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Tense and Aspect in Semitic: A Case Study Based on the Arabic of the Omani Šarqiyya and the Mehri of Dhofar

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is a contribution towards understanding Semitic verbal systems by presenting an analysis of new data from conservative varieties of two Semitic languages spoken in the south of the Arabian Peninsula. It discusses the verbal system of the Arabic dialect of the Šarqiyya region of Oman and the verbal system of the Modern South Arabian language, Mehri. The Modern South Arabian languages (MSAL) are arguably the most conservative extant Semitic languages, since they preserve several features known to have existed in ancient Semitic languages that are lacking in other extant Semitic languages. The chapter begins by discussing the issue of tense and aspect in relation to Classical Arabic and the modern Arabic dialects. It considers the form, and then the function, of the different verbal inflections. Finally, the chapter examines the expression of tense and aspect in Šarqiyya Arabic and Mehri through the use of affixes and particles.

Keywords: Šarqiyya; Mehri; modern Arabic dialects; Modern South Arabian language; Semitic verbal systems; tenses



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