Finiteness in Jordanian Arabic: a semantic and morphosyntactic approach
Al-Aqarbeh, Rania Nayef
University of Kansas
This item is protected by copyright and unless otherwise specified the copyright of this thesis/dissertation is held by the author.
MetadataShow full item record
Previous research on finiteness has been dominated by the studies in tensed languages, e.g. English. Consequently, finiteness has been identified with tense. The traditional definition influences the morphological, semantic, and syntactic characterization of finiteness which has also been equated with tense and its realization. The present study investigates finiteness in Jordanian Arabic (JA), a spoken variety of Arabic that lacks tense marking and which marks agreement in all contexts. Such a language presents a challenge to the previous research on finiteness. I adopted a multi-level analytical approach in studying finiteness in JA that corresponds to the multi-faceted nature of the finiteness category. I enumerated the morphological, semantic, and syntactic properties commonly correlated with finiteness in the literature. In order to control for the clausal status of finiteness, I explored finiteness in JA in the context of complement clauses, a context that licenses finite as well non-finite clauses. To meet this goal, I adopted Noonan's (1985/ 2005) typological classification of complement clauses in which he classified clauses in terms of the matrix complement-taking-predicates. I then examined whether JA exhibits a distinction in regards to the traditional morphological, semantic, and syntactic properties of finiteness. I found that predicates in JA can be classified morphologically in terms of realis marking. Complement clauses encode different semantic interpretations which can also be captured by the realis distinction. Specifically, realis marked predicates encode distinctive aspectual interpretations in the real world. Conversely, realis unmarked predicates encode unrealized events. Nonetheless, the complement clauses are not distinguished syntactically in terms of realis marking. An alternative denominator is whether the clause is a Complementizer Phrase (CP) or not. Based on the mismatch between the morphological and semantic distinction, on the one hand, and the syntactic distinction, on the other, I argue that the finiteness notion cannot be extended to JA. This conclusion has significant implications for current linguistic research on finiteness. The study suggests that finiteness is a language-specific unification of morphosyntactic features rather than a core property of Universal Grammar.
- Dissertations 
- Linguistics Dissertations and Theses 
Items in KU ScholarWorks are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
We want to hear from you! Please share your stories about how Open Access to this item benefits YOU.