibtidāʾ (which will be dealt with in Chapter Three). Presenting Zaydan raʾaytu as the reversed version of raʾaytu Zaydan (and not as a case of ibtidāʾ) obviously stems from the fact that Zaydan in both cases takes the naṣb case. Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 31) states that the two sentences share the same bināʾ: in both cases the noun is “built upon” (mabnī ʿalā) the verb. And this may be interpreted as classifying the two as representing the same sentence

above) overrides the above functional rule: In the Qurʾānic sentence ibtalā ʾIbrāhīma rabbuhu (Qurʾān 2.124—“his Lord tested Abraham”), VSO is inadmissible despite the fact that rabbuhu is more “important” than Abraham.


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type. As far as the functional aspect is concerned, Sībawayhi points out that Zaydan ḍarabtu is analogous to sentences such as ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi displaying a pragmatically motivated object preposing. 2.4.2 Modern writers As could be expected, the attention given to the functional aspects of word order by modern linguists and Arabists by far outweighs that of the medieval grammarians (with the exception of Jurjānī). By and large, modern writers adhere to the principle that given information precedes new information (see, e.g. Khan 1988:53; Holes 1995:203). But, cases have been shown to suggest that there are exceptions (see, e.g. Dahlgren 1998:34). Turning for a moment to non-Arabist research into the subject of word order, it has recently been shown that there is a tendency for more “newsworthy” sentence constituents to precede less newsworthy constituents. In some native American and Australian languages examined by Mithun (1992:46), the subject reportedly appears more often toward the end of the clause than at the beginning. Significantly, the order of constituents in these languages is described by Mithun as wholly determined by pragmatic considerations. And the typical occurrence of the subject toward the end of the clause in such languages is an indication, she claims, “that subjects are typically the least newsworthy (p. 60)”. To support this claim, she refers to statistical studies by Givón (1979:51) from which he deduced that “in human language in context, the subject is overwhelmingly definite”. Definiteness is traditionally described as signalling given rather than new (or “newsworthy”) information. By contrast, the direct object in the above languages shows a marked tendency to appear near the beginning of the clause. This indicates, according to Mithun (1992:46), “that objects are more often used to convey newsworthy information”. Again she refers to Givón (1979:52) who described the direct object as “the major avenue for introducing new referential arguments into discourse”. As is shown by our discussion in 2.3, Written Arabic is by no means a “pragmatically based system” in the sense of Mithun (1992:46), and it is hardly surprising that most of her findings are inapplicable to Arabic texts. However, the formal rules of word order in Arabic leave a wide range of cases where the choice between VSO, VOS and OVS is determined by pragmatic considerations, as we saw in section 2.4.1. Indeed, modern

type-1 sentences: verb+subject


functional discussions go far beyond the given-new principle. General linguists and Arabists alike have noticed a remarkable correlation existing between the type of constituent order used by a writer and the type of text at hand. Dahlgren (1998:209) has shown that in Classical Arabic, much like in the modern dialects, “narrative discourse has VSO as basic word order, whereas dialogue has preference for SV order” (cf. Payne 1992:9). Regarding the function of adverbial complements, Holes (1995:208) indicates that where there are more than one complement in the sentence, the sentence is often introduced by an adverbial (typically a time adverbial) providing “a means of locating the main proposition in a contextual frame, or of assuring the semantic coherence of the text by making explicit the nature of the linkage between sentences or paragraphs.” The adverbial is then followed by the verb, and the position of the subject and the remaining constituent(s) is subject to the principles of information structure and end-weighting that have already been outlined (1.5.2 above). Khan (1988:58–62) provides a thorough and illuminating discussion of the various functions of the OV word order in Classical Arabic.28 In most of the cases the object is shown to be “the focus of a contrastive assertion (p. 58)”. Khan indicates that such constructions as mā Zaydan ḍarabtu (“it is not Zayd that I hit”) and ʾa-Zaydan taḍribu (“is it Zayd that you hit?”) are used to signal that only the object (to the exclusion of the verb) falls within the scope of the negative/interrogative particle. He also points out, regarding the affirmative and negative cases, that such constructions may be used in order to “correct or forestall a possible misapprehension on the part of the hearer/reader with regard to the identity of the patient of the action”29 (Khan 1988:58–59, and note his references to Jurjānī’s Dalāʾil; for further interesting cases, see Khan 1988:60–62).

28 Badawi et al. (2004:346) adduce some modern examples of OV (e.g. ġayraka lā ʾuḥ ibbu—“none but you I love”), noting that in Modern Standard Arabic this particular pattern is rare and normally restricted to highly rhetorical contexts. 29 Bakir (1979:12) adduces the sentence ištarā kitāban Muḥ ammadun (“it is a book that Muḥ ammad bought”), claiming that it is used as a corrective response to ištarā Muḥ ammadun sāʿatan (“Muḥ ammad bought a watch”). As can be seen, in his example an indefinite object precedes a definite subject, which renders this sentence grammatically dubious. Equally dubious is the sentence kitāban ištarā Muḥ ammadun (with an indefinite object in sentence-initial position), adduced by Bakir (1979:34) in an attempt to draw a functional distinction between OVS and VOS.


chapter two 2.5 Summary

We have seen that the grammarians regarded VSO as ‘basic’ compared to VOS and OVS. But that does not mean that they considered Arabic as a VSO language; nor does it follow that VOS and OVS were viewed as derived from VSO by a movement transformation in the Chomskian sense. The terms taqdīm and taʾxīr were normally used in the sense of ‘placing before’ and ‘placing after’ respectively. When dealing with taqdīm wa-taʾxīr, the grammarians pointed both to cases where VOS/OVS are obligatory under certain formal grammatical rules, and to others where these particular word-order patterns are pragmatically motivated. Sībawayhi’s principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām figures prominently in the writings of later grammarians. Yet, what exactly is meant by this phrase remains a question that cannot, at this point, be answered with certainty. The alternation VSO-VOS/OVS in Written Arabic has been dealt with by some modern writers, notably Khan (1988), Holes (1995) and Dahlgren (1998, 2001). What emerges from their studies is that the choice between VSO and VOS is normally determined by the givennew, as well as by the end-weighting principles, and that the object in the OVS pattern in most cases implements the function of a contrastive focus. The medieval principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām is applicable to either OVS or VOS, depending on how it is interpreted. As a principle of focussing it can explain OVS. But VOS, in contrast, is normally used when the object signals the ‘given’ and the subject the ‘new’. And that is incompatible with al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām as a principle of focussing or ‘newsworthiness’. We suggested that Sībawayhi’s ʾinnamā yuqaddimūna llad̠ī bayānuhu ʾahammu lahum wa-hum bi-bayānihi ʾaʿnā could be understood as “they prepose whatever is more important for them to clarify”. This interpretation is compatible with the given-new principle and could thus explain the VOS word-order pattern. It is, however, incompatible with focussing and is therefore inapplicable to OVS. The evidence suggests that the grammarians were familiar both with the concept of focussing and the principle of information structure stipulating that the ‘given’ must precede the ‘new’. Yet the principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām was never unambiguously associated with either of the two to the exclusion of the other.



Types of xabar: an overview

From the outset, the grammarians appreciated that when the predicate follows its subject it can take different forms. In other words, the difference between certain sub-types of T2-sentences lies basically in the form of the xabar. In chapter 132 of the Kitāb, introducing the phenomenon of ibtidāʾ, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 239) discerns three types of predicate “built upon” the subject (mabnī ʿalayhi—cf. 1.2 above): 1. A nominal sharing the same referent with the subject (šayʾ huwa huwa); 2. An adverbial of place; 3. An adverbial of time. In chapter 24 (Kitāb I, 31) he deals with cases such as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu (“Zayd, I hit him”), where it is a verb that is “built upon” the noun; he regards these cases as analogous to cases displaying a type-1 xabar (Zaydun munṭaliqun—“Zayd is leaving”), but emphasizes that a transitive verb in xabar position must display an attached object pronoun coreferring with the mubtadaʾ. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 62–64) follows Sībawayhi to the extent that he draws a major distinction between cases where the xabar and the mubtadaʾ are identical in reference (huwa [= the xabar] l-ʾawwal [= the mubtadaʾ] fī l-maʿnā) and others where they are not. The first category includes such cases as Zaydun ʾaxūka (“Zayd is your brother”) and Zaydun munṭaliqun. The xabar in cases of the second category is presented as either a finite verb (Zaydun yaqūmu—“Zayd is standing”) or a clause (Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, Zaydun ʾabūhu munṭaliqun—“Zayd, his father is leaving”). In such cases, Ibn al-Sarrāj maintains, a resumptive pronoun is obligatory. Sentences with an adverbial xabar are regarded by him as special cases of the first category, that is, the (underlying) xabar is conceived of as a nominal (mustaqirr—“located”) coreferring with the mubtadaʾ. This nominal is, however, deleted and replaced by an adverbial: Zaydun xalfaka (“Zayd is behind you”) is derived from Zaydun mustaqirrun xalfaka. The constituent mustaqirrun is deleted since it can be easily retrieved from the adverbial. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 65) concludes his discussion, indicating four types of xabar: ism


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(nominal), fiʿl (verb), ẓarf (adverbial) and jumla (clause, whether verbal or nominal). Zajjājī (Jumal, 36–37) draws a distinction between four types of xabar: 1. A nominal xabar coreferring with the mubtadaʾ (e.g. Zaydun qāʾimun—“Zayd is standing”, Muḥ ammadun nabiyyunā—“Muḥammad is our prophet”). 2. A finite verb and its complements (e.g. Zaydun xaraja ʾabūhu—“Zayd his father went out”, ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾakrama ʾaxāka—“ ʿAbdullāh honoured your brother”). 3. An adverbial xabar (e.g. Muḥ ammadun fī l-dār—“Muḥ ammad is in the house”). 4. A clausal ( jumla) xabar (e.g. Zaydun ʾabūhu qāʾimun—“Zayd his father is standing”). A striking similarity between Zajjājī’s classification and that of Ibn al-Sarrāj is that both grammarians draw a general distinction between a verbal and a clausal xabar. However, Ibn al-Sarrāj considers Zaydun yaqūmu but not Zaydun ḍarabtuhu as displaying a verbal xabar, apparently on the ground that only in the former case the subject of the verb corefers with the mubtadaʾ; the latter is a jumla containing an attached resumptive pronoun referring to the mubtadaʾ (cf. Goldenberg 1988:55). What both cases have in common is that their xabar, as such, is non-coreferential with the mubtadaʾ. In any case, Zajjājī, does not appear to attach special importance to the resumptive pronoun in his classification of xabar types. Note that for him, an adverbial xabar represents a xabar type in its own right (much as it does for Sībawayhi—see above); when presenting this type, he does not invoke a nominal (such as mustaqirrun), or a verb (such as yastaqirru—see 4.3.2 below) to account for the predicative relationship between the two constituents forming the sentence. Observe also that while in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s account a clausal xabar may display either a jumla fiʿliyya or a jumla ismiyya, in Zajjājī’s classification only the latter is referred to as a clausal xabar; in a sentence such as ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾakrama ʾaxāka, the xabar is presented as displaying a fiʿl wa-mā ttaṣala bihi min fāʿil wa-maf ʿūl (“a verb and its subject and object complements”).1 For further discussion of Ibn al-Sarrāj’s and Zajjājī’s distinction between a 1 Ibn al-Sarrāj’s and Zajjājī’s special positions as to what should be and what should not be considered as a clausal xabar, have already been observed by Goldenberg (1988:55–56). Goldenberg (p. 56, n. 53) cites Baṭalyūsī’s sharp criticism directed at Zajjājī’s classification. According to Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 150), the verb with its complements constitute a jumla, and should not, therefore, be considered as a xabar type in its own right. Furthermore, Goldenberg (1988:56) indicates that in a different location (Zajjājī ʾĪḍāḥ , 120) the combination fiʿl+fāʿil is explicitly presented by Zajjājī himself as jumla.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


verbal and a clausal xabar, and its implications for the rules of inversion, see 3.5 below. Turning now to Zamaxšarī and Ibn Yaʿīš, two prominent grammarians of a later period, we can see that their major distinction is between a single-phrased (mufrad—see 3.3.1 below) nominal xabar on the one hand, and a clausal xabar on the other. The single-phrased nominal xabar is further divided into two types: a nominal containing a resumptive pronoun referring to the mubtadaʾ, and a nominal devoid of such a pronoun. It should be noted that in Zamaxšarī’s and Ibn Yaʿīš’s (Šarḥ I, 87) view, virtually any nominal, apart from a pure substantive such as ʾax (“brother”), ġulām (“slave”) etc., is derived from a verb, and as such, when occupying a xabar position, incorporates a pronoun coreferring with the mubtadaʾ and implementing the function of subject (musnad ʾilayhi) to that nominal.2 Regarding the clausal xabar, Zamaxšarī (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 88) advocated a division into four types of jumla: fiʿliyya, ismiyya, šarṭiyya (a conditional sentence)3 and ẓarfiyya. This division was attributed by Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 88) to ʾAbū ʿAlī l-Fārisī (cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 273–274, quoting Fārisī’s division) and rejected by him on the ground that these four types of clause were reducible to two main types, jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya, since the protasis and the apodosis of a conditional sentence, as well as the jumla ẓarfiyya, actually display the properties of a jumla fiʿliyya.4 I return to this in 3.3.1 below.

2 This applies, first and foremost, to the active participle. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 70) emphasizes that an active participle in xabar position, coreferring with the mubtadaʾ, contains an implicit resumptive pronoun referring to the mubtadaʾ and implementing the function of fāʿil to the participle. Thus, in ʿAmrun qāʾimun (“ ʿAmr is standing”), the participle qāʾimun contains an implicit pronoun referring to ʿAmrun (cf. Goldenberg 1988:55, n. 49, who rightly observes that qāʾimun in such cases is regarded by Ibn al-Sarrāj as identical in reference to ʿAmrun, whereas yaqūmu, as a verb, is conceived of as distinct from the mubtadaʾ, but as containing a resumptive pronoun coreferring with it). Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 87) extends this argument to other adjectival phrases such as the passive participle as well as to non-participial adjectives such as ḥ asan (“nice”) and xayrun (min) (“better than”). Cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s (Šarḥ I, 350) distinction between a derived (muštaqq) nominal and a primitive ( jāmid) nominal with no “verb flavour” (lā rāʾiḥ a li-l-fiʿl fīhi); and cf. Carter 1995:30, and his references. For an illuminating discussion of the medieval grammarians’ view of sentences such as Zaydun qāʾimun, as opposed to Zaydun ʾinsānun (“Zayd is a person”) (and qāma Zaydun—“Zayd stood up”), see Weiss 1985:617ff. 3 Another grammarian who considered a jumla murakkaba min šarṭ wa-jazāʾ (“a sentence/clause consisting of a protasis and an apodosis”) as a special type of clausal xabar is Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 150). 4 A similar argument is advanced by Jurjānī, Fārisī’s commentator in Muqtaṣid I, 274–278. Jurjānī, though, seems to refrain from an outright rejection of the division into


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To round off this overview, figure 2 illustrates the positions of Sībawayhi, Ibn al-Sarrāj, Zajjājī and Ibn Yaʿīš regarding the types of xabar that may follow the mubtadaʾ: (1) Sībawayhi xabar say’ huwa huwa


fiʿl mabnī ʿalā l-ism


(2) Ibn al-Sarrāj xabar huwa l-’awwal fī l-maʿnā

huwa ġayr al-’awwal fī l-maʿnā

nominal ẓarf fiʿl jumla (substantive/adjective/participle) (nominal deleted) (e.g. yaqūmu) (e.g. ḍarabtuhu)

(3) Zajjājī xabar ism huwa huwa

fiʿl wa-ma ttṣala bihi


jumla (ismiyya)

(4) Ibn Yaʿīš xabar mufrad

jumla (resumptive pronoun)

substantive any other nominal (no resumptive pronoun) (resumptive pronoun) yaqūmu



ḍarabtuhu fi l-dār ʾin yaqum ʾaqum (jumla ẓarfiyya) (jumla šartị yya)

Figure 2

four xabar types. Rather, he argues that the four-type division is justified by the surface structure: a double-claused conditional sentence is different—in surface structure—from either a verbal or a nominal clause filling the xabar position. And similarly, since an adverbial in xabar position occurs without any preceding verb, it may be analyzed as the actual xabar of the preceding mubtadaʾ, and on that count defined as a clause type in its own right. Jurjānī’s conclusion, however, is that, in principle ( fī l-ʾaṣl) the basic binary division into jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya still holds, because in the final analysis both the conditional and the adverbial xabar represent special cases of the fiʿl+fāʿil construction.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


The following sections deal with three sub-types of T2-sentences. The discussion is based on a distinction between three types of predicate: 1. A nominal predicate, 2. An adverbial predicate, 3. A clausal predicate. Each sub-type will be examined both with reference to the medieval grammarians and from a modern viewpoint. 3.2

Verbless sentence versus single-phrased xabar

One typical feature in modern linguistic (particularly Greenbergianoriented) research into Arabic syntax is that structures such as Zaydun munṭaliqun and fī l-dāri rajulun (“there is a man in the house”) occupy a distinctly marginal position. Obviously this is not surprising, given that these two model sentences are verbless, whereas modern typological research into word order is markedly verb-oriented. Modern scholars typically refer to these two types as “equative” sentences, often excluding them from consideration (see e.g. Abdul-Raof 1998:22, 29, for a discussion of this concept). In the present work, sentences such as fī l-dāri rajulun will be discussed in detail in Chapter Four. In this section I would like to concentrate on the Zaydun munṭaliqun type. For the medieval Arab grammarians, as we shall see in more detail in the next section, the model sentence Zaydun munṭaliqun represented the basic type of jumla ismiyya. It is stated throughout that when a sentence consists of two nominals, definite and indefinite, it is the definite one that should be assigned the function of mubtadaʾ whereas the indefinite nominal should be analyzed as xabar. This rule springs from the pragmatic principle that what is assumed to be known to the addressee, represented by the definite nominal, should precede what is assumed to be new, represented by the indefinite nominal (see, e.g. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 711; and cf. 2.4 above for the given-new principle as applied to T–1 sentences). In cases where both predicative constituents are definite, each may occupy either sentence initial- or final position, and analyzed respectively as either mubtadaʾ or xabar. A major controversy among the grammarians revolved round the assigner(s) of case to the two predicative constituents. The main theses were: (1) that the ibtidāʾ as an ʿāmil assigns the rafʿ case to both the mubtadaʾ (Zaydun) and the xabar (munṭaliqun), (2) that the ibtidāʾ assigns rafʿ only to the mubtadaʾ, which in turn assigns the same case to


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the xabar,5 (3) that the ibtidāʾ assigns rafʿ only to the mubtadaʾ, whereas the xabar receives its case from the ibtidāʾ and the mubtadaʾ jointly, and (4) the Kūfan thesis that the mubtadaʾ and the xabar mutually assign the raf ʿ case to each other.6 Ibn Yaʿīš’s position was that the ibtidāʾ should be held accountable for the rafʿ of both predicative constituents, but that while the mubtadaʾ is assigned the rafʿ case directly by the ibtidāʾ, the xabar is assigned its case indirectly through (bi-wāsiṭat) the mubtadaʾ (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 84; and cf. 1.3 above; for an elaborate discussion of this issue, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 355–357).7 The subject of case assignment appears to have occupied in recent years a central position in modern linguistics. Elaborate discussions have been developed dealing with case assignment in English, a language where only pronouns are inflected for case. However, since, as I have indicated earlier, the kind of sentence at issue here is by and large neglected in modern linguistic research, it is hardly surprising that case assignment in Arabic sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun has not been given due attention by modern linguists. Nor have other structural aspects of this kind of sentence, including word order, attracted any special attention. But the medieval Arabic grammatical literature does tackle some important issues relating to this structure. Among these, perhaps the most relevant to our discussion is the possibility of reversing the order of mubtadaʾ and xabar. This will be dealt with in 3.5 below.

5 This is Sībawayhi’s (Kitāb I, 239) position. For Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s arguments against it, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 357. 6 Farrā’s position (e.g. Maʿānī II, 255), however, was that in cases where the xabar contains a resumptive pronoun, it is this pronoun that assigns the raf ʿ case to the mubtadaʾ. Cf. Owens 1990:176. 7 Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 355) adduces an argument that ascribes to al-tahammum wa-l-iʿtināʾ (= al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām—see 2.4 above) the role of raf ʿ assigner to the mubtadaʾ. That is to say, you place the constituent that is most important to you at the beginning of the sentence, and that is what accounts for its raf ʿ case. Ibn ʿUṣfūr rejects this argument, claiming that al-tahammum, being a function (maʿnā), cannot exercise ʿamal. The position advocated by him (Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 357) is that the raf ʿ assigner in such cases is the absence (al-taʿarrī) of any formal ʿāmil, which amounts, indeed, to ascribing the assignment of raf ʿ to the ibtidāʾ.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate 3.3


SVO and left-dislocation versus clausal xabar 3.3.1

The concept of clausal xabar in the medieval grammarians’ writings

Consider the sentence Zaydun ḍarabtuhu (“Zayd, I hit him”). For most modern linguists this is a typical case of the kind of transformation variously referred to as extraposition, topicalization or left-dislocation.8 Zaydun is presented as a direct object in the (underlying) T1-sentence ḍarabtu Zaydan, that undergoes the process of topicalization. This process is invariably described (see, e.g. Bakir 1979:218) as moving a constituent, in this case the direct object, into sentence-initial position, assigning it the nominative case as topic and placing a resumptive pronoun in the position from which the topicalized constituent had been moved (in our case, it is the pronominal suffix -hu in ḍarabtuhu that fills that function). A similar view is advanced by Jurjānī (Dalāʾil, 106–107). This grammarian draws a distinction between cases where preposing (taqdīm) a constituent involves a change in that constituent’s grammatical status, and others where it doesn’t (cf. 2.2.4 above). Thus, in munṭaliqun Zaydun and ḍaraba ʿAmran Zaydun, the preposed munṭaliqun and ʿAmran retain their respective grammatical functions as xabar and mafʿūl, as well as their respective raf ʿ and naṣb cases. Contrasting such cases with those where preposing results in a change in grammatical status, Jurjānī then adduces the pair of sentences ḍarabtu Zaydan and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu. Relating the latter to the former, he argues as follows: lam tuqaddim Zaydan ʿalā ʾan yakūna mafʿūlan manṣūban bi-l-fiʿli kamā kāna wa-lākin ʿalā ʾan tarfaʿahu bi-l-ibtidāʾi wa-tašġala l-fiʿla bi-ḍamīrihi wa-tajʿalahu fī mawḍiʿi l-xabari lahu (“When you prepose Zaydan, it does not remain an object assigned the naṣb case by the verb, as it is [in ḍarabtu Zaydan]. Rather, [preposing in this case results] in the preposed constituent taking the rafʿ case effected by the ibtidāʾ. The verb exercises its grammatical effect upon the pronoun attached to it, and assumes the position of xabar to [the preposed constituent]”—Jurjānī Dalāʾil, 107).9

8 Anshen & Schreiber (1968:795) use the rather misleading term “focus transformation” (cf. 1.5.2 above). Reckendorf (1921:366ff.) describes this phenomenon as “isolation of the natural subject” which he views as a kind of anacoluthon. Cf. Cantarino 1975, II:455ff. 9 Referring to Sībawayhi’s discussion of Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, Jurjānī (Dalāʾil, 131) argues that Sībawayhi viewed this construction as a case of preposing (quddima) a maf ʿūl. But in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb (I, 31; and cf. 222) this construction is by no means


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In Muqtaṣid (I, 229), Jurjānī outlines three stages in transforming ḍarabtu ʿAbda-llāhi into ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍarabtuhu, and a total of five possible constructions for conveying the meaning “I hit ʿAbdullāh”. This is how he presents the process of transformation: iʿlam ʾanna l-ʾaṣla qawluka ḍarabtu ʿAbda-llāhi t̠umma yuʾaxxaru l-fiʿlu ʿan-i l-maf ʿūli fa-yuqālu ʿAbda-llāhi ḍ arabtu t̠umma yuʿaddā l-fiʿlu ʾilā ḍ amīri l-ismi wa-yurfaʿu huwa bi-l-ibtidāʾi fa-yuqālu ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍ arabtuhu (“You should know that the basic [structure] is ḍ arabtu ʿAbda-llāhi, then the verb is postposed so as to follow the object, to yield ʿAbda-llāhi ḍarabtu, then the verb takes as its object a pronoun referring to the object noun, and the latter is assigned the raf ʿ case by the ibtidāʾ, with the resulting sentence being ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍarabtuhu”—Jurjānī Muqtaṣid, 229).

The sentence ḍarabtu ʿAbda-llāhi is considered by Jurjānī as the basic (ʾaṣl) structure and the highest in rank (al-martaba l-ʾūlā). In such a sentence one may prepose the mafʿūl to the verb, to yield ʿAbda-llāhi ḍarabtu. In this second stage ʿAbda-llāhi is still operated upon by the verb, hence its naṣb case ending ([al-martaba] l-t̠āniya). In the third and final stage, the verb takes a pronominal object (tuʿaddīhi ʾilā ḍamīrihi) referring to ʿAbdu-llāhi. The latter is assigned the raf ʿ case by the ibtidāʾ. The word t̠umma, occurring twice in the above excerpt, suggests that Jurjānī thinks here in terms of transformational rules applied consecutively to the basic structure ḍarabtu Zaydan (cf. 2.2.4 above). The resulting sentence ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍarabtuhu ([al-martaba] l-t̠ālit̠a) is viewed by him as analogous to ʿAbdu-llāhi maḍrūbun (“ ʿAbdullāh is hit”): in both cases ʿAbdu-llāhi is analyzed as a mubtadaʾ followed by a xabar. Jurjānī explains that once the third rule is applied, ʿAbdullāhi must take the rafʿ case, because the verb cannot assign the naṣb case twice (lā yaʿmalu marratayni). The fourth option is ʿAbda-llāhi ḍarabtuhu, where ʿAbda-llāhi is assigned the naṣb case by the verb ḍarabtu, preceding ʿAbda-llāhi in the underlying structure (ʾiḍmār fiʿl). For this construction, which is considered by Jurjānī as the lowest in rank (ʾaqallu l-marātib), see 3.4.3 below.10

presented as a case of taqdīm, definitely not in the sense of movement transformation (see below; and cf. 2.2.3 above). 10 Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 230) mentions ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍarabtu as another option, with an underlying (taqdīr) object pronoun attached to the verb. He adduces a verse displaying this construction, but describes it as ḍaʿīf (“weak”).

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


For Jurjānī, then, Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is derived by taqdīm from ḍarabtu Zaydan, with certain grammatical rules applied in the process.11 One may thus interpret his approach in terms of the modern concept of extraposition. Similarly, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 756) presents Zaydun ḍarabtuhu as a sentence whose ʾaṣl is ḍarabtu Zaydan: The former is derived from the latter by applying taqdīm to Zayd and assigning ḍarabtuhu the function of xabar to Zayd (ʾaxbarta ʿanhu).12 Indeed, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ goes even further to claim that ḍarabtuhu, occupying a xabar position ( fī mawḍiʿi xabarihi), is not a real musnad, in the sense that it can function as an independent sentence, whereas a real predicate (musnad) cannot. For illustration he cites the sentences Zaydun hal ḍarabtahu (“Zayd, did you hit him?”) and Zaydun iḍribhu (“Zayd, hit him!”). He argues that in such cases it is not only that the interrogative clause has the value of an independent sentence (mustaqillun bi-l-ʾifāda dūna Zaydin), unlike ḍarabtuhu in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, the interrogative (and imperative) clauses in the above sentences, cannot be replaced by a phrasal (mufrad) predicate, which is the basic (ʾaṣl) xabar form (see below). For further discussion see, Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 52–53, Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 346–347; and cf. Goldenberg (1988:50), quoting a less powerful argument made by the grammarians to the effect that a sentence with a non-declarative predicate is a case of ʾisnād but not of ʾixbār (and cf. Chapter One, n. 15 above). However, the vast majority of grammarians approach sentences such as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu in a radically different way. For them, this sentence is not the output of converting one type of sentence into another, say a jumla fiʿliyya into a jumla ismiyya. No mention is made of any transformation involved in the production of this kind of sentence.13 Sentences such as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu are, by and large, presented as a

11 Similarly, Jurjānī (Dalāʾil, 106–107) regards al-munṭaliqu Zaydun (“the one leaving is Zayd”) as a sentence derived from Zaydun al-munṭaliqu by applying taqdīm to al-munṭaliqu. As a result of taqdīm, the latter assumes the function of mubtadaʾ, rather than xabar, the function it implements in Zaydun al-munṭaliqu. The case of the preposed constituent remains, however, the same. 12 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 756) deals with this matter within the framework of his discussion of ḍamīr al-šaʾn. He argues that both constructions are designed for emphasis (taʿẓīm al-xabar wa-taḥ qīquhu): In Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, Zayd occurs twice, as a noun (ẓāhir) and as a pronoun (muḍmar), which renders the sentence more emphatic than ḍarabtu Zaydan. For further discussion, see 5.6.1 below. 13 Cf. Carter (2002:89), who asserts that sentences such as Zaydun māta ʾabūhu (“Zayd his father died”) are treated as cases of left-dislocation only by modern linguists, never by the medieval grammarians. For further discussion, see 3.3.2 below.


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special case of mubtadaʾ+xabar construction in which the xabar is a clause rather than a single phrase (mufrad).14 It is easy to see how this type of analysis developed out of Sībawayhi’s approach. In Sībawayhi’s Kitāb (I, 31; and cf. p. 222), Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is construed as a sentence in which the verb is “built upon the noun”. He states that ḍ arabtuhu has the same function as munṭaliqun in ʿAbdu-llāhi munṭaliqun. The analogy between the two cases suggests that Sībawayhi regarded sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun as representing the basic ibtidāʾ structure, whereas Zaydun ḍarabtuhu was conceived by him as a secondary construction where the position of the xabar is filled by a verb rather than by a nominal. Ibn al-Sarrāj, as we saw in 3.1 above, presented ḍarabtuhu in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu as a clausal xabar (I return to this structure in 3.4.3 below), but he did not apply the same analysis to Zaydun yaqūmu in which he regarded the predicate as a verb ( fiʿl) rather than as a clause ( jumla). For Zajjājī, as we have indicated (3.1 above), only a jumla ismiyya would qualify as a clausal xabar. This is what he had to say regarding sentences such as qāma Zaydun/l-Zaydāni/l-Zaydūna: wa-ʾinnamā qulta qāma wa-lam taqul qāmū wa-hum jamāʿatun li-anna l-fiʿla ʾid̠ā taqaddama l-ʾasmāʾa wuḥ ḥ ida wa-ʾid̠ā taʾaxxara t̠unniya wa-jummiʿa l-ḍamīru llad̠ī yakūnu fīhi (“you say qāma rather than qāmū, despite the fact that the following noun signals plurality, because the verb, when preceding the noun [= the subject], takes the singular form, whereas in cases where it follows [the subject] the pronoun implicit in it is used in the dual or the plural”—Zajjājī Jumal, 10).

As can be seen, Zajjājī does not explicitly present qāmū in al-Zaydūna qāmū as a clausal xabar (cf. 3.1 above). Significantly, however, he does point out that qāmā/qāmū, following the subject, contain a pronoun in the dual and plural respectively.15 14 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 535f.) discusses the grammarians’ usage of the term mufrad. He points out that, when discussing types of xabar, the grammarians use the term mufrad in the sense of mā laysa bi-jumla (“whatever is not a clause”). That is to say, the meaning of the term is not restricted to a single word. 15 Goldenberg (1988:64–67) offers an interesting discussion of the status of inflectional affixes such as qāmā and qāmū in medieval Arabic grammatical literature. He points out two approaches: one views these suffixes sometimes as pronouns and sometimes as agreement particles indicating number and gender; the proponents of the other approach regard these suffixes invariably as particles, never as pronouns (cf. Levin 1985a:119–120). Below we will see that it is common practice in medieval Arabic grammatical tradition to present yanṭaliqu Zaydun and al-Zaydūna yanṭaliqūna as two

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


By Zamaxšarī’s time, it had already been established that the xabar position (following a subject such as Zaydun) may be filled by a clause of various types, including yaqūmu and ḍarabtuhu. A second point emphasized, however, by the grammarians was the status of the clausal xabar as secondary to the single-phrased (mufrad) xabar. This basic/secondary (ʾaṣl/farʿ) relationship between Zaydun munṭaliqun and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is stated in Ibn Yaʿīš’s Šarḥ al-mufaṣsạ l in the clearest possible way: ʾiʿlam ʾanna l-jumlata takūnu xabaran li-l-mubtadaʾi kamā yakūnu lmufradu ʾillā ʾannahā ʾid̠ā waqaʿat xabaran kānat nāʾibatan ʿan-i l-mufradi wāqiʿatan mawqiʿahu wa-li-d̠ālika yuḥ kamu ʿalā mawḍiʿihā bi-l-raf ʿi ʿalā maʿnā ʾannahu law waqaʿa l-mufradu llad̠ī huwa l-ʾaṣlu mawqiʿahā la-kāna marfūʿan. wa-llad̠ī yadullu ʿalā ʾanna l-mufrada ʾaṣlun wa-l-jumlata farʿun ʿalayhi ʾamrāni ʾaḥ aduhumā ʾanna l-mufrada basīṭun wa-l-jumlata murakkabun wa-l-basīṭu ʾawwalu wa-l-murakkabu t̠ānin fa-ʾid̠ā staqalla l-maʿnā bi-l-ismi l-mufradi t̠umma waqaʿat-i l-jumlatu mawqiʿahu fa-l-ismu l-mufradu huwa l-ʾaṣlu wa-l-jumlatu farʿun ʿalayhi. wa-l-ʾamru l-t̠ānī ʾanna l-mubtadaʾa naẓīru l-fāʿili fī l-ʾixbāri ʿanhumā wa-l-xabaru fīhimā huwa l-juzʾu l-mustafādu fa-kamā ʾanna l-fiʿla mufradun fa-ka-d̠ālika xabaru l-mubtadaʾi mufradun (“You should know that a clause may function as xabar to a mubtadaʾ, much like a single phrase. However, when a clause fills a xabar position it actually replaces a single phrase, occupying its slot. It is for this reason that a clause like this is assigned the raf ʿ case, in the sense that if the xabar position were occupied by a single phrase, that phrase would take the rafʿ case. The argument that the single phrase [in xabar position] is basic and the clause is secondary is based on the following grounds: 1. The single phrase is simple and the clause is complex, and, [in principle], the simple comes first, and the complex second. If the meaning of a sentence can be independently conveyed by a single noun [in xabar position], and that noun is subsequently replaced by a clause [without affecting the meaning of the sentence], then the single noun is basic and the clause secondary. 2. The mubtadaʾ is analogous to the fāʿil in that both require a predicate which in both cases is the element carrying the communicative value of the sentence. And exactly as the verb is a single phrase, so the xabar of the mubtadaʾ is a single phrase

sentences displaying two different agreement patterns, in support of the argument that yanṭaliqu Zaydun and Zaydun yanṭaliqu represent two different types of ʿamal, hence two different sentence types. However, what I will argue later is that once one accepts that yanṭaliqu in Zaydun yanṭaliqu is a clausal xabar, the argument that Arabic has two different modes of subject-predicate agreement becomes irrelevant.


chapter three too”16—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 88; a similar argument can be found already in Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 65; Fārisī Baṣriyyāt I, 214–215).17

Both Sībawayhi and Ibn Yaʿīš emphasize that a clausal xabar must display a resumptive pronoun coreferring with the mubtadaʾ. The explanations given are not identical, however. For Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 31), the resumptive pronoun -hu in ḍarabtuhu is needed in order to satisfy the requirement of the verb ḍaraba for a naṣb complement (where Zayd, in its mubtadaʾ position takes the rafʿ case). Ibn Yaʿīš, in contrast, presents the resumptive pronoun as a kind of cohesive device designed to signal the mubtadaʾ-xabar relationship between the two constituents, thus ensuring that they are construed as two constituents of one coherent sentence. Without the resumptive pronoun, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 88–89) maintains, the clause appears dissociated (waqaʿat al-jumla ʾajnabiyya) from the preceding nominal constituent, and no predicative relationship is established. The result is obviously an ungrammatical sentence such as Zaydun qāma ʿAmrun (“Zayd, ʿAmr stood up”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 89; An elaborate discussion of the resumptive pronoun (or its substitutes) in mubtadaʾ-xabar sentences can be found in Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 273–274, 278–280; Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 345–346, 349–351; and cf. ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 238f.; Peled 2006). Thus, in the grammarians’ view, Zaydun ḍarabtuhu represents a sub-type of jumla ismiyya where the xabar position is filled by a clause rather than by a single phrase. Moreover, the medieval grammarians extended the concept of clausal xabar to such cases as Zaydun yanṭaliqu (“Zayd is leaving”) and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan (“ ʿAbdullāh hit Zayd”).18 Obviously this is not surprising, for in both cases they identi-

16 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 245) cites a similar argument advanced by some grammarians in support of the claim that the xabar is in principle a single phrase rather than a clause: The xabar is designed to assign a quality to an object (nisbat ʾamr ʾilā ʾāxar). So the constituent signalling the quality must be realized as a single phrase so as to match the constituent signalling the item to which the quality is assigned. Otherwise, so the argument goes, the referent of the mubtadaʾ would be assigned more than one quality, and the mubtadaʾ will thus end up having more than one xabar. The response to this is that the argument for a single-quality xabar is valid, but not incompatible with a clausal xabar, given that the propositional xabar is reducible to a verbal noun. 17 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 756) remarks that underlying Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is the ʾaṣl sentence Zaydun maḍrūbun lī. 18 Note, however, that Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 36) drew a distinction between Zaydun ḍarabani and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, regarding only the latter as a case in which the verb was “built” upon the noun in the sense discussed in 1.2 above.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


fied the ibtidāʾ as the operator assigning the rafʿ case to Zaydun and to ʿAbdu-llāhi respectively. In each of yanṭaliqu and ḍaraba Zaydan they located an implicit resumptive pronoun referring anaphorically to the mubtadaʾ. Within the clausal xabar, this pronoun was analyzed as fāʿil of the verb. Thus arguing, the grammarians drew a sharp distinction between these cases on the one hand, and ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and Zaydan ḍarabtu on the other. On the assumption that in the last two cases it is the verb (ḍaraba) that assigns case to the nominal constituents, these structures were shown to present a different type of ʿamal. This, as we have indicated (1.2 above), led to the view that they represent a different sentence type. This basic principle in medieval Arab grammatical thinking did not, however, remain unchallenged. We find the grammarians, throughout, arguing their case against a Kūfan position viewing Zaydun yanṭaliqu and yanṭaliqu Zaydun as two variations of the same sentence type: the fāʿil precedes the fiʿl in the former much as it follows it in the latter, and in both cases it is the verb that assigns rafʿ to the subject (see e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 159–161; and cf. Talmon 1993:279). The Kūfan analysis is rejected on the following grounds (see, e.g. Ibn al-Warrāq ʿIlal, 379ff.; Mujāšiʿī [d. 1087] Šarḥ , 88): Firstly, the grammarians indicate that ʿAbdu-llāh as mubtadaʾ may be followed not only by xaraja but also by xaraja ʾabūhu. But if xaraja (and not the ibtidāʾ) in ʿAbdu-llāhi xaraja ʾabūhu (“ ʿAbdullāh, his father went out”) were the assigner of raf ʿ to ʿAbdu-llāhi, then it would not be able to assign rafʿ to ʾabūhu, because a verb cannot have two subjects (cf. Levin 1985a:122f.). Secondly, they adduce such sentences as ʿAbdu-llāhi hal xaraja (“ ʿAbdullāh, has he gone out?”), claiming that the assignment of raf ʿ to ʿAbdu-llāhi by xaraja must be ruled out, since no constituent following an interrogative particle can act upon (yaʿmalu) a constituent preceding that particle. But the grammarians’ strongest evidence in support of their position that the verb following the subject is not empty (cf. 2.3 above) is the apparent two radically different agreement patterns displayed by ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan on the one hand, and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan, on the other. They easily demonstrate this by replacing ʿAbdu-llāhi, in both types, by either a dual or a plural noun: ḍaraba l-rajulāni/l-rijālu Zaydan (“the two men/men hit Zayd”), but al-rajulāni ḍarabā/al-rijālu ḍarabū Zaydan (∗al-rajulāni/al-rijālu ḍaraba Zaydan is disallowed). These ostensibly two modes of agreement are viewed by the grammarians as support for their claim that in ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan


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the mubtadaʾ is followed by a clause, whereas in ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan the verb, being empty (of a nominal element), does not have a clausal value. After presenting the jumla as secondary to the mufrad in xabar position, later grammarians often enter into a lengthy discussion over the question what sort of jumla may implement the function of xabar. Zamaxšarī (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 88), in his al-Mufaṣsạ l, lists four types of jumla which may function as xabar following a mubtadaʾ: jumla fiʿliyya, jumla ismiyya, jumla šarṭiyya and jumla ẓarfiyya. The third type evidently refers to a conditional sentence consisting of a protasis followed by an apodosis. By jumla ẓarfiyya he refers to such sentences as Zaydun fī l-dār, where fī l-dār is described as an adverbial (ẓarf ) in xabar position. Ibn Yaʿīš indicates that Zamaxšarī’s list is based on ʾAbū ʿAlī [l-Fārisī]’s classification of sentence types in Arabic (see 3.1 above), and objects that the list should include only two types, since ʾAbū ʿAlī’s four categories are reducible, in actual fact, to jumla fiʿliyya19 and jumla ismiyya. His argument is straightforward: A conditional sentence can be described as a combination of two verbal clauses ( jumlatāni fiʿliyyatāni).20 The adverbial fī l-dār in Zaydun fī l-dār should be construed as a complement to the underlying verb istaqarra (“stay”), and istaqarra (Zaydun) fī l-dār is already a regular jumla fiʿliyya.21 3.3.2

Modern approaches versus the medieval tradition

Not surprisingly, the medieval treatment of sentence types and word order in Arabic has attracted criticism from modern linguists and

19 If the clausal xabar is a jumla fiʿliyya, then the sentence as a whole, being a kind of jumla ismiyya, is often referred to by the grammarians (as well as by modern Arab writers) as jumla d̠āt wajhayn (“a two-faced sentence”), to acknowledge the fact that two sentence types are represented in the same sentence (see, e.g. Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 499f.). 20 Ibn Yaʿīš subsequently raises the question as to the location of the resumptive pronoun in this case. He argues that, since the šarṭ and the jazāʾ (= protasis and apodosis), analogously to mubtadaʾ and xabar, form one complete sentence, one resumptive pronoun, in any of the two clauses, suffices to establish the predicative relationship between the conditional sentence as a whole and the preceding nominal functioning as its mubtadaʾ. (Note, however, that he exemplifies the occurrence of the resumptive pronoun in the protasis and in both the protasis and the apodosis; he does not mention the possibility of the resumptive pronoun occurring in the apodosis only, a phenomenon attested in Classical Arabic, albeit rarely.) 21 This, however, does not prevent Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 89–91) from developing an extensive discussion devoted to the jumla ẓarfiyya.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


Arabists, especially those adhering to the Greenbergian typological classification into SVO, VSO and SOV languages. Their critique normally centers on two closely related points: 1. The fact that the Arab grammarians view ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan as representing two types of sentence rather than two patterns of word order. 2. The grammarians’ use of jumla ismiyya to cover Zaydun munṭaliqun, Zaydun yanṭaliqu and Zaydun yanṭaliqu ʾabūhu alike, in most cases without recognizing the latter as a special case of extraposition, left-dislocation etc. Another point of criticism made, for instance, by Mehiri (1993:47; and cf. his references) is directed against the term mubtadaʾ used by the grammarians for every nominative noun in sentence-initial position without regard to the semantic function of that noun. Mehiri laments the fact that in the two sentences (1) al-zāʾiru ḥ ayyaytuhu (“the visitor, I greeted him”) and (2) al-zāʾiru ḥ amaltu ḥ aqībatahu (“the visitor, I carried his suitcase”) the noun al-zāʾiru, just because it occurs at the beginning of the sentence displaying the raf ʿ case ending, is analyzed by the grammarians as mubtadaʾ. Evidently, Mehiri would prefer to analyze al-zāʾir in the first sentence as direct object (mafʿūl) and in the second—as the second member of a genitive construct (muḍāf ʾilayhi). He suggests, indeed, that the linkage between case marking and syntactic position should be abandoned, which would allow analyzing a noun phrase in sentence-initial position without regard to its case. Similarly he advocates the abandonment of the principle stating that every postsubject verb incorporates a pronoun. In Mehiri’s view, what the verb in this position displays is only an inflection for number and gender. And if there is no subject pronoun involved, one can regard Zaydun yaktubu as a jumla fiʿliyya (cf. ʿAbdo’s position below) exhibiting SV word order. For Anshen & Schreiber (1968:795ff.), working within the Chomskian paradigm (cf. 1.5.2 above),22 a sentence such as al-bintu zārahā l-rajulu (“the girl was visited by the man”) is derived from zāra l-binta l-rajulu by a focus transformation and a pronominalization transformation. The former is realized as an optional reproduction of any noun in a sentence (other than the first member of a construct state) at the

22 The theory-specific features of their analysis are beyond the scope of the present study, and will not, therefore, be reviewed here. The same applies equally to other linguists working within various versions of the Chomskian paradigm.


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beginning of the sentence. The latter concept refers to the resumptive pronoun typically occurring in such cases (e.g. the pronoun zārahā in the above example). Another scholar working within the framework of the generativetransformational grammar is Bakir (cf. 1.5.2 above). Bakir’s main line of distinction is between preverbal preposing and topicalization, as represented by Zaydan ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi and Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi, respectively. Comparing the two (Bakir 1979:98; 214–215), he indicates that in preverbal preposing there is no resumptive pronoun, that the preposed constituent fills a focus function signalling the ‘new’ information in the sentence, and that its original case is retained in its new position. Topicalization, in contrast, requires a resumptive pronoun, the topicalized constituent signals the ‘given’ part of the information, and its case is always rafʿ. For Bakir, topic is a syntactic category (Bakir 1979:226). He argues that the topic is separated from the sentence that comprises the comment (Bakir 1979:101–102), indicating that “ ‘topics’ may not fall under the same ‘performative’ modality that the following sentence does” (Bakir 1979:215; and cf. Ayoub & Bohas 1983:40).23 On the whole, Bakir’s elaborate comparison between Zaydan ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi and Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi amounts to recognizing that the two represent wholly different sentence types, not just two word-order patterns. The second distinction he makes is of a much greater interest for our discussion. Bakir seeks to distinguish, or rather to characterize the relationship, between cases of topicalization such as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu and others which he describes as “subject preposing” (Bakir 1979:117).24 He recognizes (pp. 183–184) that sentences such as al-muʿallimūna qadimū (“the teachers arrived”) invite a topic-comment analysis, with the comment containing an implicit resumptive subject pronoun referring anaphorically to the topic. Moreover, the above sentence is compared by him with al-ṭullābu matā d̠ahabū ʾilā l-ʿirāq

23 A further point made by Bakir (1979:202, n. 4) is that preposing constituents to the topic is unacceptable. Indeed, a sentence such as ʾamsi Zaydun d̠ahaba (“yesterday Zayd went”) would be excluded in Written Arabic, whether classical or modern. Yet, in Modern Standard Arabic one may find such sentences as ʾalʾān wazīr al-xārijiyya yaqūl . . . (“now the foreign minister says . . .”). This point, however, requires further investigation, and will not be pursued in the present study any further. 24 One classical case referred to by Bakir (1979:179) as an example of subject preposing is the occurrence of a nominal subject between the conditional particle ʾin/ʾid̠ā and the verb in a conditional clause (see, e.g. Qurʾān 9.6). He rightly indicates, however, that the medieval grammarians rejected this analysis, claiming that in such cases an underlying verb preceding the subject must be posited.

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(“the students—when did they go to Iraq?”), which would normally be regarded by modern linguists as an undisputed case of topicalization. Later, however, Bakir concludes that, regarding subject-preposing cases, these suffixes that appear on verbs are simply number agreement markers and not subject-pronoun clitics (Bakir 1979:188–189; and cf. Mehiri’s position above).

Bakir (1979:187f., 195) appreciates, however, that preposing a subject nominal creates a structural ambiguity “in the sense that such sentences allow two analyses, one as sentences with preposed subjects, the other as topic-comment sentences.”25 But this kind of ambiguity is seen by him as an acceptable feature of natural language. Bakir’s difficulties with the analysis of sentences such as al-muʿallimūna qadimū could only be expected. What we have just witnessed is an attempt of a linguist working within the framework of a modern linguistic theory on the one hand, and evidently committed to the medieval Arabic grammatical tradition on the other—to develop an argument accommodating the two systems. Much like Mehiri (see above), ʿAbdo (1983) does not find sufficient grounds for a meaningful distinction between VSO and SVO. For him, a sentence such as Zaydun yaktubu risālatan (“Zayd is writing a letter”) is a kind of jumla fiʿliyya representing the basic word order in Arabic. He maintains (ʿAbdo 1983:48) that in modern usage, SVO is no less “neutral” than VSO (cf. 2.1 above), and that Arabic offers various mechanisms (such as intonation) for emphasizing a sentence constituent, other than word order. In other words, SVO, in itself, should not be regarded as signalling emphasis; Zaydun qāma is not emphatic any more than qāma Zaydun (for Jurjānī’s treatment of the functional aspects of these two types, see Jurjānī Dalāʾil, 128–141). ʿAbdo’s conclusion is that SVO rather than VSO should be regarded as the basic and underlying word order in Arabic. The four reasons he presents (ʿAbdo 1983:50–53) in support of his claim are reducible to the following two arguments: 1. The verb and its object form one sentence constituent, and the same applies to the verb and the preposition it takes, as well as to the


Note that he finds no difficulty in accepting the Kūfan position that the fāʿil may precede the fiʿl (Bakir 1979:191; cf. 3.3.1 above).


