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The Arabic Imperfective

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‮This paper argues that the imperfective verb form in Standard Arabic does not express an ‘imperfective’ meaning, but rather marks the default lexical form of the verb, and is therefore analogous to the English infinitive. The progressive and habitual readings cross-linguistically typical of the imperfective are derived in Arabic by applying covert progressive and habitual operators to this infinitival base. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that imperfective verbs receive an eventive interpretation in certain contexts, an interpretation incompatible with the stativity of progressive and habitual readings. Additional scopal evidence indicates that the progressive applies at the verb phrase level, not at the word level at which the imperfective morphology itself is found.‬‎

Affiliations: 1: University of Vienna, Austria


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