The Syntax of Palestinian Arabic Modal Verbs Open Access

Quah, Rammi (Spring 2021)

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Modal verbs are a class of verbs that communicate various and complicated meanings such as possibility, obligation, ability, and supposition and usually possess special grammatical properties across languages. The nature of their use across the linguistic varieties of Arabic makes it unclear on the surface whether modal constructions form sentences with one clause or with two, and research is especially scarce on this question with regards to Arabic’s nonstandard varieties. Through a series of verbal elicitation interviews with a speaker of Palestinian Arabic, we examined the ways in which the specific linguistic variety forms modal constructions and discovered that it is possible to produce both monoclausal and biclausal modal sentences. In Palestinian Arabic, an apparent monoclausal modal sentence is produced when a complementizer is not present, and an apparent biclausal modal sentence is produced when a complementizer is present. These findings provoke further discussion about what defines and constitutes a clause and its structural hierarchy, the properties of modal verbs across languages, and more detailed subtopics concerning nonstandard Arabic varieties.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction                                                                                                                                             1

2. Background                                                                                                                                              4

3. Methodology                                                                                                                                           9

4. Arguments                                                                                                                                                11

4.1 Argument- ʔinnuh and ʔinn-                                                                                                             12

4.2 Argument- Fronting                                                                                                                             15

4.3 Argument- Prepositional Modal Constructions                                                                          22

4.4 Argument- Adverb Reoccurrence                                                                                                   23

4.5 Argument- Relative Ordering                                                                                                           26

5. Conclusion                                                                                                                                                29

References                                                                                                                                                     31

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