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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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On explanation and theory in Arabic linguistics

On explanation and theory in Arabic linguistics

(p.180) 8 On explanation and theory in Arabic linguistics
Arabic Indefinites, Interrogatives, and Negators

David Wilmsen

Oxford University Press

Formal, theoretical linguistics accounts of Arabic lack observational, descriptive, or explanatory adequacy in ignoring or glossing over the history of Arabic and current dialect diversity, and in concentrating solely or primarily upon (or directing their greatest attention to) the Arabic of writing, a language that no one speaks natively. Even when taking dialect data into account, they defeat themselves by comparing unalike dialects of Arabic, possessing divergent grammars. Meanwhile, descriptions of individual idiolects are contradicted by counter-examples from closely related grammars. Their attempts at accounting for Arabic grammatical šī, almost exclusively grappling with interrogation and negation, while coming close to forming accurate descriptions of those phenomena, end by proposing partial and ad hoc explanations for its manifold functions.

Keywords:   ad hoc linguistic explanations, counter-examples to theory, descriptive adequacy failure, explanatory adequacy failure, formal Arabic linguists

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