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auxiliary verb and the main verb. Now, given a sentence in which wāfaqa ʿalā (“agree to”) is the verb, al-rajul is the subject and al-qarār is the object, then, if VSO were the underlying word order, one would have to regard wāfaqa ʿalā l-rajul al-qarār as representing its deep structure. Likewise, ʾaxad̠a yaqraʾu l-rajul al-ṣaḥ īfa (“the man started to read the newspaper”) would be the deep structure of a sentence consisting of an auxiliary verb, a main verb and a direct object to the latter. Both cases require an obligatory transformational rule to convert them into wāfaqa l-rajul ʿalā l-qarār (“the man agreed to the decision”) and ʾaxad̠a l-rajul yaqraʾu l-ṣaḥ īfa—respectively. If, however, one regards SVO as the basic underlying structure in Arabic, then the last two sentences would be the output of an optional rule applied to al-rajul wāfaqa ʿalā l-qarār and al-rajul ʾaxad̠a yaqraʾu l-ṣaḥ īfa, moving the verbs wāfaqa and ʾaxad̠a, each to the left of its respective subject. Since an optional rule of transformation, so is the argument, involves a simpler procedure it is regarded as preferable to an obligatory one; hence the advantage of SVO over VSO. 2. Once we accept that SVO is the basic underlying word order, we can do with one concept of subject, thus obviating the division into two sentence types. This, however, requires the introduction of an obligatory transformational rule moving the subject, when it is indefinite, into post-predicate position. The rule would apply to both verbal and verbless sentences, converting, for instance, rajulun waṣala (“a man arrived”) and rajulun hunāka (“there is a man”) into waṣala rajulun and hunāka rajulun respectively. Indeed, the second point is an argument in favour of one basic sentence type with a subject and a predicate, instead of the traditional jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya with fāʿil/fiʿl and mubtadaʾ/xabar—respectively. A particularly interesting feature of ʿAbdo’s theory is the fact that it establishes a close relationship between such sentences as waṣala rajulun and hunāka rajulun. In the next chapter I will have more to say about the verbal features of pre-subject adverbial/prepositional phrases as hunāka/fī l-dār in cases such as hunāka/fī l-dāri rajulun. Mohammad (1999:49ff., 63) outlines the traditional division into two sentence types, and concludes that the medieval grammarians’ position “seems to indicate that the mubtadaʾ [in cases such as al-ʾawlādu jāʾū (“the children came”)] is a left-dislocated NP” (p. 50). Likewise he attributes (p. 66) to modern “VSO proponents” the view that SVO is an instance of left-dislocation. Note that for Mohammad, left-dislocation does not involve movement; what the term denotes, rather, is a nomi-

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nal occupying sentence-initial position “with a pronoun linked to it in a lower clause”. This is contrasted by him with topicalization, which he views as essentially a process of movement in which a nominal is moved into sentence-initial position, leaving a gap behind (i.e. no resumptive pronoun is involved). Thus, Zaydan raʾā ʿAmrun (“Zayd was seen by ʿAmr”) is presented by him as a case of topicalization, whereas Zaydun takallamtu maʿahu (“Zayd, I spoke with him”) is a case of left-dislocation (for further details, see Mohammad 1999:63–67).26 Mohammad then takes great pains to demonstrate that SVO is not an instance of left-dislocation, offering various arguments from within the generative theory which I will not review here (but see Mohammad 1999:66–80). Nor does Mohammad accept the view that SVO results from a movement from a post-verbal position. His conclusion is that what SVO sentences exhibit is just “agreement between a verb and its subject” (1999:71). Ayoub & Bohas (1983:40–42) focus on the relationship between such sentences as Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran (“Zayd hit ʿAmr”) and Zaydun ḍaraba ʾabūhu ʿAmran (“Zayd, his father hit ʿAmr”). They view Zaydun in both cases as topic,27 and attribute this type of analysis also to the medieval grammarians. They indicate that for the “Orientalists” (see 1.5.2 above) these two sentences represent two different types, the first being an inverted verbal sentence, whereas the second is analyzed in a way analogous to that of the grammarians’.28 Unlike most of the above mentioned scholars, Khan (1988) does not subscribe to any of the contemporary syntactic theories. Rather, he declares (1988:xxv–xxvi) his preference to concentrate on functional explanations for the syntactic constructions he sets out to examine. One of these constructions is extraposition. Significantly, in his definition of extraposition, Khan makes no reference to any transformation or process of “movement”:

26 Among his examples, one can find (e.g. 1999:65) sentences such as Zaydan qāla ʿAmrun ʾinna Xalīlan raʾā (“Zayd, ʿAmr said that Xalīl saw” ≈ “ ʿAmr said that Xalīl saw Zayd”) presented by him as cases of “long-distance movement”, but which in my judgement appear rather dubious. 27 Cf. Brustad (2000:330), who in her comparative study of the syntax of four Arabic dialects views “all SV sentences, not merely those with explicit topics distinct from subjects [usually referred to as cases of left-dislocation—Y. P.]”, as topic-prominent. 28 They also remark (1983:40) that had the “Orientalists” applied their analysis of Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran to Zaydun ḍaraba ʾabūhu ʿAmran, that would entail the assignment of two subjects to the verb in the latter sentence.


chapter three By the term ‘extraposition’ I understand the syntactic construction in which a noun or nominal phrase stands isolated at the front of a clause without any immediate formal connection to the predication (Khan 1988:xxvi).

The expression “isolated” in the above definition is not incidental. Khan (1988:xxvi, n. 1) refers to a number of Semitic philologists using “isolation of the natural subject” for his “extraposition”. “Natural” in this case is again significant, in the sense that it suggests that a sentence might have more than one kind of subject. Some writers indeed use “natural subject” as opposed to “grammatical subject” (see, e.g. Reckendorf 1921:366–373; and cf. Jespersen 1924:147–150, for “psychological” and “logical” subject). The latter refers normally to the nominal identified as subject of the sentence by certain grammatical criteria such as case inflection, position in the sentence, grammatical agreement etc. “Natural subject”, by contrast, normally refers to that constituent in the sentence that is designed to tell the hearer/reader what the sentence is about. In other words, the “natural subject” may be regarded as a synonym of “topic”, and “isolation of the natural subject” may be equalled to “topicalization”. Note that “isolation of the natural subject”, or “Isolierung des natürlichen Subjekts” in the German version (see Khan’s references, 1988:xxvi, n. 1), implies that the subject is somehow “moved”, an assumption that is not made by Khan, nor by the vast majority of medieval grammarians using the term mubtadaʾ, as we have already seen (3.3.1 above). So what is really intended by Khan’s “stands isolated” in his definition of extraposition? Recall that Bakir (1979:102, 187) emphasized the “separateness” of the topic from the rest of the sentence, as opposed to “preposed” constituents which form part of the sentences within which they are generated (Bakir 1979:102). For him, “topics are independent of the sentences that follow them”, their independence realized, in speech, by a pause separating the topic from the comment.29 Thus, both Bakir and Khan regard the topic as somehow “isolated” from the rest of the sentence. Yet we have seen that Bakir ran into serious difficulties when trying to draw a distinction between cases of topicalization and what he referred to as subject preposing, admit29

Similarly, Reckendorf (1921:366–367) states that placing the natural subject at the beginning of the sentence has the effect of splitting the sentence construction into two parts the second of which displaying an anaphoric pronoun linking it to the natural subject.

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ting, eventually (1979:195), that sentences may be ambiguous between the two. Khan opts for a different path in his attempt to examine the relationship between extraposition and what he refers to as SV clauses. He recognizes (1988:29) that “SV(O) and Ex [= extraposition] clauses are distributionally equivalent”, i.e. both occur in the same range of contexts. He then demonstrates this by such examples as Zaydun jāʾa (“Zayd came”), which he correlates with Zaydun ḍarabtuhu.30 Moreover, he indicates that the same restrictions are imposed upon SV(O) and Ex constructions alike. For instance, the initial nominal in both is rarely preceded by an adverbial (cf. above) or by a temporal or conditional subordinating conjunction; both constructions are rarely subject to syndetic relativization (?Zaydun allad̠ī ʾabūhu jāʾa—“Zayd whose father came”) and both are rarely attested “after another fronted or extraposed nominal”, as illustrated, respectively, by such cases as ?Zaydan ʿAmrun ḍaraba (“ ʿAmr hit Zayd”—for further discussion of this particular structure, see below) and ?Zaydun Fāṭimatu ḍarabathu (“Zayd, Fāṭima hit him”). Khan (1988:56) then goes on to demonstrate that the two constructions are not only “distributionally equivalent” in syntactical terms, but are also functionally equivalent, in the sense that “in Ex/SV clauses the selection of the initial nominal is determined by considerations of assumed familiarity, textual durability, and perceptual salience.” As a matter of fact, thus far Khan’s exposition is consistent with the medieval Arab grammarians’ system, where, as he rightly observes (Khan 1988:30), “Ex verbal clauses and SV clauses are not considered to be distinct constructions.” He even goes as far as saying that “the resumptive clitic pronouns in Ex clauses correspond to the subject agreement morpheme in the verb of SV clauses.” At this point, however, the question to be asked is: Why is -hu in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu considered a resumptive pronoun, whereas the pronoun implicit in ḍaraba, in ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan is just an “agreement morpheme”? From the viewpoint of the Greenbergian paradigm, the answer appears to be clear: Given that ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan is an SVO sentence, a

30 Reckendorf (1921:367) maintains that what he regards as inverted verbal sentences (see 1.5.2 above) may occasionally be conceived of as sentences with isolated subject. This he illustrates by such cases as al-zānī lā yankiḥ u ʾillā zāniyatan wa-l-zāniyatu lā yankiḥ uhā ʾillā zānin (“an adulterer will marry only an adulteress, and an adulteress will only get married to an adulterer”), where an “inverted verbal sentence” is coordinated with a sentence displaying an unmistakable “isolation of the natural subject”.


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resumptive pronoun in such cases must be excluded, just as one would not envisage a resumptive pronoun in John kissed Mary. Khan (1988:51; and cf. p. 56) formulates his distinction between the two constructions along the following line: Assuming that the nominal in sentence-initial position represents the “given” information, then, if it is identical in reference with the grammatical subject in the verbal clause following it, “then the subject is made the nominal which precedes the verb [. . .] However, if the given element is other than the subject it stands in extraposition.” As we saw in 3.3.1, the vast majority of grammarians did not offer this kind of distinction. For them, both Zaydun ḍarabtuhu and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan were cases of a mubtadaʾ followed by a clausal xabar. Neither ‘isolation’, nor ‘left-dislocation’ was involved, and both were treated much like Zaydun munṭaliqun. Moreover, as was indicated, the relationship between Zaydun and munṭaliqun was often presented as analogous to that obtaining between jāʾa and Zaydun in jāʾa Zaydun: Both cases were presented as exhibiting a kind of xabar (munṭaliqun and jāʾa), and muxbar ʿanhu (Zaydun in both sentences). In cases such as Zaydun yanṭaliqu, the constituent yanṭliqu was viewed by the grammarians as a clausal xabar, rather than as V in the Greenbergian sense.31 In this connection it would be interesting to note that Cohen (1970:226, 228) rejects Reckendorf’s conception of “isolierte subjekt”, claiming that a mubtadaʾ may be conceived of as subject only in the logical (as opposed to the grammatical) sense of the word. In other words, what is rejected by him is the view equating the mubtadaʾ with the subject of the sentence, since the latter must have a grammatical definition (rather than a “logical” one). The conception of the mubtadaʾ as a constituent “appended” to the sentence is, however, favoured by him (see also 1.5.2 above; and cf. Goldenberg 1988:41, n. 9). Obviously Cohen is right in the sense that the mubtadaʾ does not function as a subject controlling the grammatical properties of a verbal predicate (number, gender etc.). And that, in turn, amounts to saying that a mubtadaʾ cannot have a verb as its predicate: the verbal xabar is rather

31 This, indeed, explains why sentences such as Zaydun huwa jāʾa (Khan 1988:29) are so rare in Written Arabic. In the above sentence (apparently inadmissible in Modern Standard Arabic), Zayd is followed by two consecutive pronominal elements referring to it anaphorically: the separate pronoun huwa and the pronoun implicit in jāʾa. The latter renders the former (huwa) redundant.

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a clause, and a clause, as such, is not inflected for number or gender. However, the xabar is not necessarily a clause, as we see in cases such as Zaydun munṭaliqun, exhibiting full number and gender agreement between subject and predicate. All this is indeed consistent with the grammarians’ theory, grouping together sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun, Zaydun yanṭaliqu and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, as cases of ibtidāʾ. I return to this issue later. Holes (1995:205–209) illustrates the principle of “left-positioning the thematic elements” in Arabic, including cases of what he refers to as extraposition and clefting. In his view, both [. . .] move an already ‘known’ element from the expected postverbal position to preverbal. In both cases a resumptive pronoun is used in the proposition which is predicated of the moved element to refer back to it (1995:209).

A modern Arabist position that is probably the closest to that of the medieval grammarians is advanced by Badawi et al. (2004:326–330, 346). While their categorization and characterization of Arabic basic sentence types is different from the one advocated in the present study (cf. 1.6 above) or, for that matter, from that of the grammarians, their position regarding “topicalization” and “inversion” is stated in the clearest possible way: What appears to be inversion of the agent and verb is actually a variety of topic-comment sentence, in which the topic, the agent of the commentverb and the binding pronoun all happen to be identical (coreferential). In other words, there is no true inversion of agent and verb on the western pattern. This is confirmed by the fact that the verb+agent sequence contains only two elements while its apparent inversion comprises three, a noun (= topic), a verb, and a pronoun agent (acting as both logical agent and binding pronoun) (Badawi et al. 2004:346).

And further: [. . .] the topic-comment sentence in Arabic is a basic structure and not the result of any movement, fronting or extraction, still less a simple inversion of the kind ‘that film I have seen before’ (Badawi et al. 2004:326–327; and cf. 329–330; cf. also Carter 2002:89).32


Cf. Carter’s (2002:89) reference to a study by Ayoub in which the structure at issue is dealt with from a transformationalist viewpoint and presented as occurring at the base level, not as the output of some movement transformation (and cf. Doron’s view below).


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Note that while rejecting the notion of topicalization in Arabic, Badawi et al. regard the structures in question as topic-comment sentences. Interestingly enough, this last notion has been recently rejected by a generative linguist. Doron (1996:77–81) claims forcefully that the mubtadaʾ, whether or not corresponding to the thematic subject of the clausal xabar, is a subject rather than a dislocated topic. Sentences such as al-ṭullābu yuqābilūna Hindan, Hindun yuqābiluhā l-ṭullābu and albaytu ʾalwānuhu zāhiyatun (see translation below)—are presented by her as “simple subject-predicate sentences” with a clausal xabar that is “a predicate which is predicated of the mubtadaʾ ” (Doron1996:78). She advances a number of arguments demonstrating that the above sentences are different in structure from the corresponding English sentences displaying left-dislocation: The students, they are meeting Hind, Hind, the students are meeting her and The house, its colours are bright. I will not review Doron’s arguments here, since her basic theoretical assumptions fall outside the scope of the present study. What is noteworthy, however, is that the grammarians’ position relating Zaydun ḍarabtuhu to Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran by viewing both as cases of jumla ismiyya with a clausal xabar—this position is echoed by a modern linguist working within the generative paradigm. Doron’s conclusions stand out against those of most of the linguists whose views were presented earlier in this section. As we have seen, to most modern scholars the structure ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan is analogous to John kissed Mary; both are regarded as representing the SVO word order, in contradistinction to Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi. To be more specific, most modern scholars regard (1) ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan as representing the “basic” word order in Arabic (VSO). From this structure they derive both (2) Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi by left-dislocation, and (3) ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍ araba Zaydan by “inverting” the constituent order (into what in their view is an SVO pattern). A resumptive pronoun is pointed out in (2) but not in (3), where only number-gender agreement is envisaged. Structures (1) and (3) are thus viewed as two word-order variations of the same sentence type—the verbal sentence. This kind of reasoning has been gaining ground with the growing frequency of sentences such as ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan in Modern Standard Arabic. In English, SVO may indeed be described as representing both a basic sentence type and a basic word-order pattern; and the sentence John kissed Mary may appropriately be adduced as an example. This is

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because kissed (symbolized by V) is an “empty” verb in the Sībawayhian sense (2.3 above), and kissed Mary must therefore be analyzed as a VP (Verb Phrase). It does not have a clausal status, definitely not the potential of an independent sentence, in contrast to the clausal xabar, as we have seen (and cf. Goldenberg 1988:65). When modern linguists claim that ḍaraba in ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan is similarly “empty”, representing V in an SVO sentence, they in effect read into the Arabic sentence the structure of John kissed Mary. To a modern western scholar, especially if he or she adheres to the Greenbergian paradigm, pairs like yanṭaliqu l-rijālu and al-rijālu yanṭaliqūna (“the men are leaving”) display a kind of asymmetric agreement pattern which may look as an “oddity”, “puzzle”, “anomaly” or even as “chaos” (Holes 1995:213; Mohammad 1999:6, 109;33 Anshen & Schreiber 1968:797; and cf. Ayoub & Bohas (1983:42), for their reference to the “Orientalists”). But if one analyzes, in agreement with the (later) grammarians, sentences such as al-rijālu yanṭliqūna as a mubtadaʾ followed by a clausal xabar, that obviates any agreement “oddity”.34 The point being made here is that if the constituent following the subject is a clause (rather than a verb), then subject-predicate agreement is simply inapplicable (cf. Anshen & Schreiber 1968:795–796): A clause has neither number- nor gender inflection. What looks as a grammatical agreement between al-rijālu and yanṭliqūna is a reflection of the fact that S2 (al-rijālu) corefers with S1 in the clausal predicate (the subject implicit in yanṭaliqūna). Where S2 and S1 (in P2) have disjoint reference, S1 must be realized as a full nominal, as in al-rijālu yanṭaliqu ʾabūhum (“the men, their father is leaving”). And also here, the resumptive pronoun (-hum) is obligatory. The concept of subject-verb agreement is irrelevant in al-rijālu yanṭaliqūna as much as it is in al-rijālu yanṭaliqu ʾabūhum. Obviously, this also explains why al-rijālu yanṭaliqūna is a well-formed sentence in Arabic while ∗al-rijālu yanṭaliqu is not: The 33 In an article entitled: ‘The problem of Subject-Verb Agreement in Arabic: Towards a Solution’, Mohammad (1990:95) states that “the puzzle of agreement in Arabic lies in its apparent dependence on the surface order of the subject and the verb. If the subject precedes the verb, the verb shows full agreement with the subject in the features of person, number, and gender. If, on the other hand, the subject follows the verb, the verb shows some kind of ‘impoverished’ agreement: it has the features of third person singular.” 34 For Carter (1981:159), the problem of two types of agreement between subject and predicate does not arise, because, under his analysis, the fāʿil, as opposed to the mubtadaʾ, should be considered an agent, rather than a true subject (cf. Goldenberg 1988:41).


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latter case exhibits a clausal predicate (yanṭaliqu) without a subject, and is therefore excluded. Further, a sentence such as ∗al-rijālu d̠ahabat is disallowed not because it violates any agreement rule. The inadmissibility of this sentence stems rather from the fact that the clausal predicate d̠ahabat does not contain any anaphoric element referring to al-rijāl; nor does it exhibit a full lexical subject for d̠ahabat (in contrast to al-rijālu d̠ahabat ʾuxtuhum—“the men, their sister went”, which is perfectly grammatical). A verbal xabar clause is, however, disallowed in pre-subject position. This is because a verb, once placed at the beginning of a sentence is automatically construed as P1. Thus, ∗d̠ahabū l-rijālu is excluded, because the clause d̠ahabū, consisting of a verb (P1)+S1 cannot be followed by another S1 assigned to the same verb. (See, however, 3.5 below, for sentences such as xaraja ʾabūhu Zaydun.) Holes (1995:214) points out that mātū in al-rijālu mātū (“the men died”) constitutes a clause much like māta t̠nāni minhum in al-rijālu māta t̠nāni minhum (“the men, two of them died”), and that al-rijālu in both cases is the topic (S2 in our terms), rather than the grammatical subject of the sentence. This, indeed, amounts to saying that māta l-rijālu and al-rijālu mātū represent two sentence types rather than merely two word-order variations of the same type (i.e. VS versus SV). Similarly, we have seen that Badawi et al. (2004:346—see excerpt above), when discussing the structures qāla l-ʾaṭibbāʾu as opposed to al-ʾaṭibbāʾu qālū (“the doctors said”), draw the distinction not between two patterns of number-gender agreement, but rather between a two-constituent sentence (verb+agent, corresponding to our T1) and a three-constituent sentence (topic+verb+pronoun agent, corresponding to our T2). We can see, then, that the modern linguistic concept of SVO, when applied to Written Arabic, is confronted with a serious problem. For in Arabic, while VS represents a verb+subject construction, SV must be construed as subject+clausal predicate. The one is not derived from the other by inversion. We must conclude, therefore, in accordance with the medieval grammarians’ account, that they represent two different sentence types. And this, in turn, amounts to abandoning the concept of SVO. Furthermore, once we accept that Zaydun munṭaliqun, ʿAbdullāhi ḍaraba Zaydan and Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi all represent the same sentence type, as opposed to ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, and that no inversion is involved, the ostensible difference in agreement between māta l-rijālu and al-rijālu mātū is adequately accounted for, and does not present any problem.

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Some modern linguists (among them, as we have seen, Arabic speakers) might contend that the above arguments are counterintuitive and not borne out by the facts of Modern Standard Arabic. We have already seen ʿAbdo’s claim (2.1 above) that VSO is not “neutral” anymore than SVO. I concede that for a reader of Modern Standard Arabic it would be more than difficult to forgo the analogy between ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan and John kissed Mary, especially in a situation where the former has grown increasingly common, particularly in media Arabic. Recent research has already shown, however (cf. 2.1 above), that this particular construction, as an independent sentence, is much less common than ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan. Moreover, in 3.4.1 below we will see that, unlike SVO in English, T2 sentences such as ʿAbdu-llāhi yaḍribu Zaydan are pragmatically motivated and associated with specific types of text. Another related objection that could be raised concerns left-dislocation. The proponents of SVO as the basic sentence type in Arabic (see, e.g. ʿAbdo, 2.1 above), would probably argue that a sentence such as Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi is derived by the application of left-dislocation to ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan. Grouping together such sentences as ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan and Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdullāhi as representing the same structure undermines, it might be argued, the whole concept of left-dislocation. But as we have seen, the vast majority of medieval grammarians did not, and indeed did not have to, advance the concept of transformation in their discussions of sentences such as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu. The mubtadaʾ was never associated particularly with the performer of the action; indeed, it was equally used to refer to the subject of a verbless sentence. From their point of view, grouping together such sentences as Zaydun munṭaliqun, Zaydun yanṭaliqu and Zaydun ḍarabtuhu so as to represent one sentence type as against the one represented by ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan—was fully justified. Much like English, Arabic has both subject and topic constructions (T1 and T2 respectively), which normally serve different discourse functions. But in English, SVO, the basic sentence type and word-order pattern, represents a subject- rather than a topic-construction. This means that the English counterpart of ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan, a topic construction in Arabic, is not John kissed Mary (SVO), but rather John, he kissed Mary. Admittedly, the latter appears to be quite rare in English; but then ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan is (still) not particularly common in Arabic either, especially when compared to ḍaraba


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ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan. It is true that modern writers, perhaps under the influence of European languages such as English and French, tend to use the construction ʿAbdu-llāhi yaḍribu Zaydan (typically with the verb in the yafʿalu form—cf. 3.4.1 below) more frequently nowadays than in earlier periods. However, the only genre in which an unequivocal preference for ʿAbdu-llāhi yaḍribu Zaydan over yaḍribu ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan can be statistically confirmed is newspaper titles (cf. 2.1 above). In light of the above, then, we may present such sentences as Zaydun munṭaliqun/yanṭaliqu/ḍarabtuhu as T2-sentences where the subject S2 is a nominal placed in sentence-initial position only to be joined by a predicate P2. Pragmatically, S2 is always the topic, but it is not necessarily the (semantic) agent in the sentence (cf. Versteegh 1997:80). A clausal P2 will always contain a resumptive pronoun to link it to S2. This, however, should not be associated with any movement transformation. Sentences such as Zaydun yanṭaliqu and Zaydun yanṭaliqu ʾabūhu thus represent a sub-type in which P2 is a clause rather than a phrase. That is, we are drawing here a distinction between the sub-type T21 (Zaydun munṭaliqun) whose structure may be formulated as: T21 = S2+P2phrase and the sub-type T22, formulated here as: T22 = S2+P2clause Obviously, P2clause may be represented by either T1, T2 or T3, as exemplified below: (1) Zaydun yanṭaliqu (“Zayd is leaving”): T22 = S2+P2T1 P2T1 = P1+S1 (2) Zaydun ʾabūhu marīḍun (“Zayd, his father is sick”) T22 = S21+P2T2 P2T2 = S22+P2 (3) Zaydun fī yadihi kitābun (“Zayd, there is a book in his hand”) T22 = S2+P2T3 P2T3 = P3+S3 Regarding structure (1), we have already indicated that in cases where S1 is identical in reference with S2, S1 is realized as a pronoun implicit

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in the verb. If S1 does not corefer with S2, then S1 is realized as a full lexical noun phrase. In all the above three structures P2 must display some resumptive pronoun referring to S2. Structure (2), as can be seen, exhibits two non-coreferential occurrences of S2: S21 (the subject of the sentence) and S22 (the subject of the predicate clause).35 Finally, a few words are in order regarding what some modern linguists describe as SOV and OSV in Arabic. In 2.1 we noted Bakir’s statement that Arabic exhausts all possible word-order variations: VSO, SVO, VOS, OVS, SOV and OSV; and we expressed our reservations regarding the last two patterns. Mohammad (1999:152) presents al-waladu ʾaxāhu raʾā (“the boy saw his brother”) as a dubious SOV sentence. Within our framework such a sentence represents a sub-type of T2, where P2 is an inverted clause exhibiting a direct object preceding the verb. Such cases are distinctly rare in Arabic; yet, unlike OSV, they are not excluded. Sentences such as ʾaxāhu l-waladu raʾā are similarly presented by Mohammad (1999:152) as dubious.36 However, I have recorded no examples of such sentences in the texts studied for the present work (and cf. above, for Khan’s remark on sentences of this kind). This can be explained by the fact that OSV does not fit into any of the three basic sentence types: It exhibits neither a verb followed by its subject, as in T1, nor two predicative blocks, S2+P2 or P3+S3—as in T2 and T3 respectively. Rather, the object in this case is extracted into a position external to the S2+P2 construction. This is unacceptable, since in T2-sentences the object invariably forms part of P2. 3.4 Functional aspects 3.4.1 General principles In the last section we highlighted the grammarians’ distinction between T1 and T2 sentences. But we have also seen that the grammarians drew another line between mubtadaʾ and fāʿil on the one hand, and xabar and fiʿl on the other, thus recognizing the concepts of subject 35 Some of the grammarians (as well as modern writers of Arabic grammars) refer to the leftmost S2 (S21) as mubtadaʾ ʾawwal and to the S2 in the embedded predicate clause (S22) as mubtadaʾ t̠ānin (see, e.g. Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 64f.; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 89). 36 Mohammad (1999:2, n. 5) suggests, however, that a resumptive pronoun coreferring with the object would render SOV and OSV sentences more acceptable. For further discussion of SOV and OSV in Arabic, within the framework of the Government and Binding theory, see Majdi 1990:149, no. 3.


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and predicate, irrespective of sentence type. In functional terms, Zajjājī (ʾĪḍāḥ , 136–137) made it clear that while in ḍ arabtu Zaydan “you predicate of yourself and indicate the receiver of your action, in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu you predicate of Zayd (tuxbiru ʿan Zayd).” In Chapter Two we saw that the medieval grammarians explained the discourse function of the fāʿil and the maf ʿūl in T1-sentences, using the given-new principle. Thus, within each sentence type, the grammarians recognized that the predicate, whether fiʿl or xabar, represents the “new” as opposed to the subject, whether fāʿil or mubtadaʾ, representing the “given”. Between the fāʿil and the maf ʿūl in T1-sentences, each may function as the “given” or the “new”, depending on such factors as definiteness and position relative to the verb. Let us now take a closer look at the functional aspects of a jumla ismiyya with a clausal xabar (T22). The grammarians repeatedly state (e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 85) that, in a sentence composed of a mubtadaʾ and xabar, the definite mubtadaʾ represents the presupposed or given information, whereas the xabar is designed to convey the asserted, what the speaker assumes to be new, information for the addressee. This is the normal interpretation of Arabic sentences such as Zaydun yanṭaliqu, Zaydun ḍarabahu ʿAbdu-llāhi and Zaydun ʾabūhu qāʾimun (all of which are viewed as secondary to Zaydun munṭaliqun, as has already been indicated). Zayd in all these cases is taken to be the mubtadaʾ, and, in modern (pragmatic) terms, the topic of the sentence. The rest of the sentence is analyzed by the grammarians as xabar, and is viewed pragmatically as comment by modern linguists. The latter, however, often explain the “givenness” of the topic not only in terms of speech situation, but also in contextual linguistic terms; that is, the givenness of the topic emanates from its occurrence in the immediately preceding discourse (see, e.g. Khan 1988:51). However, modern linguistic research into the functional aspects of word order, conducted whether by general linguists or by Arabists, extends far beyond the question of information distribution within the sentence, and does not necessarily adopt the traditional view that given information always precedes new information (see 2.4.2 above and 3.4.3 below). It is often stated, for example (see, e.g. Dahlgren 1998:50–60 and his references), that a distinction should be made between a discourse topic and a sentence topic, and that the concept ‘topic’ as such is not discrete but scalar. A hierarchy of topicality is established to show, inter alia, that a definite constituent is “more topical” than an

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indefinite constituent, that the subject is more topical than the direct object, and that a constituent referring to a human being is located higher on the topicality scale than a constituent referring to a nonhuman entity; and further, it is shown that the speaker is more topical than the hearer, but that the latter is placed higher in the hierarchy than other participants. Arabists typically focus their attention on textual considerations. Khan (1988:30) indicates, basing himself on a statistical study, that independent main T2-clauses “are attested far more frequently in expository or descriptive texts than in narratives.” And it is often shown that imperfect verbs, designed as they are to signal some “quality or attribute of a referent”, are typically found in T2-sentences. Furthermore, due to its semantic properties, the imperfect verb is normally related to such nominals as the active participle and other types of adjective. In other words, Zaydun yaktubu is made analogous to Zaydun kātibun and Zaydun ḥ asanun (Khan 1988:31).37 Note that this approach can be found already in the medieval grammatical literature. However, in most cases the grammarians did not elaborate on the semantic properties of the yaf ʿalu form beyond indicating its resemblance (muḍāriʿ) to the noun. In terms of discourse analysis, Khan (1988:32) shows that T2-sentences “are often used [. . .] to mark the onset of a topic span, i.e. a point in the discourse where the attention of the hearer/reader is directed to a topic participant which is different from that of the immediately preceding context.” (cf. Holes 1995:210 and Badawi et al. 2004:332–336, for the ʾammā . . . fa- construction). In other cases, according to Khan (1988:52), S2 is designed to act “as a ‘bridge’ from the prior discourse to the new topic span.” Both Khan and Holes invoke, as we have seen in 3.3.2, the concept of extraposition. Holes maintains that the most commonly encountered discoursal function of extraposition in modern writing is to signal the continuing relevance of a topic to the

37 In a similar way, Khan (1988:36) points out that generic propositions such as kullu xalqin yumkinu taġayyuruhu (“every being may be changed”) are often realized as T2-sentences. Khan (1988:39) cites Jurjānī’s remark that a T22-sentence where S2 is followed by a perfect verb may be used “to express an event or state which is not anticipated”.


chapter three development of an argument: the extraposed element tells the reader what the text continues to be ‘about’ (Holes 1995:209).38

3.4.2 Indefinite mubtadaʾ in the medieval tradition For all the grammarians’ emphasis on the definiteness of the mubtadaʾ, it was already observed by Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 20–21) that sentences with an indefinite mubtadaʾ in sentence-initial position are, under certain conditions, acceptable. But his discussion focuses mainly on negative sentences introduced by an auxiliary verb. Later grammarians normally make two points regarding the possibility of an indefinite mubtadaʾ. The first is that the head of the indefinite mubtadaʾ must be followed by a complement which in some way specifies the mubtadaʾ (taxṣīṣ). Thus, rajulun ʿālimun (“a man is learned”) is rejected, but rajulun min qabīlati kad̠ā ʿālimun (“a man from such and such tribe is learned”) is admitted due to the phrase min qabīlati kad̠ā complementing the head rajulun (Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 308).39 A mubtadaʾ like this is considered “near-definite” (mā qāraba l-maʿrifa), or, otherwise, a nakira mawṣūfa (modified indefinite noun—see Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 59). A single-noun indefinite mubtadaʾ is normally admitted only in negative constructions such as mā ʾaḥ adun fī l-dār (“there is no one in the house”) and mā ʾaḥ adun ḥ āḍirun (“no one is present”). Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 59) who adduces these sentences also includes in this category sentences such as mā fī l-bayti rajulun (“there is no man in the house”). But such sentences are considered here as T3-sentences, and will therefore be dealt with in the next chapter.

38 In a similar vein, Holes (1995:209) also explains the function of ‘clefting’ in Arabic. He later (p. 210) indicates, however, referring to the ʾammā . . . fa- construction, that fronting may also be used to signal the change of text topic. 39 In most cases the grammarians prefer to exemplify this particular feature with a clausal predicate (rajulun min Tamīm jāʾanī—“a man from Tamīm came to me”) rather than with a single-word predicate, as is the case in the example just cited from Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 308). Mohammad (1999:9–13) prefers to characterize the inadmissible nominal in S2-position as “non-specific” rather than as “indefinite”. He defines a specific subject as “any NP that is modified, irrespective of whether this NP is definite or indefinite”, and outlines several types of modification. Subsequently, Mohammad (1999:15, n. 12) states that a nominal/adjectival predicate following a non-specific S2 is disallowed. Yet he accepts waladun kabīrun fī l-bayt (“a big boy is in the house”), while rejecting both waladun fī l-bayt (“a boy is in the house”) and waladun kabīrun mujtahidun (“a big boy is industrious”). He refers (p. 16, n. 13), however, to two linguists who regard sentences similar to waladun fī l-dār as grammatical.

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The second point normally made by the grammarians is that sentences with an indefinite mubtadaʾ are surface representations of other constructions from which this particular feature is absent. They often adduce such sentences as salāmun ʿalayka (“peace be with you!”), waylun lahu (“woe unto him!”) and šarrun ʾaharra d̠ā nāb (“something evil caused the dog to whine”), pointing to semantic factors justifying (musawwiġāt) the occurrence of the indefinite mubtadaʾ sentenceinitially. Thus they argue (see, e.g. Ibn Jinnī Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 319–320) that salāmun ʿalayka and waylun lahu are not statements: their xabar is not designed to convey new information about a mubtadaʾ signalling the “given”. Rather, they constitute a duʿāʾ or masʾala, that is, a kind of blessing or imprecation, and as such are paraphrasable by li-yusallim allāhu ʿalayka and li-yulzimhu l-wayla—respectively. As for šarrun ʾaharra d̠ā nāb, it is claimed that this sentence is typically uttered in a situation requiring emphasis. It should, therefore be construed as paraphrasable by the emphatic negative mā ʾaharra d̠ā nābin ʾillā šarrun (“nothing caused the dog to whine except for something evil”). Finally, Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 341) expresses his agreement with the Kūfan position that an indefinite mubtadaʾ is admitted where it is analyzable as a ṣifa to an underlying mawṣūf. The example cited is muʾminun xayrun min mušrikin, and the argument is that it is acceptable since it may be paraphrased by: ʿabdun muʾminun xayrun min ʿabdin mušrikin (“a slave who is a believer is better than a polytheist slave”). For the grammarians’ acceptance of negative sentences introduced by an indefinite mubtadaʾ, see Chapter Four; and cf. Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 20–21. For an elaborate discussion of the indefinite mubtadaʾ, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 340–344). Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 343) maintains that Sībawayhi stipulated only one general condition for an indefinite mubtadaʾ in sentence-initial position: fāʾida (cf. for this concept, 1.3 above). In other words, there is no objection to an indefinite mubtadaʾ as long as it forms with the xabar a communicatively useful sentence. Ibn ʿUṣfūr then argues that Sībawayhi’s generalization appears to be too powerful, in that it admits sentences such as rajulun fī l-dār, which, in communicative terms ( fāʾida) is as acceptable as fī l-dāri rajulun: both convey the same message. However, as Ibn ʿUṣfūr points out, this runs counter to the grammarians’ rejection of sentences such as rajulun fī l-dār. This structure is disallowed on the ground that fī l-dār could be interpreted as ṣifa (attribute) rather than as xabar to rajulun (cf. 4.4 below). Ibn ʿUṣfūr subsequently solves the problem by saying that Sībawayhi’s


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principle actually excludes sentences such as rajulun fī l-dār because, being grammatically ambiguous, they lead to confusion (labs). A sentence like this must be regarded as communicatively useless (ġayr mufīd), because confusion obscures the real intention of the speaker. However, it was Jurjānī, the first Arab grammarian to develop a functional theory of grammar, who stated that an indefinite mubtadaʾ in most cases signals the new rather than the given information. In his Dalāʾil al-ʾiʿjāz (pp. 143–145) he adduced such sentences as rajulun jāʾanī, pointing out that examining such a sentence in context leads to the conclusion that the fronted indefinite subject is designed to present rajulun (“man”) as a contrast to imraʾatun (“woman”): “a man came to me [not a woman]”.40 In modern terms we would say that Jurjānī conceived of rajulun as the focus, rather than the topic, of the utterance. He made it clear that in such cases the new, asserted, information precedes the given and the presupposed. Similarly, Mohammad (1999:12–13) maintains that an indefinite S2 is acceptable in cases where the verb in P2 describes an action that is incompatible with the referent of S2, e.g. baqaratun takallamat (“a cow spoke”). He suggests that the acceptability of such sentences stems from considerations of “news worthiness”. This issue is discussed in detail in the next section. In any event, an examination of Arabic texts, whether classical or modern, must lead to the conclusion that the phenomenon of indefinite S2 in Written Arabic is marginal. Khan (1988:33, 54) cites a number of such cases, referring also to the fables of Luqmān, were sentences such as ʾinsānun kāna lahu ṣanamun (“a man had an idol”—Khan 1988:33) are fairly common. He indicates, however, that the language of these fables is Middle Arabic, and concludes that such constructions “are statistically very marginal outside the vernaculars”. For indefinite subjects functioning as topics, see Pashova (2003:10–11); for further Modern Standard Arabic examples of an indefinite subject in sentence-initial position, see Badawi et al. 2004:348–349. 3.4.3 S2 with a focus function As we have seen, medieval grammarians and modern linguists have insisted continually upon the principle that constituents signalling the “new”, “asserted”, “important” and “newsworthy” information in 40 Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 20) makes a similar claim regarding sentences such as ʾatānī rajulun (“a man came to me”).

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the sentence normally follow those signalling the “given”, “old” and “presupposed” information. The former, we were taught, are “built” upon the latter, and not the other way around.41 In this section I will present a number of cases where a definite S2 fills a focal function in the sentence. But before we examine the evidence from Arabic, let us look at some findings of modern cross-linguistic research regarding this particular issue. Givón (1988:245–247) questions the traditional concepts of ‘topic’ and ‘topicalization’. He challenges the assumption that “in human language the ‘topic’ (‘theme’, ‘given’, ‘known’, ‘old information’) portion of the clause precedes the ‘focus’ (‘rheme’, ‘new information’).” His conclusions are based on a typological investigation into constituent order in a number of genetically unrelated languages, with special attention to functional considerations. The following principle, correlating informational predictability with word order, seems to sum up his main results: More predictable/accessible information will tend to be post-posed (‘moved to the right’); less predictable/accessible information will tend to be pre-posed (‘moved to the left’) (Givón 1988:252).

This, Givón maintains, is based on a broader cognitive notion of “order of attention”: “Attend first to the more urgent task”. In other words, less predictable and more important information is preposed; more predictable and less important information is postposed.42 Furthermore, Givón (1988:263) points to the results of a study into the word order of Cayuga (a native American language). The conclusions correspond with Givón’s principles: new, surprising, unpredictable, newsworthy information precedes old and unsurprising one; new subject, contrasted element and focus of response to question are normally fronted; indefinite constituents precede definite ones. For further discussion with similar conclusions, see Payne 1992:5–7. Coming now to Arabic, we saw in 3.4.2 that an indefinite mubtadaʾ in sentence-initial position often represents the new and focal rather than the old and given information. In Modern Standard Arabic, as we shall 41 For further discussion, cf. Payne 1992:5; and see Dahlgren (1998, chapter 3), for a survey of various linguistic theories and the approach of each to the issue of constituent order in the clause. 42 Givón adduces a number of cases where the two sub-principles of predictability and importance clash. He concludes (1988:262), that in such cases “importance overrides predictability in predicting word order”.


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see below, one can find cases where the focus of the sentence lies in the definite S2 occurring sentence-initially, rather than in the following P2.43 Bakir (1979:185–186) maintains that a subject may be preposed to the verb for the purpose of focussing. He cites the sentence Muḥ ammadun ġādara ʾilā l-ʿIrāq (“Muḥammad left for Iraq”), indicating that when uttered as an answer to the question man ġādara ʾilā l-ʿIrāq (“who left for Iraq”), Muḥ ammadun functions analogously to ʿAliyyan in the sentence ʿAliyyan qābaltu (“ ʿAlī I met”). Bakir states that Muḥ ammadun in the above case does not function as topic, but rather as a focused subject of the sentence, since it signals the new rather than the given information, much like the focused object ʿAliyyan in ʿAliyyan qābaltu. In terms of intonation, he rightly remarks, both Muḥ ammadun and ʿAliyyan receive primary stress. This, he says, would not have occurred in a sentence where Muḥ ammadun functions as topic. Similarly, Abdul-Raof (1998:194–196) cites answers to man-questions as a typical case of what I would refer to as S2-focussing: man yaḥ kumu l-bilāda? (“who rules the country?”) al-šaʿbu yaḥ kumu l-bilāda (“the people rule the country”). He rightly presents al-šaʿbu in this case as a fronted constituent representing the new information. A similar case is presented by the following dialogue (Abdul-Raof 1998:196): – kāna lī ʾaxun yusammā ʿAliyyan qatalahu l-nāsu – allāhu qatalahu (– “I had a brother named Ali, who was killed by some people” – “God killed him”)

Obviously, a question such as man ḍarabaka? (“who hit you?”) could well be answered by ḍarabanī ʿAmrun (“ ʿAmr hit me”). What AbdulRaof rightly points out is that al-šaʿb and allāh in the above sentences implement the function of contrastive focus: it is the people who rule the nation (and not some dictator). For the grammarians, as we have seen, a nominative noun phrase in sentence-initial position is always a mubtadaʾ without regard to its discourse function. Indeed, apart from Jurjānī, they did not draw a functional distinction between various constructions introduced by the subject. In the vast majority of cases, however, the mubtadaʾ could be shown to represent the “given” rather than the “new”. Sentences like the above, as Abdul-Raof points out, do not represent the norm but rather 43 Cf. Doron (1996:78) who argues that, unlike a left-dislocated topic that is always “given”, the mubtadaʾ, may be either “given” or “new” and function as focus.

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the exception. Indeed, it could only be expected for sentences of this kind to be rare in a written language, since their correct interpretation relies heavily (though not exclusively) on an accented pronunciation of al-šaʿbu and allāhu. However, such sentences are easily attested in spoken Modern Standard Arabic, where intonation, like in any spoken language, plays a major role. For further discussion of this and related issues, see Khan 1988:xxxiii, 54 and Dahlgren 1998:28, 34. Let us now return to the medieval grammarians for a construction that is extensively discussed in the medieval grammatical literature, though rarely attested in either classical or modern texts. It is, however, relevant to the present discussion. When discussing cases where the “verb is built upon the noun”, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 31–32) presents Zaydan ḍarabtuhu44 as an alternative to Zaydun ḍarabtuhu. The operator assigning naṣb to Zayd in this particular case is the verb ḍarabtu immediately preceding Zaydan in the underlying structure. The underlying structure of the sentence is thus presented by Sībawayhi as ḍarabtu Zaydan ḍarabtuhu. He argues that the actual occurrence of the pre-object ḍarabtu is made redundant by the post-object ḍarabtuhu, functioning as an exponent (tafsīr) of (the underlying) ḍarabtu. The latter is therefore deleted, thus yielding Zaydan ḍarabtuhu.45 Sībawayhi’s explanation, however, is problematic, in that it runs counter to the grammarians’ (including his own) assumption that the mubtadaʾ signals the given information and the xabar the new. Indeed, this issue is raised by Sībawayhi when discussing the interrogatives man (“who”), mā (“what”) and ʾayyu (“which”). He points out (Kitāb I, 37; and cf. Khan 1988:60) that Zaydun raʾaytuhu may be used as an answer to man raʾaytahu (“whom did you see?”), whereas Zaydan raʾaytuhu as an answer to man raʾayta. This statement may be taken to suggest a recognition on his part that in certain cases the mubtadaʾ

44 This construction is referred to by some later grammarians as ištiġāl. See, e.g. Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 153–156; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 615–616; and cf. Owens 1988:188, including nn. 241, 242. See below, for further discussion. 45 For the vast majority of grammarians, ḍarabtu in Zaydan ḍarabtuhu could not be presented as the assigner of naṣb to Zaydan, since ḍaraba cannot govern two objects (cf. Levin 1985a:125). However, Farrāʾ (Maʿānī II, 255) did not posit any underlying verb: he claimed that the assigner of naṣb to Zaydan is the actual verb occurring in the sentence, and described the object -hu attached to this verb as a pronominal repetition (takrīr) of Zaydan. Cf. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 82–83; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ II, 30–31; Kinberg 1991:241; Owens 1990:174–177.


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may represent the focus rather than the “given” (cf. Khan 1988:60).46 Moreover, presenting Zaydan raʾaytuhu as a possible answer to man raʾayta unmistakably correlates the former with Zaydan raʾaytu, where Zaydan is unequivocally the focus.47 The focal function of the accusative nominal in cases like Zaydan ḍarabtuhu is further illustrated by two examples quoted by Khan (1988:60) from Sībawayhi: 1. mā laqītu Zaydan lākin ʿAmran marartu bihi (“I did not meet Zayd, but I passed by ʿAmr”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 36). 2. Question: ʾa-raʾayta Zaydan Answer: lā wa-lākin ʿAmran marartu bihi (“Did you see Zayd? No, but I passed by ʿAmr”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 37). In both cases, as is indicated by Khan, ʿAmran (and the following verb) are contrastively asserted (see also Khan 1988:10, 24 and 59, for further examples discussed in the medieval grammatical literature). Finally, let us try and look at the grammarians’ position regarding the sentence type represented by the structure Zaydan ḍarabtuhu. Ibn Yaʿīš states the following: hād̠ā l-ḍarbu yatajād̠abuhu l-ibtidāʾu wa-l-xabaru wa-l-fiʿlu wa-l-fāʿilu fa-ʾid̠ā qulta Zaydan ḍarabtuhu fa-ʾinnahu yajūzu fī Zaydin wa-mā kāna mit̠lahu ʾabadan wajhāni l-raf ʿu wa-l-naṣbu (“this kind [of structure] reflects a “competition” between the ibtidāʾ+xabar pattern and the fiʿl+fāʿil pattern. If you say Zaydan ḍarabtuhu, there are always two options for the case of Zayd or whatever fills its position: rafʿ and naṣb”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ II, 30).

The term ištiġāl, normally used by the grammarians with reference to Zaydun/Zaydan ḍarabtuhu (some grammarians restrict this term to Zaydan ḍarabtuhu), is designed to convey the idea that the verb in these cases does not act upon (yaštaġilu ʿan) the noun introducing the sentence, but rather exercises ʿamal on the pronoun referring to that noun. Earlier we saw that Sībawayhi treated Zaydan ḍarabtuhu as analogous to Zaydun ḍarabtuhu (T2), yet his explanation of the naṣb of Zaydan carried the implication that such cases were, rather, within the realm of the jumla fiʿliyya (cf. Ayoub & Bohas 1983:34). 46 Khan (1988:60) points out, indeed, that such constructions with focal subject are rarely attested in texts. He quotes, however, the following example from poetry: ʾin ʾaku maẓlūman fa-ʿabdun ẓalamtahu (“If I am wronged you have wronged a servant”). 47 Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 32) remarks that while Zaydan ḍarabtuhu is common in Arabic, Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is more appropriate (ʾajwad), since if one opts for assigning naṣb to Zayd, then the more appropriate constructions would be ḍarabtu Zaydan and Zaydan ḍarabtu, rather than a construction in which the naṣb assigner is an underlying (muḍmar) element (cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 229).

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In light of the above, it looks as though Zaydan ḍarabtuhu results from a contamination of Zaydun ḍarabtuhu and Zaydan ḍarabtu. This, indeed, is a contamination of two sentence types: a T2-sentence and (an inverted) T1-sentence. The position of the medieval grammarians regarding the sentence type represented by the structure Zaydan ḍarabtuhu actually remains undecided (for an interesting discussion of the concept ištiġāl as manifested in Zaydun/Zaydan ḍarabtuhu and related structures, see Ibn al-Warrāq ʿIlal, 429–436). In modern research the question, to my knowledge, has not thus far been raised. 3.5

Mubtadaʾ-xabar (S2-P2) inversion

After presenting the different sub-types of T2 sentences, with emphasis on the principle that the xabar must follow the mubtadaʾ, the grammarians typically turn to examining the possibility of mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion. Mainstream grammarians often point out that the Kūfans ruled out such an inversion, particularly in cases such as (4) below, on the ground that a fronted xabar contains an inadmissible anticipatory pronoun referring to the following mubtadaʾ (see, e.g. Astarābād̠ī I, 247–248; Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 65). But mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion presented theoretical problems not only for the Kūfans. These problems were recognized and well described already by Sībawayhi, and further discussed by later grammarians. Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 239), drawing on al-Xalīl, regarded sentences such as (1)–(4) below as acceptable, inasmuch as they were construed as inverted mubtadaʾ-xabar sentences, analogous to sentences such as ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAmrun, with the object preceding the subject: (1) (2) (3) (4)

rajulun ʿAbdu-llāhi (“a man is ʿAbdullāh”) tamīmiyyun ʾanā (“a Tamimite I am”) mašnūʾun man yašnaʾuka (“loathed is the one who loathes you”) qāʾimun Zaydun (“standing is Zayd”)

For Sībawayhi, the predicate in such cases is fronted (muqaddam), and built upon the mubtadaʾ, exactly as it would be in the non-inverted version described by him as the regular preferred structure (al-ḥ add). However, Sībawayhi distinguished between different cases of inversion as represented in sentences (1)-(4). Sentence (1), where the predicate is an unmistakable substantive (rajul), could only be analyzed as a case of mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion, and as such did not pose any problem. Sentences (2)–(3) might be treated similarly: the fronted xabar


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in these cases is an adjective, but (at least in (2)) it is a noun-related adjective. Sentence (4), however, was problematic in that the adjectival predicate introducing it is an active participle. In medieval Arabic grammatical theory, verb-related adjectives are regularly presented as derived from a verb, thus having some “verbal force” (maʿnā l-fiʿl—see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 87–88). Among these adjectives, the closest to the verb is the active participle. Now, given the relationship between the active participle and the verb, sentences such as (4) had to be related somehow to verb-initial sentences. This, as we will see in 4.2, presented a serious challenge to the medieval theory of sentence types and case assignment (for an enlightening discussion of predicate-subject sentences and the adjective as a complex construction, see Goldenberg 2002, esp. 199–201).48 As we saw in 3.1 above, Ibn al-Sarrāj distinguished between a verbal xabar as in Zaydun yaqūmu and a clausal xabar as in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu/ Zaydun ʾabūhu munṭaliqun. We indicated further that Zajjājī advocated four xabar types, considering as clausal xabar only a jumla ismiyya. When considering the possibilities of inversion, Zajjājī allowed it in all cases except for a verbal xabar (Zajjājī Jumal, 37–38). Thus he readily accepted sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun, fī l-dāri Muḥ ammadun and ʾaxūhu munṭaliqun Zaydun (“Zayd, his brother is leaving”). The significance of Ibn al-Sarrāj’s and Zajjājī’s analysis of Zaydun yaqūmu as a sentence with a verbal rather than a clausal xabar—emerges from the fact that, unlike in other cases of clausal xabar, in this particular case inversion was universally excluded: yaqūmu Zaydun could not be analyzed as a clausal xabar followed by a mubtadaʾ, but rather as a jumla fiʿliyya with a fiʿl followed by its fāʿil. However, in Zajjājī’s view (but not in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s), a sentence such as Zaydun xaraja ʾabūhu also displayed a verbal rather than a clausal xabar. Accordingly he rejected the analysis of sentences such as xaraja ʾabūhu Zaydun (“Zayd, his father went out”) as a clausal xabar followed by a mubtadaʾ. As we shall see below (and cf. Ayoub & Bohas 1983:33), some grammarians did advocate such an analysis. Zajjājī, however, insisted that a sentence like this could only be analyzed as a verbal sentence, where the ʿāmil is a verb (rather than the abstract ibtidāʾ) assigning rafʿ to a following fāʿil.

