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Subordination in 15th- and 16th-Century Judeo-Arabic

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Judeo-Arabic sources from the 15th and 16th centuries are of great interest for research into subordinate syntax, as they are written in a repertoire that echoes the Classical Arabic elements of Medieval Judeo-Arabic as much as the colloquial forms of Late Judeo-Arabic. The most interesting phenomena concern the adverbial clauses, which show a great variation of adverbial connectives. It is also notable that compounds of prepositions and relativizers or complementizers appear to have become very popular, whereas few of the inherited non-prepositional Classical Arabic adverbial connectives occur. This article also raises the possibility that adverbial clauses may have only developed in the course of the codification of the Semitic languages, and perhaps of languages in general. Relative and complement clauses in the 15th- and 16th-century sources are less conspicuous, but in relative clauses, the form ʾan, homophonous with the complementizer and originating from constructions using the tanwīn, may occur as relativizer after indefinite antecedent. A noteworthy point regarding complement clauses is the lack of asyndetical constructions as compared with earlier Judeo-Arabic documentary material.

Affiliations: 1: Woolf Institute and University of CambridgeCambridgeUK


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