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Negative in Palestinian (and Cairene) Arabic: Present and possible past

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image of Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

This article investigates the pre-history of the development in Palestinian Arabic, and to a lesser extent in Cairene Arabic, of purely postverbal negation expressed by the morpheme , from an earlier bipartite construction mā...-š. On the basis of existing grammatical descriptions and original grammaticality data collected by the author, two distinct and rather idiosyncratic patterns of restrictions on the innovative construction emerge in the two dialects. The irregularity of these patterns in turn provides the basis for a reconstruction of the changes that brought about this construction in each case, but ensured it remains ungrammatical in a range of syntactic, morphological and phonological contexts in which the bipartite construction is fully grammatical. Both theoretical considerations and empirical evidence of the difficulty of acquiring these restrictions lead finally to a tentative prediction of the further spread of the purely postverbal negative construction as the restrictions in question are gradually eliminated.


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