48 In Modern Standard Arabic, especially in the media, one can find sentences such as jāri(n) l-faḥ ṣ (“an investigation is under way”). Here the verbal function of the participle, being replaceable by yajrī, is easily recognized.

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Some grammarians emphasized that a xabar consisting of fiʿl+fāʿil could precede the mubtadaʾ only in cases where the fāʿil was not identical in reference with the mubtadaʾ. Thus, qāma Zaydun could not be analyzed as an inverted T2-sentence, because the subject of qāma corefers with Zaydun. Zajjājī (Jumal, 37–38) made his position clear that in cases where the subject is preceded by its verb, it is the verb that assigns the rafʿ case to the subject, rather than the ibtidāʾ, since the verb (as an operator) is stronger (li-ʾanna l-fiʿla ʾaqwā minhu). Other grammarians, like Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 582), argued that the verb in such cases assumed the function of ʿāmil since a formal concrete (ẓāhir) ʿāmil is more powerful than an abstract (maʿnawī) ʿāmil. Still others, like Mujāšiʿī (Šarḥ , 89), stated the same rule with reference to Zaydun in Zaydun qāma, presenting Zaydun as a mubtadaʾ obligatorily preceding its xabar (see below). He pointed out that in cases where the xabar is a verb, it must obligatorily follow the mubtadaʾ. For further discussion, see, e.g. ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 258. Not surprisingly, the question on which the grammarians focus their discussion of mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion is that of case assignment. The semantic implications of the process are hardly touched upon. A remarkable exception, as one could expect, is Jurjānī. In his Dalāʾil al-ʾiʿjāz (pp. 189–190), Jurjānī emphasizes the point that mubtadaʾ and xabar are functional concepts; the terms do not imply a specific word order. The essence of the mubtadaʾ is not that it occurs sentence-initially, but rather that it functions as a musnad ʾilayhi (see 1.2 above) to whose referent some property is ascribed (mut̠bat lahu l-maʿnā); the xabar, by the same token, is a musnad by which (bihi) that meaning or property is established. Obviously, placing the mubtadaʾ in sentence-initial position, and the xabar after the mubtadaʾ, yields a word-order pattern that is consistent with their respective functions. But the actual implementation of these functions is not dependent upon the positions of the mubtadaʾ and the xabar within the sentence. Zaydun and munṭaliqun each fills the same function whether in Zaydun munṭaliqun or in munṭaliqun Zaydun.49 Note however Jurjānī’s concurrence with the prevailing view among the grammarians that the xabar’s initial position represents a surface-structure (lafẓ) feature, whereas in the basic intended (niyya)

49 Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 92) underlines the function of tamīmiyyun and mašnūʾun in sentences (2) and (3) as fronted xabar (xabar muqaddam), pointing out that the message (al-fāʾida) of the sentence lies, for instance in (2), in the fact that the speaker is a Tamimite, not in the first-person pronoun ʾanā.


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structure it occurs after the mubtadaʾ. Further semantic implications of constituent order are dealt with in Chapter Four below. The question of mubtadaʾ-xabar order becomes more complex when both constituents are definite. Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 354) states that “you analyze as mubtadaʾ that constituent which in your assumption signals what is already known to the addressee (jaʿalta llad̠ī tuqaddiru ʾanna l-muxāṭaba yaʿlamuhu mubtadaʾan), whereas what you assume to be unknown (yajhaluhu) to the addressee you analyze as xabar.” Thus one says Zaydun ʾaxū ʿAmrin (“Zayd is ʿAmr’s brother”) when one assumes that the addressee knows Zayd but does not know that he is ʿAmr’s brother. Obviously this is a clear application of the given-new principle (cf. ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 257–258). As we saw in 1.4 above, Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 65–66) takes a slightly different position, claiming that a sentence such as Zaydun ʾaxūka is only valid (yajūzu) in a situation where the addressee knows Zayd and also knows that he has a brother, but does not know that Zayd is his brother, perhaps because the two had been separated from each other for a long period of time. In such cases, Ibn al-Sarrāj points out, the fāʾida of the sentence lies in the mubtadaʾ and the xabar jointly ( fa-ʾinnamā l-fāʾidatu fī majmūʿihimā). As could only be expected, it is in Jurjānī’s discussion of word order that such cases play a major role. He maintains (Dalāʾil, 186–187) that in sentences of this kind it is always the second constituent by which some quality is established with regard to the first. And if, he argues, each of Zaydun and al-munṭaliqu fills a different function in Zaydun al-munṭaliqu and al-munṭaliqu Zaydun, it follows that these two sentences are not synonymous. To illustrate this, Jurjānī (Dalāʾil, 190–192) embarks on an extensive functional discussion of such sentences as ʾanta l-ḥ abību/al-ḥ abību ʾanta (“you are the loved one”/the loved one is you”), pointing out various nuances of meaning which already fall beyond the scope of the present study. It must be emphasized here that sentences such as (1)–(4) above, as well as ʾaxūhu munṭaliqun Zaydun, represent cases of optional inversion.50 The grammarians normally deal with three categories of inver-

50 Interestingly enough, ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 263) refers to Sībawayhi’s example tamīmiyyun ʾanā (sentence (2) above), claiming that the order of constituents in such cases is obligatory rather than optional when the sentence is intended to convey a special meaning that cannot be derived from the mubtadaʾ-xabar order. Thus, in the above example, if the speaker’s intention is to boast his being a member of the tribe of Tamīm, then preposing the predicate tamīmiyyun is obligatory. It should be borne in mind,

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sion. Thus Mujāšiʿī (Šarḥ , 88–89) includes in his first category cases such as ʾayna Zaydun (“where is Zayd”), where the xabar, as an interrogative word, must occur sentence-initially, and therefore precede the mubtadaʾ (cf. 4.4 below). The second category includes cases of verbal xabar, where, as we have seen, the verb must, obligatorily, follow the mubtadaʾ, i.e. the option of inversion does not exist, this time because it would yield a different type of sentence ( jumla fiʿliyya). In the third category Mujāšiʿī includes all other cases which he regards as cases of optional inversion (mā jāza taqdīmuhu wa-taʾxīruhu). Here he points to cases where the xabar is either a participle or a T2 clause, which, as we have seen, do not necessarily follow, but may also precede the mubtadaʾ. Note that in the last group Mujāšiʿī also includes cases such as Zaydun fī l-dāri/fī l-dāri Zaydun (“Zayd is in the house”/“in the house there is Zayd”) where the adverbial xabar may either precede or follow the definite mubtadaʾ. Interestingly enough, Mujāšiʿī does not include in his discussion of mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion cases such as fī l-dāri rajulun (“in the house there is a man”), where a definite adverbial predicate is followed by an indefinite subject. However, such cases are dealt with by other grammarians and will be discussed in detail in the next chapter. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 589–591) discusses four cases where the mubtadaʾ must obligatorily precede the xabar: 1. when the mubtadaʾ is an interrogative word (man qāʾimun—“who is standing?”). 2. when the xabar is dominated by the exceptive ʾillā (mā Zaydun ʾillā fārisun— “Zayd is only a rider”). 3. in metaphoric expressions such as Zaydun Zuhayrun (“Zayd is [like] Zuhayr”). Obviously, reversing the order in a case like this is disallowed on semantic grounds: reversing the order of constituents would reverse the meaning of the sentence, and the outcome will be “Zuhayr is like Zayd”, in contrast to what is intended in the original sentence (cf. ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 257). 4. in cases with an indefinite mubtadaʾ, such as šarrun ʾaharra d̠ā nāb, which are paraphrased by Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (as by other grammarians) as the exceptive sentence mā ʾaharra d̠ā nāb ʾillā šarrun (cf. 3.4.2 above). Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ indicates that if a sentence like this were phrased with the verb preceding the subject (ʾaharra d̠ā nāb šarrun), then the exceptive, or confining, meaning (ḥ aṣr) would be lost.

however, that optional inversion of word order is always motivated by some semanticpragmatic consideration, as has been observed by most of the grammarians.


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ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 258) adds three more cases where the mubtadaʾ obligatorily precedes the xabar: 1. when the xabar is introduced by the particle fa-. He argues that the basic function of fa- is taʿqīb (“arrange in succession”), and that in a sentence such as allad̠ī yaʾtīnī fa-lahu dirhamun (“whoever comes to me will get a dirham”) it behaves analogously to fa- al-jazāʾ introducing an apodosis in a conditional sentence. 2. when lam al-ibtidāʾ is affixed to the mubtadaʾ, as in la-Zaydun qāʾimun (“Zayd is standing”). 3. when the function of the mubtadaʾ is filled by ḍamīr al-šaʾn. This last phenomenon will be discussed in detail in 5.6 below. For further discussion of cases where inversion is either obligatory, disallowed or optional, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 353. 3.6

Copula versus ḍamīr al-faṣl

3.6.1 Medieval grammarians: ḍamīr al-faṣl A common feature of T2-sentences is the occurrence of a separate pronoun between S2 and a phrasal (rather than a clausal) P2, subject to certain restrictions. Modern writers usually use the term ‘copula’ when referring to this pronoun, whereas the medieval designation is ḍamīr al-faṣl (“the pronoun of separation”). The equation of ḍamīr al-faṣl with copula is rightly rejected by Carter (e.g. 1994:403) not only because these terms convey two different concepts, i.e separation versus linking; whereas the Indo-European copula is a semantically depleted verb, the Arabic ḍamīr al-faṣl is a pronoun whose distribution and functions differ substantially from those of the copula. I return to this in 3.6.2. In the medieval grammarians’ writings ḍamīr al-faṣl is normally dealt with within the framework of their discussion of pronouns in Arabic. Yet, this pronoun is invariably associated with ibtidāʾ in the widest sense of the term. In other words, ḍamīr al-faṣl is presented as occurring in sentences introduced by ẓanna, kāna, ʾinna and their “sisters” (see Chapter Five), as well as in “pure” mubtadaʾ+xabar sentences.51 Our

51 The opening statement in Sībawayhi’s chapter devoted to the faṣl (Kitāb I, 346) is that it only occurs in sentences introduced by a verb, where the noun following that verb is in ibtidāʾ status. Subsequently he exemplifies the intended verbs with ḥ asibtu, xiltu, ẓanantu and other cognitive verbs, and later discusses other cases of ibtidāʾ where ḍamīr al-faṣl may occur.

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discussion of the pronoun in question will concentrate, however, on T2-sentences of the type discussed in the present chapter. The following excerpt from Zamaxšarī’s chapter devoted to ḍamīr al-faṣl seems to encapsulate the principles and rules that had been developed by the grammarians throughout the centuries regarding the phenomenon in question. I will therefore discuss it in some detail, integrating into my discussion the relevant comments made by Ibn Yaʿīš. Let us, then, start with Zamaxšarī: wa-yatawassaṭu bayna l-mubtadaʾi wa-xabarihi qabla duxūli l-ʿawāmili l-lafẓiyyati wa-baʿdahu ʾid̠ā kāna l-xabaru maʿrifatan ʾaw muḍāriʿan lahu fī mtināʿi duxūli ḥ arfi l-taʿrīfi ʿalayhi ka-ʾafʿal min ka-d̠ā ʾaḥ adu l-ḍamāʾiri l-munfaṣilati l-marfūʿati li-yuʾd̠ina min ʾawwali ʾamrihi bi-ʾannahu xabarun lā naʿtun wa-li-yufīda ḍarban min al-tawkīdi wa-yusammīhi l-baṣriyyūna faṣlan wa-l-kūfiyyūna ʿimādan wa-d̠ālika fī qawlika Zaydun huwa l-munṭaliqu wa-Zaydun huwa ʾafḍalu min ʿAmrin [. . .] wa-kat̠īrun min al-ʿarabi yajʿalūnahu mubtadaʾan wa-mā baʿdahu mabniyyan ʿalayhi (“Between the mubtadaʾ and its xabar, a nominative separate pronoun may be inserted, either before or after morphological operators are entered. [This occurs] when the xabar is definite or quasi-definite in that it cannot take the definite article, e.g. ʾafʿal min ka-d̠ā. [The purpose of this pronoun is] to announce right from the outset that [the definite phrase following it] is a predicate not an attribute, as well as to convey some sort of emphasis. The Baṣrans name it faṣl and the Kūfans ʿimād. This may be exemplified by sentences such as Zaydun huwa l-munṭaliqu (“Zayd is the one who is leaving”) and Zaydun huwa ʾafḍalu min ʿAmrin (“Zayd is better than ʿAmr”) [. . .] Many Arabs analyze [this pronoun] as mubtadaʾ and what follows it as mabnī ʿalayhi [= xabar]”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 109–110).

Ḍ amīr al-faṣl is normally presented as occurring between two definite predicative constituents (bayna maʿrifatayni—see, e.g. Zajjājī Jumal, 142; Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 414; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 110). Given, however, that the mubtadaʾ is in principle definite, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 347f.) and Zamaxšarī (in the above excerpt) content themselves with stipulating that the xabar must be a definite or quasi-definite phrase.52 In effect, any type of nominal phrase would qualify as a post-ḍamīr-al-faṣl xabar,

52 Sentences such as mā ẓanantu ʾaḥ adan huwa xayran minka (“I did not believe anyone to be better than you”) and mā ẓanantu Zaydan huwa qāʾiman (“I did not believe Zayd to be standing”), where ḍamīr al-faṣl is respectively preceded and followed by a single-word indefinite nominal, are ruled out by Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 112) as unacceptable.


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except for a single-word (i.e. unmodified) indefinite nominal (whether substantive or adjective) (cf. Khan 1988:49–50).53 The term ḍamīr al-faṣl is explained by Ibn Yaʿīš with reference to the pronoun’s function of separation designed for disambiguation: [. . .] ka-ʾannahu faṣala l-i-sma l-ʾawwala ʿammā baʿdahu wa-ʾād̠ana bi-tamāmihi wa-ʾan lam yabqa minhu baqiyyatun min naʿtin wa-lā badalin ʾillā l-xabaru lā ġayru (“[. . .] as if it [i.e. the pronoun] separates the first noun from what follows it, announcing its completeness, in the sense that neither an attribute nor an apposition is to be [expected] after it, and that the only remaining [constituent] is the predicate”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 110; and cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ II, 65).54

This is, indeed, how the main function of ḍamīr al-faṣl was viewed by the vast majority of grammarians (for a somewhat more detailed discussion, see Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 111): By separating between the two (definite) constituents to its left and to its right, it marks the relationship between them as predicative rather than attributive. Significantly, however, its function as a disambiguating device did not lead the grammarians to present ḍamīr al-faṣl as an obligatory constituent in the sentence. Rather, from their treatment of ḍamīr al-faṣl one may infer that the grammarians viewed the occurrence of this pronoun as optional rather than as obligatory.55 Zamaxšarī, as we have seen, added a semantic function to ḍamīr al-faṣl: emphasis. Indeed, in Classical Arabic, Zaydun al-munṭaliqu (“Zayd is the one who is leaving”) is a perfectly grammatical sentence, and the insertion of ḍamīr al-faṣl in such cases is consequently viewed

53 The notion of quasi-definite is remarkably extended by the grammarians to include a large variety of phrases, such as the comparative ʾafʿal min, and even the verb form yaf ʿalu which is said to behave analogously to a definite noun without the ability to take the definite article (for discussion, see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 414–416; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 111–112). 54 The Kūfan term ʿimād is explained as conveying the idea that the meaning of the sentence is dependent upon this pronoun (yaʿtamidu ʿalayhi—see, e.g. Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 644; and cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ II, 65: li-ʾannahu yuʿtamadu ʿalayhi fī l-fāʾida—“the predication depends upon it”). 55 Furthermore, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 111) concedes that ḍamīr al-faṣl may occur also in constructions where the predicative relationship is clear-cut with no further need for a disambiguating device. This is indeed the case in sentences such as Zaydun xayrun minka (“Zayd is better than you”), where the grammarians allow for ḍamīr al-faṣl between Zaydun and xayrun minka. Ibn Yaʿīš’s remark (towards the bottom of the page) that the position following ḍamīr al-faṣl is only available for a constituent that might potentially be analyzed as an attribute (naʿt) to the pre-ḍamīr-al-faṣl constituent must therefore be judged as an overgeneralization.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


as designed to convey some kind of emphasis. Zamaxšarī’s point is reinforced by Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 110) who states that ḍamīr al-faṣl must be a separate pronoun (having a nominative status—marfūʿ al-mawḍiʿ) because it conveys some sort of emphasis, a function implemented precisely by that kind of pronoun.56 Moreover, he points out that, as an emphatic element, ḍamīr al-faṣl must obligatorily corefer with the subject (wajaba ʾan yakūna l-muḍmar huwa l-ʾawwal fī l-maʿnā), because “the emphasizer is identical in reference with the emphasized” (al-taʾkīd huwa l-muʾakkad fī l-maʿnā).57 An important feature of ḍamīr al-faṣl repeatedly indicated by the grammarians is the fact that it lends itself to an alternative analysis as a mubtadaʾ in a xabar clause. A sentence such as Zaydun huwa l-munṭaliqu is thus analyzable in one of the two forms below: mubtada’ ḍ. al-faṣl



(jumlat) xabar mubtada’

A. Zaydun

huwa l-munṭaliqu

B. Zaydun huwa

xabar l-munṭaliqu

Figure 3

As can be seen, the pronoun huwa functions as ḍamīr al-faṣl only under analysis A. In B, huwa and al-munṭaliqu form a xabar clause in which the former functions as mubtadaʾ and the latter as its xabar. In other words, if A is a T2 sentence with a phrasal predicate, B is a T2 sentence with a clausal predicate (for a more detailed discussion, see Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 111–112; and cf. Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 348; Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 414). Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 113) points out that when the separate pronoun functions as mubtadaʾ its status is that of a noun in the raf ʿ case; by contrast, the status of ḍamīr al-faṣl (as in A above) is that of a particle (ḥ arf ) whose ʿamal is annulled (ʾilġāʾ), and as such it is devoid of case (lā yakūnu lahu mawḍiʿ min al-ʾiʿrāb—cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 414; Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf II, 706–707).58 56 Ibn Yaʿīš draws an analogy between ḍamīr al-faṣl and cases such as qumtu ʾanā (“I stood up”), where the separate pronoun is used for emphasis only. 57 Similarly he remarks (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 111) that, as an emphatic element categorized as definite, ḍamīr al-faṣl must be preceded by a definite noun, in analogy to the relationship between an emphasizer and an emphasized element in general. 58 Here Ibn Yaʿīš apparently represents the Baṣran position as against the Kūfan claim that the ʿimād has a mawḍiʿ min al-ʾiʿrāb. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾInṣāf II, 706–707) adduces,


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It thus turns out to be the case that a separate pronoun between two nominals was not necessarily analyzed or defined by the grammarians as ḍamīr al-faṣl. Further, they appreciated that disambiguation was not the only function of that pronoun. Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 111) admits that in cases such as A and B above (as well as in ʾinna sentences where the xabar likewise takes the raf ʿ case), the status of the separate pronoun can only be determined by the context (ʾal-ʾirāda wa-l-niyya).59 For Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 111) a sentence is structurally ambiguous also in cases where the separate pronoun follows either an implicit pronoun, as in kunta ʾanta60 l-raqība ʿalayhim (“you were their guardian”), or an attached pronoun, as in ʾin tarani ʾanā ʾaqalla minka mālan (“if you believe me to be less wealthy than you”). In such sentences, he maintains, the separate pronoun may be interpreted as either ḍamīr al-faṣl or taʾkīd (pronoun of emphasis), because a pronoun, irrespective of its case, is normally emphasized by a nominative (separate) pronoun. Indeed, Ibn Yaʿīš is well aware of the structural ambiguity that may arise in cases where a separate pronoun occurs between two nominal elements. He therefore rounds off his discussion of ḍamīr al-faṣl by outlining the main differences between ḍamīr al-faṣl, a pronominal apposition (badal) and a pronominal emphasizer (taʾkīd):61 1. A pronominal emphasizer may follow only a pronoun, whereas ḍamīr al-faṣl may follow either a pronoun or a noun. 2. A pronominal emphasizer is by definition a nominal, and as such it must agree in case with the emphasized element. Ḍ amīr al-faṣl, by contrast, is case-less.

apart from the Baṣran-Kūfan controversy, also an inner Kūfan debate regarding the case of the ʿimād: some argue that it agrees with the nominal preceding it, whereas others claim that it agrees in case with the nominal following it. For details, see, e.g. Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 645. 59 By contrast, so is the argument, in sentences introduced by a verb (either auxiliary or cognitive) it is the case of the post-pronoun nominal that determines the status of the pronoun. If that nominal displays the naṣb case ending, then the pronoun is unambiguously ḍamīr al-faṣl (see also Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 112–113). 60 Note that the grammarians did not restrict ḍamīr al-faṣl to third-person pronouns. 61 Cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ II, 66–68; Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 645–646. The grammarians’ difficulties in characterizing ḍamīr al-faṣl are echoed in Wright’s and Reckendorf ’s discussions of the subject (see Wright 1896–1898, II:259–260, 265; Reckendorf 1895–1898:384–387).

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


3. A pronominal apposition agrees in case with its head much like a pronominal emphasizer. However, if the apposition modifies an accusative nominal, it must be attached to ʾiyyā- (ẓanantuka ʾiyyāka xayran min Zaydin—“I believed you to be better than Zayd”). By contrast, ḍamīr al-faṣl and a pronominal emphasizer invariably take the form of a separate pronoun. 4. Lām al-taʾkīd may be attached to ḍamīr al-faṣl (ʾin kāna Zaydun la-huwa l-ʿāqila—“Zayd was the intelligent one”), but not to a pronominal apposition or emphasizer, because a modifier in a noun phrase may not be separated from its head. 3.6.2 Modern writers: copula Coming now to compare the medieval concept of ḍamīr al-faṣl with the Indo-European copula, the differences emerge quite clearly: 1. The copula is a kind of verb (e.g. be in English), whereas ḍamīr al-faṣl is a pronoun. For many modern writers, then, the pronoun in question is a special kind of copula, often referred to as a pronominal copula.62 2. The copula in languages such as English, French and German is obligatory, whereas ḍamīr al-faṣl in the grammarians’ view is essentially optional.63 Consider the following three sentences: (1) Zaydun huwa l-mudīru (“Zayd is the manager”) (2) Zaydun (huwa) mudīru l-madrasati (“Zayd is the school’s headmaster”) (3) Zaydun ∗huwa mudīrun (“Zayd is a manager”),

62 Semitists tend to view the separate pronoun occurring between the subject and the predicate in Semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic as derived from a resumptive pronoun in cases of extraposition. Thus, huwa in Zaydun huwa l-maliku (“Zayd is the king”) is presented as an originally resumptive pronoun functioning as subject in the predicate clause huwa l-maliku. It is claimed that such sentences underwent a process of reanalysis reducing the separate pronoun to a “mere” copula. For discussion, see e.g. Driver 1892:269–273. We have already seen in 3.6.1 that this kind of analysis was fairly common among the medieval Arab grammarians as well. 63 This, as we have seen, is related to the fact that ḍamīr al-faṣl is viewed by the grammarians as having a twofold function: disambiguation and emphasis. Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ II, 65) even claims that ḍamīr al-faṣl may be replaced either by a badal or a taʾkīd (yastaġnūna ʿanhu bi-l-badal wa-l-taʾkīd), arguing that the option of substituting ḍamīr al-faṣl by taʾkīd proves that ḍamīr al-faṣl is designed for both disambiguation and emphasis.







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In Modern Standard Arabic, the separate pronoun huwa is obligatory only in structures such as (1); in (2) it is optional, and in (3) inadmissible. The copula, as the term suggests, links between two non-verbal phrases thus creating a predicative relationship between them. Omitting the copula from Zayd is the manager, will result in ∗Zayd the manager, which is clearly unacceptable as a sentence in English. By contrast, Zaydun al-mudīru, in the grammarians’ view, would be regarded as ambiguous rather than as ill-formed. The basic difference lies here in the fact that in English, an adjectival attribute precedes the noun it modifies while the predicate follows its subject; whereas in Arabic the attribute/apposition follows its head much as the predicate follows its subject. This obviously explains why ḍamīr al-faṣl was conceived of by the medieval grammarians as a disambiguating device. The copula in Indo-European languages does not normally function as an emphatic element, unless accented (John is a teacher). Nor is the copula analyzable as an apposition or as a subject in a clausal predicate. While the medieval grammarians emphasize that ḍamīr al-faṣl must occur between two definite noun phrases, a copula may either precede or follow an indefinite noun, or, otherwise, occur between two indefinite nominals, as is shown by the following sentences respectively: John is a teacher, a table is what I need, a dog is an animal (for a separate pronoun following an indefinite nominal in Arabic, see below). A copula and a full-verb predicate are mutually exclusive in IndoEuropean languages. Ḍ amīr al-faṣl, by contrast, may be inserted between the two objects of a cognitive verb. Moreover, in Written Arabic ḍamīr al-faṣl regularly occurs between the subject and the predicate of a sentence introduced by an auxiliary verb (kāna Zaydun huwa l-mudīra—“Zayd was the manager”).64 As we have seen, the grammarians occasionally analyzed a separate pronoun following a non-separate pronoun as ḍamīr al-faṣl. There are no similar cases in English. 64

This, however, is not the case in modern Arabic dialects where the main wordorder pattern is SVO. In modern Egyptian Arabic, as indicated by Eid (1991:34), copular pronouns and copular verbs are in complementary distribution with respect to tense, and cannot cooccur in the same sentence.

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


The above seven points outline the differences between ḍamīr al-faṣl as conceived by the medieval Arab grammarians and the Indo-European copula. Despite these differences it is very common among modern writers to refer to the Arabic ḍamīr al-faṣl as copula, or rather, as a pronominal copula, assuming that the copula is essentially a verb. Moreover, modern writers often compare the pronominal copula with the regular (i.e. verbal) copula65 (pt. 1 above). Unlike the medieval grammarians, modern writers tend to draw a distinction between cases where the copula in Arabic is obligatory and others where it is optional. Eid (1991:41, 44–49) distinguishes between a predicational predicate assigning a property to the subject and a referential predicate designed to identify an individual or entity referred to by the subject. She argues that it is only in the latter case, specifically where both the subject and the predicate are referential arguments, that the pronominal copula is obligatory (pt. 2 above). This is consistent with Eid’s functional explanation for the use of copular pronouns in Arabic. She maintains (1991:42) that these pronouns “function as antiambiguity devices to force a sentential, vs. a phrasal, interpretation of a structure”. This, in turn, is identical to the medieval grammarians’ basic argument as regards the function of ḍamīr al-faṣl (pt. 3 above).66 One case that is less discussed by modern writers, though it is by no means rare, is that of the separate pronoun occurring in predicatesubject sentences (see 3.5 above) where the predicate is a nominal, usually an adjective, or otherwise an adverbial or a prepositional phrase: (1) ka-d̠ālika huwa l-ʾinsānu (“so is man”—Nuʿayma 1971:170) (2) ʿaẓīmun huwa llāhu (“great is God”—Nuʿayma 1966:132) (3) ḥ ulwatun hiya hād̠ihi l-dunya (“charming is this world”—Nuʿayma 1971:140) (4) ʾayna huwa l-masīḥ u? (“where is the Messiah?”—Nuʿayma 1971:36) Cf. Mohammad 1999:14, n. 10; Cantarino 1975, II:429–430.

In (1), the separate pronoun is obligatory. Without it, the demonstrative pronoun and the following noun would form a noun phrase (ka-d̠ālika l-ʾinsān—“like this person”) rather than a sentence. In (2), where the subject allāh is made definite by the definite article, the pronoun seems 65 See, e.g. Eid (1991:34ff.). She points out, however (p. 33), that while “these pronouns behave like verbs [. . .] they cannot simply be analyzed as such”. 66 Eid (1991:45–47) deals also with Egyptian Arabic cases where the pronoun in question occurs in sentences where both the subject and the predicate are pronouns rather than nouns. This kind of structure will not, however, be reviewed here.


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to be essential but not obligatory. It is less essential in (3), where the subject head is preceded by a demonstrative pronoun. (4) is a locative sentence of the type that will be discussed in detail in the next chapter. The pronoun huwa in this case is clearly optional. Notice, however, that ∗fīhā huwa l-masīḥ u (“in it is the Messiah”) is unacceptable. For a detailed discussion of ḍamīr al-faṣl in Modern Standard Arabic, see Badawi et al. 2004:338–344. 3.7 Summary This chapter was devoted mainly to structures where the subject is immediately followed by its predicate. In our discussion we highlighted some points of disagreement between the medieval grammarians and some modern writers. These differences may be outlined as follows: A. Medieval grammarians: 1. The four constructions Zaydun munṭaliqun, Zaydun yanṭaliqu, Zaydun yaḍribu ʿAbda-llāhi and Zaydun yaḍribuhu ʿAbdu-llāhi—all represent the same sentence type: jumla ismiyya (T2 in our terms). 2. The constructions Zaydun yanṭaliqu, Zaydun yaḍribu ʿAbda-llāhi and Zaydun yaḍribuhu ʿAbdu-llāhi are analyzed by the vast majority of grammarians as a jumla ismiyya with a clausal xabar. 3. Zaydun yanṭaliqu is not regarded as the inverted version of yanṭaliqu Zaydun. 4. The vast majority of grammarians do not present sentences such as Zaydun yaḍribuhu ʿAbdu-llāhi (or Zaydun ḍarabtuhu) as resulting from a movement transformation. B. Modern writers: 1. Sentences such as Zaydun munṭaliqun are designated equative sentences. 2. The sentences yaḍribu Zaydun ʿAbda-llāhi and Zaydun yaḍ ribu ʿAbda-llāhi are regarded as representing two word-order patterns, VSO and SVO respectively. 3. B2 entails two types of agreement: the verb fully agrees with its subject in SVO-, but not in VSO-sentences. This is manifested by such pairs as yaḍribu l-ʾawlādu ʿAbda-llāhi (“the children hit ʿAbdullāh”) and al-ʾawlādu yaḍribūna ʿAbda-llāhi. As we have indicated, analyzing the predicate in the latter sentence as a clause obviates the

type-2 sentences: subject+predicate


oddity of differences in number-gender agreement between the two structures. 4. Zaydun yaḍribuhu ʿAbdu-llāhi is presented as an instance of leftdislocation. Our discussion throughout argued in favour of the grammarians’ reasoning as against the arguments outlined in B1–4 above. Now, if it is correct to reject the B-statements in favour of A, the inevitable conclusion is that SV(O) (in the Greenbergian sense) is not a viable word-order pattern in Written Arabic and must therefore be abandoned in favour of S2+P2clause. The xabar may thus be either a (non-verbal) phrase or a clause. V in the sense of an “empty” verb can only fill a pre-S1 ( fāʿil) position, but not a post-S2 (mubtadaʾ) position (i.e. a xabar position). Having discussed the formal aspects of T2-sentences, we turned to some functional aspects, concentrating on cases where S2/mubtadaʾ functions as the focus rather than the topic of the sentence. Special attention was given to cases displaying an indefinite subject in sentenceinitial position. We emphasized the substantial contribution of modern research in demonstrating the role of non-formal considerations in determining the selection of word-order patterns in Arabic. We have seen how pragmatic considerations such as speech situation and information structure, as well as textual differences (e.g. narrative texts versus descriptive texts) have been shown by modern scholars to have a determining role in selecting a particular sentence type or a particular word order. However, while highlighting the contribution of modern research in these respects, we pointed out that the concepts of speech situation and information structure, in particular the given-new principle, were already part of the medieval grammatical discourse. In this respect, Jurjānī’s contribution can hardly be overestimated. Finally we concerned ourselves with the separate pronoun termed by the grammarians ḍamīr al-faṣl. First we dealt with the medieval grammarians’ treatment of ḍamīr al-faṣl, and then with modern studies where this pronoun is normally presented as a copula. A comparison we made showed substantial differences, in both structure and function, between the Arabic ḍamīr al-faṣl and the Indo-European copula.


PROBLEMS IN THE THEORY OF SENTENCE TYPES 4.1 Introduction As we have seen in the previous chapters, in medieval Arabic grammatical writings, the two concepts jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya are normally defined by the first occurring predicative constituent: A verb followed by its subject signals a jumla fiʿliyya, whereas a sentence introduced by a nominative noun is a jumla ismiyya. This was shown to be corresponding with the grammarians’ theory of ʿamal: A jumla fiʿliyya correlates with a verbal ʿāmil, whereas a jumla ismiyya corresponds with the abstract ʿāmil—ibtidāʾ. The basic principle of ʿamal, stipulating that the ʿāmil should precede the maʿmūl, applies in both cases. In T1, the verbal ʿāmil affects the complements following it; in T2, the abstract ʿāmil, ibtidāʾ, occupies in principle a pre-mubtadaʾ position, from where it assigns the rafʿ case to the mubtadaʾ which in turn assigns rafʿ to the xabar (according to Sībawayhi’s version—Kitāb I, 239; and cf. 3.2 above). As for cases such as ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdullāhi and rajulun ʿAbdu-llāhi, these were presented as cases of taqdīm wa-taʾxīr, i.e. as the inverted versions of ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and Zaydun rajulun; in other words, as inverted jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya respectively. However, the linkage between the concept of two sentence types on the one hand, and the theory of ʿamal on the other, turned out to constitute a major problem for the binary division into jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. The grammarians realized that such types as ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and Zaydun rajulun, with their inverted versions, left various constructions that did not easily fit into any of the two categories. The two apparently most problematic cases may be represented by the two model sentences qāʾimun Zaydun (“standing is Zayd”), where a participle is followed by a definite noun phrase, and Zaydun fī l-dār, or fī l-dāri (or fīhā) Zaydun (“Zayd is in the house/in it”), where the predicate position is occupied either by a definite prepositional phrase or by an adverbial phrase such as hunā (“here”), xalfaka (“behind you”) etc. In the latter type, a definite subject noun may either precede or


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follow the adverbial/prepositional predicate; an indefinite subject must obligatorily follow its predicate. In the former type, as we have seen (1.4 above), an indefinite subject is disallowed. As it were, sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun and fī l-dāri (or fīhā) Zaydun might be considered as cases of a pragmatically motivated inversion of T2-sentences. And modern linguists, uncommitted to the theory of ʿamal, would probably regard them as such. Yet for many of the medieval grammarians, they represented, rather, a sentence type in its own right. To be more precise, fī l-dāri Zaydun was explicitly presented as such by some of the grammarians; qāʾimun Zaydun, by contrast, was often dealt with in a way that could lead one to believe that it was considered by certain grammarians as representing a third sentence type.1 I would argue that the controversies that arose over these (and other) constructions point to what may be viewed as gaps in the medieval theory of sentence types. In other words, an attempt will be made to show that the theory, based on the dichotomy of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya, representing two types of ʿamal, was highly vulnerable and far from stable. The present chapter concentrates on the theoretical problems presented by the above two constructions. We start with qāʾimun Zaydun. 4.2 Qāʾimun Zaydun In 3.5 we discussed a number of cases presented in Sībawayhi’s bāb al-ibtidāʾ (Kitāb I, 239) as displaying mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion. Sībawayhi’s starting point was that the standard preferred (al-ḥ add) structure was for the mubtadaʾ to precede the xabar rather than the other way around, much as the standard word order in the verbal sentence, was for the fāʿil to precede the mafʿūl. However, from among his examples of inversion, he singled out qāʾimun Zaydun as a markedly complex case deserving special attention. He quoted his teacher al-Xalīl as saying that qāʾimun Zaydun was an ill-formed (qabīḥ ) sentence, unless analyzed as the inverted version of Zaydun qāʾimun. As is well known, some of the later grammarians regarded such an inversion


To be sure, some grammarians analyzed both constructions as an inverted jumla ismiyya with a fronted xabar; others accepted more than one type of analysis. For discussion, see, e.g. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 583ff.

problems in the theory of sentence types


as problematic, since it places the maʿmūl before the ʿāmil, and the Kūfans saw a further problem in that it makes the implicit pronoun in qāʾimun precede its antecedent (al-ʾiḍmār qabla l-d̠ikr—2.3 above). But these problems were easily dismissed by the claim that qāʾimun Zaydun represented a secondary ( farʿ) or surface (lafẓ) structure, whereas in the basic structure (ʾaṣl, maʿnā, niyya, taqdīr) Zaydun, the ẓāhir (i.e. explicit referent or antecedent) and ʿāmil preceded qāʾimun, the maʿmūl, with the implicit pronoun (the muḍmar) referring back—as required—to Zaydun (for a detailed discussion, see, e.g. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 65–66, 68).2 However, the real problem with qāʾimun Zaydun was associated with a different—verbal—analysis of the participle. This analysis was familiar to Sībawayhi and his contemporaries. Citing al-Xalīl, he pointed out that: fa-ʾid̠ā lam yurīdū hād̠ā l-maʿnā wa-ʾarādū ʾan yajʿalūhu fiʿlan ka-qawlihi yaqūmu Zaydun wa-qāma Zaydun qabuḥ a li-ʾannahu smun (“If, however, they do not accept this analysis [=inversion], and want to treat [qāʾimun] as a verb, in analogy to such sentences as yaqūmu Zaydun and qāma Zaydun, this is unacceptable, because [qāʾimun] is a noun”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239).

Yet Sībawayhi immediately makes it clear that under certain conditions an active participle, while categorized as a noun, may implement a verbal function (yajrī majrā l-fiʿl). This could be accepted (ḥ asuna ʿindahum), he maintains, if the participle functions as part of an asyndetic relative clause (ṣifa) linked to some antecedent (mawṣūf ), or, otherwise, if it is governed by a preceding operator such as a mubtadaʾ. In other words, qāʾimun Zaydun is disallowed with a verbal analysis, much as ḍāribun Zaydan (“hitting Zayd”) is unacceptable as a complete sentence. However, qāʾimun Zaydun, as part of a larger sentence, is acceptable with a verbal analysis in analogy to such cases as ʾanā ḍāribun Zaydan

2 For Ibn Jinnī (Xaṣāʾiṣ II, 387), the preposing of a marfūʿ to its rāfiʿ was totally unacceptable. The xabar+mubtadaʾ construction was, however, accepted by him, since he adhered to the view that the xabar is assigned the rafʿ case not only by the mubtadaʾ (as stipulated by Sībawayhi—see above), but rather by the ibtidāʾ and the mubtadaʾ jointly. Accordingly he maintained that cases where the xabar precedes the mubtadaʾ do not violate the above principle, because the xabar in such cases precedes only part of the ʿāmil (the mubtadaʾ) but not the other part (the ibtidāʾ). Ibn Jinnī added further that if the assigner of raf ʿ to the xabar had been the mubtadaʾ alone, there would have been no option of preposing the xabar to the mubtadaʾ.


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(“I am hitting Zayd”).3 As we shall see shortly, Sībawayhi’s approach to the verbal analysis of qāʾimun Zaydun was later established as a firm principle in medieval Arab grammatical thinking. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 59–60), whose position regarding mubtadaʾxabar inversion seems to be similar to that of Sībawayhi, readily accepts munṭaliqun Zaydun as an inverted version of Zaydun munṭaliqun. As for analyzing qāʾimun Zaydun as analogous to yaqūmu Zaydun, with no “supporting” element (see below) preceding qāʾimun, in other words, construing Zaydun as fāʿil to munṭaliqun—in principle, Ibn al-Sarrāj, much like Sībawayhi, regards such an analysis as misguided (qabuḥ a), yet he admits it as jāʾiz (“acceptable”). What both grammarians seem to accept without reservation is that the noun following the participle may be analyzed as a kind of fāʿil provided that it is anchored (yaʿtamidu ʿalā, in Ibn al-Sarrāj’s words) to some preceding constituent. As an illustration of how this condition could be met, Ibn al-Sarrāj adduces such sentences as: marartu bi-rajulin qāʾimin ʾabūhu (“I passed by a man whose father was standing”), Zaydun qāʾimun ʾabūhu (“Zayd, his father is standing”), ʾa-qāʾimun ʾabūka? (“is your father standing?”). This rule would be developed by later grammarians into a general principle of iʿtimād, designed to specify the conditions under which a non-verbal predicate may be analyzed as analogous to a verb preceding its subject.4 This principle stipulates that a non-verbal predicative constituent, such as an active participle, or an adverbial/prepositional phrase (see 4.3 below) may exercise ʿamal upon the constituent following it (the subject) only if supported by (yaʿtamidu ʿalā) some element such as an interrogative particle, a relative pronoun, or, otherwise, when the clause as a whole functions as an asyndetic relative clause, or as xabar to a preceding mubtadaʾ. In such cases, the first predicative constituent is perceived as behaving analogously to a verb. And as a verb-like constituent it acts as an ʿāmil, assigning the rafʿ case to the following

3 Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 239) asserts that while the active participle and the verb may be similar in some respects, one must appreciate the difference between them. Other grammarians (e.g. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾAsrār, 70) point out that the active participle is weaker than the verb, and cannot, therefore, exercise verbal ʿamal, unless supported by some preceding element (see below). 4 For the concept iʿtimād as it is used in al-Xalīl’s Kitāb al-ʿAyn with reference to other grammatical structures, see Talmon 1997:210.

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nominal constituent.5 For discussion, see, e.g. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾAsrār, 70; and cf. Goldenberg 2002:199–201. Ibn al-Sarrāj was aware, however, of the implications of a verbal analysis of qāʾimun Zaydun for the theory of ʿamal. He argued (ʾUṣūl I, 60) that in qāʾimun ʾabūka (“standing is your father”), qāʾimun was assigned the raf ʿ case by the ibtidāʾ, and ʾabūka was assigned the same case by the “verb” preceding it. He indicated further that ʾabūka filled a xabar position.6 In any event, both Sībawayhi and Ibn al-Sarrāj reject the use of ḍāribun Bakran ʿAmrun (“Bakr is hit by ʿAmr”) as an independent sentence, on the ground that the active participle, while being analogous to the verb, is by definition a nominal, and as such cannot be made to function identically to a verb in terms of case assignment. The above examples, where the participle is linked to a preceding antecedent (mawṣūf ), a mubtadaʾ, or an interrogative particle, are viewed as analogous to the construction ḍāribun Bakran when supported, under the principle of iʿtimād, by some external constituent (maḥ mūl ʿalā ġayrihi), such as a mubtadaʾ, thus presenting a well-formed independent sentence (e.g. hād̠ā ḍāribun Bakran—“this [person] is hitting Bakr”) (Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 60; and cf. Sībawayhi’s position above; Levin 1985a:125–126). Like Sībawayhi and Ibn al-Sarrāj, Zajjājī (Jumal, 37–38) was aware of the theoretical problems raised by sentences consisting of an active participle followed by a noun phrase. In particular he demonstrated the implications for the grammatical agreement between the two constituents. To the extent that qāʾimun in qāʾimun Zaydun is conceived of as xabar muqaddam (a fronted xabar), it must be replaced by qāʾimāni or qāʾimūna, once Zaydun is substituted by a dual or a plural form respectively. But under the alternative analysis, in which qāʾimun is assigned a verbal function, the active participle preceding its subject

5 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 585) remarks that some grammarians rejected the idea of an adverbial/prepositional phrase assigning case. They argued that such phrases were different in status (manzila) from the adjective. The latter, they argued, was capable of inflection, and as such was more powerful than the adverbial/prepositional phrase. On this ground they disallowed the analysis of an adverbial/prepositional phrase as case assigner even where the principle of iʿtimād was met. 6 It seems that this argument, as well as Zajjājī’s (see below) draw upon an analysis offered by al-ʾAxfaš al-ʾAwsaṭ Saʿīd b. Masʿada l-Mujāšiʿī, as well as by some Kūfan grammarians (see Zajjājī Jumal, 37, n. 5; and cf. below).


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should invariably take the singular form. In other words, the proponents of this analysis would have qāʾimun al-Zaydāni/al-Zaydūna rather than qāʾimāni l-Zaydāni and qāʾimūna l-Zaydūna.7 This rule, as stated by Zajjājī, highlights the verbal function of the participle under this particular analysis, relating qāʾimun al-Zaydāni/ al-Zaydūna to qāma l-Zaydāni/l-Zaydūna. It has already been indicated that the medieval grammarians treated participles, as well as other types of adjective, as complex forms incorporating a personal pronoun (for discussion, see Goldenberg 2002:195). Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 87–88) states clearly that participles and other adjectives are derived from the verb, and that in virtue of having a “verbal meaning” (maʿnā fiʿl) they must have a fāʿil.8 However, construing munṭaliqun Zaydun as modeled on yanṭaliqu Zaydun implies neutralizing the pronominal element in munṭaliqun exactly as it is done in yanṭaliqu.9 The argument is that the participle, much like a regular fiʿl, cannot assign the raf ʿ case twice (lā yarfaʿu fāʿilayni).10 Zajjājī (Jumal, 38) indicates that in such cases the active participle introducing the sentence is assigned raf ʿ by the ibtidāʾ, whereas the constituent following it is assigned the same case by “its verb” (bi-fiʿlihi—apparently referring to the active participle; cf. Ibn al-Sarrāj’s analysis above). Zaydun in qāʾimun Zaydun, it is argued, replaces the xabar (yasuddu masadd al-xabar); and the participle preceding it is invariably singular li-ʾannahu qad jarā majrā l-fiʿli l-muqaddami (“for it behaves analogously to a verb preceding [its subject]”).11 The picture

7 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 584), indicates further that the proponents of ʾakalūnī l-barāġīt̠ must, by extension, say qāʾimāni l-Zaydāni and qāʾimūna l-Zaydūna, since in this version of the language the verb preceding the subject agrees with it in number and gender (for a detailed discussion of ʾakalūnī l-barāġīt̠, see Levin 1989, esp. 57, 59). 8 The grammarians recognized, however, that a personal pronoun incorporated in an active participle cannot qualify as fāʿil in the same way as a personal pronoun implicit in a verb. Thus, while allad̠ī ḍaraba Zaydun (“the one who hit is Zayd”) is a perfectly grammatical sentence, allad̠ī ḍāribun Zaydun is not, since, unlike allad̠ī ḍaraba, allad̠ī ḍāribun cannot implement the function of a subject clause (see Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 463–464). 9 This is, perhaps, why the Kūfans, who rejected qāʾimun Zaydun as an inverted nominal sentence, could accept it as modeled on a verbal sentence: under the verbal analysis the pronoun in qāʾimun is disabled, so there is no problem of cataphora (cf. 2.3 above). 10 For Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 87–88), then, a sentence such as Zaydun qāʾimun ʾabūhu (“Zayd, his father is standing”) consists of a mubtadaʾ (Zayd) and a xabar, the latter analyzed as a complex construction consisting of a fiʿl (qāʾimun) and a fāʿil (ʾabūhu). 11 This type of analysis is attributed to ʾAxfaš; see, e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 341.

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becomes even more complex in cases where a predicate-subject construction occurs within a sentence introduced by the auxiliary kāna. But this will be dealt with in the next chapter. Observe that, unlike the vast majority of grammarians, Zajjājī did not make the point of linking the verbal analysis of qāʾimun Zaydun to an obligatory application of the principle of iʿtimād. It should also be indicated that some of the later grammarians held a narrower version of this principle, restricting the use of a participle in sentenceinitial position to cases where the participle is attached to a negative or interrogative particle: mā qāʾimun al-Zaydāni (“the two Zayds are not standing”), ʾa-qāʾimun al-Zaydāni (“are the two Zayds standing?”).12 According to Ibn ʿAqīl (d. 1367) (Šarḥ I, 189), qāʾimun, in each of the last two sentences, functions as a mubtadaʾ, whereas al-Zaydāni is a fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar (a fāʿil substituting for the xabar). This is indeed the common formula employed by those later grammarians who adopted the verbal analysis of the construction in question (cf. Carter 1981:189). One grammarian who rejected the concept of fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar is ʾAstarābād̠ī. In this grammarian’s view (Šarḥ I, 223), the adjectival mubtadaʾ in cases such as ʾa-qāʾimun al-Zaydāni and the substantival mubtadaʾ in Zaydun qāʾimun represent two different types of mubtadaʾ (he designates the latter as mubtadaʾ ʾawwal and the former as mubtadaʾ t̠ānin), each having its own definition. He argues (I, 225) that qāʾimun in the former example is a verb-like constituent, and as such cannot in principle be followed by a xabar. The argument that al-Zaydāni replaces a xabar is therefore untenable according to ʾAstarābād̠ī. Given that (ʾa-)qāʾimun is uninflected for number, much like qāma in qāma l-Zaydāni (“the two Zayds stood”), al-Zaydāni must, in both cases, be analyzed as fāʿil. In his view, the grammarians’ treatment of ʾa-qāʾimun al-Zaydāni only reflects an attempt to force upon such sentences an underlying (taqdīr) xabar, so as to make the adjectival constituent identical in function to the first-type mubtadaʾ (al-mubtadaʾ al-ʾawwal). At this point one might ask how frequent in Classical Arabic are such sentences as qāʾimun al-Zaydāni? I looked for this construction in the Qurʾān, but found no example of it. In all recorded cases of

12 Note, in this connection, that Sībawayhi presented the interrogative particle ʾa- as a verb-requiring element (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 39f., 41f.).


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adjectival predicate + subject, a singular participle is followed by a singular noun phrase, or, otherwise, a singular feminine participle is followed by a plural (non-human) noun phrase. It is interesting to note, however, that all cases display some kind of a “supporting element”. In the vast majority of examples, the construction in question functions as predicate to a preceding subject realized as either a referential nominal (typically, but not necessarily, in a sentence introduced by ʾinna or one of its “sisters”), or, otherwise, as a non-referential ḍamīr al-šaʾn: wa-ẓannū ʾannahum māniʿatuhum ḥ uṣūnuhum (“they believed that their fortresses would protect them”—Qurʾān 59.2), wa-huwa muḥ arramun ʿalaykum ʾixrājuhum (“you are not allowed to expel them”—Qurʾān 2.85). Huwa in the latter example functions as ḍamīr al-šaʾn. One example was noted where the “supporting element” is the interrogative particle ʾa-: ʾa-rāġibun ʾanta ʿan ʾālihatī (“do you loathe my gods”?—Qurʾān 19.46). What is then the effect of the “supporting” element that makes Zaydun/rajulun qāʾimun ʾabūhu or ʾa-/mā qāʾimun ʾabūhu an acceptable verbal construction, as opposed to qāʾimun ʾabūhu? Al-Xalīl (see above) did not provide an elaborate answer. He argued, however, that a participle, being an ism, cannot easily replace a verb in pre-subject position. A verb and a noun, he maintained, may in certain positions implement similar functions, but they must still be differentiated. Nor did later grammarians elaborate on the function of the “supporting” element. To phrase the question differently, how does the “supporting” element impart further verbal force to the adjectival predicate that enables it to act analogously to a verb in such cases? If we compare the two constructions qāma Zaydun and qāʾimun Zaydun, we can see that the difference between the two is that the finite verb, while devoid of a pronominal element, is still inflected for person, whereas the participle is not. Lacking both a pronominal element and inflection for person, the participle is excluded as a pre-subject verbal predicate in an independent sentence. The function of the “supporting” element Zaydun in Zaydun qāʾimun ʾabūhu, is to make up for the lack of person inflection in qāʾimun and thus enable the latter to implement its verbal function.13 13

That, I believe, is what is intended by al-Xalīl (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239) when he refers to the participle in such cases as [kāna] ṣifatan jarā ʿalā mawṣūfin ʾaw jarā ʿalā smin qad ʿamila fīhi (“[the participle] is an adjective linked to a head or [otherwise] to a noun acting upon it”), and further when he says: lā yakūnu mafʿūlan fī ḍāribin ḥ attā

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Further, as has been indicated, the “supportive” function may be implemented not only by a noun but also by an interrogative or a negative particle. These are, in other words, further sources from which the adjective could derive a verbal force. Already Sībawayhi attributed a verbal effect to certain interrogative particles (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 39f., 41f.—the latter dealing specifically with ʾa-). Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 712; and cf. II, 1000, 1024–1025) points out that the interrogative particle ʾa- requires a verb (al-hamza ṭālibatun bi-l-fiʿl), and that underlying (taqdīr) ʾa-Zaydun ḍaraba ʿAmran is ʾa-ḍaraba Zaydun ʿAmran (“did Zayd hit ʿAmr?”). Similarly, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 81) quotes ʾAbū Ḥ asan al-ʾAxfaš (d. 835) as claiming that in ʾa-Zaydun qāma the rafʿ of Zaydun is assigned by the underlying verb qāma that is not phonologically realized due to the identical verb that follows Zaydun, functioning as an exponent of the underlying verb (cf. 3.4.3 above). This explains why the interrogative ʾa- qualified in the grammarians’ view as a supporting element in sentences consisting of an adjectival predicate followed by a subject: If the interrogative particle is a verb-requiring element, then, in a sentence such as ʾa-qāʾimun Zaydun, qāʾimun could be claimed to implement a full-verb function as an exponent of an underlying full verb (yaqūmu) following ʾa-. However, the verbal analysis of such constructions as (ʾa-)qāʾimun Zaydun raises a difficult problem for the medieval theory of sentence types. For if a sentence consists of a mubtadaʾ followed by a fāʿil, how should it be categorized in terms of sentence types? The fact that the fāʿil is presented as replacing the xabar does not make the issue any simpler, because under the suggested analysis, a verb-acting constituent is considered, in terms of ʾiʿrāb, as a mubtadaʾ assigned the raf ʿ case by the ibtidāʾ. The conception of the participle in such cases as mubtadaʾ is quite understandable, given that it is a nominative constituent in sentence-initial position. If one does not accept the inversion analysis of sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun, how else can one account for the raf ʿ case of qāʾimun? The problem with the verbal analysis lies indeed in its stipulating that qāʾimun as a mubtadaʾ assigns raf ʿ to a fāʿil occupying a xabar position.

yakūnu maḥ mūlan ʿalā ġayrihi fa-taqūlu hād̠ā ḍāribun Zaydan [. . .] (ḍārib cannot take an object unless it is linked to some other constituent, as for example in hād̠ā ḍāribun Zaydan—“this [person] is hitting Zayd”).


