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Introduction: Historical Background And Modern Approaches

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Chapter Summary

The question of sentence types in Arabic has always intrigued medieval grammarians and modern Arabists alike. Sībawayhi in his Kitāb provides a detailed account of numerous syntactic structures in Arabic, but the main line of distinction is drawn by him between two basic structures. Modern linguistic studies of Arabic grammar have been conducted in large part within the Chomskian generative theory. As far as word-order issues are concerned, many scholars have shown a tendency to follow Joseph Greenbergs methodology focussing upon universals and typology. This chapter provides a survey of some of the major concepts and issues concerning the relationship between sentence types and word-order patterns in Arabic. The discussion is based both on the medieval grammatical literature and on modern research as conducted by various Arabists, philologists, and linguists. The chapter also provides an overview of the contents available in other chapters of the book.

Keywords: Arabic grammar; Arabic sentence types; Arabic word-order patterns; Chomskian theory; general linguistics; Greenbergian typological approach; Sībawayhian legacy



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