The Morphosyntax of the Demonstrative System in Classical Arabic: A Distributed Morphology Account


The current article explores the morphosyntax of the demonstrative system in Classical Arabic (CA) within the framework of Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz 1993, 1994; Halle 1997; and Embick and Noyer 2005). The paper decomposes the demonstratives into bimorphemic forms. The first morphemes represent the deictic information and capture the three types of demonstratives in CA: proximal, medial and distal. The second morphemes bear number, gender and case features which are presumably copied from the modified noun phrase. In this article, I show that the under specification of the demonstrative vocabulary items can account for all the patterns under study. However, in certain cases, context-sensitive features are required to reconcile the competition between equally competitive candidates. To account for unpredictable gaps in the paradigm, where the distal dual demonstratives are missing, I formulate an impoverishment rule as proposed by Zwicky(1985), Stump (1993) and Noyer (1998) who equip such rules with feature-changing capabilities.


Muteb Alqarni


Classical Arabic, demonstratives, distributed morphology