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Once qāʾimun Zaydun is correlated with yaqūmu Zaydun, rather than with Zaydun qāʾimun, with the consequence that the adjectival predicate should take the singular form irrespective of the number of the following noun (qāʾimun al-Zaydāni/al-Zaydūna), one can hardly see how sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun under a verbal analysis, let alone qāʾimun al-Zaydāni, may be viewed other than as cases of jumla fiʿliyya. Indeed, when presenting the fāʿil, some of the grammarians, like Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 74), indicate that the position preceding the fāʿil is available for a verb ( fiʿl) or a nominal that is analogous to a verb (šabahuhu, mā huwa fī maʿnā l-fiʿl min al-ʾasmāʾ). In this latter category they normally include (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 87) the active and passive participles, as well as such adjectives as ḥ asan (ṣifa mušabbaha bi-smi l-fāʿil—“an adjective analogous to the active participle”). It is argued that in a sentence such as Zaydun ḍāribun ġulāmuhu (“Zayd, his slave is beating”), ḍāribun, much like yaḍribu, assigns raf ʿ to ġulāmuhu.14 One may infer, then, that Ibn Yaʿīš would regard a sentence such as qāʾimun Zaydun as a verbal sentence. Yet I have not recorded any explicit reference to this type of sentence as jumla fiʿliyya. The prevalent analysis of the construction under discussion was, as already indicated, mubtadaʾ+fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar. Indeed, given the theoretical problems raised by this kind of analysis, it is not surprising that the grammarians adhering to it did not commit themselves to explicitly categorizing sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun as either jumla fiʿliyya or jumla ismiyya. A remarkable exception is Ibn Hišām al-ʾAnṣārī (d. 1360) who, in his famous book Muġnī l-labīb, provides an elaborate discussion of Arabic sentence types. Ibn Hišām’s classification will be discussed in detail in 4.5 below. As we shall see, he defined three sentence types (rather than two!) by the kind of constituent introducing the sentence. Thus, a sentence introduced by a nominal element is a jumla ismiyya. And among his examples of jumla ismiyya we find the sentence qāʾimun al-Zaydāni. Ibn Hišām was aware of the controversy surrounding this sentence, indicating that it was accepted as a well-formed sentence by ʾAxfaš and the Kūfans. As we saw above, qāʾimun al-Zaydāni was adduced as an acceptable sentence in Arabic also by Zajjājī, but the latter did not classify it as jumla ismiyya.

14 Note, however, that in Zamaxšarī’s and Ibn Yaʿīš’s examples the construction at issue is itself a xabar following a mubtadaʾ. As we have seen, this is consistent with the principle of iʿtimād.

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In sum, then, the analysis of qāʾimun Zaydun into a mubtadaʾ+fāʿil replacing a xabar appears to reflect a twofold attempt: 1. To make this kind of sentence conform to the principle of ibtidāʾ; this is motivated by the fact that the first constituent is a nominal exhibiting a raf ʿ case ending. 2. To apply the principle of verbal taʿdiya, given the verbal properties of the active participle. But, to the extent that this analysis holds, it looks reasonable to suggest that, at least from the grammarians’ viewpoint, qāʾimun Zaydun represents a sentence type in its own right. To my knowledge, however, no such proposition has ever been advanced in medieval Arabic grammatical literature.15 4.3

Fīhā/fī l-dāri Zaydun

Only a small minority of the grammarians suggested that sentences such as fīhā Zaydun (“in it there is Zayd”) should be regarded as representing a sentence type in its own right. They designated this type jumla ẓarfiyya, but differed on whether this term should or should not cover also sentences such as Zaydun fīhā/fī l-dār (“Zayd is in it/in the house”). I return to this issue later. In 3.1 we saw that for Sībawayhi, two out of three major xabar types were place and time adverbials. As regards time adverbials (ẓarf zamān), the grammarians (e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 89f.) pointed out that these were restricted to cases where the mubtadaʾ is a verbal noun (maṣdar) denoting an event (ḥ adat̠). They made the (universal) claim that no communicative value ( fāʾida) is gained from a time adverbial predicated of a noun denoting an object ( jut̠t̠a). Thus, a sentence such as ∗Zaydun al-yawma (“Zayd is today”) is unacceptable, since al-yawma, as a time adverbial, is true, and therefore can be predicated of, any existing object. By contrast, ʿAmrun xalfaka (“ ʿAmr is behind you”) is perfectly grammatical, since xalfaka, as an adverbial of place, may be true of ʿAmr but not of other people (or objects/events). As such it conveys new information for the addressee, which is the essence of successful communication (see also, Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 348–349; 15 Badawi (2000a:8f.) claims that the grammarians recognized three types of sentence, namely fiʿliyya, ismiyya and jumlat waṣf, introduced, respectively, by a verb, a noun and an adjective (a participle or otherwise). He emphasizes the use of different terms for the subject and predicate in each sentence type, indicating that in a jumlat waṣf these are referred to as mubtadaʾ and fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar. However, the term jumlat waṣf has not been attested in the grammarians’ writings studied for the present work.


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ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 248–254, for a very detailed discussion of time and place adverbials in xabar position). Some grammarians indicated further that in cases where the mubtadaʾ is a verbal noun the xabar position may be filled also by a circumstantial adverbial. Thus Mujāšiʿī (Šarḥ , 82, 90) adduces sentences such as ʾaklī muttakiʾan (“I eat reclining”), analyzing muttakiʾan as ḥ āl. He points out, however, that the accusative constituent in this case presupposes a deleted element: ʾid̠ā kuntu (ʾaklī ʾid̠ā kuntu muttakiʾan). Mujāšiʿī then argues that an ʾid̠ā clause may function as xabar in cases where the mubtadaʾ is a verbal noun, since ʾid̠ā is a time adverbial. What he seems to suggest, then, is that sentences with a circumstantial xabar represent a sub-category of sentences with a time-adverbial xabar (see also, Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 352). 4.3.1 Sībawayhi Obviously, however, the grammarians’ discussion concentrates on the more common case, that of the place-adverbial xabar. In his bāb al-ibtidāʾ (chapter 132), Sībawayhi does not develop any discussion of this sentence sub-type. But elsewhere in the Kitāb (I, 170–171; and cf. Levin 1987:362 and Owens 1989:224) he argues that in cases such as huwa xalfaka (“he is behind you”) it is the subject huwa that assigns the naṣb case to xalfaka. Indeed, this is consistent with his argument that in Zaydun munṭaliqun it is the subject that assigns rafʿ to the predicate (cf. 3.2).16 But what about sentences such as fīhā Zaydun, consisting of an adverbial/prepositional phrase followed by a nominative noun phrase? Sībawayhi deals with these cases within the framework of his discussion of sentences such as fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾiman and ʿAbdu-llāhi fīhā qāʾiman (“ ʿAbdullāh is in it, standing”—cf. Talmon 1993:281). He starts his discussion analyzing qāʾiman as an accusative xabar to ʿAbdu-llāhi. Then he goes on to indicate that ʿAbdu-llāhi in these cases irtafaʿa bi-l-ibtidāʾi li-ʾanna llad̠ī d̠ukira qablahu wa-baʿdahu laysa bihi wa-ʾinnamā huwa mawḍiʿun lahu wa-lākinnahu yajrī majrā l-ismi l-mabniyyi ʿalā mā qablahu (“is assigned the rafʿ case by the ibtidāʾ since the constituent occurring either before or after it [i.e. the adverbial] is not it [i.e. is not coreferential with it], but rather signals its location. Yet

16 Note, however, that the ʿamal in huwa xalfaka is presented by Sībawayhi as analogous to that obtaining in his model construction ʿišrūna dirhaman (“twenty dirhams”—for discussion, see Carter 1972).

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[this adverbial] functions analogously to a noun built upon the [subject] preceding it”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 222).

Sībawayhi, as can be seen, points out that fīhā is non-coreferential with ʿAbdu-llāhi, but rather refers to ʿAbdullāh’s location (mawḍiʿ). But it is precisely this awareness that underlies his endeavor to establish, first of all, the acceptability of fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi/ʿAbdu-llāhi fīhā as a complete independent sentence. To this end he draws an analogy between fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi and hād̠ā ʿAbdu-llāhi (“this is ʿAbdullāh”), claiming that in terms of completeness, the former, much like the latter, is a kalām mustaqīm (“a correct sentence”) that ḥ asuna [baʿdahu] al-sukūtu (“that may appropriately be followed by silence”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 222 and 239–240). Similarly, ʿAbdu-llāhi fīhā is presented by him as analogous to ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxūka (“ʿAbdullāh is your brother”): in both cases the second constituent is “built” (mabnī) upon the first. As for ʿAbdu-llāhi, Sībawayhi states clearly that, whether preceding or following the prepositional phrase, it is assigned the rafʿ case by the ibtidāʾ. But once a predicative relationship is established between fīhā and ʿAbdu-llāhi, Sībawayhi reanalyzes the sentence, assigning fīhā the function of xabar and ʿAbdu-llāhi the function of mubtadaʾ. The position of qāʾiman is then demoted to that of ḥ āl17 (see Figure 4 below). He points out, however, that since fīhā represents the person’s location, fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi is paraphrasable by istaqarra ʿAbdu-llāhi, where the underlying verb istaqarra is the assigner of naṣb to qāʾiman. As we shall see in 4.3.2, the verb istaqarra, or otherwise the participle mustaqirrun, have since become the grammarians’ most common device for explaining the grammatical structure of sentences such as Zaydun fīhā/fīhā Zaydun. mubtadaʾ







ḥ āl

Figure 4

17 Sībawayhi’s usage of ḥ āl as a technical grammatical term is, in this particular case, doubtful (cf. Peled 1999:77–78). But cf. chapter 16 in the Kitāb, where ḥ āl is unmistakably presented as a kind of adverbial.


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However, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 223) goes on to indicate that qāʾiman in the above sentence may, alternatively, be replaced by qāʾimun in the nominative. This, he explains, is the result of “abrogating” (ʾalġayta) fīhā. In the medieval grammarians’ writings, ʾilgāʾ is normally used as a technical term denoting the annulling of ʿamal. It is typically used with reference to potential ʿawāmil, that is, elements that normally exercise ʿamal upon other elements in the sentence (see, e.g. Peled 1992a:150– 152, for a general discussion of ʾilġāʾ; and Levin 2007:141–143, for ʾilġāʾ of the ẓarf ). One may infer, then, that Sībawayhi considered fīhā, in virtue of its acting analogously to istaqarra, as an ʿāmil assigning naṣb to qāʾiman in fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾiman. As we shall see later, such adverbials as fīhā were considered by some early grammarians as ʿawāmil assigning raf ʿ to the following subject in such cases as fīhā Zaydun. This view is typically attributed to the Kūfans. In any case, Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 223–224) develops an extensive discussion designed to exclude the possibility that fīhā in sentences like fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾimun is the ʿāmil assigning raf ʿ to ʿAbdu-llāhi. He draws an analogy between this sentence and bika ʿAbdu-llāhi maʾxūd̠un (“ ʿAbdullāh is fascinated by you”). He argues that an operator assigning case to an optional constituent (qāʾimun in the former sentence) has the same status (manzila) as an operator assigning case to an obligatory constituent (maʾxūd̠un in the latter).18 Sībawayhi emphasizes that in both cases (as well as in similar ones adduced by him) the adjective is “built upon” the noun, thus establishing a predicative relationship between the two. The prepositional phrase, by contrast, is a laġw, i.e. a constituent that can function neither as ʿāmil nor as maʿmūl. It stands to reason, then, that ʾalġayta fīhā (see above) should be construed as ‘you consider fīhā as laġw’. In any case, Sībawayhi makes it clear that in fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾimun, fīhā is only designed to specify the location where the standing is taking place. For an extensive discussion of the syntax of the ẓarf, as conceived by Sībawayhi and later grammarians, see Kasher 2006, sections 3.2 and 3.3; and cf. Levin 2007, for further discussion of the question of the ẓarf ’s capability (according to Sībawayhi) to assign naṣb (to a ḥ āl or tamyīz), or rafʿ (to a following subject).

Indeed, in later grammatical writings, the model sentence bika Zaydun maʾxūd̠un features regularly in the Baṣran arguments against the Kūfan claim that in fīhā Zaydun it is fīhā that functions as the ʿāmil assigning rafʿ to Zaydun (cf. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 52–53). 18

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Let us now return to the construction fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi to which Sībawayhi devotes a separate bāb, following his bāb al-ibtidāʾ. In chapter 133 of the Kitāb, he deals with cases such as fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi, t̠amma Zaydun and ʾayna Zaydun. In comparison to his discussion above, Sībawayhi here seems to be less specific about the rāfiʿ of the subject: wa-llad̠ī ʿamila fīmā baʿdahu ḥ attā rafaʿahu huwa llad̠ī ʿamila fīhi ḥ īna19 kāna qablahu (“The operator assigning rafʿ to the following constituent is the same operator that assigned it the rafʿ case when that constituent was before it [i.e. before fīhā]”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239; cf. editor’s notes as well as the editions of Bulāq and Hārūn)20

Sībawayhi thus asserts that the operator assigning rafʿ to Zayd in fīhā Zaydun is the same one that assigns the rafʿ case to Zayd in Zaydun fīhā, “where/when Zayd occurs before it (i.e. before fīhā)”. Apparently, he leaves it to the reader to conclude that it is the ibtidāʾ that functions as ʿāmil in both cases. This could lead one to believe that for Sībawayhi, fīhā Zaydun represents an inverted version of Zaydun fīhā. Yet Sībawayhi does not make any explicit claim for taqdīm wa-taʾxīr in this particular case. Recall that in his bāb al-ibtidāʾ, an adverbial xabar is presented as a regular alternative to an adjectival xabar following the mubtadaʾ. But when he subsequently comes to the option of inversion, he deals with cases such as qāʾimun Zaydun (see 4.2 above), leaving fīhā Zaydun to a separate bāb, to be discussed together with ʾayna Zaydun (“where is Zayd?”).21 Note that Sībawayhi presents fīhā Zaydun as a case in which fīhā yaqaʿu mawqiʿa l-ismi l-mubtadaʾi wa-yasuddu masaddahu (“occupies the position of the mubtadaʾ and replaces it”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 239; quoted also in Kouloughli 2002:9).

As we saw in 4.2, there were, among later grammarians, those who analyzed qāʾimun in qāʾimun Zaydun as a mubtadaʾ followed by a fāʿil (replacing a xabar). It seems more than likely that they were influenced by the above Sībawayhian passage. 19 The words ḥ ayt̠u and ḥ īna alternate in this position in two different versions of the text. 20 Talmon (1993:283–284) compares the long version cited here with a shorter one that to me looks rather obscure. 21 I tend to agree with Talmon (1993:284) that Sībawayhi’s motivation for dealing with this particular issue in this way could well be his willingness to reject a current view (to be discussed below) according to which it is the locative that assigns rafʿ to the subject in such cases.


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Regarding ʾayna Zaydun, Sībawayhi points out that ʾayna is paraphrasable by fī ʾayyi makān (“in which place?”), and emphasizes that ʾayna, as an interrogative, must obligatorily occur sentence-initially. In other words, fīhā Zaydun is distinct from ʾayna Zaydun only in that in the latter case the xabar occupies sentence-initial position obligatorily; in fīhā Zaydun, the occurrence of fīhā in pre-subject position is optional. It is interesting to note that Sībawayhi does not include in his discussion such cases as fīhā rajulun (“in it there is a man”), where the subject, being indefinite, obligatorily follows the predicate (much like in ʾayna Zaydun). It will be noted later that this construction received little attention from the grammarians, compared to fīhā Zaydun. As we shall see, while the grammarians never failed to point out that the predicate-subject order in fīhā rajulun is obligatory, only a small minority of them regarded this construction as representing a sentence type in its own right. For the vast majority, fīhā rajulun, much like fīhā Zaydun, represented an inverted jumla ismiyya. See Ibn al-Warrāq ʿIlal, 372–373, for an interesting discussion of the status of Zaydun as mubtadaʾ (acted upon by ibtidāʾ) in both Zaydun ʿindaka and ʿindaka Zaydun; for a detailed discussion of constructions with an obligatorily fronted xabar, see 4.4 below. 4.3.2

The istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis

Following Sībawayhi, the medieval grammarians continued to address themselves to the twofold problem posed by such sentences as Zaydun fīhā and fīhā Zaydun. This problem, as we have seen, consisted in establishing a predicative relationship between the nominal and the adverbial/prepositional phrase, and accounting for the ʿāmil assigning case to each. The suggested solution of positing an underlying linking element such as istaqarra/mustaqirrun gave rise to extensive discussions that generated what may be referred to as the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis. As we saw in 4.3.1, the origins of this theory can be easily traced back to Sībawayhi’s Kitāb.22


As we have seen, however, Sībawayhi used this device in dealing with sentences such as fīhā ʿAbdu-llāhi qāʾiman, to account for the naṣb of qāʾiman; he did not employ it in cases such as fīhā Zaydun or Zaydun fīhā, pointing rather to the ibtidāʾ, in both, as the ʿāmil assigning rafʿ to Zaydun.

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However, before proceeding to a discussion of the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis in the writings of later grammarians, the reader is referred to the Kūfan hypothesis of xilāf (or muxālafa), as outlined in ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 243–244; and cf. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 245–247; Mujāšiʿī Šarḥ , 87, n. 216; Kasher 2006:175–177. For the grammarians’ use of xilāf in connection with wāw al-maʿiyya, see Carter 1973b). This hypothesis obviates taqdīr of an underlying linking element in cases like Zaydun fī l-dār altogether. Rather than positing an underlying yastaqirru in cases such as Zaydun xalfaka (“Zayd is behind you”) in order to explain the naṣb case of xalfaka, the proponents of this hypothesis postulate that an adverbial in post-mubtadaʾ position is assigned the naṣb case because it diverges from the preceding mubtadaʾ in reference. In other words, in Zaydun qāʾimun the two predicative constituents are identical in reference and therefore display the same case endings; in sentences such as Zaydun xalfaka, by contrast, the naṣb of xalfaka reflects the divergence in reference (xilāf/muxālafa) between the two constituents.23 The xilāf hypothesis was outrightly rejected by the Baṣran grammarians on the ground that it suggested a kind of abstract ʿāmil (ʿāmil maʿnawī) to account for the naṣb of xalfaka. The Baṣrans insisted that the underlying ʿāmil establishing the predicative relationship between the two constituents and accounting for the naṣb of xalfaka had to be formal (lafẓī) rather than abstract. The istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis thus became the common strategy used by the medieval grammarians in order to account for such sentences as Zaydun fī l-dār (or, for that matter, Zaydun xalfaka, where xalfaka alternates with min xalfika—for discussion of the status of the ẓarf, see Levin 1987, esp. pp. 351–357). The grammarians, however, differed as to the grammatical status of the adverbial following the mubtadaʾ. In 3.1 we saw that for Sībawayhi, munṭaliqun and fīhā were equally admissible as xabar for Zaydun. In Ibn al-Sarrāj’s (ʾUṣūl I, 62–63) view, the xabar in Zaydun fī l-dār is the underlying mustaqirrun which, when coreferring with the mubtadaʾ, is optionally deleted (ḥ ad̠f ). The adverbial fī l-dār fills the xabar’s slot, acting as a complement to the deleted genuine xabar (for a similar view, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 347). Zaydun xalfaka/fī l-dār is thus paraphrasable by Zaydun mustaqirrun xalfaka/fī l-dār. Ibn al-Sarrāj points out that the

23 For further details, see Talmon 1993:280; for the non-identity concept in al-Xalīl’s Kitāb al-ʿAyn, see Talmon 1997:200.


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deleted element normally conveys some meaning of existence, and is redundant because it is retrievable from the adverbial.24 He emphasizes that postulating an underlying constituent in such cases is obligatory, because, in itself, fī l-dār (or xalfaka) does not qualify as a predicate; that is, it does not predicate any quality of Zayd (laysa bi-ḥ adīt̠),25 but only specifies the location (mawḍiʿ) of Zayd. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 274–275) argues that an adverbial, with either an explicit or implicit preposition, in principle presupposes a verb with which it is linked to form a syntactical unit (cf. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 246). Consequently, underlying fī l-dār, in Zaydun fī l-dār, one must envisage the verbal clause istaqarra fī l-dār. This indeed represents the view of the majority of grammarians. Obviously, once established as the (head of the) xabar, istaqarra/yastaqirru is referred to as the ʿāmil assigning case to the following adverbial/prepositional phrase. However, the assumption of an underlying finite verb in cases such as Zaydun fī l-dār was not universally accepted. The controversy here is linked to the fact that not all the grammarians regarded fī l-dār in Zaydun fī l-dār as having a clausal status. Some grammarians posited a participle rather than a verb as the underlying element linking the adverbial/prepositional phrase to the preceding mubtadaʾ. We have just seen that Ibn al-Sarrāj was one of the proponents of this hypothesis, and in 3.1 we saw, indeed, that he viewed sentences such as Zaydun xalfaka as displaying a single-phrased- rather than a clausal xabar.26 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 245) cites Ibn al-Sarrāj and Ibn Jinnī as two grammarians who advocated the participle rather than the verb hypothesis, on the ground that the participle as a single phrase (mufrad) is compatible with the basic structure of the xabar. Another proponent 24 Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 347–348) emphasizes that using an adverbial/prepositional phrase as a xabar substitute is only admissible when the deleted element is recoverable from the surface construction—otherwise, the xabar should appear in full. Thus, for example, Zaydun fī l-dār is only allowed if it is intended to convey the meaning mustaqirrun fī l-dār, because fī, signalling a receptacle (wiʿāʾ), is compatible in meaning with istiqrār (“staying”). If, however, Zaydun fī l-dār is intended to convey the meaning of ḍāḥ ikun fī l-dār (“[Zayd] is laughing in the house”), then the word ḍāḥ ik must occur; for, unlike the meaning of ‘staying’, that of ‘laughing’ cannot be recovered from the preposition fī. Cf. ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 244, for linking elements like ḥ āṣil and kāʾin (“be”); Levin (1987:360). 25 Ibn al-Sarrāj’s use of the term ḥ adīt̠ in this case is significant, for it signalizes a predicate realized whether as fiʿl or as xabar (cf. Goldenberg 1988:46–49). 26 We also saw in 3.1 that Ibn al-Sarrāj held a similar view regarding sentences such as Zaydun yaqūmu. But in this case he stood in opposition to the vast majority of grammarians.

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of the participle hypothesis was Mujāšiʿī (Šarḥ , 87) who derived such sentences as Zaydun ʾamāmaka (“Zayd is in front of you”) and ʿAmrun min al-kirām (“ ʿAmr is one of the honourable”) from the underlying (taqdīr) structures Zaydun mustaqirrun ʾamāmaka and ʿAmrun kāʾinun min al-kirām respectively.27 Mujāšiʿī made it clear that for him an adverbial/prepositional phrase in xabar position had the status of, and was therefore a substitute for, a participle (not a clause). Postulating a personal pronoun implicit in the participle, Mujāšiʿī argued further that this pronoun moved to, and resided in, the adverbial/prepositional xabar occupying the position of the deleted participle (in Mujāšiʿī’s words: wa-ʾafḍā l-ḍamīru llad̠ī kāna fī smi l-fāʿil ʾilā l-nāʾib ʿanhu fastatara fīhi.)28 For further discussion of the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis, see Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 275ff.; Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 245–247; Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 344, 349–351; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 159, 547–548. We can see that the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis was used by the grammarians to fit the construction Zaydun fīhā/fīhā Zaydun into their theory of ʿamal, and, by implication, to their binary system of sentence types. Once Zaydun in both Zaydun fīhā and fīhā Zaydun was recognized as mubtadaʾ, both constructions could be said to represent a jumla ismiyya, the latter being an inverted version of the former. The xabar, when following the mubtadaʾ, was presented as either clausal or phrasal, depending on whether yastaqirru or mustaqirrun was assumed to be the underlying linking element. In both cases, this element was made accountable for the case of fī l-dār/fīhā (see Kouloughli 2002:13–16, for further discussion). However, we have already seen that the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis was not universally accepted. We will shortly introduce another alternative hypothesis, one that had substantial implications for the theory of sentence types.

27 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 244) claims that the underlying element must obligatorily be deleted, rejecting such sentences as Zaydun kāʾinun fī l-dār. He indicates that Ibn Jinnī did allow such constructions, but contends that there was no evidence to support this position. 28 This is evidently Mujāšiʿi’s way of claiming a xabar status for the adverbial/prepositional phrase. ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 246) points to Fārisī and his followers as advocating the same hypothesis. But Sīrāfī is cited by him as claiming that the pronoun is deleted as part of the linking constituent.


chapter four 4.3.3 ʾAbū ʿAlī l-Fārisī

As we have already indicated in Chapter One, ʾAbū ʿAlī l-Fārisī (d. 987) was one of the first grammarians who advanced in an explicit and elaborate way the idea of sentence types in Arabic (as opposed to types of xabar). He defined each type, and spelled out the problematic nature of the dichotomy verb+noun (jumla fiʿliyya) versus noun+noun (jumla ismiyya).29 Indeed, he was the first to present a detailed argument with the conclusion that a third sentence type had to be added to the two above. Having defined the two basic sentence types in Arabic, Fārisī turns to concentrate upon the construction represented by Zaydun fī l-dār. Indeed it looks as though Fārisī’s definition of the two basic sentence types is meant as an introduction to his discussion of this particular construction (Fārisī ʿAskariyya, 105–109). He starts by indicating that, although such sentences are composed of nominal elements (i.e. the two nouns) and a particle (the preposition), they do not have the same status as ʾinna sentences, where the particle enters into a sentence made up of two nouns. This is because fī l-dār is not identical in reference with Zaydun. And since fī l-dār does not signal any quality of Zayd but rather refers to his location, it cannot be analyzed simply as predicate to Zayd.30 However, given that Zaydun fī l-dār is definitely a well-formed sentence in Arabic, one must assume some underlying (muqaddar) linking element to account for the predicative relationship between its two constituents. As we saw in 4.3.2, this linking element must inevitably be either a noun or a verb with an implicit pronoun (a particle does not bear any reference). If either of these could be posited, a sentence such as Zaydun fī l-dār could be said to represent either the verb+noun or the noun+noun type.31

29 Anxious to provide accurate and valid definitions, Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 104–105) pointed further to the option of a particle (ḥ arf ) entering into either of the two defined jumla’s, to form a kalām. He showed the resulting construction to be an independent grammatical sentence whose basic type (i.e. fiʿliyya or ismiyya) is unaffected. Fārisī exemplified this by sentences introduced by hal, ʾinna, mā, qad and lam. (As a matter of fact, the same principle had already been stated by Ibn al-Sarrāj ʾUṣūl I, 43.) 30 Recall, however, that in Sībawayhi’s bāb al-ibtidāʾ a place/time adverbial may function as a predicate following a mubtadaʾ much like a nominal constituent. 31 Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 109) mentions also the address (nidāʾ) expression yā Zaydu (“O, Zayd!”) as a case of independent sentence consisting only of a noun and a particle. He argues, however, that in this case a verbal element should be assumed (which actually renders the address expression a sub-type of jumla fiʿliyya).

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However, from this point onwards, Fārisī’s argument continues in a direction designed to prove that this is not the case. In other words, a sentence such as Zaydun fī l-dār, while conforming to the general principle governing the production of well-formed sentences, constitutes an exception in that it does not fall into any of the two basic categories, jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. In Fārisī’s words: ʾa-lā tarā ʾanna l-kalāma wa-ʾin kāna lā yaxlū mimmā d̠akarnā fī l-ʾaṣli fa-qad ṣāra lahu l-ʾāna ḥ ukmun yaxruju bihi ʿan d̠ālika l-ʾaṣli (“Notice that although a sentence must obey the basic principles indicated by us, in this case there is an [overriding] rule leading the sentence away from these basic principles”—Fārisī ʿAskariyya, 105).

What Fārisi is now trying to prove is that neither a verb nor a noun can be posited as a linking element establishing a predicative relationship between Zaydun and fī l-dār, a relationship modeled on that obtaining between the subject and predicate of a regular verbal or nominal sentence. And if it can be proved that neither a verb nor a noun can be posited as an underlying linking element between Zaydun and fī l-dār, the conclusion must be that sentences such as Zaydun fī l-dār represent a sentence type in its own right. He starts (ʿAskariyya, 105) by adducing the sentence ʾinna fī l-dāri Zaydan, were the particle ʾinna enters into the sentence fī l-dāri Zaydun. (His choice of this construction rather than Zaydun fī l-dār is significant, as will be seen below.) Then he makes the following two points: 1. An underlying verbal link cannot be assumed, because a verb would exclude the use of ʾinna. In other words, while fī l-dāri Zaydun may be preceded by yastaqirru, ʾinna and yastaqirru are mutually exclusive: ʾinna fī l-dāri Zaydan is a perfectly grammatical sentence in Arabic, but ∗ʾinna yastaqirru fī l-dāri Zaydan is disallowed. 2. A linking noun cannot be posited either, because that would amount to assuming—erroneously—that ʾinna exercises its effect (ʿamal) upon Zaydan across the underlying linking noun (Fārisī ʿAskariyya, 108). Having disqualified both noun and verb as possible underlying linking elements in cases such as Zaydun fī l-dār and fī l-dāri Zaydun, Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 108) argues further that in such cases the adverbial constituent as such cannot be claimed to implement a verbal function. This, he maintains, is borne out by the fact that the adverbial may not be preceded by a circumstantial phrase. A sentence such as ∗qāʾiman fī


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l-dāri Zaydun is inadmissible, but it would be allowed if fī l-dār had a verbal value: A sentence such as qāʾiman ḍaḥ ika Zaydun (“Zayd stood laughing”) is considered as perfectly acceptable by the grammarians. All the above boils down to a rejection of the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis, and that, in turn, leads Fārisī to the conclusion that sentences such as Zaydun fī l-dār/fī l-dāri Zaydun should be considered neither as jumla fiʿliyya nor as jumla ismiyya; they must be thought of, rather, as representing a sentence type in its own right. Note, however, that Fārisī did not give the type of sentence under discussion any special designation. The term jumla ẓarfiyya to which we will be introduced below was coined in a later period.32 But if one is supposed to assume no underlying element linking the two predicative constituents in Zaydun fī l-dār/fī l-dāri Zaydun, what is then the ʿāmil assigning rafʿ to Zaydun in such cases? As we saw in 4.3.1, Sībawayhi, who was not committed to any theory of sentence types, had no problem presenting the ibtidāʾ as rafʿ assigner to Zayd in both Zaydun fī l-dār and fīhā Zaydun. But for Fārisī, making a similar claim would imply classifying fīhā Zaydun as a jumla ismiyya. As regards the raf ʿ assigner in Zaydun fī l-dār Fārisī does not develop any elaborate discussion, apparently because in such cases one would automatically refer to ibtidāʾ as the raf ʿ assigner. However, when it comes to fīhā Zaydun, the construction on which he focuses his discussion, Fārisī presents a clear position as to the rāfiʿ of Zaydun. Having shown that neither a verb nor a noun can be posited as a linking element, and having proved, further, that the adverbial itself cannot be claimed to function as a verb, Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 108–109) refers the reader to ʾAbū l-Ḥ asan [al-ʾAxfaš], explaining that these are the reasons why ʾAbū l-Ḥ asan regarded the adverbial per se as the rāfiʿ when preceding a noun functioning as muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu (“of whom the message is predicated”, “subject”). Notice that it is not the term fāʿil that is used with reference to that noun, but rather muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu, a term that cuts across all sentence types. As we shall see (4.5 below), however, later grammarians 32 Fārisī (ʿAskariyya, 105) indicates that the construction in question (hād̠ā l-taʾlīf ) had already been regarded as a sentence type in its own right (qism bi-raʾsihi) by ʾAbū Bakr (Ibn al-Sarrāj). The latter is cited in this connection also by Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 344). But for him, qism bi-raʾsihi refers specifically to the status of fī l-dār. He claims that this constituent was conceived by Ibn al-Sarrāj neither as a phrase (mufrad) with an underlying mustaqirrun, nor as a clause, with an underlying istaqarra. Ibn ʿUṣfūr says that Fārisī’s argument, based on sentences such as ʾinna fī l-dāri Zaydan, is taken from Ibn al-Sarrāj. However, while Fārisī commends the view he attributes to Ibn al-Sarrāj (hād̠ā mad̠hab ḥ asan), Ibn ʿUṣfūr rejects it.

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did not refrain from using the term fāʿil in this particular context (see, e.g. Ibn ’Abī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 724, who indicates that ʾAxfaš analyzed the nominal in this construction as fāʿil. For further discussion of ʾAxfaš’s position, see Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 585). Obviously, attributing the assignment of raf ʿ to an adverbial/prepositional phrase constituted a serious problem for the theory of ʿamal. Since the formulation of this theory, the grammarians always insisted that the function of case assignment could be implemented by either a verb or a particle. Various elements, notably active participles and other adjectives were claimed to have a “verbal force”. But in our case, as we have seen, Fārisī argued that fī l-dār was not verbal enough to allow a circumstantial phrase to precede it.33 So, one might ask, what is it that qualifies fīhā as raf ʿ assigner? To my knowledge, the grammarians never gave a clear answer to this question. And it is no wonder that the concept of jumla ẓarfiyya, where a predicative prepositional phrase assigns raf ʿ to the following subject (cf. 4.5.2 below), remained marginal and never became part of mainstream medieval Arab grammatical thinking. Anyhow, ʾAxfaš’s position with regard to the raf ʿ assigner in fīhā Zaydun could be regarded by Fārisī as further support for his thesis that this construction represented a sentence type in its own right. 4.4

Obligatory fronting of the xabar 4.4.1 Formal aspects

A remarkable feature of the grammarians’ (including Fārisī’s) discussion of the adverbial/prepositional xabar is that they base their argument on such sentences as Zaydun fī l-dār/fī l-dāri Zaydun, where the definite

33 The fāʿil in Ibn al-Ḥ ājib’s definition is depicted as construed with a verb “or its like” (ʾaw šabahuhu—ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 185). ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 186) takes up this expression, explaining that it refers to active and passive participles, to an adjective that acts analogously to a verb, to a maṣdar and to ism al-fiʿl. He maintains that Ibn al-Ḥ ājib intentionally refrained from using the expression ʾaw maʿnāhu (“or what could be interpreted as analogous in meaning to the verb”), because this would argue in favour of ascribing to the adverbial/prepositional phrase the function of assigning raf ʿ to the resumptive pronoun implicit in fī l-dār (or, otherwise, explicit, as in Zaydun ʾamāmaka ġulāmuhu—“Zayd, his slave is in front of you”). ʾAstarābād̠ī indicates that Ibn al-Ḥ ājib advocated, rather, an analysis by which the rafʿ assigner is an underlying verb or active participle and not the adverbial/prepositional phrase. In other words, Ibn al-Ḥ ājib regarded qāʾimun in qāʾimun Zaydun as a kind of verb; he did not, however, extend the “verbal force” to adverbial/prepositional phrases.


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subject may either precede or follow the adverbial/prepositional phrase (cf. Kouloughli 2002:10, n. 7). But for the third sentence type advocated by Fārisī, sentences such as ʿindī mālun (“I have money”) would surely be a better example. For in this case the subject follows the predicate obligatorily; reversing the order is disallowed. Some grammarians dealt with this construction within the framework of their discussion of the indefinite mubtadaʾ (e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 308–309; and cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 341 and 3.4.2 above). Most of the grammarians, however, adduced such sentences by way of illustrating an obligatorily fronted (taqdīm) xabar. And here the grammarians were confronted with a major conceptual problem. A xabar, by definition, must follow, not precede, the mubtadaʾ. The very concept of an obligatorily fronted xabar appears to conflict with two fundamental principles in medieval Arabic grammatical theory: 1. The formal principle stipulating that the ʿāmil must precede the maʿmūl—see, e.g. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 587); 2. The functional principle placing the “given” before the “new”. To the extent that the mubtadaʾ was identified with the “given”, and the xabar with the “new”, such sentences posed a serious conceptual problem. Obviously, in cases such as fī l-dāri rajulun, the grammarians could not present rajulun fī l-dār as the ʾaṣl of fī l-dāri rajulun, since the former was disallowed as an independent sentence in Arabic. One may argue, therefore, that in fī l-dāri rajulun, as well as in other cases of obligatory fronting discussed below, the very concept of taqdīm was not intended by the majority of grammarians in the sense of reversing the order of constituents in some basic theoretical structure. Rather, one must assume that taqdīm in such cases was used in the sense of “placing in initial position”, with no transformation involved (see 2.2 above). Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 86) argued that rajulun fī l-dār was excluded (1) because it could be wrongly interpreted as a noun phrase (with fī l-dār functioning as an attribute—ṣifa—to rajulun) rather than as a complete sentence (see also Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 343), and (2) in order to avoid introducing a declarative positive (wājib) sentence by an indefinite noun.34

34 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 260–261) maintained that the problem of ambiguity between xabar and ṣifa was acute, owing to the common occurrence of an adverbial in xabar position in Arabic. He cited, however, one case where an adverbial xabar followed an indefinite mubtadaʾ, pointing out that it was perfectly acceptable in a sentence used as an exclamation (duʿāʾ—see 3.4.2). ʾAstarābād̠ī also remarked that fronting a non-

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The idea of transformation in cases such as fī l-dāri rajulun was not, however, universally excluded. Not surprisingly, it was suggested, albeit in a rather idiosyncratic manner, by Ibn Jinnī, a grammarian noted for his originality and for frequently advancing dissenting arguments incompatible with mainstream medieval Arab grammatical thinking. In his Sirr ṣināʿat al-ʾiʿrāb, Ibn Jinnī (Sirr I, 276) uses the concept ʾaṣl marfūḍ (“a rejected basic construction”) when dealing with cases which he regards as transformed constructions, but whose underlying structure (ʾaṣl) is inadmissible. The principle of ʾaṣl marfūḍ is not explicitly applied by him to rajulun fī l-dār. But in his Xaṣāʾiṣ (I, 300) he maintains that, while mubtadaʾ-xabar is the basic word order of a jumla ismiyya, a certain intervening factor (ʿāriḍ) might impose the reversal of that order. The occurrence of an indefinite mubtadaʾ at the beginning of a declarative positive sentence constitutes, in Ibn Jinnī’s view, such an ʿāriḍ, a kind of contingency imposing the movement of the mubtadaʾ into the second position in the sentence (cf. Peled 1992b:105–106).35 This is regarded by him as a corrective procedure (ʾiṣlāḥ al-lafẓ):36 the second position, he reminds us, is in principle the xabar’s position; and since the xabar is essentially indefinite, the indefinite mubtadaʾ now fills the appropriate slot as far as (in)definiteness is concerned. He emphasizes, however, that in the underlying theoretical (muqaddar) level the mubtadaʾ precedes the xabar (Ibn Jinnī Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 318).37

adverbial xabar to an indefinite mubtadaʾ would not eliminate the ambiguity. Thus, if you transformed rajulun qāʾimun into qāʾimun rajulun, rajulun could be analyzed as xabar of qāʾimun or as an apposition (badal) to it. By contrast, a fronted adverbial in similar cases would necessarily be interpreted as xabar, due to its naṣb case, whether explicitly marked (lafẓan), or understood by position (maḥ allan). 35 Note that an indefinite mubtadaʾ introducing a negative or interrogative sentence is readily accepted by Ibn Jinnī. Thus he admits (Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 300) sentences such as hal ġulāmun ʿindaka (“is there a boy with you?”) and mā bisāṭun taḥ taka (“there is no carpet under you”), claiming that they are communicatively useful, as opposed to sentences such as rajulun ʿindaka (“a man is with you”). The argument is that one can negate the existence of, or pose a question with regard to, an unknown entity (mankūr lā yuʿraf ), while there is no communicative value in predicating of an unknown entity affirmatively. 36 Similarly, ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 259–260) regards the obligatory fronting of the xabar in cases such as fī l-dāri rajulun as a corrective (muṣaḥ ḥ iḥ ) procedure designed to handle the indefiniteness of the mubtadaʾ. 37 Ibn Jinnī (Xaṣāʾiṣ I, 319–320) then refers to sentences displaying an indefinite mubtadaʾ in sentence-initial position. He argues, however (like other grammarians—cf. 3.4.2 above), that these are not declarative sentences, in the sense that they are meant to express a wish or imprecation rather than convey information. Another case is explained by him as paraphrasable by a negative sentence (cf. n. 35 above).


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There are other cases adduced by the grammarians as examples of obligatory fronting of the xabar. The first example presented by Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 587) is that of the interrogative construction ʾayna Zaydun (“where is Zayd?”—cf. 3.5 above).38 This grammarian was anxious to demonstrate that such cases of obligatory xabar fronting did not violate the basic principle that the ʿāmil must precede the maʿmūl. Regarding ʾayna Zaydun he maintained that the basic underlying (ʾaṣl) structure in this case was ʾa-Zaydun fī l-dār ʾam fī l-sūq ʾam fī l-ḥ ānūt (“is Zayd at home, in the market, or in the shop?”). The word ʾayna, according to Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ, functions as an economy device designed to replace both the adverbials and the interrogative particle ʾa-, as well as the particle ʾam. It implements a xabar function in virtue of its being a replacement for the adverbials. At the same time, it is obligatorily fronted as a substitute for the interrogative particle ʾa-. Another semantic component in ʾayna is that of specification (taʿyīn), formally represented in the basic underlying structure by the particle ʾam. The transformation from the basic to the final surface structure proceeds as follows: First, the xabar ( fī l-dār ʾam fī l-sūq etc.) is moved to a frontal position immediately following ʾa- (ʾa-fī l-dār am fī l-sūq [. . .] Zaydun—the interrogative ʾa- must, as a rule, be positioned sentenceinitially). Then ʾayna is introduced so as to replace all the constituents preceding Zaydun. It is thus the adverbial semantic component in ʾayna that warrants its occurrence in pre-mubtadaʾ xabar position, whereas the interrogative component accounts for the obligatoriness of the movement. Ibn ’Abī l-Rabīʿ indicates that the same applies to other interrogatives such as matā, kayfa, man and mā: kayfa ʾaxūka (“how is your brother?”), man ʾaxūka (“who is your brother?”), and the like. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ’s second case of obligatory xabar fronting is the construction fī l-dāri rajulun. This, however, is dealt with by him in 38 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 260) points out that the rule requiring the fronting of an interrogative xabar applies specifically to a single-phrased xabar, as in ʾayna Zaydun. If a clausal xabar following the mubtadaʾ is introduced by an interrogative particle, the rule granting the initial position to that particle is not violated; placing it clause-initially (rather than sentence-initially) is enough for the rule to be obeyed. Thus, a sentence such as Zaydun man ʾabūhu (“Zayd—who is his father?”) is perfectly correct, with the clausal interrogative xabar following the mubtadaʾ. As for the apparent contradiction between the argument that adverbials are paraphrasable by a clause (see 4.3.2 above) on the one hand, and presenting ʾayna in ʾayna Zaydun as a single-phrased xabar, on the other, ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 260) maintains that ʾayna as such is a single phrase (mufrad), whether you posit a phrase or a clause underlying it. In the case of ʾayna Zaydun, he argues, one should appropriately say that ʾayna is a phrase occupying a clausal position (mufrad wāqiʿ mawqiʿ al-jumla).

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pragmatic rather than in purely formal terms, and will therefore be reviewed in the following sub-section. The third case is exemplified by Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 588) by the sentence ʿalā l-tamrati mit̠luhā zubdan (“on the date there is an equal amount of butter”). He indicates that the reverse order (mit̠luhā zubdan ʿalā l-tamrati) is disallowed since -hā in mit̠luhā is an anticipatory pronoun in both lafẓ (surface) and martaba (underlying) structures, thus violating the rule of the anticipatory pronoun (al-ʾiḍmār qabla l-d̠ikr—see 2.3. above). For further discussion of the relationship between anaphora and the position of the xabar, see ʾAstarābād̠ī Šarḥ I, 261–262. Introducing his fourth and final case of obligatory xabar fronting, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ I, 588) cites the exceptive sentences mā fārisun ʾillā Zaydun (“no one is a horseman but Zayd”) and mā fī l-dāri ʾillā ʿAmrun (“no one is in the house but ʿAmr”). In these two sentences the subject nominal occurs sentence-finally and is dominated by the exceptive particle ʾillā. Reversing the order in such cases, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ points out, would not result in an ungrammatical sentence, but rather in a sentence different in meaning from the original one. The sentence mā fārisun ʾillā Zaydun assigns to Zayd, and only to him, the attribute of horsemanship. This sentence is neutral as to whether or not Zayd possesses other qualities as well. But if the order of constituents is reversed so as to make the subject Zaydun precede the predicate, the resulting sentence mā Zaydun ʾillā fārisun unmistakably excludes the possibility of Zayd possessing any quality beside horsemanship.39 Similarly, the sentence ʾinnamā fārisun Zaydun is equivalent in meaning to mā fārisun ʾillā Zaydun, whereas ʾinnamā Zaydun fārisun is synonymous with mā Zaydun ʾillā fārisun, which explains why a mubtadaʾ-xabar order is inadmissible in this related case as well (cf. 3.5 above). Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 353) adds two more cases where the xabar is obligatorily placed sentence-initially: 1. When the mubtadaʾ is a noun clause introduced by ʾanna: fī ʿilmī ʾannaka qāʾimun (“it is known to me that you are standing”); 2. When the xabar is a kam al-xabariyya phrase: kam dirhamin māluka (“how many dirhams you have!”). The first of these two cases is dealt with also by ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I,

39 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 263) explains that sentences such as mā qāʾimun ʾillā Zaydun (“no one is standing except Zayd”) do not allow mubtadaʾ preposing, because if you move the mubtadaʾ to pre-xabar position without the particle ʾillā, you reverse the meaning of the original sentence, and if you move the mubtadaʾ together with ʾillā, the result is an ill-formed sentence, since the exceptive ʾillā may not occupy sentenceinitial position.


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262–263) who cites Fārisī as claiming that the adverbial/prepositional phrase in such cases exercises ʿamal (raf ʿ) upon the following ʾanna clause with no supporting element (cf. 4.3.3 above; for iʿtimād, see 4.2 above). ʾAstarābād̠ī explains that the reason for the obligatory fronting of the xabar (whether adverbial or not) in such cases is that if the ʾanna clause were placed sentence-initially, the word ʾnna could be misread as ʾinna rather than ʾanna. For, between the two particles, it is the former rather than the latter that is associated with the initial position in the sentence.40 ʾAstarābād̠ī points out further that if the xabar precedes the ʾanna clause it is bound to be correctly analyzed as xabar to the following clause as a whole rather than as a fronted constituent governed by ʾanna, because a constituent within the scope of ʾinna/ʾanna cannot be preposed to either of these particles. Furthermore, once the adverbial/ prepositional phrase is established as the xabar of the following clause, the particle heading that clause will be easily read as ʾanna, because a mubtadaʾ clause, being a noun clause, cannot be introduced by ʾinna.41 For further discussion of this issue, see Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VIII, 59–60. For a discussion of noun clauses, including S3-clauses, in Modern Standard Arabic, see Holes 1995:225–228. As we have just seen, fī l-dāri rajulun was only one item, and not necessarily the first, on the list of constructions presented by the grammarians as examples of obligatory fronting of the xabar. But it was apparently the most difficult to deal with in purely syntactic terms. The grammarians’ main formal explanation for the obligatoriness of predicate-subject order in this case was that an adverbial/prepositional phrase following an indefinite nominal could be wrongly interpreted as an attribute rather than as a predicate. But in my view, the strongest argument against ∗rajulun fī l-dār was pragmatic rather than syntactic.

