Non-Main Clause Linking and Verb Form Switch in Syrian Arabic. Is there a circumstantial clause?

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Recent research has brought into focus the function of switching between verb forms and types of clauses, here labelled ‘gram switching’, as a device for marking non-main clause linking in various types of Arabic and in Biblical Hebrew (Persson forthcoming a; Isaksson, Kammensjö, and Persson 2009; Isaksson 2011, 2013). The study presented here shows that a switch, either in verb form/morphology or from a verbal to a non-verbal clause, is frequently used as the only marker of non-main clause linking in Damascene Arabic texts from the 1950s. The findings point to the existence of a scale of markedness ranging from no other marking than context and/or intonation to the use of specific subordinating conjunctions. On this scale, gram switching plays an important role as a general, non-specific, marker of a digression from the main-line of a discourse or the main clause of a sentence. The study supports similar findings in previous research on more recent recordings of urban Gulf Arabic as well as on Biblical Hebrew. The results of the study have clear implications on how non-main clauses in Arabic dialects are to be analysed and classified and lead to a deeper understanding of the widespread use of asyndetic clause linking in these dialects. Specifically, the results lead to a questioning of the usefulness of stipulating a special category of circumstantial clauses within Arabic non-main clauses. The different types of clauses that, based on formal or semantic criteria, have been thought to be circumstantial are shown to be part of a larger system of encoding non-main clause linking. Together with the results from research on Biblical Hebrew, the results of this study disclose a need for the re-analysis of non-main clause linking in (West) Semitic in general.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStrategies of Clause Linking in Semitic Languages : Proceedings of the International Symposium on Clause Linking in Semitic Languages, Kivik, Sweden, 5-7 August 2012
EditorsBo Isaksson, Maria Persson
ISBN (Print)978-3-447-10312-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0567-4980

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Arabic (015016005)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature


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