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Arabic Indefinites, Interrogatives, and NegatorsA Linguistic History of Western Dialects$
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David Wilmsen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718123

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718123.001.0001

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fīš wa biddīš

fīš wa biddīš

The functions of šī

Chapter:
(p.44) 3 fīš wa biddīš
Source:
Arabic Indefinites, Interrogatives, and Negators
Author(s):

David Wilmsen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718123.003.0003

Explanations of the grammatical reflexes of the Arabic particle šī, especially in interrogation and negation, are generally mistaken on two counts: they begin their developmental sequences (clines) with the Arabic of writing, and they propose structures that, while appearing to be well-formed, are nevertheless not idiomatic. Assuming an origin in the Arabic of writing is especially perilous because, without supporting evidence, it assumes that that variety is the original, when the gatekeepers of Arabic writing proscribe the types of change proposed for the spoken language that are supposed to have originated with it. Consideration of the many grammatical functions of šī provides contrary evidence that the phenomena were always elements of the dialects, arising independently of and probably before writing.

Keywords:   Arabic dialect grammatical markers, Arabic grammaticalization, Arabic indefinite determiners, Arabic polar interrogatives, Arabic negators

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