40 Notice, however, that subject ʾan clauses occur quite frequently in sentenceinitial position. This is typical of Classical Arabic cases where the following predicate is introduced by an elative phrase: ʾan taṣūmū xayrun lakum (“to fast is better for you”—Qurʾān 2.184). Furthermore, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ VII, 95f.) argues that an ʾan clause is regarded as definite, since it is equivalent to a definite genitive construct (cf. ʾan taṣūmū ≈ ṣawmukum in the above Qurʾānic sentence). See also, Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 402f., 411. 41 ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 263) adds that an ʾanna clause may be inserted between ʾammā and fa-, as in ʾammā ʾannaka xārijun fa-lā ʾuṣaddiquhu (“as regards your leaving, I do not believe this”). In such cases the problem of ambiguity between ʾinna and ʾanna does not arise, because the position between ʾammā and fa- is not available for an independent ʾinna sentence.

problems in the theory of sentence types 4.4.2


Fī l-dāri rajulun—pragmatic aspects

When examining the construction fī l-dāri rajulun in terms of information structure, most of the grammarians appreciated that sentences of this kind represented a special case. Indeed they recognized that in these cases it is the definite adverbial/prepositional phrase, occupying sentence-initial position, that represents the given information, whereas the following nominative indefinite phrase signals the new information, and not the other way around (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ I, 86–87)42. They realized, in other words, that between fī l-dār and rajulun, it is the former expression that represents that part of the information that is presupposed and forms part of the shared knowledge between speaker and addressee, whereas rajulun represents the asserted new information that the speaker wishes to communicate to, or, rather, share with, the addressee. Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ I, 86) argues that, judging by the meaning of sentences such as laka mālun (“you have money”), it is the definite complement of the preposition (in this case the pronoun -ka) that represents the muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu (“what the sentence is about”), even though, formally ( fī l-lafẓ), it is the nominative noun that implements that function.43 In support of his claim he indicates (1) that laka mālun is paraphrasable by ʾanta d̠ū mālin, and (2) that an indefinite nominal is inadmissible in the position of the complement of the preposition: ∗li-rajulin mālun is disallowed (lam yakun kalāman—“is not an [acceptable] sentence”). Another attempt to relate the construction in question to a mubtadaʾxabar order was made by Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ. This grammarian presented a number of cases where the xabar is obligatorily fronted (cf. 4.4.1 above), taking great pains to demonstrate that fronting the xabar in these cases is wholly justified, if not on purely formal, then on functional/semantic, grounds. Regarding fī l-dāri rajulun, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ states the following:


According to Talmon (1993:285–287), the idea is attested already in ninth century writings where the locative is typically referred to as ṣifa and the nominative noun following it as xabar al-ṣifa. 43 This obviously rests on the assumption that in a sentence containing only one nominative noun, it is this noun that should be construed as the muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu. This term, while referring literally to a pragmatic function, signals in the grammarians’ usage, the subject, irrespective of sentence type; its counterpart ḥ adīt̠ signals the predicate (see Goldenberg 1988:46–49, for discussion).


chapter four fa-hād̠ā yulzimu l-taqdīma wa-lā yajūzu taʾxīruhu fa-taqūla rajulun fī l-dāri li-ʾannahu lā yubtadaʾu bi-l-nakirati wa-ʾinnamā jāza l-i-btidāʾu hunā bi-l-nakirati li-ʾanna l-maqṣūda l-ʾixbāru ʿan-i l-dāri bi-ʾannahā maskūnatun wa-laysati l-nakiratu l-maqṣūdata bi-l-ʾixbāri wa-kāna l-ʾaṣlu ʾan taqūla al-dāru maʿmūratun bi-rajulin t̠umma ʾarādū l-i-xtiṣāra fa-qālū fī l-dāri rajulun wa-ʾalzamū l-dāra l-taqdīma li-ʾannahā l-muxbaru ʿanhā bi-l-ḥ aqīqati (“in such cases [the xabar] is preposed obligatorily. It may not be postposed to yield rajulun fī l-dār, because an indefinite noun may not fill a mubtadaʾ position. In our case, the mubtadaʾ44 may be indefinite, because the intention is to predicate of the house that it is inhabited, rather than to predicate of the indefinite noun. Underlying [our sentence] is the sentence al-dāru maʿmūratun bi-rajulin. But for the sake of brevity, they say fī l-dāri rajulun. They obligatorily prepose the [phrase fī] l-dār, because it is really the house that is predicated of [i.e. the topic]”—Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 587–588).

In other words, the sentence fī l-dāri rajulun is paraphrasable by al-dāru maʿmūratun bi-rajulin (“the house is inhabited by a man”), where al-dāru functions unmistakably as mubtadaʾ. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ explains that the meaning intended by fī l-dāri rajulun is that the house is inhabited; it is al-dār of which something is predicated, not the indefinite rajulun. The version fī l-dāri rajulun, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ maintains, is preferred to al-dāru maʿmūratun bi-rajulin for reasons of economy. The constituent al-dār is obligatorily preposed, for it is the one that implements the function of muxbar ʿanhu, which obviously entails that rajulun functions as xabar. (For the terms muxbar/muxbar ʿanhu, see Goldenberg 1988:46–51). A different, indeed exceptional, view on this issue is held by Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 308–309). Sentences such as ʿindī mālun (“I have money”) are dealt with by him within the framework of his discussion of sentences with an indefinite mubtadaʾ. For Jurjānī, the mubtadaʾ in this particular case, albeit indefinite, implements the same pragmatic function as a definite mubtadaʾ introducing a sentence. Mālun in the above sentence functions as mubtadaʾ li-ʾajli ḥ uṣūli l-ixtiṣāṣi fī l-xabari ʾid̠ kullu wāḥ idin lā yaʿlamu ʾanna ʿindaka mālan (“because the xabar signals some specification [regarding the mubtadaʾ], for it is not common knowledge that you have money”— Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 308).

44 Notice that yubtadaʾu and ibtidāʾ are both construed in this case as “used as mubtadaʾ ” or “implementing a mubtadaʾ function”.

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For Jurjānī, then, ʿindī in its sentence-initial position makes the same contribution to the communicative value (ʾifāda) of the sentence as would a xabar occupying a post-mubtadaʾ position. Much like other grammarians, however, Jurjānī argues that in such cases the xabar is obligatorily fronted because mālun ʿindī would be wrongly interpreted as a noun phrase, with ʿindī analyzed as a complement (ṣifa) to mālun (see 4.4.1 above). Most of the grammarians, however, did not follow this line of thought. Rather, they discerned a discrepancy between the syntactic analysis of sentences such as fī l-dāri rajulun into xabar and mubtadaʾ, and the pragmatic functions of muxbar ʿanhu and xabar implemented by fī l-dār and rajulun respectively. They did, however, emphasize that, in terms of definiteness, sentences like laka mālun conform to the principle that the definite constituent, representing the given information, should precede the indefinite noun signalling the new information. In any case, the grammarians could not accept a formal analysis of fī l-dāri rajulun into a mubtadaʾ followed by a xabar, on the ground that if a sentence of this kind were introduced by ʾinna, the noun phrase rajul would automatically take the naṣb case which would mark it unmistakably as subject. (For discussion, see Kouloughli 2002:16–17 and his references.) 4.5

Ibn Hišām’s tripartite division 4.5.1 Background

Returning now to the question of the assignment of rafʿ in cases such as fīhā Zaydun, most of the grammarians from Sībawayhi onwards regarded ibtidāʾ as the operator assigning rafʿ to Zaydun. This, however, was by no means universal, as we have seen. Indeed, Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾInṣāf I, 51–55) attributes this position to the Baṣrans while presenting the other (much less common) position as Kūfan. We learn that the Kūfans, as well as the Baṣran grammarians Mubarrad and ʾAxfaš (cf. 4.3.3 above), regarded the adverbial/prepositional phrase in the above case as the assigner of rafʿ to the following noun Zaydun.45 Ibn al-ʾAnbārī maintains that both the Baṣrans and the Kūfans resorted

45 This position is clearly evidenced in Farrāʾ Maʿānī (e.g. I, 195–196; III, 133). See Talmon (1993:279) for further details and references.


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to Sībawayhi for support for their respective claims. The Baṣrans, as could be expected, pointed to chapter 133 in the Kitāb, where, as we have seen, Sībawayhi referred to the ibtidāʾ (though without using the actual term) as the ʿāmil assigning rafʿ to Zaydun. The Kūfans, for their part, drew upon a number of cases where, according to Sībawayhi, an adverbial assigned raf ʿ to a following noun (Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 52). It is upon such cases, Ibn al-ʾAnbārī argues, that the Kūfans based their claim that in fīhā Zaydun it is fīhā that should be regarded as the rāfiʿ of Zaydun. ʾAstarābād̠ī (Šarḥ I, 247–248) indicates that the analysis of Zaydun in fī l-dāri Zaydun as fāʿil of the adverbial/prepositional phrase was advanced by the Kūfans, as well as by ʾAxfaš in one out of two statements he made on the subject.46 The argument in both cases was that the adverbial/prepositional phrase had a “verbal force” (maʿnā l-fiʿl), analogously to qāʾim in qāʾimun Zaydun. In ʾAstarābād̠ī’s view, the Kūfans’ position emanated from their categorical objection to xabar fronting, irrespective of whether the xabar was a phrase or a clause. This objection was designed to forestall the occurrence of an anticipatory pronoun. To this, however, ʾAstarābād̠ī offers an outright rejection, claiming, as could be expected, that the anticipatory pronoun occurs only in the surface structure; in the basic structure the mubtadaʾ precedes the xabar with no anticipatory pronoun involved (cf. 3.5 above). As for ʾAxfaš, according to ʾAstarābād̠ī he did not object to xabar fronting, and (in his other statement) indeed regarded the ibtidāʾ as the assigner of raf ʿ to Zaydun in fī l-dāri Zaydun. ʾAxfaš’s position here is divergent from the one cited above. It rests upon two assumptions: 1. The verbal force of the adverbial/prepositional phrase is weaker than that of the adjective. 2. The well-formedness of the construction fī dārihi Zaydun (“in his house Zayd [is located]”). In this case, the option of analyzing Zaydun as fāʿil is excluded on the ground that it would lead to an unacceptable anticipatory pronoun (since the pronoun, under this analysis, would be cataphoric in both the lafẓ and the maʿnā configurations—see 2.3 above). Not surprisingly, the debate concludes with the Baṣrans having the upper hand. There is evidence to suggest, however, that, as in many

46 Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾInṣāf I, 51), as we have just indicated, adds Mubarrad to the proponents of this kind of analysis (and cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 158–159).

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other cases, the position dismissed as “Kūfan” represented a view that was much more widely accepted than the “mainstream” medieval grammarians would have us believe. As we shall see in the next sub-section, it remained viable centuries later, in the writings of one of the most prominent medieval grammarians, Ibn Hišām al-ʾAnṣārī. The relevance of this issue to our discussion is clear: it is closely related to the question of whether or not sentences such as fīhā Zaydun should be taken to represent a sentence type in its own right. 4.5.2

Ibn Hišām’s categorization and definitions

Coming now to the 14th century grammarian Ibn Hišām al-ʾAnṣārī (d. 1360), we find both a critical discussion of the concept jumla as compared to kalām, and a clear-cut division into three sentence types. Recall that Fārisī’s starting point was that there were two basic sentence types in Arabic. This was followed by an elaborate argument designed to prove that Zaydun fī l-dār represented a sentence type in its own right. For Ibn Hišām the tripartite division is an established linguistic fact, and he makes it the starting point of his discussion. He does not, however, ignore the problems raised by this division, as we shall see. As for the concept jumla, Ibn Hišām (Muġnī, 490) argues against those who describe it as synonymous with kalām. The latter is defined by him as al-qawl al-mufīd bi-l-qaṣd (“a saying conveying some intention”). He explains that mufīd should be construed as conveying a complete message (maʿnā); in his words, a stretch of speech that can be followed by silence. A jumla, by contrast, is a construction made up of either fiʿl+fāʿil or, otherwise, mubtadaʾ+xabar.47 Since a complete message is a requirement of kalām but not of jumla, Ibn Hišām argues, it follows that the latter is wider in scope than the former. Obviously, this allows us to correlate kalām with the modern term ‘sentence’, whereas jumla should be interpreted as covering both ‘sentence’ and ‘clause’ (cf. Ibn

47 Goldenberg (1988:60f.) criticizes Ibn Hišām for depending on a “double definition of the sentence” when presenting the issue of predicative relation. He would expect Ibn Hišām to use such terms as musnad and musnad ʾilayhi rather than fiʿl/fāʿil and mubtadaʾ/xabar. It should be said, however, that, in general, the terms fiʿl/fāʿil and mubtadaʾ/xabar seem to have always been (and, apparently, still are, in Arabic grammars written today by traditional scholars) more common than musnad/musnad ʾilayhi, muxbar/muxbar ʿanhu etc. This could probably be explained by the fact that, unlike the latter, the former can be expounded with reference to the theory of ʿamal which has always been, and still remains, central to Arab grammatical thinking.


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Jinnī’s view regarding the relationship between kalām and jumla in 1.3 above; for further critical discussion, see Goldenberg 1988:59–61). Having defined the concept jumla, Ibn Hišām (Muġnī, 492) states that there are three types of jumla, ismiyya, fiʿliyya and ẓarfiyya, introduced respectively by a noun, a verb and an adverbial (ẓarf ) or a prepositional phrase ([ jārr wa-] majrūr).48 Being aware of the problem arising from his defining each type by the initially occurring constituent, he remarks (p. 492) that the definitions refer only to predicative constituents (musnad and musnad ʾilayhi). Thus, the sentence ʾa-Zaydun ʾaxūka (“is Zayd your brother?”) and the conditional clause ʾin qāma Zaydun (“if Zayd stand up”) are, respectively, ismiyya and fiʿliyya, even though the first noun in the former and the verb in the latter are each preceded by a particle. Once the problem of the particles is settled, Ibn Hišām appears to be remarkably strict in applying his principle that Arabic sentence types must be defined by the initial predicative constituent. And this, indeed, leads to some noticeable peculiarities. Jumla ismiyya, for instance, is exemplified by him by the following three sentences: Zaydun qāʾimun (“Zayd is standing”), hayhāti l-ʿaqīq (“how far is the ravine!”) and qāʾimun al-Zaydāni (“standing are the two Zayds”). While the first of the three sentences is straightforward, the other two are not. The word hayhāt in the second example is regarded by the medieval grammarians as ism fiʿl representing, as the term suggests, a special word category whose members are considered as neither nouns nor verbs (see, e.g. ’Astarābād̠ī Šarḥ III, 83ff. for details). Such ʾasmāʾ al-ʾafʿāl, in constructions like hayhāti l-ʿaqīq, are normally described as occupying a verb position, with the implication that the following noun implements the function of fāʿil (cf. Maxzūmī 1964:40). However, since hayhāt as an ism fiʿl is viewed as a special kind of noun (rather than as a kind of verb), a sentence introduced by it must, according to Ibn Hišām’s rigid principle of classification, be regarded as jumla ismiyya rather than as jumla fiʿliyya. The special problems relating to the third case (qāʾimun al-Zaydāni) have already been discussed in 4.2 above, and will not be repeated here. It is, however, noteworthy that for Ibn Hišām the fact that qāʾimun al-Zaydāni is introduced by a participle (viewed by the

48 A fourth type, jumla šarṭiyya, which, as he indicates, was proposed by Zamaxšarī, is rejected by Ibn Hišām who argues that the conditional clause should be categorized as jumla fiʿliyya (cf. 3.1 and 3.3.1 above).

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grammarians as a nominal element) is sufficient for classifying this sentence as jumla ismiyya; the fact that qāʾimun is followed by a noun in the dual form does not require, in his eyes, any further argument or elaboration. For a modern writer’s position, regarding qāʾimun al-Zaydāni as jumla fiʿliyya, see Maxzūmī 1964:40. The jumla fiʿliyya is illustrated by Ibn Hišām by six sentences introduced by a verb. Out of these, five are straightforward: he uses qāma, yaqūmu, qum, ḍuriba and ẓanna to demonstrate that a jumla fiʿliyya may be introduced by any finite verb form. Specifically, by adducing the sentence ẓanantuhu qāʾiman (“I believed him to be standing”), Ibn Hišām makes the point that a cognitive verb may, like any other verb, introduce a jumla fiʿliyya. As is well known, in medieval Arabic grammatical theory, from Sībawayhi onwards, cognitive verbs such as ẓanna (ẓanantu wa-ʾaxawātuhā—“ẓanantu and sisters”) are presented as analogous to ʾinna and kāna (and their respective “sisters”), in that they enter into (yadxulna ʿalā) sentences composed of a mubtadaʾ and xabar, nullifying in the process the abstract operator ibtidāʾ, and assuming in its stead the function of a formal ʿāmil assigning case to both nominal constituents in the sentence (cf. 5.2 below). In any case, the status of ẓanna as a verb was never disputed. By contrast, the verbal status of kāna was a matter of controversy among the grammarians, as we shall see in 5.3 below. The vast majority of grammarians considered kāna as a semantically deficient (nāqiṣ) verb,49 that is, as a verb lacking the semantic component of action.50 As such, its only function was to signal the time of the nominal sentence into which it “entered”. In cases such as ẓanantu Zaydan qāʾiman, while acknowledging the predicative relationship between Zaydan and qāʾiman, the grammarians analyzed the two nominal constituents as direct objects (mafʿūl) of ẓanna. By contrast, in kāna Zaydun qāʾiman, Zaydun and qāʾiman were normally analyzed in terms of a jumla ismiyya, namely as mubtadaʾ and xabar, or otherwise, as ism kāna and xabar kāna—respectively. True to his rigid definitions of the three sentence types, Ibn Hišām includes in his examples of jumla fiʿliyya the sentence kāna Zaydun

49 Unless signalling existence, in which case it was labeled kāna l-tāmma (“complete kāna”), and treated as an ordinary verb. For a detailed discussion, see 5.3 below. 50 This had been recognized already by Sībawayhi, although in his account (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 16; and cf. 5.3 below) he depicted kāna as analogous to ḍaraba in terms of transitivity (taʿdiya).


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qāʾiman (“Zayd was standing”). Indeed, the grammarians often defined jumla fiʿliyya as a sentence introduced by a verb (see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 93). But kāna sentences were normally regarded as representing an extended mubtadaʾ-xabar construction. I have not recorded any case where they brought the auxiliary kāna into their discussion of sentence types. As we shall see in the next chapter, kāna was presented as analogous, in terms of transitivity, to a bi-valent verb like ḍaraba. But, to my knowledge, they never went as far as explicitly labeling a sentence such as kāna Zaydun qāʾiman—jumla fiʿliyya. For further details, see 5.2 and 5.3 below. But the most interesting for our present discussion is Ibn Hišām’s jumla ẓarfiyya. This he illustrates by the two sentences ʾa-ʿindaka Zaydun (“is Zayd with you?”) and ʾa-fī l-dāri Zaydun (“is Zayd in the house?”), where the first predicative constituent is an adverbial and a prepositional phrase, respectively. Ibn Hišām points out that sentences such as these can qualify as jumla ẓarfiyya only ʾid̠ā qaddarta Zaydan fāʿilan bi-l-ẓarfi wa-l-jārri wa-l-majrūri lā bi-listiqrāri l-maḥ d̠ūfi wa-lā mubtadaʾan muxbaran ʿanhu bihimā (“if you assume Zayd to be a fāʿil [acted upon] by the adverbial/prepositional phrase, not by a deleted [verb/participle conveying the meaning of ] istiqrār, and [only if] you do not analyze Zayd as a mubtadaʾ for which the adverbial/prepositional phrase serves as xabar”—Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 492).

The significance of this passage lies in that it seems to suggest that Ibn Hišām’s sentence type definitions were not as rigid as they appeared to be when we looked at his definitions and illustrations of jumla ismiyya and jumla fiʿliyya. It now turns out that for him, the predicative constituent occurring first in the sentence was not in itself the only criterion for determining the type of sentence. Rather, for a predicative constituent to qualify as sentence-type determiner it had to act as ʿāmil upon the second predicative constituent. Another important point to note is that in both of Ibn Hišām’s examples the adverbial/prepositional phrase is preceded by the interrogative particle ʾa-. This may be taken to suggest that by the time of Ibn Hišām the principle of iʿtimād, which, as we have seen (4.2 above), can be traced back to Sībawayhi, had already been firmly established in medieval Arab grammatical thinking. When Ibn Hišām states that a sentence can only qualify as jumla ẓarfiyya if the second constituent functions as fāʿil to the first, illustrating this with examples displaying

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the interrogative particle ʾa- preceding the first predicative constituent, one is bound to conclude that for him a jumla ẓarfiyya is a sentence whose first predicative constituent is an adverbial/prepositional phrase acting as a verb, and thus assigning raf ʿ to the following constituent on the strength of the principle of iʿtimād. Ibn Hišām then goes on to make a critical remark directed at Zamaxšarī. He indicates that Zamaxšarī exemplified jumla ẓarfiyya by the phrase fī l-dār in Zaydun fī l-dār (cf. 3.1 and 3.3.1 above). This position, he argues, is based ʿalā ʾanna l-istiqrāra l-muqaddara fiʿlun lā ismun wa-ʿalā ʾannahu ḥ ud̠ifa waḥ dahu wa-ntaqala l-ḍamīru ʾilā l-ẓarfi baʿda ʾan ʿamila fīhi (“on [the assumption] that the underlying [word conveying] istiqrār is a verb, not a noun, and that that verb was deleted alone while the pronoun implicit in it moved to the adverbial phrase, after [the verb] had exercised ʿamal upon it [i.e. the adverbial]”—Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 492; cf. Mubarrad Muqtaḍab III, 130–131).

Recall that Zaydun fī l-dār was described by Fārisī as representing a sentence type in its own right on the ground that, in his view, neither a verb nor a noun could be posited as a linking element between Zayd and fī l-dār. Here Zamaxšarī is quoted as elevating fī l-dār to the status of a clausal xabar ( jumla ẓarfiyya). This is done, so the argument goes, by positing an underlying verb that is deleted while the pronoun implicit in it is transferred to the adverbial, the verb having exercised ʿamal upon that adverbial. In other words, the clausal status of fī l-dār stems from the pronoun it receives from the deleted verb istaqarra. What we see here is, indeed, another attempt to account for the predicative relationship between Zaydun and fī l-dār, two non-coreferential elements, as well as for the ʾiʿrāb of the xabar. However, this attempt is based on the istaqarra hypothesis (4.3.2 above), and that is precisely the reason why it is rejected by Ibn Hišām. Zamaxšarī’s analysis is incompatible with Ibn Hišām’s conception of jumla ẓarfiyya. For Ibn Hišām, once an underlying verb is assumed, the clause should be regarded as jumla fiʿliyya; exactly as, when one posits a xabar-mubtadaʾ relationship between fī l-dār and Zayd, the sentence must be considered as jumla ismiyya. This will be further clarified below. In 4.3.3 we pointed to Fārisī’s reference to ʾAxfaš, who had attributed to the adverbial/prepositional phrase the function of operator assigning raf ʿ to the nominal following it. He did not, however, refer to that nominal explicitly as fāʿil. The term muḥ addat̠ ʿanhu which he


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used, signals in medieval Arabic grammatical literature the subject of the sentence, whether a fāʿil or a mubtadaʾ. Indeed, the specific grammatical status of the nominative constituent, as determined by the ʿāmil assigning it the raf ʿ case, never ceased to be a topic of debate among the grammarians. Yet one thing emerges quite clearly. The analysis of Zaydun as fāʿil, both in fī l-dāri Zaydun and qāʾimun Zaydun (normally attributed to the Kūfans and ʾAxfaš—see 4.2 above), always comes up when these two constructions are discussed. It was never abandoned.51 However, of these two constructions, only fīhā/fī l-dāri Zaydun was considered, albeit by a small number of grammarians, as a sentence type in its own right. The reason for this should by now be clear. The opening predicative constituent in each of the three sentence types was regarded as an operator (ʿāmil) assigning case to the following constituent(s): Sentence types were unmistakably correlated with ʿamal types. And since the participle (qāʾimun) could not be viewed as other than a verbal or a nominal element, it could not be regarded as introducing a sentence type in its own right. As we indicated in 4.2, this was not suggested even by the proponents of the analysis mubtadaʾ (qāʾimun) + fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar (Zaydun). By the same token, a sentence such as Zaydun fī l-dār, introduced, as it is, by a nominative noun, could only be defined as jumla ismiyya. The concept jumla ẓarfiyya was by and large associated with cases where a ẓarf could be claimed to be an ʿāmil assigning rafʿ to the nominal following it. As we will see in the next sub-section, it was Ibn Hišām, an eminent proponent of the tripartite division, who also appreciated and spelled out the problems arising from the actual notion of sentence types in Arabic, whether two or three.

51 Indeed, this kind of analysis resonates even in modern studies of Arabic dialects. Brustad (2000:151–157, 288) discusses what she refers to as “pseudo-verbs”. In this category she includes prepositional phrases in sentences such as mā fīš muškila (“there’s no problem”). She indicates that the occurrence of such expressions in verbal negative constructions (mā . . . š, as opposed to miš constructions) testifies to their verbal properties. Another property of pseudo-verbs affirming their verbal force is their ability to take a direct object. Brustad (2000:156) adduces the sentence ʿandi yāhon (“I have them”), exhibiting the accusative marker yā-.

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4.5.3 Problems We have seen throughout that the problems the grammarians encountered in categorizing Arabic sentences stemmed from the fact that their conception of sentence types was deeply embedded in the theory of ʿamal. This is manifested also in the way these problems are illustrated by Ibn Hišām (Muġnī, 493–497). He offers an extensive discussion of ten cases where a sentence can be construed as either a jumla fiʿliyya or a jumla ismiyya, or otherwise raise a controversy as to the right categorization. Significantly, no case is cited as an unambiguous jumla ẓarfiyya. Since the basic arguments recur throughout his discussion, I will review only four of his examples which, I believe, well illustrate the problematic aspects of the traditional categorization of Arabic sentence types. Let us start with Ibn Hišām’s fourh example mād̠ā ṣanaʿta (“what have you done?”). He points out that this sentence may be paraphrased as either mā llad̠ī ṣanaʿtahu, or as ʾayya šayʾin ṣanaʿta. Since llad̠ī ṣanaʿtahu is a nominalized constituent, the sentence, according to the first paraphrase, must be categorized as jumla ismiyya. Ibn Hišām indicates that the first constituent mā is analyzed as a fronted xabar by ʾAxfaš, and as mubtadaʾ by Sībawayhi. By contrast, the proponents of the second paraphrase, ʾayya šayʾin ṣanaʿta, would categorize the same sentence as jumla fiʿliyya, analyzing ʾayya šayʾin as a fronted direct object. Ibn Hišām then points out that the sentence mād̠ā ṣanaʿtahu (with a pronominal direct object affixed to the verb) lends itself to the same two paraphrases. According to the first one, the analysis remains the same ( jumla ismiyya, with mād̠ā as its mubtadaʾ, and ṣanaʿtahu as the xabar—or the other way round). If, however, one opts for the second paraphrase, then two types of analysis may be envisaged. First, the sentence may be viewed as jumla ismiyya with mād̠ā analyzed as mubtadaʾ and ṣanaʿtahu as xabar.52 Second, it may be regarded as jumla fiʿliyya if one analyzes mād̠ā as a direct object assigned the naṣb case by a deleted verb ʿalā šarīṭat al-tafsīr; that is, the verb presumed to be the operator assigning naṣb to mād̠ā is deleted since it is identical with

52 Note, however, that in this case the paraphrase should read ʾayyu šayʾin ṣanaʿtahu, with the first constituent taking the raf ʿ rather than the naṣb case.


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the occurring verb ṣanaʿta(hu) which functions as an exponent (tafsīr) of the deleted verb, thus making the latter redundant.53 Ibn Hišām’s sixth example reads qāmā ʾaxawāka (“your two brothers stood up”). This sentence is presented by him as acceptable, subject to specific types of analysis: (To what extent this construction was in actual use in medieval Arabic is immaterial for the present discussion.) First, the sentence could be categorized as jumla fiʿliyya if (1) the ending -ā in qāmā is interpreted as a dual-marking particle (ḥ arf tat̠niya), much as the -t in qāmat Hindun (“Hind stood up”) is analyzed as a feminine marker (and not as a pronoun); or alternatively if (2) the ending -ā is interpreted nominally and the following ʾaxawāka is analyzed as apposition (badal) to it. Second, qāmā ʾaxawāka may be categorized as jumla ismiyya with a fronted xabar (with the ending -ā interpreted nominally and ʾaxawāka analyzed as a postposed mubtadaʾ). Note that Ibn Hišām does not mention the possibility of analyzing qāmā ʾaxawāka as a jumla fiʿliyya with ʾaxawāka functioning as fāʿil to qāmā. But cf. Chapter Two, n. 17, for luġat ʾakalūnī l-barāġīt̠. The seventh example presented by Ibn Hišām is niʿma l-rajulu Zaydun (“What a nice man is Zayd”). This sentence, he explains, may be viewed as an inverted jumla ismiyya, with niʿma l-rajulu functioning as a preposed xabar to Zayd. Under an alternative analysis, however, Zaydun could function as xabar to a deleted mubtadaʾ. Ibn Hišām argues that under this analysis, niʿma l-rajulu Zaydun consists of two asyndetically coordinated clauses, the first one (niʿma l-rajulu) verbal, and the second nominal. But perhaps the most interesting is Ibn Hišām’s second example, where he makes the following statement regarding ʾa-fī l-dāri Zaydun and ʾa-ʿindaka ʿAmrun: fa-ʾinnā ʾin qaddarnā l-marfūʿa mubtadaʾan ʾaw marfūʿan bi-mubtadaʾin maḥ dū ̠ fin taqdīruhu kāʾinun ʾaw mustaqirrun fa-l-jumlatu ismiyyatun d̠ātu xabarin fī l-ʾūlā wa-d̠ātu fāʿilin muġnin ʿan-i l-xabari fī l-t̠āniyati wa-ʾin qaddarnāhu fāʿilan bi-staqarra fa-fiʿliyyatun ʾaw bi-l-ẓarfi fa-ẓarfiyyatun (“if we analyze the nominative constituent as mubtadaʾ, or otherwise, as a nominal assigned the rafʿ case by a deleted mubtadaʾ such as kāʾinun or mustaqirrun, then the sentence should be considered as nominal, with

53 The notion of an obligatory deletion of a constituent expounded (tafsīr) later in the sentence by an identical constituent goes back to Sībawayhi (see Kitāb I, 31–32; and cf. 3.4.3 above).

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a xabar under the first analysis, or with a fāʿil replacing the xabar under the second. If, however, we analyze it [i.e. Zaydun or ʿAmrun] as fāʿil of [an underlying] istaqarra, then the sentence is verbal. If [the operator assigning rafʿ to the fāʿil] is the adverbial, then the sentence should be considered as jumla ẓarfiyya”—Ibn Hišām Muġnī, 494).

Here Ibn Hišām offers four ways for analyzing sentences such as ʾa-fī l-dāri Zaydun, correlating each analysis with a different sentence type. These are the four options as presented in the above passage, in Ibn Hišām’s order: 1. Zaydun could be analyzed as mubtadaʾ. This would imply that the sentence is a jumla ismiyya, with the adverbial/prepositional phrase implementing the function of (a preposed) xabar. 2. We could posit an underlying mubtadaʾ, such as kāʾinun or mustaqirrun, assigning the rafʿ case to Zaydun. In this case Zaydun would implement the function of fāʿil replacing (muġnin ʿan) the xabar. The sentence under such an analysis would be regarded, according to Ibn Hišām, as jumla ismiyya. 3. Zaydun could be analyzed as fāʿil assigned the rafʿ case by the underlying verb istaqarra. In this case the sentence would be considered as jumla fiʿliyya. 4. If, however, we analyze Zaydun as a fāʿil receiving its rafʿ case from the preceding adverbial/prepositional phrase, then the sentence should be regarded as jumla ẓarfiyya. In Ibn Hišām’s view, then, a fāʿil is not necessarily preceded by a finite verb. But it is only when the operator assigning raf ʿ to the fāʿil is a finite verb (whether explicit or underlying) that the sentence may be conceived of as jumla fiʿliyya. When the raf ʿ assigner is a participle (whether explicit or underlying) or an adverbial/prepositional phrase, the sentence must be categorized as jumla ismiyya in the first case, and as jumla ẓarfiyya in the second, even though the actual use of the term fāʿil suggests that the participle and the adverbial/prepositional phrase in such cases behave analogously to a verb. As can be seen, Ibn Hišām presents the four options without any attempt to “defend” his categorization. His analyses are consistent with his definitions of the three sentence types (see 4.5.2 above), and manifestly reflect the controversies relating to the constructions in question. The proponents of the first option would presumably regard ʾa-fī l-dāri


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Zaydun as the inverted version of ʾa-Zaydun fī l-dār. The occurrence of the interrogative ʾa- in this case is irrelevant, as is the case also under the third analysis, where the sentence is presented as an unmistakable jumla fiʿliyya. Indeed, positing an underlying verb like istaqarra in order to account for the rafʿ case of Zaydun in sentences of this kind was common practice among the grammarians, as we saw in 4.3.2. What is really remarkable in Ibn Hišām’s third analysis is that it leads to the important conclusion, that under a certain analysis a sentence such as ʾa-fī l-dāri Zaydun could be conceived of as jumla fiʿliyya. Under the second analysis, Zaydun implements the function of fāʿil following a deleted mubtadaʾ, and thus occupying a xabar position. The adverbial/prepositional phrase, under this as well as under the third analysis (see above), would be analyzed as an adjunct. Obviously, the second analysis is reminiscent of the analysis of (ʾa-)qāʾimun Zaydun into a mubtadaʾ followed by a fāʿil replacing the xabar, as we saw in 4.2. Note that, unlike Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 239; and cf. 4.3.1 above), Ibn Hišām does not view the prepositional phrase as occupying a mubtadaʾ position. Rather, the mubtadaʾ in this case is an underlying participle. What is remarkable here is that a sentence whose subject is labeled fāʿil is categorized as jumla ismiyya. All the same, it is consistent with the grammarians’ correlating between sentence type and mode of ʿamal: Since the adjunct is followed by a mubtadaʾ (assigned rafʿ by ibtidāʾ), the sentence must be nominal, even though the mubtadaʾ, in its turn, assigns raf ʿ to a (kind of) fāʿil. Similarly the fourth analysis is consistent with Ibn Hišām’s theory of three sentence types, each defined by the predicative constituent introducing the sentence and acting as ʿāmil upon the second constituent. But we have already noted (4.3.3 above) that it remains unclear how an adverbial/prepositional phrase can function as a verb assigning raf ʿ to a following nominal constituent. In post-Sībawayhian literature it is often argued that such a phrase may act analogously to a verb when preceded by a “supporting” element such as the interrogative particle ʾa(iʿtimād—cf. 4.2, 4.4.1 above). But does that in itself warrant categorizing the construction ʾa-fī l-dāri Zaydun as representing a sentence type in its own right? Medieval Arabic grammatical literature does not offer any elaborate discussion of the concept jumla ẓarfiyya. Evidently, the vast majority of grammarians found it difficult to fit this concept into their theory of ʿamal. Indeed, this is manifested even in Ibn Hišām’s position which does not present ʾa-fī l-dāri Zaydun as a straightforward jumla ẓarfiyya. Rather, he makes it clear that classifying a sentence as

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jumla ẓarfiyya is essentially dependent upon conceiving the adverbial/ prepositional phrase as an ʿāmil assigning rafʿ to the following nominal. The other two types, in contrast, could be determined straightforwardly, since both the verb and the ibtidāʾ were established ʿawāmil in the medieval theory of ʿamal. Hence the grammarians’ adherence to the binary system of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. In the next section we will see how sentences such as fīhā Zaydun have been dealt with by modern writers. 4.6

Modern approaches

As we have already indicated in 4.1, for a modern linguist uncommitted to the medieval theory of ʿamal, there is no reason to view qāʾimun Zaydun and fīhā Zaydun as representing anything other than inverted versions of Zaydun qāʾimun and Zaydun fīhā respectively. Both sentences may thus be regarded as T2-sentences, or, in traditional terms, jumla ismiyya (as indeed they were viewed by many medieval grammarians). The sentence fīhā rajulun, however, presents a different case. For here, where the subject is indefinite, the word order predicate-subject is obligatory. The same applies to cases such as min al-wāḍiḥ ʾanna Zaydan sa-yaṣilu (“it is clear that Zayd will arrive”), where min al-wāḍiḥ is obligatorily placed sentence-initially because it is followed by a noun clause. Yet, as we have seen, most of the medieval grammarians did not make such a distinction. The last two cases were only rarely given special attention within the framework of the discussion of sentence types. Qāʾimun Zaydun, fīhā Zaydun and fīhā rajulun were, by and large, treated in a similar way—either as cases of inverted jumla ismiyya, or, otherwise, as special cases where the nominative constituent is “acted upon” by some verb or verb-like ʿāmil. The last two constructions, fīhā Zaydun and fīhā rajulun, were regarded by some grammarians as representing a sentence type in its own right, a jumla ẓarfiyya. Coming now to modern writers, what we normally see is a firm adherence to the traditional binary division into jumla ismiyya and jumla fiʿliyya. The possibility of three sentence types in most cases does not arise. Undoubtedly, the binary division is the standard way of presenting the basic types of sentence in modern studies of Arabic grammar. Given the preeminence of Greenbergian typology in modern linguistic research, it is hardly surprising that most scholars concentrate


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upon word order in verbal constructions, with special attention to the position of the subject and object relative to the verb.54 One modern attempt to consider the thesis of three sentence types in Arabic is made by ʿAbd al-Laṭīf (1996). However, he makes his position clear right from the outset (p. 31): There are no more than two sentence types in Arabic, jumla ismiyya and jumla fiʿliyya. These two types, he maintains, are based on the principle of ʾisnād, and all sentence constructions that do not, by appearance, conform to either the verb-initial or the noun-initial type, can (and should) be described in terms of one of these two sentence types. For him, a sentence like ʾa-fī llāhi šakkun (“is there a doubt about God?”—Qurʾān, 14.10) may be analyzed in one of the following ways: 1. xabar muqaddam+mubtadaʾ muʾaxxar 2. šakk is the fāʿil of a deleted verb (istaqarra) 3. šakk is the fāʿil of the adverbial/prepositional phrase. In the third case a restriction applies: yuštaraṭu ʾan yakūna l-ẓarfu aw-i l-jārru wa-l-majrūru muʿtamadan ʿalā nafyin ʾaw istifhāmin ʾaw muxbarin ʿanhu ʾaw mawṣūfin ʾaw mawṣūlin (“the adverbial or the prepositional phrase must be supported by a negative or an interrogative particle, or, otherwise, by a nominal element functioning as a topic or as head to an asyndetic or syndetic relative clause”—ʿAbd al-Laṭīf 1996:31)

ʿAbd al-Laṭīf ’s analysis, as can be seen, relies heavily on that of the medieval grammarians (without, however, quoting them). This is particularly noticeable in his third option of analysis which he restricts to cases where the adverbial/prepositional phrase is preceded by some “supporting” element (iʿtimād). However, unlike Ibn Hišām, he outrightly rejects the three-type hypothesis, clinging firmly, without any elaborate argument, to the traditional binary system. A similar view is expressed by Maxzūmī (1964:51–52) who maintains, however, that a sentence consisting of an adverbial (ẓarf ) followed by a nominative noun should be considered as jumla fiʿliyya when the adverbial is preceded by a supporting element, or as a jumla ismiyya when it is not. The idea that a sentence such as fīhā Zaydun, and in particular fīhā rajulun, should be analyzed as “inverted” structures exhibiting a predicate (or comment) followed by its subject (or topic/theme) has

54 Mohammad (1999:16–18) appears to be an exception. He deals extensively with such constructions as hunāka waladun fī l-dār (“there is a boy in the house”), indicating that hunāka (rightly compared by him to the English expletive there) allows more flexibility in word order, but that, in any case, waladun may not precede hunāka.

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been sharply criticized by modern writers, notably Beeston (1970:68) and Kouloughli (2002:8). Beeston maintains that the analysis should be reversed, pointing out that the grammarians’ analysis stems from the fact that when sentences like the above are introduced by ʾinna (or one of its “sisters”), the naṣb case is automatically assigned to Zayd and rajul respectively (cf. 4.4.2 above). Kouloughli (2002:9–11) agrees, in principle, with Beeston’s analysis, citing a passage from Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 222) where the sentence ʾinna fīhā Zaydan is presented as the inverted version of ʾinna Zaydan fīhā. The intention of this passage is indeed to prove that Zaydun functions as mubtadaʾ in both Zaydun fīhā and fīhā Zaydun, much as Zaydan implements that same function when the two sentences are introduced by ʾinna. This obviously rests on the assumption that the naṣb case ending in this type of sentence is a mubtadaʾ (or ism ʾinna) marker.55 However, one can hardly blame the grammarians for failing to appreciate the topicality of the prepositional phrase in sentences such as fīhā Zaydun and laka mālun. We have already seen (4.3.1 above) that for Sībawayhi the prepositional phrase in such sentences occupied a mubtadaʾ position (a fact essentially acknowledged by Kouloughli 2002:10), that Ibn Yaʿīš paraphrased laka mālun by ʾanta d̠ū mālin, and that Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ similarly paraphrased fī l-dāri rajulun by al-dāru maʿmūratun bi-rajulin (cf. 4.4.2 above). In 1.5.1 above, I argued that mubtadaʾ for the grammarians was first and foremost a syntactic term designed to signal the formal subject in non-verbal sentences. They analyzed rajulun in fīhā rajulun as a postposed mubtadaʾ simply because it was the only noun phrase in the sentence exhibiting the rafʿ case ending. They never meant to present it as “topic” in the modern sense of the term. By the same token, when the grammarians analyzed Zaydan in ʾinna fīhā Zaydan as mubtadaʾ, they did not intend to grant Zaydan the status of topic in the sense of ‘what the sentence is about’. Thus, when Kouloughli draws an analogy, in agreement with Beeston (see above), between locative sentences56 such as fī l-dāri Zaydun/fī l-dāri rajulun and topic-comment sentences such as Zaydun qāʾimun,

55 This traditional assumption is, however, rejected by Kouloughli, as we will see in 5.5 below. 56 “Locative sentences” is used by Kouloughli (2002:7) as a cover term for sentences “typically beginning with a prepositional or adverbial phrase followed by a noun (often indefinite) in the nominative, and which generally have a locative, existential or possessive meaning”. A sentence such as min al-mumkin ʾan tanjaḥ a (“it is possible that you succeed”) is viewed by him (p. 22, n. 24) as a special kind of locative sentence.


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he does not, in effect, argue against the grammarians’ view of the locative construction. However, he does not stop here but goes on to argue (2002:21–24) that locative sentences should be viewed as representing a sentence type in its own right, since they exhibit a number of syntactic and semantic properties not shared by “regular” topic-comment sentences. In this, Kouloughli’s article stands out as a modern challenge to the medieval binary division of sentence types. He starts by pointing out that while a topic-comment sentence such as Zaydun fī l-bayt (“Zayd is in the house”) is used to answer the question ʾayna Zaydun (“where is Zayd?”), the locative sentence fī l-bayti Zaydun is rather an answer to man fī l-bayt (“who is in the house”). This is obviously true as a pragmatic argument, but it does not undermine the medieval binary system of sentence types where one may present the “locative” sentence as the inverted version of the “topic-comment” one. And the same applies to similar pragmatic arguments advanced by him later (2002:23). Then Kouloughli goes on to indicate that, unlike topic-comment sentences, in locative sentences the adverbial/prepositional phrase does not bear any trace of the noun phrase, whether in the form of a resumptive pronoun or grammatical agreement. While this is in principle true, the absence of “trace” is observed, as most of the grammarians demonstrated, not only in fīhā Zaydun but also in Zaydun fīhā, which for Kouloughli is not a locative but rather a regular topic-comment sentence. As we have seen, the grammarians’ hypothesis of yastaqirru was designed to account for the predicative relationship in both cases. Two other syntactic points made by Kouloughli concern the non-occurrence of ḍamīr al-faṣl in locative sentences (but see 3.6.2 above), and the absence of an accusative constituent in locative sentences introduced by kāna. As regards the latter point, one could argue that in kāna fī l-dāri rajulun (“there was a man in the house”), fī l-dāri is assigned the naṣb case, though, as a prepositional phrase, it does not display the naṣb ending. In the introductory chapter of this book (1.6 above) I already stated my support for a three-sentence-type system instead of the binary division into jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. Yet my categorization is different from the one proposed by Kouloughli. My line of distinction is drawn not between Zaydun fī l-dār and fī l-dāri Zaydun. Rather, in my classification these two constructions are viewed as two versions of T2, the former basic and the latter inverted. By contrast, fī l-dāri rajulun and min al-wāḍiḥ ʾanna Zaydan sa-yaṣilu, displaying an obligatory predicate-subject order, are categorized as T3-sentences. The pragmatic

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principles of “given-new” and “end-weighting” are applicable to all three sentence types (see Holes 1995:226–227, for further discussion). Finally, how do interrogative sentences such as ʾayna Zaydun (cf. 4.4.1 above) fit into the tripartite system of Arabic sentence types? Bakir (1979:260–263) regards such sentences as topic-comment sentences where the interrogative word functions as comment. He outlines two possible ways of analysis: 1. The traditional analysis of mubtadaʾ-xabar inversion; 2. An analysis based on (a certain version of) the generativetransformational theory. Under this analysis, ʾayna Zaydun is the output of “a wh-movement to Comp and a subsequent deletion of the copula”. I will not elaborate on this analysis, just indicate that “wh” stands for the interrogative (“where” in this case), and Comp for complementizer (a clause-introducing particle). The term copula, in this particular system, refers to an underlying element in all verbless sentences. At this point, one may appropriately ask whether interrogative sentences should at all be taken into account when considering the basic sentence types in a given language. It looks as though, from a modern linguistic viewpoint, the answer should be in the negative. To take the case of Arabic as an example, if an interrogative word must as such be obligatorily placed sentence-initially, then irrespective of its grammatical function, its position within a given sentence cannot serve as a criterion for determining the type of that particular sentence.57 Indeed, not only interrogatives, but also negative and imperative, as well as modal structures in general, should be excluded from consideration. Syntactic classification into sentence types should be confined to positive declarative sentences only. 4.7 Summary We have seen all along that the grammarians’ theory of sentence types grew out of, and has always been closely related to, their theory of ʿamal. It is not surprising, then, that in elaborate discussions of Arabic sentence types, particularly those of Fārisī and Ibn Hišām, problems relating to the categorization of certain constructions were couched in terms of case

This applies particularly to words such as mā, man, ʾayna, kayfa, and the like. The interrogative particles ʾa- and hal, by contrast, do not implement any nominal or adverbial function in the first place; they may introduce a sentence of any of the three types. 57


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assignment (ʿamal). T1- and T2-sentences were presented throughout as representing two types of ʿamal: verbal taʿdiya and ibtidāʾ. Sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun and fī l-dāri Zaydun/rajulun were shown to be problematical in terms of ʿamal. With regard to qāʾimun Zaydun, we have seen that many grammarians advocated the rather awkward analysis of mubtadaʾ+fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar. This was designed to deal with the essentially nominal nature of the participle occurring sentence-initially, as well as with its verb-like behaviour (in the view of some grammarians) in this particular case. Apart from Ibn Hišām who regarded qāʾimun al-Zaydāni as an example of jumla ismiyya, the proponents of the above analysis did not commit themselves to any clear-cut categorization of this particular structure. Regarding fī l-dāri Zaydun/rajulun, the very fact that this construction displays an adverbial/prepositional predicative constituent in sentence-initial position, gave rise to the hypothesis that it represents a sentence type in its own right, jumla ẓarfiyya. And it comes as no surprise that this was associated with the hypothesis that in such cases it is the adverbial/ prepositional phrase that assigns raf ʿ to the nominal constituent following it. Obviously, this hypothesis and the long established istaqarra/ mustaqirrun hypothesis were mutually exclusive. In 4.3.3 we saw Fārisī’s attempt to refute the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis, arguing from the theory of ʿamal. This was his line of defending a tripartite sentencetype system. For him, indeed, claiming that fīhā Zaydun represented a sentence type in its own right was tantamount to presenting fīhā as the assigner of raf ʿ to Zaydun. But such an argument could never be accepted by the majority of grammarians, because it was considered a major violation of a central principle of the theory of ʿamal: Only a verb or a particle could qualify as ʿāmil, definitely not a prepositional phrase like fīhā, itself a complex syntactical unit displaying an ʿāmil and a maʿmūl fīhi (see 1.2 above). The vast majority of grammarians did find the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis a convenient tool for fitting such constructions as Zaydun fīhā and fīhā Zaydun into their theory of ʿamal. The question of sentence type was apparently secondary. Once they established the status of mubtadaʾ for Zaydun in both cases, they could argue that both represented a jumla ismiyya, irrespective of whether the underlying element linking the adverbial/ prepositional phrase to the mubtadaʾ was a verb or a participle. Fīhā Zaydun was thus conceived of as the inverted version of Zaydun fīhā. To Ibn Hišām, as we have seen, this was unacceptable. For, if underlying fīhā Zaydun is the structure yastaqirru fīhā Zaydun, it follows that

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Zaydun is assigned the raf ʿ case by the underlying verb occupying sentence-initial position. And Ibn Hišām drew the conclusion following from that assumption, namely, that under the above analysis, fīhā Zaydun must be categorized as jumla fiʿliyya. But this position of Ibn Hišām’s is markedly exceptional in the medieval grammatical literature. The vast majority of grammarians, conforming to the theory of ʿamal, did posit istaqarra as the underlying case assigner to Zaydun, but they never went as far as categorizing fīhā Zaydun as jumla fiʿliyya. Rather, fīhā Zaydun has always been regarded an ibtidāʾ construction, clearly associated with jumla ismiyya. From a modern linguistic viewpoint, T3, displaying an obligatory predicate-subject order ( fīhā rajulun), appears to exhibit features from both T1 and T2. Like T2 it displays a two-block pattern rather than a head+complements construction (as is the case in T1-sentences). Moreover, in 3.6.2 we saw that a copula may occur not only in T2- but also in a certain sub-type of T3-sentences. In the next chapter we will see that ʾinna, kāna and their respective “sisters” normally introduce T2- and T3-, but not T1-sentences. The similarity of T3 to T1 is evidenced by the fact that P3 may be replaced, or preceded, by a verb. All this argues, in my view, for granting this construction the status of a third sentence type. However, the majority of modern scholars (we have noted Kouloughli’s view as an exception) appear to follow the grammarians’ approach which on the one hand regards such sentences as ibtidāʾ-related cases, and on the other posits istaqarra as an underlying verb to which fīhā and rajulun serve as complements. Much like the grammarians they do not recognize fīhā rajulun as representing a sentence type in its own right.




The last chapter demonstrated some of the conceptual problems encountered by the medieval grammarians in their attempt to categorize any sentence in Arabic into one of two (or three) basic types. There is, however, one large category of sentences which our discussion has not yet touched upon. Sentences introduced by ʾinna, kāna and, to a certain extent, also ẓanna, and their “sisters”, are normally described by the grammarians as representing an extended version of the mubtadaʾxabar construction, even though the term jumla ismiyya is rarely used in this context.1 Much as the mubtadaʾ-xabar construction is explained in terms of “being stripped” (taʿarrī/taʿriya) of ʿawāmil lafẓiyya such as ʾinna, kāna and ẓanantu (cf. 1.2 above), sentences introduced by these elements are depicted as cases where ʾinna, kāna and ẓanantu enter into (tadxulu ʿalā) a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction. In particular, the case endings displayed by each of these two constructions are explained by the occurrence or absence of these ʿawāmil lafẓiyya. A detailed discussion is offered of the special properties of each of the two groups, ʾinna and kāna with their respective “sisters”. The grammarians point out that each of the three elements (including ẓanna) affects differently not only the cases of the nominal predicative constituents but also the options for word-order variations. The discussion raises various theoretical problems to which we will address ourselves in the following sections. Obviously, an attempt to cover all aspects of ʾinna, kāna, ẓanna and their respective “sisters” would take us far beyond the scope of the present study. In this chapter I will concentrate my discussion on ʾinna/kāna

1 Mosel (1980:33ff.) states without argument that “Sībawayhi distinguished five types of declarative sentences”. The three types mentioned by her, beside the two introduced by ism and fiʿl, are those displaying kāna, ẓanna and ʾinna (or any of their respective “sisters”). There is no evidence in the Kitāb to support such a claim; nor am I aware of any grammarian after Sībawayhi who advocated such a view of sentence types in Arabic.


