The Structure and Logical Form of Negative Sentences in Arabic

  • Jamal Ouhalla
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 53)


It is well known that languages differ in how they mark sentence negation overtly. For example, Standard French ((1989)) and West Flemish ((1995)) mark sentence negation with two elements, whereas Italian ((1990)) and English mark it with only one element. The same type of variation is found among Arabic varieties. The Western (North African) group mark sentence negation with two elements ((1992)) which are both obligatory in all contexts, except the ones which include a polarity phrase (see section 6) ((1992)). The (Middle) Eastern group has the same two-negation elements pattern, but the most dominant pattern is one where the postverbal negation element is missing, at least in verbless clauses/sentences. In this paper, the two groups are represented with Moroccan Arabic (1a) and Lebanese Arabic (1b), respectively.1 The preverbal negation element ma is glossed as NEG and the postverbal element š(i) as VAR(IABLE) for reasons that will become clear shortly.


Noun Phrase Subject Position Propositional Variable Negation Element Predicate Variable 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

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  • Jamal Ouhalla

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