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(and briefly ẓanna) constructions, in particular on their implications for the medieval theory of sentence types. This will be followed, as in the previous chapters, by an examination of some modern approaches to the subject. Another topic that will be dealt with here is that of ḍamīr al-šaʾn. As we shall see, in medieval Arabic grammatical theory this element is normally depicted as adjoined to an existing sentence, whether verbal or nominal. Modern grammars of Arabic, as is well known, associate ḍamīr al-šaʾn specifically with ʾinna and its “sisters”. Again, we will concentrate upon the implications of ḍamīr al-šaʾn for the medieval theory of sentence types, and look at the way ḍamīr al-šaʾn has been dealt with by some modern writers. 5.2

Nawāsix al-ibtidāʾ

Having established two basic sentence types corresponding to two different types of ʿamal, the medieval grammarians had to deal with clause constructions which appeared problematic on both counts. The most obvious cases were sentences introduced by ʾinna, kāna, ẓanna or any of their respective “sisters”. Already Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 6) observed that constructions such as (1)–(3) deserved special attention: (1) ʾinna Zaydan ʾaxūka (“Zayd is your brother”) (2) kāna Zaydun ʾaxāka (“Zayd was your brother”) (3) ẓanantu Zaydan ʾaxāka (“I believed Zayd to be your brother”)

Recognizing the predicative relationship between Zayd and ʾaxūka/ ʾaxāka in each of the above sentences, the grammarians argued that in all three cases, these two constituents had to be viewed as implementing the respective functions of mubtadaʾ and xabar. The question that had to be addressed then was how to account for the fact that each of the above constructions displays a different combination of raf ʿ and naṣb case marker(s). Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 6) argued that while Zayd and ʾaxūka/ʾaxāka formed an ibtidāʾ construction, once an element such as ʾinna, kāna or ẓanna entered into that construction, the operator assigning case to these two nominals was no longer the ibtidāʾ but rather the joining verb or particle. Later grammarians (see, e.g. Ibn ʿAqīl Šarḥ I, 262; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ I, 432; and cf. Peled 1992a:149–150) maintained that once such an element entered into the ibtidāʾ construction, it cancelled the grammatical effect of the operator ibtidāʾ, and occupied

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


its position as ʿāmil in pre-mubtadaʾ position.2 The term that we often find in this connection is nawāsix al-ibtidāʾ (“ibtidāʾ cancelers”). In most cases it refers to ʾinna, kāna and ẓanna as three elements jointly representing a special type of ibtidāʾ-replacing ʿāmil. A constantly used argument is that in a “clash” between an abstract ʿāmil (ʿāmil maʿnawī, in this case the ibtidāʾ) and a formal (lafẓī) concrete ʿāmil, the latter must prevail, in line with the principle that the ʿāmil as an element acting upon another constituent in the sentence is more “powerful” when concrete than as an abstract element. The case assigned to each of the two predicative nominals is, consequently, in accordance with the rules of the relevant formal ʿāmil. In the present study, sentences such as (1) and (2) above, will be treated, in agreement with the medieval Arab grammarians, as two extended versions of the T2-nuclear-sentence Zaydun ʾaxūka.3 Zajjājī (Jumal, 42, 53) states that any construction allowed in the xabar position of a mubtadaʾ-xabar sentence qualifies as both xabar kāna and xabar ʾinna (and their “sisters”): (kāna) Zaydun

qāma, yaxruju, fī l-dār, māluhu kaṯīrun

⎫ (“Zayd (is/was) standing, leaving, in the house, ⎬ possessing a (ʾinna Zaydan) ⎭ large amount of money”)

2 The grammarians, however, differed on how exactly each of the two ʿāmils, ʾinna and kāna, exercised ʿamal upon its two arguments. Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 241) quotes al-Xalīl as saying that ʾinna and “sisters” exercise a twofold ʿamal (taʿmalu ʿamalayni), assigning raf ʿ and naṣb, in analogy to kāna. This, however, is not exactly identical to Sībawayhi’s own position concerning the ʿamal of kāna. In his view (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 16), the latter exercises ʿamal analogously to ḍaraba: the verbal ʿāmil assigns raf ʿ to the first nominal, whence the grammatical effect of the verb extends to the second nominal constituent, assigning it naṣb. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 230–231) defends the theory that ʾinna operates upon both its ism and xabar, rejecting the Kūfan claim that it only assigns naṣb to the ism, leaving the xabar intact (i.e. with the rafʿ assigned to it by the ibtidāʾ). For further discussion, see Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾInṣāf I, 176–185; and cf. Kouloughli (2002:18), who argues that ʾinna and “sisters” assign only naṣb but not raf ʿ, and Suleiman (1999:135), for the various explanations given to the raf ʿ of the xabar in ʾinna sentences. See also Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 444f. and Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 418–419), for a similar debate over the rafʿ assigner to ism kāna. 3 According to Levin (2000:258), “sentences beginning with ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā are neither nominal nor verbal since their subject takes the accusative because of the effect of the particle”. Indeed the grammarians normally refrain from explicitly stating the sentence type in cases where a sentence is introduced by AUX or by a particle of the ʾinna group. Yet, there is evidence to suggest that ʾinna sentences were regarded by them as jumla ismiyya; see, for instance, Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s statement, n. 7 below.


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This, however, is criticized by Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 165–166, 180–182) as an overgeneralization. First he indicates that in both cases, a nondeclarative xabar is excluded: while Zaydun hal laqītahu (“Zayd, did you meet him?”) is perfectly acceptable, kāna/ʾinna sentences do not admit a xabar that is a question, a command, a prohibition, an incitement (taḥ ḍīḍ) or a plea (duʿāʾ).4 Next he points out that, while in kāna sentences the xabar may be a past-tense verb, this is disallowed in sentences introduced by laysa, ṣāra and any auxiliary verb (henceforth, AUX) with mā preceding the verb, and is controversial in other cases such as ʾaṣbaḥ a and ʾamsā (unless the past-tense main verb is preceded by qad). He also expresses his reservation regarding kāna, indicating (p. 166) that for many grammarians a sentence such as kāna Zaydun qāma is inadmissible. For further discussion, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 380–382, and Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 681–683), defending Zajjājī’s position regarding xabar kāna. By the same token, sentences such as: (4) ʾinna fī l-dāri rajulan (“there is a man in the house”) (5) kāna fī l-dāri rajulun (“there was a man in the house”)5

are treated here as two extended versions of the T3-nuclear-sentence fī l-dāri rajulun.6 This means that ʾinna and kāna do not change the type of the sentence into which they enter. Nonetheless, one must differ4 Regarding kāna and “sisters”, Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 379–380) explains that a nondeclarative clause is inadmissible as xabar because it would be incompatible with the basic semantics of these verbs. A non-indicative verb implies a kind of request (ṭalab), and is thus performative, that is, the act of request is performed by the actual articulation of the sentence. In contrast, kāna and “sisters” introduce sentences referring to past or future actions, and are thus semantically incompatible with performative verbs. For a discussion of mubtadaʾ and xabar types that are inadmissible in ism ʾinna and xabar ʾinna positions, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 428–429. 5 Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ VII, 102) indicates that such sentences lend themselves to more than one interpretation and thus allow more than one type of analysis. By way of illustration he adduces the phrase li-man kāna lahu qalbun (“to whoever has a heart” Qurʾān 50.37), pointing to four possible analyses: 1. with kāna l-nāqiṣa: qalbun is ism kāna and lahu a preposed xabar kāna. 2. with kāna l-tāmma taking only one argument, the subject qalbun. The prepositional phrase lahu is analyzed in this version as a preposed attribute to qalb, occupying a ḥ āl position. 3. with kāna l-zāʾida, an omissible element having no effect on either the structure or the meaning of the sentence (li-man kāna lahu qalbun ≈ li-man lahu qalbun). 4. with kāna conveying the meaning of ṣāra: “to whoever has come to have a heart”. See also Ibn Hišām (Muġnī 726), who deals with this case and others where kāna (or its “sisters”) may be analyzed in more than one way. 6 Abdul-Raof (1998:22, 29) views structures (1)–(5), as well as “regular” T2- and T3-sentences, as equative sentences. Similarly he includes in this category sentences introduced by badā or ẓahara. The verb badā is regarded in the present study as analogous to a cognitive verb in the passive: yabdū Zaydun ʾaxāka ≈ yuʿtabaru Zaydun

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


entiate between the two cases. While it was easy for the grammarians to present ʾinna as introducing a nominal sentence, the status of kāna sentences seems to have been controversial. Indeed, the majority of grammarians regarded kāna and “sisters” as introducing a mubtadaʾxabar sentence. But they did not normally go as far as labeling it jumla ismiyya. And, as we have seen in 4.5.2, Ibn Hišām al-ʾAnṣārī, who more than any other grammarian developed the theory of Arabic sentence types, regarded auxiliary-kāna sentences as jumla fiʿliyya, sticking to the principle that a sentence introduced by a verb (any verb!) must be considered as jumla fiʿliyya.7 There is also a basic difference between the grammarians’ treatment of ʾinna and kāna sentences on the one hand, and ẓanna sentences on the other. Sentences like (3) were normally classified as jumla fiʿliyya, even though it was recognized that ʾafʿāl al-qulūb entered into a nominal (ismiyya) construction (see, e.g. ʾAstarābāḏī Šarḥ IV, 147). Indeed, the grammarians never failed to point out the predicative relationship between the objects of ẓanna, and many of them indicated that ẓanantu wa-ʾaxawātuhā described mental actions (ʾumūr taqaʿu fī l-nafs—see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 78). Moreover, the medieval grammarians often argued that cognitive verbs (ʾaf ʿāl al-qulūb) differed from verbs signalling a concrete action (often referred to as ʾaf ʿāl muʾaṯti̱ ra—see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 78, 84–88) in that, in virtue of signalling a mental process, they did not exercise the same kind of ʿamal upon their nominal complements. Yet, unlike the status of kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā (see 5.3 below), the verbal status of ẓanantu wa-ʾaxawātuhā was never questioned by the grammarians. The verb ẓanna was portrayed already by Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 13) as a tri-valent verb requiring one nominative and two accusative arguments. Alternatively, the grammarians observed, cognitive verbs such as ẓanna, iʿtabara and ḥ asiba could take a propositional complement. They were fully aware of the relationship between sentence (3)a below and sentence (3) above:

ʾaxāka. (Both are paraphrasable by yabdū ʾanna Zaydan ʾaxūka—“Zayd appears to be your brother”.) 7 In this regard it would be interesting to point to Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s (Šarḥ I, 345) statement that jumla ismiyya is a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction or whatever is derived (mā ʾaṣluhu) from such a construction, provided that the ibtidāʾ canceler (nāsix) is a particle. He thus excludes auxiliary-kāna sentences from the category jumla ismiyya, and his statement could possibly be construed as including them within the category jumla fiʿliyya. Still, Ibn Hišām’s explicit categorization of sentences introduced by the auxiliary kāna as jumla fiʿliyya is exceptional in the grammarians’ writings.


chapter five (3)a ẓa nantu ʾanna Zaydan ʾaxūka (“I believed Zayd to be your brother”).

Characteristically, in their discussion of ẓanantu (and “sisters”), this verb is presented as taking a subject and objects; its nominative and accusative complements are normally referred to as fāʿil and mafʿūls, not as ism ẓanna and xabar ẓanna in analogy to ism/xabar ʾinna and ism/ xabar kāna. It is typically within their discussion of the two concepts of taʿlīq and ʾilġāʾ, traditionally illustrated by cognitive verb constructions (e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 84–88; and cf. Peled 1992a:150–157), that the grammarians deal with the predicative relationship between the two accusative complements. Having pointed out the grammarians’ treatment of ẓanna sentences as jumla fiʿliyya, in contradistinction to ʾinna and kāna constructions, we must now turn to another distinction, between kāna and ẓanna on the one hand, and ʾinna on the other. Since ʾinna is a particle rather than a verb, it is much more difficult to account for its function as naṣb and raf ʿ assigner, compared to a verbal ʿāmil such as kāna or ẓanna. Indeed, to accomplish this task, the grammarians took great pains to relate ʾinna to the verb category, so that the grammatical effect (ʿamal) of ʾinna and its “sisters” could be presented as analogous to that of a verb. Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 241), in a rather sophisticated way, compares the function of ʾinna as case assigner to that of ʿišrūna in ʿišrūna dirhaman (“twenty dirhams”). The word ʿišrūna, in its turn, is related by him to ḍāribun in ḍāribun Zaydan. Since ḍāribun, as an active participle, is a verb-related nominal, it follows that ʾinna as an ʿāmil functions analogously to a verb. Later grammarians often advance the idea of a similarity between ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā and the verb as a starting point for their discussion of these particles. They point, for example, to the fact that these particles, much like the māḍī verb, end invariably with the vowel a; in particular, they draw attention to the morphological similarity between ʾanna and the faʿala form of the verb, that is, to the exclusive occurrence of the vowel a in both (see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 443f.; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VIII, 54; Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾAsrār, 148f.). On the semantic level it is often argued that ʾinna, as a presentative particle, implements a function similar to that of the verb raʾā in the imperative (and correspondingly assigns the naṣb case to the nominal following it). Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾAsrār, 148; and cf. Ibn Hišām Šarḥ , 145) correlates each of the “sisters” with a specific verb. Thus, ʾinna and ʾanna convey the meaning of taḥ aqqaqa (“be confirmed”), kaʾanna

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


is semantically correlated with šabbaha (“compare, liken”), lākinna with istadraka (“correct, set right”), layta with tamannā (“wish”) and laʿalla with tarajjā (“hope, expect”). What is regularly emphasized is that ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā act exclusively upon nouns, and an analogy is normally drawn between ʾinna Zaydan ʾaxūka and ḍaraba Zaydan ʾaxūka (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VIII, 54).8 Indeed, in medieval Arabic grammatical theory, ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā are regularly presented as al-ḥ urūf al-mušabbaha bi-l-fiʿl (“the particles that are similar to the verb”). For further discussion, see Versteegh 2006:55–56. Yet, despite all that has been said above, sentences introduced by ʾinna or one of its “sisters” were never presented by the grammarians as jumla fiʿliyya, if only because they consist of a particle and two nominals. No matter how close the similarity between ʾinna and the verb may be, ʾinna could only be regarded as mušabbaha bi-l-fiʿl, never as a verb. As we have seen (4.3.3 above), Fārisī asserted that when ʾinna enters into a bi-nominal sentence construction, that sentence remains a jumla ismiyya (cf. n. 7 above). Indeed, this seems to be the position that was generally held by the medieval grammarians. 5.3

The verbal status of kāna and “sisters”

As we have just seen, sentences (1) and (3) above were definitely categorized by the grammarians as jumla ismiyya and jumla fiʿliyya respectively. When we come now to kāna sentences, their position is markedly less decisive. As in many other cases, the source of ambiguity can be traced back to Sībawayhi. Chapter 17 in the Kitāb is devoted to what is referred to by later grammarians as al-ʾaf ʿāl al-nāqiṣa (“deficient verbs”). I will return to this term later. At this point what should be made clear is that Sībawayhi does not present kāna as a “deficient” verb. Rather, the starting point of his discussion is that in terms of taʿdiya, kāna belongs to the same category as ḍaraba, since both verbs take a raf ʿ and a naṣb nominal. Significantly, the nominative and accusative arguments of kāna are respectively referred to by Sībawayhi as

8 For further discussion, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 422–423), who rejects some of the common arguments made by the grammarians. He emphasizes however the fact that ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā exercise a verbal ʿamal due to šabahuhā bi-l-ʾafʿāl fī l-ixtiṣāṣ (“their similarity to the verb in that they act specifically [upon nouns]”).


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ism al-fāʿil and ism al-mafʿūl. He argues that kāna, much like ḍaraba, exercises a grammatical effect upon ism al-fāʿil that extends further to ism al-maf ʿūl. By way of explaining the reason for discussing kāna in a separate chapter he indicates that, unlike ḍaraba, in the case of kāna sentences, the subject and object share the same referent (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 16). For a detailed discussion of kāna in Sībawayhi’s Kitāb, see Levin 1979b. Subsequently Sībawayhi presents kāna (and “sisters”) as verbs requiring (lā yastaġnī ʿan) a xabar. This he exemplifies by the sentence kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxāka (“ ʿAbdullāh was your brother”). Sībawayhi explains: fa-ʾinnamā ʾaradta ʾan tuxbira ʿan-i l-ʾuxuwwati wa-ʾadxalta kāna li-tajʿala ḏālika fīmā maḍā wa-ḏakarta l-ʾawwala kamā ḏakarta l-mafʿūla l-ʾawwala fī ẓanantu (“what you intend is to predicate a sibling relationship. You enter kāna to make the sentence refer to the past, while the first [nominal] is designed to implement a function similar to that of the first object of ẓanantu”—Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 16).

This passage may be construed as reflecting a modification of Sībawayhi’s initial position placing kāna and ḍaraba in the same paradigm: a bivalent verb taking a fāʿil and a maf ʿūl in the rafʿ and naṣb respectively. Having presented kāna as a verb requiring a xabar, he now depicts kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxāka in terms of a mubtadaʾ-xabar sentence. Note that (ʾan) tuxbira, alluding in this particular case to the function of ʾaxāka as xabar is not necessarily used here as a technical grammatical term (for details, see Peled 1999:59–61). For the function of ʿAbdu-llāhi, Sībawayhi refers the reader to the same nominal in sentences such as ẓanantu ʿAbda-llāhi ʾaxāka (“I believed ʿAbdullāh to be your brother”). The important point is that Sībawayhi here highlights the predicative relationship between ʿAbdu-llāhi and ʾaxāka, whereas kāna is relegated to the position of a past-time marker joined (ʾadxalta) to an already existing sentence construction. However, the analogy with ḍaraba is by no means discarded. Having analyzed kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxāka, Sībawayhi turns to examining the option of changing the order of the two nominals following kāna. Here he returns to his original analogy between kāna and ḍaraba, claiming that kāna ʾaxāka ʿAbdu-llāhi is modeled on ḍaraba Zaydan ʿAbdu-llāhi, and is likewise acceptable. Furthermore, underscoring the status of kāna as analogous to that of ḍaraba, Sībawayhi adds that kāna, much

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like ḍaraba, may take a pronominal direct object: kunnāhum (“we were them”) is compared by him to ḍarabnāhum (“we hit them”).9 It looks, then, as though kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxāka was analyzed by Sībawayhi on two distinct levels: On the level of taʿdiya, kāna was treated analogously to ḍaraba, and kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi ʾaxāka was equated with ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan, that is, mapped onto the verbal type of sentence. On the level of predication, however, kāna was grouped together with ẓanantu as elements substituting for ibtidāʾ, to be followed by two constituents functioning as subject and predicate.10 Subsequently (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 17ff.), the mubtadaʾ-xabar relationship between the two nominals following kāna was further highlighted and elaborated, with more emphasis laid on the differences between kāna and ḍaraba. Thus it was pointed out by Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 17) that when the arguments of kāna differ in definiteness, it is the definite nominal that should take the raf ʿ case, because, unlike the nominal complements of ḍaraba, those of kāna share the same referent. And for the same reason, when both are definite,11 each of the two nominals may optionally take either raf ʿ or naṣb, which means that each may function as either the subject or the predicate of kāna (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 18; and cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 403ff.).

While sentences such as kunnāhum and ʾiḏā lam nakunhum fa-man ḏā yakūnuhum (“If we are not them, who are they?”) occur in Arabic, one can hardly present them as equivalent to ḍarabnāhum, certainly not in terms of frequency. It stands to reason that Sībawayhi is here trying to defend his position regarding the taʿdiya of kāna, perhaps in response to objections voiced by contemporary grammarians. 10 The analogy between kāna and ẓanna was adopted by later grammarians pointing out that kāna denotes the past-time reference of the xabar, much as ẓanna denotes its being uncertain (maẓnūn). For discussion, see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 89 and Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 662–663. In chapter 10 in the Kitāb, Sībawayhi mentions layta (a “sister” of ʾinna) as analogous to kāna in having ibtidāʾ status (manzilat al-ibtidāʾ). Later grammarians, as we have seen, explicitly presented ʾinna, kāna and ẓanantu, with their respective “sisters”, as ibtidāʾ cancelers. 11 Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ VII, 96; and cf. Ibn Hišām Šarḥ , 141) points to cases where both ism- and xabar kāna are indefinite: mā kāna ʾaḥ adun miṯlaka (“no one was like you”) and mā kāna ʾaḥ adun mujtariʾan ʿalayka (“no one dared to challenge you”). Significantly, both sentences are negative and the subject in both is ʾaḥ ad. Ibn Yaʿīš indicates that, since ʾaḥ ad has the same status as al-nās, the communicative value ( fāʾida) of such sentences is sustained (cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 340 and 3.4.2 above, for verbless sentences with an indefinite subject). ʾAstarābāḏī (Šarḥ IV, 206–208) deals with (rare!) cases where an indefinite ism kāna is followed by a definite xabar kāna. 9


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In later grammarians’ writings (e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 89–90), kāna and its “sisters” are treated unmistakably as a special verb group.12 The starting point of the discussion is that these verbs are lexically deficient (nāqiṣa), in that they do not signal an action, hence the term ʾaf ʿāl nāqiṣa (see below for further discussion).13 Accordingly, the analogy between kāna and ḍaraba occupies only a marginal position in their accounts. Zamaxšarī, in his first chapter ( faṣl) dealing with al-ʾaf ʿāl al-nāqiṣa (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 89), does not mention it at all. Rather, he emphasizes the difference between kāna and verbs such as ḍaraba and qatala, as we will see below. This, indeed, seems to be a significant diversion from Sībawayhi’s theory regarding the status of kāna. Where Zamaxšarī does follow Sībawayhi is in the analogy he draws with ʾaf ʿāl al-qulūb. Ibn Yaʿīš, commenting on Zamaxšarī’s chapter, adds a comparison with ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā constructions, but indicates that the similarity to ʾaf ʿāl al-qulūb is closer on semantic grounds. In general, later grammarians tend to marginalize Sībawayhi’s analogy with ḍaraba and focus on the mubtadaʾ-xabar relationship between the two nominals following the verb. As could only be expected, these are now assigned specific terms: ism kāna and xabar kāna,14 corresponding to ism ʾinna and xabar ʾinna in ʾinna constructions. Moreover, while presenting kāna and its “sisters” as min al-ʿawāmil al-dāxila ʿalā l-mubtadaʾ wa-l-xabar (“operators entering into a 12 The grammarians differ as to which are exactly the verbs that should be included in the category ʾaxawāt kāna. ʾAstarābāḏī (Šarḥ IV, 183ff.) provides an interesting discussion of the issue, arguing that the actual number of these verbs is not fixed (ġayr maḥ sū ̣ ra), and that many tāmma verbs, such as tamma and kamala may function as nāqiṣa. The sentence kamala Zaydun ʿāliman (“Zayd was perfect as a scholar”), for instance, should be interpreted as ṣāra ʿāliman kāmilan (“became a complete scholar”). 13 As regards the verb kāna, later grammarians usually point to three sub-categories: 1. kāna l-nāqiṣa, requiring a nominative ism and an accusative xabar, 2. kāna l-tāmma, that denotes existence or occurrence, and requires a nominative complement only, and 3. kāna l-zāʾida—a redundant omissible kāna occurring between two normally non-separable constituents, e.g. a preposition and its complement. The last two subcategories will not be reviewed in the present work, but see Ibn al-Warrāq (ʿIlal, 349–351), Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 408–413), ʾAstarābāḏī (Šarḥ IV, 190–193) and Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 738–740) for an extensive discussion, as well as n. 5 above. For Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 759), cases in which ḍamīr al-šaʾn is said to be implicit in kāna (cf. 5.6.1 below) represent a fourth category of kāna; Ibn ʿUṣfūr, however, regards them as a sub-category of kāna al-nāqiṣa. In contrast to al-ʾaf ʿāl al-nāqiṣa, regular verbs, including kāna l-tāmma, are occasionally referred to as al-ʾafʿāl al-ṣiḥ āḥ (“sound verbs”—e.g. Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 180). 14 Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ VII, 91) remarks that the term xabar kāna is infelicitous, because the xabar predicates of the subject (xabar ʿan al-ism), not of the verb kāna.

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mubtadaʾ-xabar construction”), Ibn Yaʿīš, does not seem to take the verbal status of these elements for granted. Thus, when he explains the terms ʾafʿāl nāqiṣa and ʾafʿāl ʿibāra (“verbs by form”—cf. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī ʾAsrār, 133), as these verbs were referred to, he starts by taking up the part ʾaf ʿāl in these terms, and makes the point that kāna and “sisters” should be included within the category of verbs. He indicates that their categorization as verbs is based on their verbal conjugation (kāna, yakūnu, kun etc.). However, he argues, this conjugation testifies to their being verbs only by form (ʾafʿāl lafẓiyya = ʾaf ʿāl ʿibāra); it does not make them real verbs (ʾafʿāl ḥ aqīqiyya), because they do not signal an action (ḥ adaṯ = fiʿl). Note that the explanation given by Zamaxšarī and Ibn Yaʿīš to the term ʾaf ʿāl nāqiṣa is not identical: Zamaxšarī (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 89) maintains that the imperfection or deficiency (nuqṣān) attributed to these verbs relates to the fact that they obligatorily take two nominal complements, in rafʿ and naṣb, whereas a verb like ḍaraba can form a complete sentence with one nominative complement only.15 Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ VII, 89) says that these verbs are nāqiṣa in that they lack the semantic component of ʿaction’ (lammā naqaṣat dalālatuhā kānat nāqiṣatan). Obviously, the two explanations can be reconciled, as can be seen in Ibn Yaʿīš’s subsequent argument: Kāna l-nāqiṣa, for instance, signals the time of the xabar; the latter thus compensates for the lack of verbal meaning in these lexically deficient verbs, and is therefore obligatory. This view was not, however, universal. ʾAstarābāḏī’s (Šarḥ IV, 181f.) explanation of the term ʾaf ʿāl nāqiṣa is identical to that of Zamaxšarī’s, but he rejects the claim that kāna and “sisters” are lexically deficient. For him, each of these verbs denotes a certain ḥ adaṯ. Kāna l-nāqiṣa, for instance, denotes absolute existence (al-kawn allaḏī huwa l-ḥ uṣūl al-muṭlaq). In kāna Zaydun qāʾiman, he argues, kāna denotes absolute existence, whereas qāʾiman refers to a specific

15 For a similar explanation, cf. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 737–738) who also points out that, unlike kāna l-tāmma, kāna l-nāqiṣa does not take a prepositional or an adverbial complement. He argues, further, that in sentences such as kāna l-qitālu ʾamsi and yakūnu l-qitālu ġadan, kāna must be interpreted as tāmma (“the battle took place yesterday/will take place tomorrow”) since in such cases, the respective past and future time references can be recovered from the adverbials ʾamsi and ġadan, so there is no point (fāʾida) in adjoining kāna l-nāqiṣa as a time-marker.


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occurrence (al-kawn al-maxṣūṣ), that is, the occurrence of ‘standing’, at a time specified by kāna.16 Indeed, there is strong evidence to suggest that the semantics of kāna and “sisters” was a matter of controversy among the grammarians. Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 385–386) indicates that, for some grammarians, these verbs, acting only as time-markers, are not derived from a ḥ adaṯ (= maṣdar, verbal noun), and do not take an accusative verbal noun complement (mafʿūl muṭlaq—see below). His own view, however, is that kāna and “sisters”, like all verbs, are derived from ʾaḥ dāṯ (= verbal nouns) that are not phonologically realized (lam yunṭaq bihā). The fact that one can derive active participle and imperative forms from these verbs proves, in his eyes, that they have the meaning of an action (maʿnā l-ḥ adaṯ). An extensive discussion of the semantics of kāna and “sisters” as differentiated from that of “full” verbs is provided by Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 664–668). In support of his argument that kāna functions exclusively as a time-marker he not only indicates that kāna cannot take an absolute object, but also demonstrates that omitting kāna from a sentence such as kāna Zaydun qāʾiman results only in the loss of time indication: lam yasquṭ bi-suqūṭihā ʾillā l-dalāla ʿalā l-zamān (Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 665). The meaning of Zaydun qāʾimun consists in attributing standing to Zayd. Kāna is added only to provide the dimension of time to the sentence, and when omitted, the meaning of Zaydun qāʾimun remains intact. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ then goes on to apply the “deficiency” principle also to the “sisters” of kāna. His arguments here are particularly illuminating. By way of explaining the semantics of ʾaṣbaḥ a, for instance, he confronts (Basīṭ II, 665) this verb with ḍaraba, as can be seen in the two sentences below: (6) ʾaṣbaḥ a Zaydun ʿāliman (“Zayd became knowledgeable”) (7) ḍaraba Zaydun ʿAmran (“Zayd hit ʿAmr”).

In his analysis of ḍaraba, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ discerns four semantic components: 1. the lexeme ‘hit’ (al-ḍarb), 2. the actual occurrence of hitting (wujūd al-ḍarb), 3. past time (al-zamān al-māḍī) and 4. the nexal relationship attributing the action to its performer (jīʾa bihi li-yusnada ʾilā 16 Astarābāḏī (IV, 190) draws an analogy between the function of kāna l-nāqiṣa and that of ḍamīr al-šaʾn: the latter signals, in his view, the existence of a “matter” specified by the clause following it (see 5.6.1 for discussion).

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mūqiʿihi). These four features, he argues, are typical of every full verb. The verb ʾaṣbaḥ a, in contrast, is deficient in that it incorporates only the following two features: 1. past time, and 2. the concept “morning”. It does not denote an event (ḥ adaṯ), nor does it convey the actual occurrence (wujūd) of an action. Rather, these latter features are incorporated in the sentence Zaydun ʿālimun, attributing knowledge to Zayd. The only function of ʾaṣbaḥ a is to relate the content of the sentence to the past and, specifically, to the morning. Then, contrasting sentence (6) with ʾaṣbaḥ a Zaydun, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ explains that the latter, unlike the former, contains all four features of a “full” verb (with the additional concept of “morning”). Finally he points out (Basīṭ II, 666) that the lack of ḥ adaṯ in these verbs is compensated for by the xabar (cf. above). Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿʼs (Basīṭ II, 752) conclusion is that those ʾaxawāt kāna that may be used both as tāmma and nāqiṣa are essentially (ʾaṣl) “full” verbs of which the “deficient” version is derived. In other words, the deficient-verb construction displays an originally full verb that had been reduced ( jurrida) to a modifying verb or a mere time marker. On one thing there is general agreement among the grammarians: Whatever their status, kāna and “sisters” act as verbal operators, assigning case to the nominals following them; or, in Ibn Yaʿīš’s words: wa-ḥ a yṯu kānat dāxilatan ʿalā l-mubtadaʾi wa-l-xabari wa-kānat mušabbahatan li-l-fiʿli min jihati l-lafẓi wajaba lahā ʾan tarfaʿa l-mubtadaʾa wa-tanṣuba l-xabara tašbīhan bi-l-fiʿli ʾiḏ kāna l-fiʿlu yarfaʿu l-fāʿila wa-yanṣubu l-maf ʿūla (“since they enter into a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction, and are considered analogous to the verb by form, they must obligatorily assign rafʿ to the mubtadaʾ and naṣb to the xabar, in analogy to the verb, since the verb assigns rafʿ to the fāʿil and naṣb to the mafʿūl”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 90).

It can be seen how Ibn Yaʿīš highlights the verbal properties of kāna and “sisters”, so as to account for their capability of exercising verbal ʿamal upon the nominals following them. Yet the root š-b-h occurs twice in this passage in connection with the verbal status of al-ʾaf ʿāl al-nāqiṣa, so as to reassert the point that these ʾafʿāl are not real verbs.17

17 He also repeats Sībawayhi’s (Kitāb I, 16) argument that the justification for treating these verbs as a separate group stems from the fact that the marfūʿ and the manṣūb in these cases have a joint referent, unlike the real fāʿil and mafʿūl which have disjoint reference. He adds that this is the reason why the nominals in kāna sentences received special designations, ism and xabar: to make them distinct from the fāʿil and the mafʿūl.


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This receives further emphasis when Ibn Yaʿīš (like Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ—cf. above) points out that if you omit kāna from a sentence such as kāna Zaydun qāʾiman, the outcome is a regular mubtadaʾ-xabar sentence: Zaydun qāʾimun (Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 90). Generally speaking, then, we may say that kāna l-nāqiṣa was viewed by the grammarians as a special kind of verb; its verbal status was indeed put to the question, but the conclusion was always that, despite their semantic deficiency, kāna and “sisters” should be categorized as verbs.18 In other words, kāna wa-ʾaxwātuhā were ʾafʿāl ġayr ḥ aqīqiyya, but they were still ʾafʿāl (see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 398). There were, however, exceptions. One grammarian known to have gone as far as categorizing kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā as ḥ urūf was Zajjājī. No attempt was made by him to explain this categorization, but the relevant comments made by other grammarians are both interesting and important for our discussion.19 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 661–664) argues that Zajjājī’s use of the term ḥ urūf with reference to kāna and “sisters” could be explained by one of the following points: 1. The term ḥ urūf was used by Zajjājī in this case in the sense of “words” (kalim) rather than particles. 2. Kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā are weak in comparison to regular verbs: A. Unlike regular verbs like ḍaraba, they obligatorily require an accusative complement that stands to the nominative one as xabar to mubtadaʾ (hence its obligatoriness). B. Unlike all other verbs, kāna and “sisters” do not take their verbal noun as an accusative absolute object (mafʿūl muṭlaq). A sentence such as kāna Zaydun qāʾiman kawnan is unacceptable in Arabic, which shows that kāna is not intended to denote an event (ḥ adaṯ) but only time. Cf. the comments made by the editor of Zajjājī’s Jumal (p. 41, n. 1). Most interesting are the comments made by Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 157–160) reviewing Zajjājī’s discussion of kāna and “sisters”. Baṭalyūsī starts off with a rejection of Zajjājī’s categorization, advancing the rather familiar arguments demonstrating the verbal properties of kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā: verbal conjugation, verb-like ʿamal, occurrence with 18 The only exception appears to be laysa, whose verbal status was, indeed, a matter of controversy. Obviously this is not surprising, given its special form and the fact that it shows only one type of conjugation with no tense differentiation and no maṣdar form. For discussion, see e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 378–379. 19 Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾAsrār, 132) indicates that some grammarians regarded kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā as ḥ urūf rather than ʾaf ʿāl, since they do not denote an action; in his words: lā tadullu ʿalā l-maṣdar (the words maṣdar and ḥ adaṯ often interchange—see, for discussion, Peled 1999:70–73).

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an attached pronoun. Batạ lyūsī argues further that the deficiency of al-ʾafʿāl al-nāqiṣa does not deny them their verbal status, just as the the fact that certain substantives and adjectives fail to display the full range of substantival and adjectival properties does not warrant a denial of their status as substantives and adjectives. At this point, however, Baṭalyūsī’s argumentation changes direction, to show that, for all its inadequacy, Zajjājī’s use of the term ḥ urūf for kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā does not necessarily misrepresent the phenomenon at issue (laysa bi-baʿīd fī l-qiyās, laysa bi-mustaḥ īl fī l-qiyās—pp. 158 and 160 respectively). Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 158–159) points out that, much like the particles, kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā, when entering into a given sentence, do not affect the basic meaning conveyed by that sentence. Unlike a regular verb, signalling by itself an event taking place at a certain time, the predication in a kāna sentence lies in the xabar, that is, outside the verb kāna itself. In this sense, kāna as a time-marker is not different in any significant way from a time adverbial: kāna Zaydun qāʾiman has the same value as Zaydun qāʾimun fīmā maḍā.20 Furthermore, the function of kāna and “sisters” to introduce a certain modification to the meaning of the sentence is similar to that of negative, interrogative and emphatic particles, as well as particles like laʿalla and layta. All these particles, so the argument goes, enter into a full-sentence construction in order to add a semantic component that in no way affects the basic message of the sentence, lying, as it does, outside these particles. A sentence such as Zaydun qāʾimun can thus undergo a semantic modification by kāna, to yield kāna Zaydun qāʾiman, much as it may be semantically modified by mā, ʾa-, la- and laʿalla, to yield such sentences as mā Zaydun qāʾiman, ʾa-Zaydun qāʾimun, la-Zaydun qāʾimun and laʿalla Zaydan qāʾimun. The procedure in all these cases is the same.21

20 This is reminiscent of the grammarians’ analogy between ẓanantu Zaydan qāʾiman and Zaydun qāʾimun fī ẓannī (see, e.g. Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 85). Yet, Baṭalyūsī, striving as he does to draw an analogy between kāna and certain particles, does not mention here the common analogy made by the grammarians between kāna and ẓanna. For further discussion of the semantic function of kāna, see, e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 412f. 21 Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 159–160) then points to Sībawayhi’s use of the term ḥ urūf with reference to verbs and nouns in certain contexts. I will not review the relevant cases here, but Bat ̣alyūsī’s far-reaching conclusion (Ḥ ulal, 160) is worth noting: All three parts of speech (al-ʾuṣūl al-ṯalāṯa allatī yadūru ʿalayhā l-kalām) may be regarded as ḥ urūf, since all three may function as boundaries to the sentence, and boundary-marking is a basic function of the ḥ urūf.


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For an extensive discussion of the syntactic and semantic properties of ʾaxawāt kāna, see e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 415–418.22 Where does all this lead us regarding the categorization of kāna sentences within the grammarians’ theory of sentence types? The grammarians did not offer a direct answer to this question. In Sībawayhi’s time the concepts of jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya had not yet been developed. He made it clear, however (Sībawayhi Kitāb I, 6), that sentences such as kāna ʿAbdu-llāhi munṭaliqan had an ibtidāʾ status (bi-manzilat al-ibtidāʾ). Later grammarians who were already familiar with them made little use of these concepts outside the context of clause types in xabar position (cf. 3.1 above). The fact that the vast majority of grammarians viewed kāna and “sisters” as “entering” into a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction may be taken to suggest that in medieval Arabic grammatical tradition sentences introduced by kāna l-nāqiṣa were regarded as an extended version of jumla ismiyya. The nominal constituents in kāna sentences were always presented as ism kāna and xabar kāna, the terminological variants of mubtadaʾ and xabar respectively. We noted also the exceptions: ʾAstarābāḏī, as we observed, did not regard kāna as lexically deficient (and cf. n. 7 above for Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s position). But he did not go as far as categorizing kāna Zaydun qāʾiman as jumla fiʿliyya. The only one grammarian noted by us who did so explicitly was Ibn Hišām al-ʾAnṣārī (4.5.2 above). 5.4

Word-order variations in kāna and ʾinna sentences

We have already seen (5.3 above) that Sībawayhi allowed permutation of the nominative and accusative nominals in kāna sentences, in analogy to subject-object permutation in sentences introduced by ḍaraba. Following Sībawayhi, the grammarians point out the flexible word order in kāna sentences where both nominals are definite. The function and position of the definite constituents are related to the pragmatic principle that the ‘given’ or ‘known’ should precede the ‘new’. Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 399) states that when both constituents are definite, it is the

22 For the logicians’ treatment of kāna as a kind of copula (rābiṭa) analogous in function to what the grammarians termed ḍamīr al-faṣl (3.6.1 above), see Weiss 1985:611; and cf. Carter 1981:208; 1995:33, n. 22, where he suggests that Zajjājī’s reference to kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā as ḥ urūf led some later grammarians to treat them as analogous to rawābiṭ.

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one the speaker assumes to be known to the addressee that should be assigned the function of ism, and the other the function of xabar. And further, when the two differ in their degree of definiteness, the more definite should be the ism and the less definite the xabar (Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 401; and cf. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 711, 714–716). Furthermore, the grammarians discuss not only the permutability of ism kāna and xabar kāna,23 but also the option of placing xabar kāna before the verb kāna itself (qāʾiman kāna Zaydun).24 Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾAsrār, 139) explains that ism kāna may not precede kāna since it is analogous to the fāʿil, whereas xabar kāna is analogous to the mafʿūl and may, therefore, precede kāna much like the object in a verbal transitive sentence. For further discussion, see, e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 388–391 and Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ VII, 97. However, the option of placing the xabar in sentence-initial position is typical to the verb kāna and does not apply to some of its “sisters”. According to Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 161), xabar mā dāma in sentence-initial position is disallowed, and there is a controversy with respect to mā zāla, mā nfakka, mā fatiʾa, mā bariḥ a and laysa. For a detailed discussion of word order in sentences introduced by the “sisters” of kāna, see Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 406–410; Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 388–391; ʾAstarābāḏī Šarḥ IV, 200–210; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 673–681; and cf. Baalbaki 2004:42–48. Note that the Kūfans rejected both kāna qāʾiman Zaydun and qāʾiman kāna Zaydun as inverted sentences, claiming that qāʾiman contained a cataphoric pronoun referring to Zaydun (cf. 4.2 above).25 Ibn ʿUṣfūr (Šarḥ I, 394–395) indicates that they were prepared to accept kāna qāʾiman Zaydun provided that qāʾiman, the xabar kāna, was analyzed as the assigner of raf ʿ to Zaydun, and that, as such, was uninflected for number. Under this analysis, the function of ism kāna


Note that subject-predicate permutation is much more common in AUX-T2 sentences than in regular T2’s. While sentences such as sarīʿun duxūl al-sayyāra (“quick is the entering of the car”) are rare, kāna sarīʿan duxūl al-sayyāra (“quick was the entering of the car”) represents a fairly common construction in Written Arabic. 24 According to Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 406), underlying the rule allowing the occurrence of xabar kāna before the verb kāna is the principle that al-maʿmūl lā yaqaʿu ʾillā ḥ ayṯu yaqaʿu l-ʿāmil (“the operated upon may only occur in a position available for the operator”). 25 Note that sentences such as kāna ʾaxāka Zaydun and ʾaxāka kāna Zaydun are readily accepted by the Kūfans as cases of inversion with a preposed xabar kāna, on the ground that ʾax is a substantive, and as such does not incorporate a pronoun, so there is no problem of cataphora (Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 396).


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was assigned to an impersonal pronoun (ḍamīr al-šaʾn) incorporated in kāna (cf. 5.6 below).26 A similar analysis was proposed by the Kūfans for qāʾiman kāna Zaydun. This analysis was rejected by Ibn ʿUṣfūr on the ground that ḍamīr al-šaʾn requires a clausal exponent (tafsīr), whereas in our case it is expounded by qāʾiman which is not a clausal constituent. Significantly, the Kūfans were prepared to accept qāʾiman in the above sentences as a preposed or intermediary xabar, on condition that an antecedent (mawṣūf ) be posited to which the pronoun in qāʾiman would refer anaphorically (cf. the principle of iʿtimād—4.2 above). Thus, for instance, they would accept a sentence such as qāʾiman kāna Zaydun if one posited rajulan qāʾiman kāna Zaydun as the underlying structure. A restriction often imposed by the majority of grammarians upon word order in kāna sentences is that kāna must immediately be followed by either its ism or xabar. Zajjājī (Jumal, 45) indicates that, while kāna Zaydun ʾākilan ṭaʿāmaka (“Zayd was eating your food”) and kāna ʾākilan ṭaʿāmaka Zaydun are both acceptable sentences in Arabic, kāna ṭaʿāmaka Zaydun ʾākilan is not. In the latter case, so is the argument, kāna is followed by a constituent (ṭaʿāmaka) whose naṣb assigner is not kāna (but ʾākilan), and can therefore function neither as ism- nor as xabar kāna. The sentence is therefore excluded. The issue was further developed by later grammarians; see, e.g. Baṭalyūsī Ḥ ulal, 170–172; Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 434–435; Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 395–396; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 705–706. When considering the options of inversion in extended T2 and T3 sentences, ʾinna sentences differ from kāna sentences substantially. In contrast to AUX cases, in sentences introduced by a particle of the ʾinna group, no inversion is allowed. In other words, sentence (8)b below is inadmissible: (8)

a. ʾinna ʿAbda-llāhi ʾaxūka ∗ b. ʾinna ʾaxūka ʿAbda-llāhi.

The grammarians attribute this to the fact that sentences like (8) are introduced by a particle rather than a verb. The point was never extensively elaborated, but they normally drew upon Sībawayhi (Kitāb I, 241) who asserted that, unlike kāna sentences, in ʾinna sentences no inver26 It should be noted that “inverted” auxiliary structures, displaying disagreement in number between the predicate and the following subject, are rarely attested outside the grammarians’ writings.

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


sion of the two nominal arguments was allowed li-ʾannahā lā taṣarrafu taṣarruf al-ʾafʿāl wa-lā yuḍmaru fīhā l-marfūʿ kamā yuḍmaru fī kāna (“because they do not conjugate like verbs, and, unlike kāna, there is no implicit nominative pronoun in them”—cf. Mubarrad Muqtaḍab IV, 106, 109, using the term ḥ arf jāmid [“ossified particle”]; Ibn al-Warrāq ʿIlal, 335–336; Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 444–446).27 This may be understood as follows: unlike verbs which incorporate a personal pronoun, or otherwise a gender marker establishing gender agreement with the (following) subject, ʾinna and “sisters”, as particles, neither refer to, no agree with, any nominal element, and as such rule out inversion (in contrast to kāna and “sisters” which allow inversion li-ʾannahā mutaṣarrifa (see, e.g. Ibn Hišām Šarḥ , 137).28 For an interesting discussion of this issue, based on Ibn al-Warrāq’s ʿIlal al-Naḥ w, see Versteegh 2006:56–57. Note that it is only when ʾinna is followed by two nominals that it must assign the naṣb case to the immediately following one, thus ruling out any permutation of subject and predicate. In cases like ʾinna fī l-dāri Zaydan we can see the particle ʾinna acting upon the subject Zayd “over” the preceding predicate fī l-dār. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 231) explains the special status of the ẓarf:29 The fact that it cannot

27 Sībawayhi then alludes to a similar line of distinction drawn by the grammarians between laysa and mā (al-mušabbaha bi-laysa). For further discussion, see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 436f. 28 Jurjānī Muqtaṣid (I, 444) argues that, while ʾinna and “sisters” are verb-like particles, the restriction imposed on word order in ʾinna sentences is consistent with the need to differentiate between these particles and real verbs (see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 439, for a similar explanation). It is in this context that he explains the position of the naṣb constituent prior to the raf ʿ constituent: Precisely because in a regular verbal sentence the rafʿ precedes the naṣb, in ʾinna sentences it is the other way around. Ibn al-ʾAnbārī (ʾAsrār, 149 and ʾInṣāf I, 178) explains further that the naṣb-rafʿ order in ʾinna sentences is designed to match the secondary (farʿ) object-subject order in regular verbal sentences; that is, since ʾinna and “sisters” are not real verbs their ʿamal is analogous to the secondary ʿamal of the verb, and the order of constituents following them must, in accordance, match the secondary order in verbal sentences. For Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s explanation for the assignment of raf ʿ to the xabar and naṣb to the ism, see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 424. 29 Both Ibn al-Sarrāj and Zajjājī (Jumal, 52) use the term ittisāʿ (lit. “extension”) in this case, referring to the wide range of constructions available for the ẓarf. Moreover, on the principle of ittisāʿ, some grammarians allow sentences such as ʾinna fī l-dāri Zaydan jālisun (“in the house Zayd is sitting”) and ʾinna bika Zaydan maʾxūḏun (“by you Zayd is fascinated”). Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 677–678) states that this kind of taqdīm is admissible since it meets the condition that an operated upon constituent (maʿmūl) can only be preposed in cases allowing also the preposing of the operator (ʿāmil). Cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 447; Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 439. For the term ittisāʿ, see Versteegh 1990, esp. pp. 286–288; and cf. 2.2.4 above, for tawassuʿ. For a detailed discussion of the


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be operated upon by ʾinna (but rather by an underlying verb such as istaqarra—cf. 4.3.2 above), as well as its frequent use (kaṯratuhu fī l-istiʿmāl), are the reasons for admitting a predicative ẓarf in pre-subject position.30 Moreover, while ʾinna may not be immediately followed by a verb, Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 232) indicates that it may be separated from a verb by a ẓarf. Thus, while rejecting ʾinna qāma Zaydun as qabīḥ , Ibn al-Sarrāj readily accepts such sentences as: ʾinna xalfaka qāma Zaydun (“behind you Zayd was standing”) and ʾinna l-yawma xaraja ʾaxūka (“today your brother left”). The question that is typically raised by the grammarians regarding such cases concerns the grammatical status of the ẓarf. Ibn al-Sarrāj cites Farrāʾ as saying that it implements the function of ism ʾinna (ism ʾinna fī l-maʿnā); Kisāʾī, he says, saw such sentences as cases of taʿlīq (suspension of ʿamal). In 4.2 we dealt with theoretical problems related to sentences such as qāʾimun Zaydun. These problems become even more complex when this construction occurs in ʾinna and kāna sentences. Ibn al-Sarrāj (ʾUṣūl I, 232) states that ʾaṣḥ ābunā (according to the editor’s n. 3, this designation refers to the Baṣrans) allow such sentences as ʾinna qāʾiman Zaydun/ al-Zaydāni/al-Zaydūna. Obviously, the fact that qāʾiman in these cases is uninflected for number suggests a verb-subject relationship between qāʾiman and the following noun. It is indeed stated, subsequently, that qāʾiman is assigned the naṣb case by ʾinna, and that Zayd is assigned rafʿ by qāʾim—as fāʿil. We have already indicated (4.2 above) the problematic nature of this argument in similar cases. This is reflected in the analysis offered: al-fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar kamā ʾanna qāʾiman qāma maqām al-ism (“the fāʿil substitutes for the xabar, much as qāʾiman fills the position of the ism [ʾinna]”. Evidently, this analysis includes elements from both the fiʿl-fāʿil and the mubtadaʾ-xabar types; but the author refrains from explicitly committing himself to either of them. Such cases appear to be even more complicated in kāna sentences, where the predicate-subject construction occupies a post-ism-kāna position. Consider Zajjājī’s following statement: fa-ʾin qaddamta l-xabara naṣabtahu wa-rafaʿta l-isma bihi fa-qulta kāna Zaydun munṭaliqan ʾabūhu jaʿalta munṭaliqan xabara kāna wa-ʾabūhu rafʿun bi-fiʿlihi (“If you prepose the xabar, you assign it the naṣb case and

position of the ẓarf in sentences introduced by ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā, see Ibn al-Warrāq ʿIlal, 336–339 and Versteegh 2006:58–59 for illuminating comments. 30 The ẓarf may not, however, precede ʾinna or any of its “sisters”, as is indicated by Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 447.

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


the [following] noun is assigned by it [i.e. by the preceding accusative xabar) the rafʿ case. You thus say kāna Zaydun munṭaliqan ʾabūhu (“Zayd, his father was leaving”). Here munṭaliqan functions as xabar kāna, while ʾabūhu is assigned the rafʿ case by its verb”—Zajjājī Jumal, 43).

The sentence kāna Zaydun munṭaliqan ʾabūhu is presented here as an inverted version of kāna Zaydun ʾabūhu munṭaliqun, where ʾabūhu munṭaliqun is analyzed as a clausal xabar kāna to Zaydun. Within this clause, ʾabūhu functions as mubtadaʾ and munṭaliqun as its xabar. In the former case, however, munṭaliqan must take the singular form, irrespective of the number of the following noun: kāna l-Zaydāni munṭaliqan ʾabawāhumā, kāna l-Zaydūna munṭaliqan ʾābāʾuhum. What Zajjājī does not explain is why he analyzes munṭaliqan, rather than munṭaliqan ʾabūhu, as xabar kāna.31 And further, if, as is suggested by Zajjājī (and clearly stated by Batạ lyūsī—see below), there is a verbsubject relationship obtaining between qāʾiman and the following noun, why should qāʾiman take the naṣb case in the first place?32 Does kāna have any effect upon the sentence it introduces? The last question did receive a clear answer by Zajjājī—in the negative. He adduced (p. 42) sentences such as kāna fī l-dāri Zaydun, in order to show that kāna and “sisters” lā tuʾaṯti̱ ru fī l-jumal, i.e, that kāna does not affect the basic structure of the sentence it introduces (see also, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 683–684). But sentences such as kāna Zaydun qāʾiman ʾabūhu appear to constitute a counter-example. Indeed, Baṭalyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 167) cites this sentence, as well as kāna ʿAmrun ḍāriban ʾaxāhu (“Zayd was hitting his brother”) by way of refuting Zajjājī’s statement that kāna and “sisters” do not have any effect upon the basic inner structure of the sentence they introduce. In Baṭalyūsī’s words: fa-qad ʾaṯta̱ ra kāna fī ḍārib wa-qāʾim wa-humā fiʿlāni li-mā baʿdahumā jāriyāni maʿa mā ʿamilā fīhi majrā l-jumali l-murakkabati min al-fiʿli wa-lfāʿili (“Kāna does have an effect upon ḍārib and qāʾim which implement the function of fiʿl to what follows them, thus forming with the nominal upon which they exercise ʿamal a construction modeled on a sentence consisting of fiʿl and fāʿil”—Bat ̣alyūsī Ḥ ulal, 167).

31 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 693) remarks that in ʾin qaddamta l-xabara, Zajjājī intends “what would appropriately be analyzed as xabar if placed after [ʾabūhu] (yurīdu mā yaṣluḥ u ʾan yakūna xabaran ʾin ʾaxxartahu).” 32 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 694) argues that in cases such as kāna Zaydun munṭaliqan ʾabūhu, munṭaliqan takes the naṣb case as xabar kāna since the preceding ʿāmil (kāna) is stronger than the subsequent ʿāmil (the ibtidāʾ) (li-ʾanna l-ʿāmil al-mutaqaddim ʾaqwā min al-ʿāmil al-mutaʾaxxir).


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However, this contradiction between the positions expressed by Zajjājī and Batạ lyūsī appears to be ostensible rather than real. In any case, the dispute can be resolved quite easily. Recall the principle of iʿtimād discussed in 4.2. Zajjājī, as we have indicated, was exceptional in not spelling out the rule that qāʾimun Zaydun is only valid with a verbal fiʿl+fāʿil analysis when “supported” by some element, e.g. a nominal functioning as mubtadaʾ, or otherwise as head, to the construction at hand. If we apply the principle of iʿtimād to the sentence kāna Zaydun qāʾiman ʾabūhu, we may say that in this case the “supporting” element does not occur explicitly in the sentence, but is easily recoverable, as shown by the sentence kāna Zaydun [rajulan] qāʾiman ʾabūhu. This is indeed a fairly straightforward case of naʿt sababī, where the principle of iʿtimād figures prominently (see Goldenberg 2002:202–204). It should be noted, however, that Zajjājī added two alternative readings (with two different analyses) to the above sentence. All three varieties are cited by Batạ lyūsī (Ḥ ulal, 169), with an added one that appears as no. 4 in the following list: (1) kāna Zaydun munṭaliqan ʾabūhu—fiʿl+fāʿil—participle uninflected for number (kāna l-Zaydāni munṭaliqan ʾabawāhumā)33 (2) kāna Zaydun munṭaliqun ʾabūhu—xabar muqaddam+mubtadaʾ— participle inflected for number (kāna al-Zaydāni munṭa liqāni ʾabawāhumā) (3) a. kāna Zaydun qāʾimayni ʾabawāhu ⎫ fiʿl+fāʿil—participle inflected for ⎬ number b. kāna Zaydun qāʾimāni ⎭ ʾabawāhu Sentences (3)a and (3)b represent two varieties of what the grammarians refer to as luġat ʾakalūnī l-barāġīṯ (see Levin 1989) (4) kāna Zaydun munṭaliqun ʾabūhu—mubtadaʾ+fāʿil sadda masadd alxabar—participle uninflected for number (kāna l-Zaydāni munṭaliqun ʾabawāhumā)

This last case represents a type of analysis that was already known in Zajjājī’s time and became common among later grammarians (for details, see 4.2 above).

33 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 693–694) adds that a broken plural may precede the nominative noun; kāna l-Zaydūna ḥ isānan ʾābāʾuhum (“the Zayds’ fathers were nice”) is a perfectly grammatical construction, indeed the preferred one.

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


Among the above sentences, (1) and (3)a, where the participle takes the accusative, may be described as clear cases of naʿt sababī.34 Sentences (2) and (3)b, where the participle takes the nominative, may appropriately be analyzed as cases where the position of xabar kāna is filled by an inverted nominal clause; but in (3)b, qāʾimāni ʾabawāhu may also be analyzed as a (special) verbal clause. The analysis of (4) combines elements from both types of sentence, the verbal and the nominal, but accords with neither.35 5.5

Modern approaches

In a recent article, Badawi (2000a:12ff.), drawing upon the medieval grammarians, states that Arabic uses the case endings -u and -a to produce four predicative constructions. Three of these constructions branch off the “pure” mubtadaʾ+xabar sentence. It should be noted that, employing the medieval term nawāsix (see 5.2 above), he insists (p. 13) that not only ʾinna and kāna, but also ẓanna introduces a jumla ismiyya. Here Badawi’s position seems to diverge from the medieval grammarians’ theory. The latter did present ẓanantu as standing in a paradigmatic relation with kāna and ʾinna; but, to my knowledge, they never went as far as explicitly referring to a sentence like ẓanantu Zaydan qāʾiman as jumla ismiyya. Badawi then turns to deal with the semantic properties that characterize each group of “sisters”.36 Thus, the basic semantic function of kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā is to locate the event/state described by the sentence in time. Badawi lists various aspects of time signalled by different “sisters”, such as continuity, change in time, proximity in time and beginning. The

34 For a detailed discussion of similar cases, with due attention to the required differentiation between naʿt sababī and inverted nominal clauses, see Goldenberg 2002, especially pp. 197–198. 35 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 694) remarks, with regard to sentences such as kāna Zaydun munṭaliqun ʾabūhu, that ʾAbū l-Ḥ asan [al-ʾAxfaš] disallowed the analysis of munṭaliqun as mubtadaʾ followed by a fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar, where the clause as a whole functions as xabar kāna. While allowing this kind of analysis in the case of munṭaliqun Zaydun, he rejected the above on the ground that kāna as an ʿāmil lafẓī is stronger (ʾaqwā) than the abstract operator ibtidāʾ, and must, therefore, exercise its ʿamal upon munṭaliq (cf. n. 32 and section 4.2 above). 36 Badawi (2000a:14) maintains that while the term nawāsix relates to the syntax of the constructions in question (mubtadaʾ+xabar preceded by varying modifying elements), the use of ʾaxawāt refers to the semantic properties shared by the members of each group.


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last two are mentioned with reference to kāda wa-ʾaxawātuhā, a subgroup of kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā. Turning then to ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā, Badawi indicates that ʾinna and ʾanna confirm the contents of the sentence, whereas the other “sisters” signalize lower degrees of certainty regarding the action or state described. These degrees are specified by him in descending order from the most certain (ʾinna) to the least likely (layta), where the action/state described by the sentence is placed within the realm of the impossible. In a similar way he describes the semantic relationship between the members of ẓanna wa-ʾaxawātuhā as scalar rather than absolute. These verbs describe mental actions, with ʿalima conveying the highest degree of certainty and xāla the lowest. Badawi establishes a scalar relationship not only between the members of each group, but between the four groups themselves, correlating this relationship with the pattern of case endings characterizing each group. Thus we find in the highest position the verbless construction of mubtadaʾ+xabar signalling absolute certainty. This semantic feature correlates with the case suffix -u, hence the occurrence of this particular suffix on both predicative constituents in this group. The lowest position on the scale is occupied by ẓanna wa-ʾaxawātuhā, signalling as it does the lowest degree of certainty. The case marker corresponding with this particular semantic feature is -a, hence its occurrence on both predicative constituents in sentences of this group. In between we find kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā and ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā, in that order, reflecting the degree of certainty signalled by each of these two groups. For a diagrammatic illustration, see Badawi 2000b:4. Word order in ʾinna/ʾanna sentences is dealt with extensively by Mohammad (1999:85), who points out that these particles should be followed by the subject, but is aware of the need to accommodate “the permutation [. . . in] equative sentences” where a PP (= prepositional phrase) is allowed to occur in this position. Obviously, Mohammad is referring here to what we term extended T3-sentences/clauses such as ʾinna fī l-dāri rajulan. Formulating a word-order rule for ʾinna sentences, Mohammad states that the particles in question must be followed by a [-V] category.37 However, he restricts this rule by claiming that ʾinna/

37 In this he adopts (1999:85, n. 5) Chomsky’s following categorization: Verbs are [-N+V], adjectives are [+N+V], prepositions are [-N-V], and nouns are [+N-V]. Mohammad uses [-V] to state that ʾinna and “sisters” may be followed by any kind of word that is not a verb. (By the same token, according to Mohammad, ʾan may be followed by [+V-N], thus allowing only the VSO and VOS word-order patterns.)

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


ʾanna may not be followed by a (direct) object, since that would entail that the nominal is assigned the accusative case twice: by ʾinna/ʾanna and by the following verb. The rule stating that in ʾinna sentences naṣb is obligatorily assigned to the subject but not to the predicate is challenged by Kouloughli (2002:19–21; and cf. 5.4 above, for a similar view cited by Ibn al-Sarrāj). He rightly rules out the possibility of ʾinna introducing a sentence such as munṭaliqun Zaydun, where the preposed predicate is focalized. For ʾinna confirms the validity of the sentence as a whole; it does not emphasize any particular constituent. But Kouloughli cites a number of Classical Arabic examples where a non-focalized predicate preceding its subject in an ʾinna/ʾanna sentence takes the naṣb case. Significantly, the subject in most of his cases is an ʾan clause or a verbal noun (cf. 4.4.1 above, for discussion). These examples lead Kouloughli (2002:19) to the conclusion that ʾinna and “sisters” assign the naṣb case not necessarily to the subject (or topic) but rather “to the first noun [. . .] they encounter”. I would agree with Kouloughli that ʾinna assigns the accusative to the nearest following noun phrase. However, in the vast majority of cases that noun phrase is the subject of the sentence (but not necessarily the topic). Wittig (1994:322–326) deals with the semantic and pragmatic aspects of sentences introduced by ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā. In her view, the semantic function of ʾinna is to present the content of the sentence as a fact. This is indeed how she interprets the grammarians’ claim that ʾinna is designed to emphasize the sentence as a whole (li-tawkīd aljumla—see Wittig 1994:323–324, for references and discussion). Then she maintains that the position immediately following ʾinna is only available for either the topic of the sentence, or, otherwise, a marked focus (see Wittig 1994:324–326 for further details; cf. Holes’s view below and Kouloughli’s opposed view above). Where do ʾinna sentences fall within Greenberg’s framework? Regarding ʾinna/ʾanna, Mohammad (1999:19–21) indicates that the orders VSO, VOS, OSV and OVS are excluded in this type of sentence, while SVO (and SOV) are acceptable.38 Unlike inverted AUX-T2-sentences, inverted T2-sentences (with a nominal predicate) introduced by ʾinna 38

In a similar way, Mohammad (1999:23–24) indicates that the orders SVO, SOV, OSV and OVS “are all barred from occurring in a clause headed by ʾan”; that is, only VSO and VOS are acceptable. “Equative” clauses introduced by ʾan are realized with the auxiliary kāna: ʾaxšā ʾan yakūna ʾaḥ madu majnūnan (“I fear that Aḥmad is


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and “sisters” are disallowed: samiʿtu ʾanna marīḍun Zaydan is ungrammatical (cf. 5.4 above; and Mohammad 1999:21–22).39 In any case, since Greenberg’s framework accommodates only full lexical verbs, auxiliary kāna and “sisters” are excluded from consideration. Moreover, auxiliary kāna is viewed by some modern writers (see, e.g. Bahloul 2006; Cantarino 1975, II:196–199) as a copula, i.e. as a verbal copula, as opposed to the pronominal copula (3.6 above). The two principles which we have shown throughout to affect wordorder patterning, namely, the “given-new” and the “end-weighting” principles, operate also in ʾinna and kāna sentences. So one would expect ʾinna/kāna to be immediately followed by a definite, relatively “light”, constituent. Regarding ʾinna, however, Holes (1995:244, n. 14) remarks that in Modern Standard Arabic, this particle may introduce a T2-sentence with an indefinite S2, for the purpose of emphasis (cf. Mohammad 1999:22). “But in such cases”, he maintains, “the indefinite noun is actually part of an already defined entity”. 5.6

Non-referential formatting device versus ḍamīr al-šaʾn 5.6.1

Ḍ amīr al-šaʾn in medieval Arabic grammatical tradition

The classical term ḍamīr al-šaʾn occurs regularly in modern grammars of Arabic. Yet the definition and discussion of the concept by medieval grammarians and modern writers present us with two different approaches to the subject. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 421f.) lists four basic constructions of ḍamīr al-šaʾn, displaying the following: (A) mubtadaʾ+xabar (without any of the nawāsix), (B) kāna (and “sisters”), (C) ʾinna (and “sisters”) and (D) ẓanna (and “sisters”). Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 114) indicates, similarly, that ḍamīr al-šaʾn regularly occurs with the operators (ʿawāmil) enter-

crazy”—1999:25). Mohammad indicates further that OSV and OVS are unacceptable whether in ʾinna/ʾanna- or ʾan-clauses. 39 This difference between ʾinna and kāna sentences applies also to sentences such as wāḍiḥ un ʾanna Zaydan sa-yaṣilu (“it is clear that Zayd will arrive”). Unlike sentences such as fī l-dāri rajulun, our sentence here may not be preceded by ʾinna unless the latter is neutralized by ḍamīr al-šaʾn (cf. 5.6 below): ʾinnahu wāḍiḥ un ʾanna Zaydan sa-yaṣilu (ʾinna wāḍiḥ un ʾanna Zaydan sa-yaṣilu is ungrammatical). By contrast, the following sentence is perfectly acceptable: kāna wāḍiḥ an ʾanna Zaydan sa-yaṣilu (“it was clear that Zayd would arrive”).

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


ing into the mubtadaʾ+xabar construction, and that these operators exercise ʿamal upon it. He also points out that ḍamīr al-šaʾn may precede either a verbal clause ( jumla fiʿliyya) or a nominal clause ( jumla ismiyya). This emerges clearly from Zamaxšarī’s examples of which I cite the following seven (each of the examples is related to one of the four categories, A–D, listed above): (1) huwa Zaydun munṭaliqun (“Zayd is leaving”)—(A) jumla ismiyya (2) ẓanantuhu Zaydun qāʾimun (“I thought Zayd was standing”)—(D) jumla ismiyya (3) ḥ asibtuhu qāma ʾaxūka (“I thought your brother was standing”)—(D) jumla fiʿliyya (4) ʾinnahu ʾamatu llāhi ḏ ā hibatun (“the female slave of God is going”)—(C) jumla ismiyya (5) ʾinnahu man yaʾtinā naʾtihi (“whoever comes to us we will come to him”)—(C) conditional sentence (6) laysa xalaqa llāhu miṯlahu (“God has not created anything like him”)—(B) jumla fiʿliyya (7) kāna ʾanta xayrun minhu (“you were better than he”)—(B) jumla ismiyya

All seven examples above are presented on a par, with no indication that the construction represented in sentence (5) is far more common in Classical Arabic than all the others (for modern texts, see 5.6.2 below). However, some grammarians did point out the structural obligatoriness of ḍamīr al-šaʾn in certain ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā constructions. ʾAstarābāḏī (Šarḥ IV, 375–376) states that ḍamīr al-šaʾn is designed to preclude a situation where particles normally attached to nouns would be followed by a plain verb (li-karāhati duxūl al-ʾaḥ ruf al-muxtaṣsạ bil-ismi ʿalā l-fiʿl al-ṣarīḥ ). He indicates, however, that ḍamīr al-šaʾn may be omitted if the verb is preceded by an adverbial/prepositional phrase. Citing al-Xalīl’s example ʾinna bika Zaydun maʾxūḏun (cf. 4.3.1 above, and n. 29 in the present chapter), he states that while ʾinna qāma Zaydun is excluded, a sentence such as ʾinna fī l-dāri yajlisu ʾaxawāka (“your two brothers are sitting in the house”) is acceptable on the assumption of a deleted ḍamīr al-šaʾn occurring in the underlying structure (ʾinnahu fī l-dāri yajlisu ʾaxawāka). The examples above also demonstrate the grammarians’ view that ḍamīr al-šaʾn may occur as a separate pronoun (as in (1)), an attached pronoun (as in (2)–(5)), or as an implicit pronoun (as in (6)–(7)) (cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 419). Again, no reference is made to the relative frequency of each of these cases.


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Sentence (1) is paraphrased by Zamaxšarī as al-šaʾn wa-l-ḥ adīṯ Zaydun munṭaliqun (“the matter [is that] Zayd is leaving”). Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 419) maintains that the clause Zaydun munṭaliqun serves as an exponent (tafsīr) of the pronoun huwa introducing the sentence. It should be observed that sentences like (1) are distinctly rare in both Classical and Modern Standard Arabic. Yet, it is this particular construction by which many grammarians choose to open their discussion of ḍamīr al-šaʾn (see, e.g. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 419). Some grammarians use the famous Qurʾānic verse on which sentence (1) is apparently modeled: huwa llāhu ʾaḥ adun (“God is one”—Qurʾān 112.1). As is well known, the unique structure of this verse gave rise to extensive discussions of its syntax by medieval grammarians and modern writers alike. I will not review the relevant literature here, but it should be noted that the analysis of huwa in this case as ḍamīr al-šaʾn was not universally accepted (see Ibn Yaʿīš’s discussion; and cf. Peled 1990:5–6). Indeed, except for sentence (5), in which ḍamīr al-šaʾn is preceded by ʾinna and followed by a conditional sentence, Zamaxšarī’s examples do not represent the common usage of ḍamīr al-šaʾn in either Classical or Modern Standard Arabic. This applies in particular to kāna Zaydun ḏāhibun (“Zayd was walking”), an example adduced by him to demonstrate the occurrence of ḍamīr al-šaʾn as an implicit pronoun in AUX.40 Sentences such as (2) and (3) exemplify cases where ḍamīr al-šaʾn is attached to a cognitive verb (ẓanantu wa-ʾaxawātuhā), filling the position of the first direct object. The following clause (T2 in (2) and T1 in (3)) fills the position of the second direct object, and is then analyzed internally into subject and predicate. Such sentences are analogous to all other examples in the list, in that ḍamīr al-šaʾn stands in a mubtadaʾxabar relationship to the following clause. Ibn Yaʿīš points out that the ʿawāmil entering into a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction also assign case to ḍamīr al-šaʾn as a kind of mubtadaʾ. Thus, ḍamīr al-šaʾn preceded by ʾinna or ẓanantu is assigned the naṣb case by these elements; otherwise, it is assigned rafʿ either by AUX or by ibtidāʾ.

40 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 744–746), derives kāna Zaydun qāʾimun and kāna yaqūmu Zaydun (see below) from huwa Zaydun qāʾimun and huwa yaqūmu Zaydun— respectively. For further discussion of this construction, see Zajjājī Jumal, 49–50; Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 419–420; and cf. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 414, for similar cases with other auxiliaries. Sentence (6), however, represents a relatively common case, as will be indicated below.

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


Sentences like (6), exemplifying the occurrence of ḍamīr al-šaʾn as an implicit pronoun in an AUX followed by a T1-clause—are not rarely attested. Such constructions as kāna yaqūmu Zaydun (“Zayd used to stand”) appear to be quite common in both Classical and Modern Standard Arabic (cf. 5.6.2 below), and the grammarians regularly analyze them as examples of kāna al-nāqiṣa with an implicit ḍamīr al-šaʾn functioning as ism kāna; yaqūmu Zaydun is then analyzed as a xabar clause further analyzed into fiʿl and fāʿil. Jurjānī (Muqtaṣid I, 420) and Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 116) remark that AUX in such cases cannot be conceived of as “empty” ( fāriġ, i.e. devoid of any implicit subject pronoun—cf. 2.3 above), because that would result in an unacceptable situation where a verb is adjoined to (yadxulu ʿalā), and operates upon (yaʿmalu fī), another verb. For further discussion of this construction, see e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 391–392, 411ff.; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 116; VII, 101; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 745–746; and cf. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 748f., for a detailed discussion of ḍamīr al-šaʾn in laysa constructions. Following Zamaxšarī’s presentation, Ibn Yaʿīš undertakes to explain the essence of ḍamīr al-šaʾn and analyze the above examples. But the important question for our discussion concerns the grammarians’ categorization of sentences displaying ḍamīr al-šaʾn. Right at the beginning of his commentary on Zamaxšarī’s faṣl, Ibn Yaʿīš states: ʾiʿlam ʾannahum ʾiḏā ʾarādū ḏikra jumlatin min al-jumali l-ismiyyati ʾaw-i l-fiʿliyyati fa-qad yuqaddimūna qablahā ḍamīran yakūnu kināyatan ʿan tilka l-jumlati wa-takūnu l-jumlatu xabaran ʿan ḏālika l-ḍamīri wa-tafsīran lahu wa-yuwaḥ ḥ idūna l-ḍamīra li-ʾannahum yurīdūna l-ʾamra wa-l-ḥ adīṯa li-ʾanna kulla jumlatin šaʾnun wa-ḥ adīṯun (“You should know that a pronoun may be preposed to either a nominal or a verbal clause. This pronoun stands for the clause it precedes, and the clause itself functions as xabar as well as an exponent of that pronoun. The pronoun takes the singular form, as it is meant to refer to the matter and the story, for every clause [signals] some matter/story.”—Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 114).

It looks as though Ibn Yaʿīš imposes no specific structural conditions on the use of ḍamīr al-šaʾn. Any sentence or clause may be preceded by this pronoun (cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 419), and there is no indication regarding the structural obligatoriness of ḍamīr al-šaʾn (cf. however above, for ḍamīr al-šaʾn in ʾinna sentences such as (5)). Clearly, ḍamīr al-šaʾn sentences are conceived by the medieval grammarians as a sub-category of the mubtadaʾ-xabar construction, where ḍamīr al-šaʾn fills the position of the mubtadaʾ (or, otherwise, ism ʾinna/kāna or the first object of a cognitive verb), and the following clause functions as


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its xabar (ʾinna/kāna or, otherwise, as the second object of a cognitive verb). The pronominal mubtadaʾ refers in a general way to the “matter” (variously šaʾn, ḥ adīṯ, qiṣsạ ) conveyed by the following xabar clause. That clause thus functions simultaneously as xabar and as an exponent (tafsīr) of the vague (mubham) pronoun41 filling the mubtadaʾ position.42 This explains the occurrence of ḍamīr al-šaʾn invariably in the singular. Occasionally ḍamīr al-šaʾn takes the feminine form, so as to agree with a feminine subject occurring later in the sentence. This is normally exempified by the Qurʾānic sentence ʾinnahā lā taʿmā l-ʾabṣāru (“it is not the eyes that are blind”—Qurʾān 22.46; for further discussion of this particular sentence, see Wittig 1994:330). For further discussion of the gender of ḍamīr al-šaʾn/al-qiṣsạ , see Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 411; Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 116–117; Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 745–746. For the gender agreement of ḍamīr al-šaʾn with a feminine subject in Modern Standard Arabic, see Mohammad 1999:136–137; Wittig 1994:330).43 Describing ḍamīr al-šaʾn as a pronoun occupying the position of a mubtadaʾ/ism kāna etc. and referring to the “matter” described by the following xabar clause, the medieval tradition may be said to consider it as a kind of cataphoric/anticipatory pronoun.44 The coreference 41 Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 118) draws an analogy between the pronoun -hu in rubbahu rajulan (“many a man”), which Zamaxšarī describes as a non-referential (yurmā bihi min ġayri qaṣdin ʾilā muḍmarin lahu) indefinite (nakira) vague (mubham) pronoun, and ḍamīr al-šaʾn which, as a similarly vague pronoun, requires tafsīr. He points out, further, that the two cases differ in the kind of tafsīr involved: while ḍamīr al-šaʾn is expounded by a clause ( jumla), the pronoun attached to rubba is expounded by a single word (mufrad). Note that, unlike rubbahu, ḍamīr al-šaʾn is not presented as a non-referential pronoun. 42 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 755f.) cites an argument by Ibn al-Ṭ arāwa rejecting this analysis on the ground that one cannot assign the function of xabar and tafsīr to one and the same constituent. Whereas tafsīr consists of one semantic element, with the exponent devoid of any additional meaning, ibtidāʾ, so the argument goes, entails two elements, each with its own semantic value. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ’s (Basīṭ II, 756–757) reply is (1) that underlying huwa Zaydun qāʾimun is the basic structure Zaydun qāʾimun, and that the pronoun huwa is only added for emphasis (cf. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 755, n. 3, for the editor’s references), and (2) that huwa Zaydun qāʾimun is modeled on the structure Zaydun ḍarabtuhu (see below). Therefore, Zaydun qāʾimun in the former may be conceived of as analogical to the xabar clause ḍarabtuhu in the latter. 43 Note, however, that in sentence (4) ḍamīr al-šaʾn takes the masculine form despite the feminine subject (ʾamatu llāhi) of the xabar clause. 44 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 679) points to ḍamīr al-šaʾn as one of four cases where a pronoun can be mutaqaddiman lafẓan wa-martabatan, i.e. cataphoric both in surface and underlying structure (for a discussion of the conditions imposed on cataphoric pronouns in medieval Arabic grammatical tradition, see 2.3 above). The other three cases mentioned are (1) the pronoun attached to niʿma/biʾsa, (2) the pronominal suffix

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


between ḍamīr al-šaʾn and the clausal xabar following it obviates, as the grammarians explain, a resumptive pronoun in the xabar, contrary to all other cases where a mubtadaʾ is followed by a clausal xabar (see Ibn Yaʿīš Šarḥ III, 114; and cf. 3.3.1 above). This presents a problem to the Kūfan grammarians rejecting cataphoric pronouns in principle. Ibn Yaʿīš adduces a Kūfan approach to ḍamīr al-šaʾn that is markedly divergent from the one presented above. First he tells us that the Kūfan term for the pronoun under discussion is al-ḍamīr al-majhūl (“non-referential pronoun”), since it is not preceded by any nominal antecedent. Subsequently he indicates that the Kūfan grammarian Farrāʾ admitted such sentences as kāna qāʾiman Zaydun, kāna qāʾiman al-Zaydāni/al-Zaydūna, analyzing qāʾiman as xabar to the non-referential pronoun implicit in kāna, and as rafʿ assigner to the noun following it.45 The Baṣrans rejected this analysis claiming that ḍamīr al-šaʾn is by definition ḍamīr al-jumla, that is, a pronoun referring to a whole clause rather than to a single phrase (mufrad).46 A phrase like qāʾiman, being a mufrad, cannot therefore be assigned the function of xabar to ḍamīr al-šaʾn (see, e.g. Ibn ʿUṣfūr Šarḥ I, 394; and cf. 5.4 above). Regarding the semantic-pragmatic aspects of ḍamīr al-šaʾn, ʾAstarābāḏī states that hāḏā l-ḍamīru ka-ʾannahu rājiʿun fī l-ḥ aqīqati ʾilā l-masʾūli ʿanhu bi-suʾālin muqaddarin taqūlu maṯalan huwa l-ʾamīru muqbilun ka-ʾannahu samiʿa ḍawḍāʾa wa-jalabatan fa-stabhama l-ʾamru fa-saʾala mā l-šaʾnu fa-qīla huwa l-ʾamīru muqbilun ʾay-i l-šaʾnu hāḏā (“This pronoun actually refers, as it were, to what is asked about in an underlying question. For instance, you may say ‘it is the emir approaching’, as if he [i.e. your interlocutor] had heard some noise and clamor and, since the matter was unclear to him, asked: ‘what’s the matter?’, and the answer was huwa l-ʾamīru muqbilun, that is, ‘the matter is this’.”—ʾAstarābāḏī Šarḥ II, 464).

in rubbahu rajulan (cf. n. 41 above), and (3) the anticipatory pronoun in cases such as ḍarabanī wa-ḍarabtu Zaydan (“[Zayd] hit me and I hit Zayd”—where ḍaraba at the beginning of the sentence contains an implicit pronoun referring to Zaydan; and cf. Jurjānī Muqtaṣid I, 419). 45 Note that Farrāʾ’s analysis described here is consistent with the Kūfan position regarding the construction qāʾimun Zaydun (see 4.2 above). 46 But cf. Astarābāḏī (II, 465), for cases where ḍamīr al-šaʾn is followed by a “mufrad” rather than by a clause.


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ʾAstarābāḏī (Šarḥ II, 465) points out, further, that this kind of structure, i.e. an obscure element followed by an exponent, is designed for emphasis and aggrandizement (tafxīm wa-taʿẓīm). The clause following ḍamīr al-šaʾn, he states, must convey a matter of great importance and significance (šayʾan ʿaẓīman yuʿtanā bihi). A sentence such as huwa l-ḏubābu yaṭīru (“it is the flies flying”) is unacceptable. The view that ḍamīr al-šaʾn is restricted to markedly emphatic cases of tafxīm wa-taʿẓīm was shared by many grammarians. Thus, Ibn Yaʿīš (Šarḥ III, 114) presented huwa Zaydun munṭaliqun, ẓanantuhu Zaydun qāʾimun and ʾinnahu ʾamatu llāhi ḏāhibatun as the respective emphatic versions of Zaydun munṭaliqun, ẓanantu Zaydan qāʾiman and ʾamatu llāhi ḏāhibatun. Unlike ʾAstarābāḏī, however, Ibn Yaʿīš did not elaborate this point. It was Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 756) who made an attempt to explain the relationship between ḍ amīr al-šaʾn and this sort of emphasis. He drew an analogy between ḍamīr al-šaʾn sentences and sentences such as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, where Zayd is expressed, for the purpose of emphasis, both as a noun and as a pronoun. In Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabī’s words: [. . .] al-ʾaṣl u Zaydun qāʾimun lākinnahum ʾarādū taʿẓī ma l-xabari wa-taḥ qīqahu fa-ʾaxxarūhu ʾawwalan li-ʾanna l-šayʾa ʾiḏā ʾarādū taʿẓīmahu ʾaxxarūhu wa-tāratan yubhimūnahu wa-tāratan yuʿarrifūnahu wa-lṯalāṯatu tarjiʿu ʾilā šayʾin wāḥ idin fa-qālū huwa wa-huwa ʾiḍmārun lil-xabari llaḏī yuʿẓzị mūnahu wa-yurīdūna l-ʾiʿlāma bi-taḥ qīqihi ṯumma fassarūhu fa-qālū Zaydun qāʾimun fa-ṣāra qawluka huwa Zaydun qāʾimun bi-manzilati qawlika Zaydun ḍarabtuhu [. . .] (“[. . .] The basic structure is Zaydun qāʾimun. But they wanted to emphasize the statement47 and confirm [its validity]. So first they postposed it, for if they want to emphasize something they postpose it. Sometimes they make it vague and sometimes they make it definite. All three are designed for the same thing. So they said huwa, which is a pronominalized version of the statement they emphasized and wanted to announce its validity. Then they expounded it by saying Zaydun qāʾimun. This is how the sentence huwa Zaydun qāʾimun acquired the same status as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu [. . .]”—Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ Basīṭ II, 756).

In other words, huwa Zaydun qāʾimun results from preposing huwa to Zaydun qāʾimun, much as Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is the result of preposing Zaydun to ḍarabtuhu (the latter being a shorter version of ḍarabtu

47 Judging by the context, xabar is intended here in the sense of “statement” rather than as “predicate”.

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


Zaydan). In both cases, the preposing of an element to a statement is designed to emphasize it and confirm its validity. Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 756) claims, however, that unlike ḍarabtuhu in Zaydun ḍarabtuhu, the clause Zaydun qāʾimun in huwa Zaydun qāʾimun is only analogous (mušabbaha) to a xabar; its real function is tafsīr. 5.6.2 Modern approaches to ḍamīr al-šaʾn As we have seen, the medieval grammarians by and large present ḍamīr al-šaʾn as an optional emphatic device, and only seldom as an (obligatory) “dummy” attached in certain cases to ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā. By contrast, modern grammars of Arabic typically associate ḍamīr al-šaʾn with ʾinna (and “sisters”) sentences, where this pronoun is structurally obligatory. This is justifiable by the fact that ḍamīr al-šaʾn in both Classical and Modern Standard Arabic is attested by and large in ʾinna (and “sisters”) sentences.48 Bloch (1990:30–31) rightly rejects Reckendorf’s (1921:375–376) claim that ḍamīr al-šaʾn is an “isolated” subject anticipating a clause or a phrase (see, however, Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabī’s view, 5.6.1 above). The evidence from both Classical and Modern Arabic leaves no doubt that ḍamīr al-šaʾn is employed first and foremost as a formatting device designed to recast a sentence introduced by ʾinna etc. into a pattern that conforms to the rules of this particular class of particles. As we have seen, ʾinna and “sisters” introduce a topic-comment construction grammaticalized as either a T2- or a T3-sentence/clause. This means that a sentence such as man yaʾtinā naʾtihi (cf. example (5) in 5.6.1 above), being a conditional sentence, cannot be introduced by ʾinna. As an ʾinna sentence it must display a T2-pattern, and this is where ḍamīr al-šaʾn comes into the picture. Affixing this pronoun to ʾinna lends the sentence the format of a T2-sentence with ḍamīr al-šaʾn occupying the position designed for S2 (cf. Khan 1988:57). On the whole, ḍamīr al-šaʾn in Modern Written Arabic is mainly attested in the following constructions (cf. Wittig 1994:326ff.):


Note that, apart from sentence (5), all Zamaxšarī’s examples cited in 5.6.1 above are rarely attested both in classical and modern Arabic texts. Sentence (4) is introduced by ʾinna, but ḍamīr al-šaʾn is not structurally obligatory, since it is followed by a T2-construction.


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1. T1-sentences, very often with an adjunct preceding the verb. In most cases the verb is unaccusative, such as tamma, yūjadu, yajibu, yumkinu. This is consistent with the fact that the VS-order is normally obligatory with verbs of this kind (for a discussion of unaccusative verbs in Arabic, see Peled 2004): lā šakka ʾannahu tūjadu fiʾātun kabīratun min al-nāsi (“no doubt there are large groups of people”—Šāmiyya (1965:113). 2. T3-sentences. (ḍamīr al-šaʾn in these cases is often followed by AUX, or, otherwise, by an adjunct followed by AUX). S3 is typically a verbal noun or, otherwise, a noun clause: naḥ nu wāṯiqūna ʾannahu bi-ʾimkāninā l-wuṣūlu bi-šaʿbinā ʾilā l-mustawā . . . (“we are certain that it is in our power to bring our nation to the level . . .”—Šāmiyya (1965:84).49 3. AUX-T2-sentences, typically with an adjunct preceding AUX: wa-lmaʿrūfu ʾannahu ḥ attā waqtin qarībin kānat Rūsiyā taḥ su ̣ lu ʿalā l-luḥ ūmi l-ʾūrubiyyati (“it is known that, until recently, Russia used to import meat from Europe”—al-Muṣawwar, Cairo, 7/2/97, 15). 4. Conditional sentences: ʾinnahu ʾiḏā kāna min al-sahli taṣdīqu mā qālathu [. . .]fa-ʾinnahu min al-ṣaʿbi taṣawwuru ʾannahā [. . .] (“if it is easy to believe what she said [. . .] it is difficult to imagine that she [. . .]”—al-Muṣawwar, Cairo, 14/2/97, 27). 5. Sentences introduced by lā l-nāfiya li-l-jins: fa-l-ṯābitu ʾannahu lā badīla minhu (“clearly, there is no alternative to it”—al-Ḥ ayāt (1996), London, 18/7/96, 17). A T1-clause where the verb is preceded by an adjunct may be introduced by ʾinna etc., without ḍamīr al-šaʾn. The following sentences are cited by Mohammad (1999:59): qāla ʿAliyyun ʾinna fī Baġdād ḥ aṣala l-i-ttifāqu (“ʿAli said that the agreement took place in Baghdad”) and ḥ asiba ʿAliyyun ʾanna fī Baghdad nāma l-zaʿīmu (“Ali thought that the leader slept in Baghdad”). Indeed, such sentences were admitted already by the medieval grammarians, as indicated in 5.4 and 5.6.1 above. But as we saw, the grammarians presented such cases as examples of ḍamīr al-šaʾn deletion. Modern writers do not seem to suppose an underlying ḍamīr al-šaʾn in such cases. 49

Observe that also here, much like in 1, we typically deal with cases of unaccusativity. The T3-constructions involved typically display such prepositional phrases as min al-mumkin and min al-muḥ tamal which are respectively substitutable by yumkinu and yuḥ tamalu. For further discussion, see Peled 2004:126–129.

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


Thus, from a strictly formal point of view, ḍamīr al-šaʾn sentences must be categorized, if one agrees with the medieval grammarians, as T2-sentences, with ḍamīr al-šaʾn occupying an S2-position. However, the medieval view that ḍamīr al-šaʾn functions as a mubtadaʾ referring cataphorically to the “matter” or to the sentence as a whole stems from the fact that the grammarians, familiar as they were with the concept of a non-referential pronoun (cf. n. 41 above), found it difficult to ascribe non-referentiality to a pronoun occupying the position of a mubtadaʾ/ ism ʾinna etc. Indeed, since ʾinna and “sisters” were viewed as ʿawāmil assigning naṣb to the subject and raf ʿ to the predicate, considering ḍamīr al-šaʾn as non-subject would be a violation of a major principle of ʿamal. However, for a modern linguist, non-referential pronouns in topic position are a well-known grammatical phenomenon (e.g. it in it’s raining, and cf. Bloch’s [1990:33] examples from German). Non-referential pronouns in both Classical and Modern Standard Arabic are dealt with extensively in Peled 1990 (cf. also, Wittig 1994:326; Mohammad 1999:91) and will not be reviewed here.50 It would, however, be worthwhile to remark that ḍamīr al-šaʾn implements a function similar to that of ʾinnamā51 and ʾin/ʾan al-muxaffafa, in that it facilitates the transference from one pattern to another. Similarly we find in Classical Arabic cases such as ẓanantu la-taxrujanna (“I thought you would set out”), where instead of a T2-ʾanna-clause, ẓanantu takes a T1-complement with the particle la- prefixed to the verb. The point that is being made here is that a modern linguist uncommitted to medieval Arabic grammatical theory can only be expected to view ḍamīr al-šaʾn as a non-referential pronoun. This applies first and foremost to ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā sentences, by far the most common structure displaying ḍamīr al-šaʾn. But as a non-referential pronoun it can hardly implement the function of an S2 representing the “given” (as opposed to P2 representing the “new”). In other words, a sentence such as ʾinnahā lā taʿmā l-ʾabṣāru (5.6.1 above) should be categorized as a T1-sentence. To categorize it as a T2-sentence, just because lā

50 For the view that ḍamīr al-šaʾn constructions result from a kind of contamination, see Cantarino 1975, II:430, n. 79. 51 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ (Basīṭ II, 758) cites the grammarian Ibn al-Ṭ arāwa as arguing that ḍamīr al-šaʾn and mā l-kāffa (in ʾinnamā) both implement the function of barriers to the ʿamal of ʾinna. He rejects, however, the analogy, claiming that as barriers to ʿamal Arabic employs particles, not nouns.


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taʿmā is preceded by a pronoun, would, in my view, be incompatible with the definition of T2-sentences, and therefore unjustified. Likewise, ʾinnahu min al-muḥ tamali ʾan yaṣila Zaydun ġadan (“Zayd is expected to arrive tomorrow”) should be regarded as a T3-sentence. By the same token, the analysis of ʾinnahu ʾamatu llāhi ḏāhibatun (5.6.1 above) as a T2-sentence is based on the structure of ʾamatu llāhi ḏāhibatun, without regard to the non-referential ḍamīr al-šaʾn attached to ʾinna. As we saw in 5.6.1, the structure kāna yaktubu l-waladu was viewed by the grammarians as an extended jumla ismiyya, with kāna containing ḍamīr al-šaʾn functioning as ism kāna to the following clausal xabar kāna. Modern writers normally treat these cases as inverted kāna sentences. Carter (2002:90) notes that this kind of inversion is typical in cases where the subject is generic. He cites the sentence jaʿala yataxallafu l-rajulu, occurring in Ibn Hišām’s Sīra, and rightly points out that the author’s use of this word order rather than the more common jaʿala l-rajulu yataxallafu is designed to convey the meaning “men started to drop out”, i.e. with al-rajulu interpreted generically. The latter version, in contrast, would lead to a specific interpretation of the subject: “the man started to drop out”, i.e. with al-rajulu referring to a known, previously mentioned individual. There is evidence in both Classical and Modern Written Arabic to support Carter’s argument concerning the difference between these two constructions. But is kāna yaktubu l-waladu really a case of “inversion”? Clearly, the occurrence of the verb before its subject invites a jumla fiʿliyya interpretation. But the medieval grammarians strove to apply to this kind of sentence the basic rule of kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā stipulating that these verbs when acting as auxiliaries require a nominative ism and an accusative xabar. For them, therefore, analyzing the above sentence as a jumla fiʿliyya introduced by a past-time marker would be inconsistent with the theory of ʿamal. For under this kind of analysis the verb kāna is neutralized, in the sense that it does not act upon any of the constituents following it, but is rather adjoined to another verb (cf. 5.6.1 above). However, from a modern linguistic viewpoint, uncommitted to the medieval tradition, it seems that such sentences would be best analyzed as an extended version of T1-sentences, rather than as inverted T2-sentences. And this, in turn, obviates the invoking of ḍamīr al-šaʾn in such cases. The pragmatic aspects of ḍamīr al-šaʾn in sentences introduced by ʾinna wa-ʾaxawātuhā are dealt with by Wittig (1994:326–330). She rejects (p. 322) the grammarians’ claim that ḍamīr al-šaʾn is designed to lend

extended versions of type-2 and type-3 sentences


emphasis to the sentence. Her main argument (pp. 326f.) is that the position after ʾinna is only available for the topic or the marked focus of the sentence. Hence, ḍamīr al-šaʾn is obligatory in cases where the subject functions as an unmarked information focus (as opposed to contrastive focus), and as such cannot occur in the position immediately following ʾinna: ʾawqafa l-ʿamala li-ʾannahu ẓaharat baʿḍu l-ṣuʿūbāti (“he stopped the work beacause there occurred some difficulties”). 5.7


In medieval Arabic grammatical theory, ʾinna, kāna and their “sisters” are conceived of as ʿawāmil entering into a mubtadaʾ-xabar construction. In so doing they annul the ʿamal of the ibtidāʾ, assigning naṣb to the subject and raf ʿ to the predicate in the case of ʾinna, and the reverse in the case of kāna. We may say that from the viewpoint of the medieval grammatical theory, as well as from a modern linguistic outlook, ʾinna and kāna sentences may be regarded as extended T2and T3-sentences. The differences in structure between ʾinna and kāna sentences stem first and foremost from the fact that while ʾinna and “sisters” are particles, kāna and “sisters” are verbs. Yet the verbal status of kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā was put to the question, notably by some of the later grammarians. Zajjājī, as we saw, went as far as labeling them ḥ urūf (particles). The mainstream position was that kāna wa-ʾaxawātuhā should be viewed as a special category of verbs. They were shown to be lexically deficient (nāqiṣa), i.e. verbs not conveying an action. And it was argued that their verbal status could explain the flexible order of their nominative ism and accusative xabar, as opposed to the strict order of the accusative ism and nominative xabar in ʾinna sentences. The issue of word order in ʾinna sentences was taken up also by some modern writers. We concentrated on the views of Mohammad (1999) and Kouloughli (2002), the latter challenging the grammarians’ rule that ʾinna and “sisters” assign the naṣb case exclusively to the subject. While we agree with Kouloughli that ʾinna assigns the accusative to the first noun phrase it “encounters”, one cannot ignore the fact that cases of ʾinna sentences with a predicate noun phrase preceding the subject are distinctly marginal if not dubious. Ḍ amīr al-šaʾn is presented by the grammarians as a pronoun preceding either a jumla fiʿliyya or a jumla ismiyya. It implements the function of mubtadaʾ to the following jumla and refers to it. The clause


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following ḍamīr al-šaʾn is analyzed, in turn, as xabar to ḍamīr al-šaʾn, as well as an exponent of it. Modern writers, in contrast, tend to view ḍamīr al-šaʾn as a non-referential pronoun. We argued that though this pronoun occupies an S2-position, this does not necessitate the categorization of ʾinna sentences displaying ḍamīr al-šaʾn as T2-sentences. Since ḍamīr al-šaʾn is a non-referential grammatical device, the type of the sentence as a whole should be determined by the type of the clause following it.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS There can be no doubt that the medieval Arab grammarians, as shown by Goldenberg (1988), had a concept of predication; they fully recognized the basic subject-predicate relationship, irrespective of sentence types. But it is equally clear that they viewed this relationship as realized in two (or three) different forms based on two (or three) modes of ʿamal. It was only in a relatively late period that these modes of ʿamal started to be explicitly referred to as sentence types. Within their discussion of each sentence type, the grammarians pointed to the available word-order patterns. Thus, for the fiʿl+fāʿil type ( jumla fiʿliyya), based on the ʿamal of the verb, they admitted, apart from the basic pattern VSO, the two secondary variations VOS and OVS, each implementing a certain pragmatic function based on the principle of al-ʿināya wa-l-ihtimām. As for the mubtadaʾ+xabar type (jumla ismiyya), based on the ʿamal of the ibtidāʾ, they recognized that the xabar might be realized either as a nominal or as an adverbial/prepositional phrase, or otherwise, as a clause. This made the question of inversion in this case much more complex, particularly in cases where the xabar was a participle or an adverbial/prepositional phrase. The grammarians ran into difficulties trying to fit these cases into their theory of ʿamal. For many grammarians, qāʾimun Zaydun and fīhā Zaydun were regarded as the inverted versions of Zaydun qāʾimun and Zaydun fīhā, respectively, that is, as a jumla ismiyya displaying a xabar-mubtadaʾ order. Others, however, opted for analyzing qāʾimun Zaydun into a mubtadaʾ followed by a fāʿil sadda masadd al-xabar, with characteristics of both jumla fiʿliyya and jumla ismiyya. Cases like fīhā Zaydun gave rise to an attempt to extend the theory of ʿamal by recognizing fīhā as an ʿāmil assigning the rafʿ case to Zaydun. For the proponents of this analysis the structure fīhā Zaydun represented a sentence type in its own right (jumla ẓarfiyya). Yet the vast majority of grammarians never accepted this kind of extension of the theory of ʿamal. They insisted on categorizing fīhā Zaydun as jumla ismiyya, explaining the rafʿ case of Zaydun (and the naṣb of fīhā) by an underlying verb or participle (the istaqarra/mustaqirrun hypothesis). The concept of jumla ẓarfiyya thus remained marginal in medieval Arabic grammatical theory. From a modern linguistic


summary and conclusions

viewpoint, however, it looks as though one would be fully justified in categorizing sentences consisting of a predicative adverbial/prepositional phrase followed by a subject nominal (particularly when the latter is indefinite) as representing a sentence type in its own right. On the whole, the medieval grammarians treated sentences such as (1) Zaydun munṭaliqun, (2) Zaydun yanṭaliqu and (3) Zaydun yanṭaliqu ʾabпhu as representing two sub-types of jumla ismiyya: (1) was presented as a jumla ismiyya displaying a phrasal (mufrad) xabar, whereas each of (2) and (3) was viewed as a jumla ismiyya displaying a clausal ( jumla) xabar. As we saw in Chapter Five, the principle of ibtidāʾ, underlying the jumla ismiyya in its various forms, was applied by the grammarians also to structures introduced by ʾinna, kāna and ẓanna (and their respective “sisters”). As for the options of inversion in T2-sentences, the vast majority of grammarians never accepted yanṭaliqu Zaydun as an inverted jumla ismiyya, or Zaydun yanṭaliqu as an inverted jumla fiʿliyya. We have seen that the latter position was outrightly rejected by some modern writers. For a linguist working within the Greenbergian paradigm, ḍaraba ʿAbdu-llāhi Zaydan and ʿAbdu-llāhi ḍaraba Zaydan represent two word-order patterns (VSO and SVO respectively) rather than two sentence types. (As we have seen, some do not draw any clear-cut distinction between sentence types and word-order patterns.) And Zaydun ḍarabtuhu is by and large viewed as a case of topicalization/ extraposition/left dislocation. We noted some cases where the latter structure was described in the medieval literature in terms of movement transformation. But the vast majority of grammarians viewed Zaydun ḍarabtuhu as analogous to Zaydun munṭaliqun rather than as the result of some transformational rule applied to ḍarabtu Zaydan. Likewise, the concept of SV(O) has been shown to be inconsistent with the grammarians’ analysis and, indeed, inapplicable to the structure of Written Arabic. In contrast to V in SV(O), in ʿAbdu-llāhi qāma, qāma was analyzed, as a clause, into fiʿl+fāʿil; it was never viewed as an “empty” verb. As was indicated, the analysis of such sentences into S2+P2clause, rather than as SV cases (in the Greenbergian sense), obviates the awkward argument that Arabic shows full grammatical agreement between subject and predicate in SV cases, but not in VS cases (representing, in the Greenbergian paradigm, just the reverse order of SV).

summary and conclusions


Throughout this book we presented the grammarians’ treatment of various functional issues relating to each sentence type or word-order pattern. However, as we have seen, a far more significant contribution to the study of the semantic and pragmatic aspects relating to the structures in question has been made by modern scholars examining the relevant structures in context, showing deep interest in speech situation and text analysis.

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INDEX ʾa-, 33, 143 n. 12, 144, 145, 162, 172, 173, 178, 183 n. 57, 201 ʿAbd al-Laṭīf, M. H., 10, 11, 180, 230 ʿAbdo, D., 38, 50, 97, 99, 100, 109, 230 Abdul-Raof, H., 28, 30, 37 n. 29, 41, 72 n. 20, 87, 118, 190 n. 6, 230 accusative, 18, 67, 120, 131, 148, 174 n. 51, 182, 189 n. 3, 191–193, 196 n. 13, 198, 200, 202, 207, 209, 211, 222, 223. See also naṣb addressee, 11, 22–25, 40, 41, 49, 74, 77, 78, 81, 87, 102, 112, 113, 124, 147, 165, 203. See also muxāṭab ʿāʾid, 234 adjunct, 52 n. 6, 69 n. 12, 178, 220 adverbial. See ẓarf adverbial/prepositional phrase, 100, 137 140, 141, 148, 152, 154, 155, 159, 160, 164, 165, 167, 168, 172, 173, 177–182, 184, 213, 225, 226 ʾafʿāl ḥaqīqiyya, 197 ʿibāra, 197 lafẓiyya, 197 muʾat̠t̠ira, 191 nāqiṣa, 171, 190 n. 5, 193, 196–202, 215, 223. See also verbs/auxiliary (AUX) al-qulūb, 191, 196. See also ẓanantu (and “sisters”) ṣiḥāḥ, 196 n. 13 agent, 27, 41, 50 n. 4, 105, 107 n. 34, 108, 110, 230 Agius, D. A., 52 n. 6, 230 agreement, 4, 51 n. 5, 70, 72, 92 n. 15, 93 n. 15, 95, 99, 101–103, 105–108, 130 n. 58, 134, 135, 141, 142 n. 7, 182, 204 n. 26, 205, 216, 226, 233 ʿamal (theory of ), xi, xii, 4–6, 9–11, 18, 31, 44, 46, 66, 71, 88 n. 7, 93 n. 15, 95, 120, 129, 137, 138, 140, 141, 144 n. 13, 148 n. 16, 150, 155, 157, 159, 164, 169 n. 47, 173–175, 178, 179, 183–185, 188, 189 n. 2, 191–193 n. 8, 199, 200, 205–207, 209 n. 35, 213, 215, 221–223, 225, 234 ambiguity, 73, 99, 130, 133, 160 n. 34, 161 n. 34, 164 n. 41, 193

ʿāmil, pl. ʿawāmil, xi, 5–7, 9, 10, 16, 18, 57, 71, 72, 87, 88 n. 7, 95, 119, 122, 123, 127, 137, 139, 140, 150–154, 158, 160, 162, 167, 168, 171–175, 177–179, 184, 188, 189, 192, 196, 199, 203 n. 24, 205 n. 29, 207 n. 32, 209 n. 35, 212–214, 221, 223, 225, 233 lafẓī, 6, 127, 153, 187, 189, 209 n. 35 maʿnawī, 6, 123, 153, 189 ʾammā . . . fa-, 26, 113, 114 n. 38, 164 n. 41 anacoluthon, 89 n. 8 Anshen, F. & Schreiber, P. A., 37, 89 n. 8, 97, 107, 230 apodosis, 13, 26, 27, 85, 96, 126. See also jawāb, jazāʾ apposition, 69 n. 14, 128, 130–132, 161 n. 34, 176. See also badal Arabic Classical, 20, 36, 42, 81, 96 n. 20, 143, 164 n. 40, 211, 213–215, 219, 221, 222, 231–233 Egyptian, 132 n. 64, 133 n. 66 Jordanian, 36, 232 Middle, 116 Modern Standard, 3, 37, 42, 52, 53, 78 n. 26, 81 n. 28, 98 n. 23, 104 n. 31, 106, 109, 116, 119, 122, 132, 134, 164, 212–216, 219, 221, 230 Spoken, 36, 37, 41, 52, 231 Written, 4, 30, 36, 37, 41, 42 n. 37, 45, 49, 52, 80, 82, 98 n. 23, 104 n. 31, 108, 116, 132, 135, 203 n. 23, 219, 222, 226, 231, 233, 234 Arabists, xi, xii, 1, 3, 4, 20, 28 n. 21, 30, 35, 37, 50, 81, 97, 105, 112, 113 Aristotelian logicians, 39 Arnold, J. E. et al., 40, 41, 230 ʾaṣl, 14, 15 n. 11, 22 n. 18, 24, 30, 38, 53–62, 64, 65, 75, 76, 86 n. 4, 90, 91, 93, 94 n. 17, 139, 157, 160–162, 166, 191 n. 7, 199, 218, 230 marfūḍ, 57, 92, 161 mustamirr, 65 ʾAstarābād̠ī, 29, 71, 74, 94, 121, 123–126, 143, 148, 153–155 n. 27, 159–164, 168, 170, 191, 195–198 n. 16, 202, 203, 213, 217, 218, 229



attribute/attribut, 34 35, 115, 127, 128, 132, 160, 163, 164, 190 n. 5 ʾAxfaš, 141 n. 6, 142 n. 11, 145, 146, 158, 159, 167, 168, 173–175, 209 n. 35 Ayoub, G. & Bohas, G., 34 n. 28, 38–40, 44, 49, 51, 54, 56, 98, 101, 107, 120, 122, 230 Baalbaki, R., 53–55, 57, 58, 203, 230 badal, 128, 130, 131 n. 63, 161 n. 34, 176. See also apposition Badawi, El-S. M., 33, 43, 44, 147 n. 15, 209, 210, 230, 231 Badawi El-S. et al., 49, 81 n. 28, 105, 106, 108, 113, 116, 134, 231 Bahloul, M., 212, 231 Bakir, M. J., 2, 37, 39, 49–51, 56, 81 n. 29, 89, 98, 102, 111, 118, 183, 231 Baṣran(s), xii, 127, 129 n. 58, 130 n. 58, 150 n. 18, 153, 167, 168, 206, 217 Baṭalyūsī, 16–18, 29, 62, 68, 73, 74, 77, 78 n. 27, 84 n. 1, 85 n. 3, 119 n. 44, 190, 196 n. 13, 200, 201, 203, 204, 207, 208, 229 Bayḍāwī, 79, 229 Beeston, A. F. L., 28, 181, 231 Behaghel, O., 41 Benveniste, E., 30, 231 bināʾ, 8, 9, n. 6, 70, 79. See also mabnī (ʿalayhi) Blachère, R., 30, 34, 35, 38, 39, 44, 46, 231 Bloch, A. A., 46 n. 38, 219, 221, 231 Bohas, G. et al., 57, 231 Brockelmann, C., 33–35, 39, 44, 46, 69 n. 14, 231 Brown, G. & Yule, G., 40, 231 Brustad, K. E., 2, 36, 37, 42 n. 34, 101 n. 27, 174 n. 51, 231 Cantarino, V., 33, 89 n. 8, 133, 212, 221 n. 50, 231 Carter, M. G., 21, 85 n. 2, 91 n. 13, 105, 107 n. 34, 126, 143, 148 n. 16, 153, 202 n. 22, 222, 231 case assignment, 6, 66, 87, 88, 122, 123, 141, 150, 152, 154, 159, 174, 184, 185, 188, 192, 199, 214 ending, 5, 6, 73, 76, 130 n. 59, 153, 181, 187, 209, 210 inflection, 88, 102. See also inflection markers, 43, 210 marking, 4, 16, 43, 66, 67, 70, 97, 167

cataphora, 56, 60–64, 74, 75, 78 n. 27, 121, 139, 142 n. 9, 163, 168, 203, 216, 217, 221, 234 Cayuga (a native American language), 117 Chomsky, N., xi, 1, n. 1, 37, 39, 43, 51 n. 5, 55–57, 62, 65, 82, 97, 210 n. 37 circumstantial. See ḥāl Classical philology. See Philologists clause ʾan(na), 164, 211, 212 n. 38, 221 conditional. See conditionals coordinated. See coordination embedded, 4, 34, 46, 50, 111 n. 35 equative, 211 n. 38 ʾid̠ā. See ʾid̠ā mubtadaʾ, 164 nominal, 13, 86 n. 4, 176, 209, 213, 215 noun, 163, 164, 179, 220 predicate/xabar, 108, 111, 129, 131 n. 62, 215, 216 relative, 103, 139, 140, 180 subject, 142 n. 8 verbal, 13, 33, 86 n. 4, 96, 103, 104, 108, 154, 176, 209, 213, 215 clefting, 105, 114 n. 38 clitics, 99, 103 Cohen, D., 35, 38, 46, 69 n. 14, 104, 231 comment, 2, 23, 25, 27, 45, 98, 99, 102, 105, 106, 112, 180–183, 219 COMP, 44, 52 n. 6, 183 comparative, 128 n. 53 Comrie, B., 2, 50 n. 4, 231 conditionals, 13, 25–27, 73, 74, 85, 86 n. 4, 96, 98 n. 24, 103, 126, 170, 213, 214, 219, 220, 232 conjunction, 103 contamination, 121, 221 n. 50 coordination, 103, 176 copula, 32, 126, 131–133, 135, 183, 185, 202 n. 22, 212, 231. See also ḍamīr al-faṣl, rābiṭa Dahlgren, S.-O., 2, 42, 43, 52, 71, 78–82, 112, 117 n. 41, 119, 231, 232 ḍamīr, 70 n. 17, 89, 90, 92, 173, 215, 217 al-faṣl, 46, 126–135, 182, 202 n. 22. See also copula, rābiṭa majhūl, 217 munfaṣil. See pronoun/separate al-ša’n, 46, 91 n. 12, 126, 144, 188,

index 196 n. 13, 198 n. 16, 204, 212–224, 231, 235 declarative, 2, 3, 15, 17 n. 15, 36, 91, 160, 161, 183, 187 n. 1, 190 deep structure, 56, 57, 62, 64, 65, 100 definite (article). See definiteness definiteness, 22–24, 40 n. 31, 43, 45, 54, 76–81, 87, 112–118, 125, 127–129 n. 57, 132, 133, 135, 137, 138, 152, 159–161, 164–167, 179, 181 n. 56, 195, 202, 203, 212, 216 n. 41, 218, 226. See also maʿrifa, nakira deletion, 13, 14, 54, 68, 83, 119, 148, 153–155, 172, 173, 175, 176, 178, 180, 183, 213, 220. See also ḥad̠f dialects, 3, 21, 36, 42, 81, 132 n. 64, 174 n. 51, 231 diglossia, 41 discourse, 3, 21, 32 n. 26, 40–42, 49 n. 3, 52, 80, 81, 109, 112, 113, 118, 230–233 displacement transformational rules, 38, 49 Doron, E., 105 n. 32, 106, 118 n. 43, 232 Driver, S. R., 131 n. 62, 232 Eid, M., 132 n. 64, 133, 232 El-Yasin, M. K., 36, 49, 232 elative, 164 n. 40 emphasis, 41, 49, 50, 99, 115, 127–132, 211, 212, 216 n. 42, 218, 219, 223 end-focus principle, 41 end-weight principle, 40, 41, 81, 82, 183, 212 English, 3, 25, 29, 88, 106, 109, 110, 131, 132, 180 n. 54, 230, 231 exceptive, 75, 125, 163 exclamation, 3, 13, 160 n. 34 exclamative. See exclamation extra-linguistic, 29 extraposition. See topicalization fa-, 25, 26, 126 faḍla, 69 fāʾida, 11, 14, 15 n. 11, 22–25, 91, 115, 123 n. 49, 124, 147, 167, 195 n. 11, 197 n. 15 fāʿil, 5, 6, 11–13, 15–20, 27–29, 35, 38, 39, 45, 54 n. 8, 55, 57, 59–63, 65–73, 75, 79, 84–86 n. 4, 93, 95, 99 n. 25, 100, 107 n. 34, 111, 112, 120, 122, 123, 135, 138, 140, 142, 143, 145–147, 151, 158, 159, 168–170, 172–174,


176–178, 180, 184, 192, 194, 199, 203, 206–209 n. 35, 215, 225, 226 fāʿiliyya. See fā‘il falsifiability, 23, 24 farʿ, 30, 31, 54–56, 59, 62, 63, 65, 73, 93, 139, 205 n. 28 Fārisī (ʾAbū ʿAlī), 12–17 n. 16, 26, 62, 72, 78, 85, 94, 96, 155–160, 164, 169, 173, 183, 184, 193, 229 Farrāʾ, 10–12, 68 n. 12, 88 n. 6, 119 n. 45, 167 n. 45, 206, 217, 229, 232 Fassi Fehri, A., 49, 50, 74, 232 fi‘l, 5, 6, 11–13, 15–20, 38, 54 n. 8, 60, 66–71, 84, 86, 89, 90, 92, 93, 95, 99 n. 25, 100, 111, 112, 120, 122, 123, 139, 142, 145, 146, 154 n. 25, 169, 173, 187 n. 1, 197, 199, 206–208, 213, 215, 225, 226, 233 focus transformation. See focus(sing) focus(sing), 37, 41, 44, 49, 60, 77, 79, 81, 82, 89 n. 8, 97, 98, 116–118, 120, 135, 211, 223, 230, 232 fronting, 7, 15, 28, 73, 79, 103, 105, 114 n. 38, 116–118, 121, 123 n. 49, 141, 152, 159–165, 167, 168, 175, 176 generative-transformational theory, xi, 1, 37, 38, 40, 49, 51, 56, 57, 62, 64, 98, 101, 105 n. 32, 106, 183 generic, 26 n. 20, 113 n. 37 genitive, 32, 33, 74 n. 24, 97 genitive construct, 164 n. 40 German, 3, 102, 131, 221 given-new (principle), 2, 19, 27, 28, 40, 41, 77, 79–82, 87, 98, 104, 112, 116–120, 124, 135, 160, 165, 167, 183, 202, 212, 221 Givón, T., 51, 52, 80, 117, 232 Goldenberg, G., 5, 11, 12, 16, 17, 35, 68, 84, 85 n. 2, 91, 92 n. 15, 104, 107, 122, 141, 142, 154 n. 25, 165 n. 43, 166, 169 n. 47, 170, 208, 209 n. 34, 225, 232 Government and Binding, 111 n. 36 grammatical relation, 27, 29 Greenberg, J. H., xii, 1–3, 31, 32, 35–37, 40, 43–46, 53, 87, 97, 103, 104, 107, 135, 179, 211, 212, 226, 232 ḥadat̠, 147, 197–200 ḥadd (al-lafẓ), 57, 60, 72, 121, 138 ḥad̠f, 56, 153, 172, 173, 176. See also deletion ḥadīt̠ (muḥaddat̠), 16, 17, 154, 165 n. 43



Haiman, J., 25, 232 ḥāl, 148–150, 157, 159, 190 n. 5 ḥarf pl. ḥurūf/ʾaḥruf, 14, 58, 68, 70, 127, 129, 156 n. 29, 200–202 n. 22, 213, 223 jāmid, 205 taʿrīf, See definiteness al-Ḥ ayāt, 220, 229 hearer. See addressee, muxāṭab Hebrew, 131 n. 62 Holes, C., 41, 42, 44, 52, 65, 78 n. 26, 80–82, 105, 107, 108, 113, 114, 164, 183, 211, 212, 232 Hua (a Papuan language), 25 Ibn ʾAbī l-Rabīʿ, 58, 59, 64, 75, 87, 91, 92 n. 14, 94 n. 17, 119 n. 44, 123, 125, 138 n. 1, 141 n. 5, 142 n. 7, 145, 155, 159, 160, 162, 163, 165, 166, 181, 188, 190, 195–200, 203–205 n. 29, 207–209 n. 35, 214–216, 218, 219, 221 n. 51, 229 Ibn al-ʾAnbārī, 6, 13, 61, 66, 70–72, 119 n. 45, 121, 129, 139–141, 150 n. 18, 153–155, 167, 168, 189 n. 2, 192, 197, 200 n. 19, 203, 205 n. 28, 229 Ibn ʿAqīl, 143, 188, 229 Ibn al-Ḥ ājib, 159, n. 33 Ibn Hišām (al-ʾAnṣārī), 11, 15, 16, 26, 96 n. 19, 128 n. 54, 130 nn. 58, 61, 146, 167, 169–172, 174–178, 180, 183–185, 190–192, 195 n. 11, 202, 205, 229 Ibn Jinnī, 13, 62–64, 115, 139 n. 2, 154, 155 n. 27, 161, 170, 229 Ibn al-Sarrāj, 12, 16, 17, 19, 22–26, 29, 60, 70, 71, 83–86, 92, 94, 111 n. 35, 114, 122, 124, 140–142, 153, 154, 156 n. 29, 158 n. 32, 189 n. 2, 205, 206, 211, 229 Ibn al-Ṭ arāwa, 216 n. 42, 221 n. 51 Ibn ʿUṣfūr, 25, 59, 70, 72, 85 n. 2, 88, 91, 94, 95, 115, 124, 126, 128, 130 n. 61, 131 n. 63, 142 n. 11, 147, 148, 153–155, 158 n. 32, 160, 163, 164 n. 40, 168 n. 46, 189–191 n. 7, 193 n. 8, 195 n. 11, 196 n. 13, 198, 200–205 nn. 28, 29, 214–217, 229 Ibn al-Warrāq, 29, 50, 95, 121, 152, 196 n. 13, 205, 206 n. 29, 229 Ibn Yaʿīš, 7, 14, 15, 19, 22–26, 30, 54 n. 8, 60, 61, 66, 68–71, 85, 86, 88, 94, 96, 111 n. 35, 112, 119 n. 45, 120, 122, 123 n. 49, 127–130, 142, 145–147,

160, 164, 165, 181, 190–193, 195–197, 199–201 n. 20, 203, 212, 214–218, 229 Ibn Yaʿīš al-Ṣanʿānī, 70 n. 17, 230 ibtidāʾ, 6–11, 13, 17 n. 16, 19, 28, 30, 50, 59 n. 10, 71, 72, 77, 79, 83, 87–90, 92, 95, 105, 120, 122, 123, 126, 137–139 n. 2, 141, 142, 145, 147–149, 151, 152, 156 n. 30, 158, 166–168, 171, 178, 179, 184, 185, 188, 189, 195, 202, 207 n. 32, 209 n. 35, 214, 216 n. 42, 223, 225, 226, 234 ibtadaʾa, 7, 58 ubtudiʾa/yubtadaʾu, 7, 166 n. 44 ibtidāʾ cancelers. See nawāsix al-ibtidāʾ iconic/iconicity, 23, 71 n. 19 ʾid̠ā, 148 ʾiḍmār, 90, 205, 218 ʾiḍmār qabla l-d̠ikr. See cataphora ʾifāda. See fāʾida ihtimām. See ʿināya wa-htimām ilġāʾ, 129, 150, 192 ʿimād, 127–130 n. 58 ʾimāla, 15 n. 10 imperative, 3, 4, 91, 183, 192, 198 ʾin al-muxaffafa, 221 ʿināya wa-htimām, 61, 69, 72, 77–79, 82, 88 n. 7, 225 indefinite. See definiteness indicative, 190 n. 4 Indo-European, 3, 29, 30, 32, 35, 39, 126, 131–133, 135 inflection, 92 n. 15, 97, 105, 107, 141 n. 5, 143, 144, 203, 206, 208. See also case/inflection information structure, 40, 41, 79, 81, 82, 135, 165, 232 ʾinna (and “sisters”), 5, 7, 9, 10, 15 n. 12, 46, 130, 144, 156–158 n. 32, 164, 167, 171, 181, 185, 187–193, 196, 202, 204–206, 209–215, 219–224, 226, 234, 235 ism, 181, 189 n. 2, 190 n. 4, 192, 196, 205 n. 28, 206, 215, 221, 223 xabar, 189, 190 n. 4, 192, 196, 205 n. 28, 206, 216, 223 ʾinnamā, 75, 79, 163, 221 interrogative, 3, 14, 29, 33, 50, 58, 59, 64, 65, 73, 74, 81, 91, 95, 119, 125, 140, 141, 143–145, 152, 161 n. 35, 162, 172, 173, 178, 180, 183, 201 intonation, 99, 118, 119 inversion, 18, 33–35, 37, 45, 72 n. 20, 85, 101, 103 n. 30, 105, 106, 108, 111,

index 121–126, 134, 137–140, 142 n. 9, 145, 151, 152, 155, 176, 178–184, 203–205, 207, 209, 211, 222, 225, 226 inverted. See inversion ʾiʿrāb, 5, 12, 16, 129, 145, 173, 229–231 ʾiṣlāḥ al-lafẓ, 161 ism pl. ʾasmāʾ, 7, 18, 58, 71, 83, 90, 93, 128, 139, 144, 146, 148, 151, 173, 187 n. 1, 213 al-fāʿil, 146, 155, 194. See also participle al-fiʿl, 159 n. 33, 170 al-mafʿūl, 194 ʾisnād, 5, 7, 17 n. 15, 19, 25, 29, 39, 43, 46, 66, 70, 91, 180, 233 isolation of the natural subject. See topicalization ʿišrūna dirhaman, 192 istaqarra/mustaqirrun (hypothesis), 14, 149, 150, 152–155, 157, 158, 173, 176–178, 180, 182, 184, 185, 206, 225 ištiġāl, 119 n. 44, 120, 121 istifhām. See interrogative iʾtilāf (yaʾtalifu), 12, 14, 15 n. 11 iʿtimād (principle of ), 140, 141, 143, 146 n. 14, 164, 172, 173, 178, 180, 204, 208 ittisāʿ, 58–61, 69, 205 n. 29, 234 ‘iwaḍ, 15 ʾixbār, 7, 17 n. 15, 22, 23, 46, 91, 93, 166 ixtiṣāṣ, 193 n. 8, 213 ʾiyyā-, 131 jārr wa-majrūr, 32, 170, 172, 180 jawāb, 13. See also apodosis, jazāʾ jazāʾ, 13, 25, 26, 85 n. 3, 96 n. 20, 126. See also apodosis, jawāb Jespersen, O., 102, 232 jumla, pl. jumal, 10–13, 15, 24, 26, 84–86, 92–94, 96, 162 n. 38, 169, 170, 211, 215–217, 223, 226, 230, 234 jumla d̠āt wajhayn, 96 n. 19 jumla fiʿliyya, 1, 10, 12, 14–16, 18–20, 28–32, 34, 35, 38, 46, 51, 65, 71, 75, 84–86, 91, 96, 97, 99, 100, 120, 122, 125, 137, 138, 146, 147 n. 15, 156–158, 170–173, 175, 176, 178–180, 182, 185, 191, 193, 202, 213, 215, 222, 223, 225, 226, 230 jumla ismiyya, 1, 8, 10, 12, 14–16, 18–20, 26, 27, 29–32, 34, 35, 38, 39, 46, 51, 84–87, 91, 92, 94, 96, 97, 100, 106, 112, 122, 134, 137, 138, 146, 147 n. 15, 152, 155–158, 161, 170–180,


182, 184, 185, 187, 189 n. 3, 191, 193, 202, 209, 213, 215, 222, 223, 225, 226, 230, 233 jumla šarṭiyya, 85, 86, 96, 170 n. 48 jumla ẓarfiyya, 16, 32, 33, 85, 86, 96, 147, 158, 159, 170, 172–179, 184, 225 jāriya majrā l-ẓarfiyya, 32 jumlat waṣf, 147 n. 15 Jurjānī, 7, 13–15 nn. 10, 11, 21, 22 n. 18, 24 n. 19, 26, 28 n. 22, 29, 50, 61, 63–66, 68, 69 n. 13, 72, 73, 77–81, 85, 86 n. 4, 89–91, 94, 99, 113 n. 37, 114, 116, 118, 120 n. 47, 123, 124, 127–129, 135, 142 n. 8, 154, 155, 160, 166, 167, 172, 189 n. 2, 192, 195, 200, 203–206 n. 30, 212–215, 217 n. 44, 230, 234 kalām, 7, 11–15, 24, 149, 156 n. 29, 157, 165, 169, 170, 201 n. 21, 232, 234 kalim, 200 kam al-xabariyya, 163 kāna (and “sisters”). See verbs/auxiliary (AUX), ʾafʿāl nāqiṣa kāna l-nāqiṣa. See ʾafʿāl nāqiṣa kāna l-tāmma, 171 n. 49, 190 n. 5, 196 n. 13, 197 n. 15 kāna l-zāʾida, 190 n. 5, 196 n. 13 Kasher, A., 150, 153, 232 Khan, G., 26, 42 n. 35, 80–82, 101–104, 111–113, 116, 119, 120, 128, 219, 232 Kinberg, N., 10, 11 n. 7, 119 n. 45, 232 Kisāʾi, 206 Kitāb al-ʿAyn, 140 n. 4, 153 n. 23 Kouloughli, D. E., 151, 155, 160, 167, 181, 182, 185, 189 n. 2, 211, 223, 232 Kūfan(s), xii, 25, 72 n. 20, 88, 95, 99 n. 25, 115, 121, 127–130 n. 58, 139, 141 n. 6, 142 n. 9, 146, 150, 153, 167–169, 174, 189 n. 2, 203, 204, 217 la-/lām al-ibtidāʾ/al-taʾkīd, 15 n. 10, 126, 131, 201, 221 labs, 116 lā l-nāfiya li-l-jins, 15 n. 12, 220 ism, 15 n. 12 xabar, 15 n. 12 laġw, 8 n. 5, 150 lafẓ, 21, 61–63, 67, 69, 75, 123, 139, 161 n. 34, 163, 165, 168, 199, 216 n. 44 Lambrecht, K., 3 n. 2, 232 left-dislocation. See topicalization Lehmann, W. P., 2, 232 Levin, A., 5, 10, 17, 66, 70 n. 17, 92



n. 15, 95, 119 n. 45, 141, 142 n. 7, 148, 150, 153, 154 n. 24, 189 n. 3, 194, 208, 233 Li, C. N. & Thompson, S. A., 2, 36, 37, 233 linguists, xi, xii, 2–4, 20, 25, 27–31, 36, 37, 81, 91 n. 13, 97 n. 22, 99, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 114 n. 39, 116, 178, 221 locative, 151 n. 21, 165 n. 42, 181 n. 56, 182. See also sentence/locative listener. See addressee Longacre, R. E., 42 n. 36, 233 luġat ʾakalūnī l-barāġīt̠, 70 n. 17, 142 n. 7, 176, 208, 233 Luqmān, 116 mā l-kāffa, 221 n. 51 mabnī (ʿalayhi), 5 n. 3, 6 n. 4, 8, 9, 79, 83, 86, 127, 148, 149, 233. See also bināʾ maf ʿūl, 6, 15, 16, 18–20, 29, 38, 55, 57, 59–63, 66, 67, 69, 70, 72, 73, 75, 84, 89, 90, 97, 112, 138, 144 n. 13, 171, 192, 194, 199, 203 bihi, 9 muṭlaq, 9, 198, 200 maḥall, 161 n. 34 Majdi, B., 49, 74, 111 n. 36, 233 maʿmūl ( fīhi), 5, 6, 57, 71, 137, 139, 150, 160, 162, 184, 203 n. 24, 205 n. 29 maʿnā, 21, 61–63, 69, 75, 83, 86, 88 n. 7, 122, 129, 139, 142, 146, 159 n. 33, 168, 169. See also niyya, taqdīr manzila, 11, 26, 141 n. 5, 150, 195 n. 10, 202, 218 maʿrifa, 114, 127. See also definiteness marked/unmarked, 49, 50, 54–58, 62, 65, 72, 73, 77, 223, 234 martaba, 17, 72, 90, 163, 216 n. 44 maṣdar, 94 n. 16, 147, 148, 159 n. 33, 198, 200, 211, 220 mawḍiʿ, 61, 63, 64, 91, 93, 129 Maxzūmī, M., 30 n. 25, 170, 171, 180, 233 Mehiri, A., 30, 97, 99, 233 Mithun, M., 2, 40 n. 31, 53, 80, 233 Mohammad, M. A., 38, 49, 51, 73, 75, 78 n. 26, 100, 101, 107, 111, 114 n. 39, 116, 133, 180 n. 54, 210–212, 216, 220, 221, 223, 233 mood/modal, 3, 183 Mosel, U., 187 n. 1, 233 movement, 7, 39, 55–59, 61, 63, 64, 67,

82, 90 n. 9, 100–102, 105, 110, 134, 161–163 n. 39, 183, 226 Mubarrad, 11, 12, 17, 60, 70 n. 16, 167, 168 n. 46, 173, 205, 230 mubtadaʾ, 5 n. 3, 6–10, 12, 13, 15–20, 22, 24–28, 30, 35, 37–39, 45, 54, 59, 69, 71, 83–88, 90–97, 100, 102, 104, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 114–116, 118, 119, 121–127, 129, 135, 137–143, 145–149, 151–156 n. 30, 160–163, 165–169, 171–178, 180, 181, 183, 184, 187–191, 194–197, 199, 200, 202, 206–210, 212–217, 221, 223, 225 ʾawwal, 111 n. 35, 143 t̠ānin, 111 n. 35, 143 muḍāf ʾilayhi, 97 muḍāra‘a, 16, 113 muḍmar, 13, 91 n. 12, 120 n. 47, 129, 139 mufrad, 24, 85, 86, 91–93, 96, 154, 158 n. 32, 162 n. 38, 216 n. 41, 217, 226. See also xabar/phrasal/single phrased muḥaddat̠ (‘anhu), 16, 17, 158, 165, 173 Mujāšiʿī, 22 n. 18, 95, 123, 125, 148, 153, 155, 230 munādā. See nidāʾ musnad (’ilayhi), 5, 6, 16, 17, 85, 91, 123, 169 n. 47, 170, 233 al-Muṣawwar, 220, 230 musawwiġāt, 115 muxāṭab, 11, 22, 124. See also addressee muxbar (‘anhu), 13, 17, 104, 166, 167, 169 n. 47, 172, 180 nāʾib al-fāʿil, 70 nakira, 114, 166, 216 n. 41. See also definiteness naṣb, 6, 8 n. 5, 49, 66, 79, 89, 90, 94, 119, 120, 130 n. 59, 148–150, 152 n. 22, 153, 161 n. 34, 167, 175, 181, 182, 188, 189 n. 2, 192–195, 197, 199, 204–207, 211, 214, 221, 223, 225. See also accusative naʿt, 127, 128 sababī, 208, 209 nawāsix al-ibtidāʾ, 9, 188, 189, 191 n. 7, 195 n. 10, 209, 212 negative, 14, 29, 79, 114, 115, 143, 145, 161 nn. 35, 37, 174 n. 51, 180, 183, 195, 201 nexus, 68 n. 12, 198 nidāʾ, 14, 15, 156 n. 31 niyya, 60–62, 64, 69, 75, 123, 130, 139. See also maʿnā, taqdīr

index nominative, 8, 18, 19, 28, 49, 66, 89, 97, 118, 127, 129, 130, 137, 145, 148, 150, 165, 174, 176, 179–181 n. 56, 191–193, 196 n. 13, 197, 200, 202, 205, 208 n. 33, 209, 222, 223. See also raf ʿ noun phrase (NP), 16, 18, 19, 23, 28, 46, 51, 97, 102, 114 n. 39, 118, 131, 133, 137, 141, 144, 148, 160, 167, 181, 182, 211, 223 Nuʿayma, M., 133, 230 oath, 13 object absolute. See maf ʿūl/muṭlaq direct, 9, 18, 28, 29, 55, 66, 67 n. 11, 69, 73, 74, 80, 89, 97, 100, 111, 113, 171, 174 n. 51, 175, 195, 211, 214 indirect, 78 n. 26 operator. See ‘āmil Orientalists, 38, 39, 101, 107 OS(V), 36, 49 n.2, 50, 52, 57, 75, 111, 211, 212 n. 38 OV(S), 2, 36, 44, 49 n. 2, 50, 53, 56, 58, 59, 64, 65, 76, 80–82, 111, 211, 212 n. 38, 225 Owens, J., 9, 12, 15, 27, 56, 62, 65, 70 n. 16, 72 n. 20, 88 n. 6, 119 nn. 44, 45, 148, 233 Parkinson, D. B., 42, 233 particle. For a specific particle, see the relevant entry. See also ḥarf pl. ḥurūf participle, 15, 85 n. 2, 86, 113, 122, 125, 137, 139–147, 154, 155, 159, 170, 172, 174, 177, 178, 184, 192, 198, 208, 209, 225. See also ism/al-fāʿil parts of speech, 29, 201 n. 21 Pashova, T., 42, 116, 233 passive, 7, 16, 29, 69–71 n. 18, 85 n. 2, 191 n. 6 patient, 27, 29, 50 n. 4, 81 Payne, D. L., 2, 53, 81, 117, 233 performative, 98, 190 n. 4 Philologists, xi, 4, 33, 35, 38, 39, 43, 46, 102, 131 n. 62, 235 postposing, 19, 28, 54–56, 59, 64, 117, 166, 176, 181, 218. See also taʾxīr pragmatic(s), 2, 19, 21–24, 27–30, 40, 45, 53, 55, 61, 67, 73, 76, 80, 82, 87, 109, 110, 112, 125 n. 50, 135, 138, 163–167, 182, 202, 211, 217, 222, 225, 227, 232, 233 predicate


adjectival, 33, 122, 144–146 adverbial/prepositional, 33, 87, 125, 138 clausal, 22 n. 18, 30, 31, 46, 52, 87, 107, 108, 110, 114 n. 39, 126, 129, 132 nominal, 30, 42, 87, 114 n. 39 participial, 30 n. 25 phrasal, 46, 91, 126, 129 verbal, 30, 35, 45, 104, 144 predication, 19, 22 n. 18, 23, 102, 195, 201, 225, 231 predicative, 4, 5, 9, 13, 15 n. 11, 17, 19, 33, 35, 39, 43, 84, 87, 88, 94, 96 n. 20, 111, 127, 128, 132, 137, 140, 149, 150, 152, 153, 156, 157, 169–174, 178, 182, 184, 187–189, 191, 192, 194, 206, 209, 210, 226 preposing, 7, 19, 28, 54–56, 59, 63, 67, 68, 73–77, 80, 82, 89, 90, 98, 99, 102, 117, 118, 124 n. 50, 139 n. 2, 163 n. 39, 164, 166, 176, 177, 190 n. 5, 203–206, 211, 215, 218, 219. See also taqdīm prepositional phrase (PP), 12, 16, 18, 28, 33, 149, 150, 159, 170, 172, 174 n. 51, 178, 180–182, 184, 190 n. 5, 210, 220 n. 49 presentative, 192. See also sentence/ presentative pronominalization, 97 pronoun anaphoric, 39, 52, 75, 95, 98, 102, 104 n. 31, 108, 163, 204 anticipatory. See cataphora attached, 83, 84, 130, 213 cataphoric. See cataphora demonstrative, 133, 134 implicit, 39, 85 n. 2, 95, 98, 104 n. 31, 110, 130, 139, 142 n. 8, 155, 156, 159 n. 33, 173, 213–215, 217 non-referential, 70 n. 17, 144, 216 n. 41, 217, 221, 222, 224, 234 relative, 140 resumptive, 49, 83–86, 88 n. 6, 89, 94–96 n. 20, 98, 101, 103–107, 110, 111, 131 n. 62, 159 n. 33, 182, 217 separate, 104 n. 31, 126, 127, 129–133, 135, 213 protasis, 13, 25–27, 85, 96. See also šarṭ qabīḥ/qabuḥa, 58, 59, 61, 138–140, 206 qad, 156 n. 29, 190



qiyās, 54, 55, 58 Qur’ān, 21, 42, 62, 78, 79, 98 n. 24, 143, 144, 164 n. 40, 180, 190 n. 5, 214, 216, 229, 232 Qut ̣rub, 17 n. 14 rābiṭa pl. rawābiṭ, 202 n. 22. See also copula, ḍamīr al-faṣl raf ʿ, 6–9, 11, 16–19, 29, 66, 70–72, 77, 87–90, 93–95, 97, 98, 120, 122, 123, 129, 130, 137–142, 145–152 n. 22, 158, 159, 164, 167, 168, 173–179, 181, 184, 185, 188, 189 n. 2, 192–195, 197, 199, 203, 205–207, 214, 217, 221, 223, 225. See also nominative reader. See addressee Reckendorf, H., 33–35, 39, 44, 46, 89 n. 8, 102–104, 130 n. 61, 219, 234 rheme, 2, 23, 117 rubba, 216 n. 41, 217 n. 44 rutba, 60, 62 šaġala, 67, 69, 89 Šāmiyya, J., 220, 230 šarṭ, 13, 26, 85 n. 3, 96 n. 20. See also protasis Saussure, F., xi SCOMP, 44, 52 semantic(s), 14, 21, 27–30, 40, 45, 66, 68, 74, 76, 81, 97, 110, 113, 115, 123–126, 162, 165, 171, 182, 190 n. 4, 196–198, 200–202, 209–211, 216 n. 42, 217, 227, 231 Semitic languages, 131 n. 62 Semitic philology. See Philologists Semitists. See Philologists sentence acceptability, 23, 24 compound, 32 conditional. See conditionals equative, 37, 38, 44, 87, 134, 190 n. 6, 210 exclamatory, 46 false(hood), 24, 25 interrogative. See interrogative locative, 134, 181, 182, 232. See also locative negative. See negative nominal, 1, 10, 16 n. 13, 29–35, 37–39, 68 n. 12, 142 n. 9, 157, 171, 176, 178, 188, 189 n. 3, 191, 209, 231, 233 oath. See oath presentative, 46. See also presentative

truth, 24, 25 verbal, 1, 16 n. 13, 28, 29, 31–35, 37, 38, 52, 57, 58, 100, 101, 103 n. 30, 106, 122, 138, 142 n. 9, 146, 157, 177, 188, 189 n. 3, 203, 205 n. 28, 209, 233 verbless, 3, 8, 30, 35, 38, 39, 44, 45, 52, 53, 87, 100, 109, 183, 195 n. 11, 232 Sībawayhi, xi, 1, 5–12, 17, 21–23, 25, 26, 29, 50, 53, 54, 56–59, 61, 66, 67, 69, 70, 72, 76–80, 82–84, 86, 88 n. 5, 89 n. 9, 91, 92, 94, 107, 114–116 n. 40, 119–121, 124 n. 50, 126 n. 51, 127, 129, 137–141, 143–145, 147–153, 156 n. 30, 158, 167, 168, 171, 172, 175, 176, 178, 181, 187–189 n. 2, 191–196, 199 n. 17, 201 n. 21, 202, 204, 205 n. 27, 230, 231, 233, 234 ṣifa, 115, 139, 144 n. 13, 146, 160, 165 n. 42, 167 Sīra (Ibn Hišām), 222 Sīrāfī, 155 n. 28 sociolinguistic (research), 21, 41, 47 Somekh, S., 42 n. 37, 234 SO(V), 1, 36, 49 n. 2, 50, 52, 97, 111 speaker, 22, 26, 30, 40, 42, 57, 77, 112, 113, 116, 123 n. 49, 124 n. 50, 165, 203, 211, 234 speech situation, 41, 42, 58, 76, 112, 135, 227 statement, 3, 4, 115, 218, 219 structuralism, xi subject grammatical, 20, 102, 104, 108 logical, 102, 104 natural, 89 n. 8, 102, 103 n. 30 psychological, 102 subordination, 50, 103 Suleiman, M. Y., 70 n. 15, 189 n. 2, 234 surface structure, 38, 40, 49 n. 3, 57, 62–65, 86 n. 4, 123, 139, 162, 168, 216 n. 44 SVCOMP, 42 SV(O), 1, 3, 31, 33, 36, 38, 42–45, 49–53, 79, 81, 89, 97, 99–101, 103, 106–109, 111, 132 n. 64, 134, 211, 226, 233 tāʾ al-taʾnīt̠, 70 taʿarrī. See taʿriya taʿdiya, 6, 9, 18, 66, 67, 69, 70, 72, 90, 147, 171 n. 50, 172, 184, 193, 195

index tafsīr, 119, 175, 176, 204, 214–216, 218, 219 T̠aʿlab, 17 n. 14 taʿlīq, 192, 206 Talmon, R., 5 n. 3, 10–12 n. 8, 68 n. 12, 69 n. 12, 95, 140 n. 4, 148, 151 n. 20, 153 n. 23, 165 n. 42, 167 n. 45, 234 tamyīz, 150 taqdīm, 7, 15, 19, 20, 28, 53–57, 59–65, 68, 73, 75, 82, 89–91, 125, 137, 151, 160, 166, 180, 205 n. 29, 208, 215. See also preposing taqdīr/muqaddar, 56, 61–64, 72 n. 20, 90 n. 10, 139, 143, 145, 153, 155, 156, 161, 173, 176, 217, 234. See also maʿnā, niyya taʿriya, 7, 88 n. 7, 187 tat̠niya (ḥarf ), 176 tawassuʿ. See ittisāʿ tawkīd/taʾkīd, 127, 129–131, 211 ta’xīr, 19, 20, 28, 53–55, 57, 59–64, 69, 73, 75, 76, 82, 90, 125, 137, 151, 166, 180, 218. See also postposing tawassuṭ, 75 taxṣīṣ, 114 terminology, 20, 21, 23, 27, 28, 32, 54 n. 7, 234 Thalji, A.-M. I., 49, 51, 234 theme, 2, 27, 41, 78 n. 26, 117, 180, 230. See also topic theory of ‘amal. See ‘amal (theory of ) topic, 2, 25, 27, 28, 36, 37, 39, 41, 45, 49, 51, 89, 98, 99, 101, 102, 105, 106, 108–110, 112, 113, 116–118, 135, 180–183, 211, 219, 221, 223, 232–234. See also theme topicality, 42, 43, 79, 112, 113, 181, 232 topicalization, 2, 37, 39, 44, 89, 91, 97–106, 109, 113, 117, 118, 131 n. 62, 135, 226 transformational-generative (TG). See generative-transformational theory transitive, 7, 52, 77, 83, 203 transitivity. See ta‘diya Trask, R. L., 3, 234 typology/typological, 1, 2, 21, 36, 37, 50, 87, 97, 117, 231, 233 ʿumda, 69 unaccusative, 220, 234 underlying structure, 39, 49 n. 3, 56, 57, 61, 63, 65, 89, 90, 100, 119, 213, 216 n. 44 universal(s), 1, 20, 21, 24, 25, 36


Vennemann, T., 2, 234 verb phrase (VP), 51, 52, 107, 234 verbal noun. See maṣdar verbs auxiliary (AUX), 7, 9, 10, 46, 77, 78, 100, 114, 130 n. 59, 132, 143, 171, 172, 182, 185, 187–207, 209–212, 214, 215, 217, 220, 222, 223, 226, 230, 233. See also ʾafʿāl nāqiṣa ism, 171, 189 n. 2, 190 n. 5, 192, 195 n. 11, 196, 199 n. 17, 202–204, 206, 215, 216, 222, 223 xabar, 171, 189, 190, 192, 195 n. 11, 196, 199, 202–204, 206, 207, 209, 216, 222, 223 cognitive. See ẓanantu (and “sisters”), ʾafʿāl al-qulūb Versteegh, K., xiii, 28 n. 21, 110, 193, 205, 206 n. 29, 234 VNP, 51 vocative, 14 VO(S), 2, 3, 31, 36, 38, 44, 45, 49–57, 59, 61–65, 72, 76, 78, 80–82, 111, 210 n. 37, 211, 225, 230 VSCOMP, 42, 52, 53 VS(O), 1, 3, 6, 30, 31, 33, 36, 38, 39, 42, 44, 45, 49–65, 67, 71, 72, 78–82, 97, 99, 100, 106, 108, 109, 111, 134, 210 n. 37, 211, 220, 225, 226, 230, 233 VX, 2 wāw al-maʿiyya, 153 Weiss, B., 31, 32, 85 n. 2, 202 n. 22, 235 Wittig, S., 211, 216, 219, 221, 222, 235 Wright, W., 32, 33, 38, 39, 130 n. 61, 235 xabar, 5, 6, 8–20, 22–28, 30, 37, 54, 59, 69, 71, 83–94, 96, 100, 104, 105, 111, 112, 115, 119–121, 123–130, 135, 137–143, 145–149, 151–156, 159–169, 171–178, 180, 183, 184, 187–191, 194–197, 199–202, 206–210, 212–219, 223–225 adjectival, 151 adverbial, 84, 125, 151, 159–161 n. 34 clausal, 22 n. 18, 25, 84, 85, 89, 92–96 n. 19, 104, 106, 107, 112, 122, 134, 135, 154, 155, 162 n. 38, 173, 207, 217, 222, 226 nominal, 84–86 phrasal/single-phrased, 85, 87, 92, 93,



135, 154, 155, 162 n. 38, 226. See also mufrad verbal, 84, 85, 104, 122, 125 al-Xalīl, 121, 138–140 n. 4, 144, 153 n. 23, 189 n. 2, 213, 234 xilāf/muxālafa, 153, 231 XV, 2 yā, 14, 15, 156 n. 31 Zajjājī, 60, 73 n. 22, 84–86, 92, 112, 122, 123, 127, 141–143, 146, 189, 190, 200–202 n. 22, 204–208, 214 n. 40, 223, 229, 230

Zamaxšarī, 16, 24, 26, 60, 61, 85, 93, 96, 127–129, 146 n. 14, 170 n. 48, 173, 196, 197, 213–216 n. 41, 219 n. 48 ẓanantu (and “sisters”), 9, 57 n. 9, 126 n. 51, 130 n. 59, 132, 171, 187–189, 191, 192, 194, 195, 201 n. 20, 209, 210, 212, 214–216, 226. See also ʾafʿāl al-qulūb ẓarf, 13, 32, 44, 46, 81, 83, 84, 86, 96, 103, 133, 147–150, 153, 154, 156–158, 160–162, 164, 168, 170, 172–174, 176, 177, 180, 197 n. 15, 201, 205, 206, 232, 233

Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 3. Corré, A.D. The Daughter of My People. Arabic and Hebrew Paraphrases of Jeremiah 8.13-9.23. 1971. ISBN 90 04 02552 9 5. Grand’Henry, J. Les parlers arabes de la région du Mza¯ b (Sahara algérien). 1976. ISBN 90 04 04533 3 6. Bravmann, M.M. Studies in Semitic Philology. 1977. ISBN 90 04 04743 3 8. Fenech, E. Contemporary Journalistic Maltese. An Analytical and Comparative Study. 1978. ISBN 90 04 05756 0 9. Hospers, J.H. (ed.). General Linguistics and the Teaching of Dead Hamito-Semitic Languages. Proceedings of the Symposium held in Groningen, 7th-8th November 1975, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Semitic Studies and Near Eastern Archaeology of the State University at Groningen. 1978. ISBN 90 04 05806 0 12. Hoftijzer, J. A Search for Method. A Study in the Syntactic Use of the Hlocale in Classical Hebrew. With the collaboration of H.R. van der Laan and N.P. de Koo. 1981. ISBN 90 04 06257 2 13. Murtonen, A. Hebrew in its West Semitic Setting. A Comparative Survey of Non-Masoretic Hebrew Dialects and Traditions. Part I. A Comparative Lexicon. Section A. Proper Names. 1986. ISBN 90 04 07245 4 Section Ba. Root System: Hebrew Material. 1988. ISBN 90 04 08064 3 Section Bb. Root System: Comparative Material and Discussion. Sections C, D and E: Numerals under 100, Pronouns, Particles. 1989. ISBN 90 04 08899 7 14. Retsö, J. Diathesis in the Semitic Languages. A Comparative Morphological Study. 1989. ISBN 90 04 08818 0 15. Rouchdy, A. Nubians and the Nubian Language in Contemporary Egypt. A Case of Cultural and Linguistic Contact. 1991. ISBN 90 04 09197 1 16. Murtonen, A. Hebrew in its West Semitic Setting. A Comparative Survey of Non-Masoretic Hebrew Dialects and Traditions. Part 2. Phonetics and Phonology. Part 3. Morphosyntactics. 1990. ISBN 90 04 09309 5 17. Jongeling K., H.L. Murre-van den Berg & L. van Rompay (eds.). Studies in Hebrew and Aramaic Syntax. Presented to Professor J. Hoftijzer on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday. 1991. ISBN 90 04 09520 9 18. Cadora, F.J. Bedouin, Village, and Urban Arabic. An Ecolinguistic Study. 1992. ISBN 90 04 09627 2 19. Versteegh, C.H.M. Arabic Grammar and Qur"a¯ nic Exegesis in Early Islam. 1993. ISBN 90 04 09845 3 20. Humbert, G. Les voies de la transmission du Kita¯ b de SÊbawayhi. 1995. ISBN 90 04 09918 2 21. Mifsud, M. Loan Verbs in Maltese. A Descriptive and Comparative Study. 1995. ISBN 90 04 10091 1 22. Joosten, J. The Syriac Language of the Peshitta and Old Syriac Versions of Matthew. Syntactic Structure, Inner-Syriac Developments and Translation Technique. 1996. ISBN 90 04 10036 9 23. Bernards, M. Changing Traditions. Al-Mubarrad’s Refutation of SÊbawayh and the Subsequent Reception of the Kita¯ b. 1997. ISBN 90 04 10595 6

24. Belnap, R.K. and N. Haeri. Structuralist Studies in Arabic Linguistics. Charles A. Ferguson’s Papers, 1954-1994. 1997. ISBN 90 04 10511 5 25. Talmon R. Arabic Grammar in its Formative Age. Kita¯ b al-"Ayn and its Attribution to ]alÊl b. Ah.mad. 1997. ISBN 90 04 10812 2 26. Testen, D.D. Parallels in Semitic Linguistics. The Development of Arabic la- and Related Semitic Particles. 1998. ISBN 90 04 10973 0 27. Bolozky, S. Measuring Productivity in Word Formation. The Case of Israeli Hebrew. 1999. ISBN 90 04 11252 9 28. Ermers, R. Arabic Grammars of Turkic. The Arabic Linguistic Model Applied to Foreign Languages & Translation of #Abu- ayya-n al-#AndalusÊ’s Kita-b al-"Idra-k liLisa-n al-"Atra-k. 1999. ISBN 90 04 113061 29. Rabin, Ch. The Development of the Syntax of Post-Biblical Hebrew. 1999. ISBN 90 04 11433 5 30. Piamenta, M. Jewish Life in Arabic Language and Jerusalem Arabic in Communal Perspective. A Lexical-Semantic Study. 2000. ISBN 90 04 11762 8 31. Kinberg, N. ; Versteegh, K. (ed.). Studies in the Linguistic Structure of Classical Arabic. 2001. ISBN 90 04 11765 2 32. Khan, G. The Early Karaite Tradition of Hebrew Grammatical Thought. Including a Critical Edition, Translation and Analysis of the Diqduq of "Abå Ya#qåb Yåsuf ibn NåÈ on the Hagiographa. 2000. ISBN 90 04 11933 7 33. Zammit, M.R. A Comparative Lexical Study of Qur"§nic Arabic. ISBN 90 04 11801 2 (in preparation) 34. Bachra, B.N. The Phonological Structure of the Verbal Roots in Arabic and Hebrew. 2001. ISBN 90 04 12008 4 35. Åkesson, J. Arabic Morphology and Phonology. Based on the Mar§È al-arw§È by AÈmad b. #AlÊ b. Mas#åd. Presented with an Introduction, Arabic Edition, English Translation and Commentary. 2001. ISBN 90 04 12028 9 36. Khan, G. The Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Qaraqosh. 2002. ISBN 90 04 12863 8 37. Khan, G., Ángeles Gallego, M. and Olszowy-Schlanger, J. The Karaite Tradition of Hebrew Grammatical Thought in its Classical Form. A Critical Edition and English Translation of al-Kit§b al-K§fÊ fÊ al-LuÇa al-#Ibr§niyya by "Abå al-Faraj H§rån ibn al-Faraj. 2 Vols. 2003. ISBN 90 04 13272 4 (Set), ISBN 90 04 13311 9 (Vol. 1), ISBN 90 04 13312 7 (Vol. 2) 38. Haak, M., De Jong, R., Versteegh, K. (eds.). Approaches to Arabic Dialects. A Collection of Articles presented to Manfred Woidich on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday. 2004. ISBN 90 04 13206 6 39. Takács, G. (ed.). Egyptian and Semito-Hamitic (Afro-Asiatic) Studies in Memoriam W. Vycichl. 2004. ISBN 90 04 13245 7 40. Maman, A. Comparative Semitic Philology in the Middle Ages. From Sa#adiah Gaon to Ibn Barån (10th-12th C.). 2004. ISBN 90 04 13620 7 41. Van Peursen, W.Th. The Verbal System in the Hebrew Text of Ben Sira. 2004. ISBN 90 04 13667 3 42. Elgibali, A. Investigating Arabic. Current Parameters in Analysis and Learning. 2004. ISBN 90 04 13792 0 43. Florentin, M. Late Samaritan Hebrew. A Linguistic Analysis of Its Different Types. 2004. ISBN 90 04 13841 2 44. Khan, G. The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Sulemaniyya and \alabja. 2004. ISBN 90 04 13869 2 45. Wellens, I. The Nubi Language of Uganda. An Arabic Creole in Africa. 2005. ISBN 90 04 14518 4 46. Bassiouney, R. Functions of Code Switching in Egypt. Evidence from Monologues. 2006. ISBN 90 04 14760 8

47. Khan, G. Semitic Studies in Honour of Edward Ullendorff. 2005. ISBN 90 04 14834 5 48. Mejdell, G. Mixed Styles in Spoken Arabic in Egypt. Somewhere between Order and Chaos. 2006. ISBN-10: 90 04 14986 4, ISBN-13: 978 90 04 14986 1 49. Ditters, W.E. and Motzki, H. (eds.). Approaches to Arabic Linguistics. Presented to Kees Versteegh on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday. 2007. ISBN 978 90 04 16015 6 50. Zewi, T. Parenthesis in Biblical Hebrew. 2007. ISBN 978 90 04 16243 3 51. Baalbaki, R. The Legacy of the Kit§b. SÊbawayhi’s Analytical Methods within the Context of the Arabic Grammatical Theory. 2008. ISBN 978 90 04 16813 8 52. Peled, Y. Sentence Types and Word-Order Patterns in Written Arabic. Medieval and Modern Perspectives. 2009. ISBN 978 90 04 17062 9