Grammaticalization of Arabic Prepositions and Subordinators: A Corpus-based Study 9004185879, 9789004185876

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Grammaticalization of Arabic Prepositions and Subordinators: A Corpus-based Study
 9004185879, 9789004185876

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Grammaticalization of Arabic Prepositions and Subordinators

Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics Editorial board

T. Muraoka, A.D. Rubin and C.H.M. Versteegh


Grammaticalization of Arabic Prepositions and Subordinators A Corpus-Based Study By

Mohssen Esseesy

Leiden  • boston 2010

This book is printed on acid-free paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Esseesy, Mohssen.   Grammaticalization of Arabic prepositions and subordinators : a corpus-based study / by Mohssen Esseesy.    p. cm. — (Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics)  Includes bibliographical references and index.  ISBN 978-90-04-18587-6 (hardback : alk. paper)   1. Arabic language—Prepositions. 2. Arabic language—Prepositional phrases. 3. Arabic language—Grammaticalization. I. Title. II. Series.   PJ6148.5.P73.E88 2010   492.75’7—dc22 2010024382

ISSN 0081-8461 ISBN 978 90 04 18587 6 EISBN 978 90 04 18763 4 Copyright 2010 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change.

This book is dedicated to Sarah Elizabeth

CONTENTS Figures  ................................................................................................... Table  ...................................................................................................... Preface  ................................................................................................... Acknowledgements  ............................................................................. Symbols and Abbreviations  ............................................................... Transcriptions  ......................................................................................

xi xiii xvii xix xxi xxiii

Chapter One  Background on Language Change in Arabic  ...... 1.1 Grammatical Categories within Arabic Varieties  . ........... 1.2 Prevailing Attitudes and New Assumptions  ..................... 1.3 The Case for Grammaticalization  ....................................... 1.4 Grammaticalization and Prepositions  ................................ 1.5 Early Scholarly Treatments of Arabic Prepositions  ......... 1.6 Recent Studies of Arabic Prepositions  ............................... 1.7 Overview  . ................................................................................

1 1 3 9 13 17 25 30

Chapter Two  Grammaticalization  ................................................. 2.1 Scope, Aim, Data Sources, and Limitations of the Present Study  .......................................................................... 2.2 Theoretical Background  ........................................................ 2.2.1 Basic Lexical Sources  ................................................. 2.2.2 Classes of Lexical Sources  . ....................................... 2.2.3 Grammaticalized Constructions  .............................. 2.3 Motivating Strategies for Semantic Extensions through Grammaticalization  . .............................................. 2.3.1 Metaphor and Meaning Extensions  . ...................... 2.3.2 Metonymy  ................................................................... 2.3.3 Metaphor and Metonymy in the Stages of Grammaticalization  ................................................... 2.3.4 Reanalysis  .................................................................... 2.3.5 Pragmatic Strengthening  .......................................... 2.3.6 Synthesis of Mechanisms  .......................................... 2.4 Unidirectionality of Change  . ............................................... 2.5 Measuring Grammaticalization  ........................................... 2.6 Textual Frequency and Grammaticalization  .....................

31 31 36 38 40 48 52 53 60 63 64 66 67 68 69 72



Chapter Three  Complex Prepositional Phrases  . ......................... 3.1 Introduction  ............................................................................ 3.2 Formal Properties of PNP-Constructions  ......................... 3.3 General Characteristics of PNP-units in Arabic  .............. 3.4 Grammaticalization of bi-n-nisbati li-/ʾilā ‘in regards to, in comparison with’  . ............................................................. 3.5 Grammaticalization of ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, despite’  ..................................................................................... 3.6 Grammaticalization of bi-ḥājatin ʾilā/li- ‘in need of ’  ...... 3.7 Grammaticalization of bi-n-naḏ̣ari ʾilā ‘in view of ’  ......... 3.8 Grammaticalization of bi-n-niyābati ʿan ‘on behalf of ’  . ... 3.9 Grammaticalization of bi-taḥrīḍin min ‘with incitement/ prodding from/of ’  ....................................................................

75 75 77 78 81 85 90 94 97 99

Chapter Four  Compound-Like Prepositions  ............................... 4.1 Introduction  ............................................................................... 4.2 Grammaticalization of fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’  . ........................... 4.3 Grammaticalization of bi-faḍli ‘thanks to, owing to’  . ..... 4.4 Grammaticalization of min-nāḥiyati ‘with respect to’  .... 4.5 Grammaticalization of ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of, via’  ............. 4.6 Grammaticalization of bi-sababi ‘because of ’  ...................

105 105 108 113 115 118 122

Chapter Five  Simple Stem Prepositionals  .................................... 5.1 Introduction  ............................................................................... 5.2 Grammaticalization of fawqa ‘over, above’  ........................ 5.2.1 Semantic grammaticalization of fawqa  ................... 5.2.2 Formal grammaticalization of fawqa  ...................... 5.3 Grammaticalization of taḥta ‘under, beneath’  .................. 5.3.1 Semantic grammaticalization of taḥta  .................... 5.3.2 Formal grammaticalization of taḥta  ........................ 5.4 Grammaticalization of ʾamāma ‘in front of, before’  .......... 5.4.1 Semantic grammaticalization of ʾamāma  ............... 5.4.2 Formal grammaticalization of ʾamāma  . ................. 5.5 Grammaticalization of xalfa ‘back, behind’  ....................... 5.5.1 Semantic grammaticalization of xalfa  ..................... 5.5.2 Formal grammaticalization of xalfa  ........................

129 129 129 129 135 139 139 144 147 147 150 153 153 160

Chapter Six  Simple Stem “Primary” Prepositions  . ..................... 167 6.1 Introduction  ............................................................................... 167



Grammaticalization of fī ‘in, at’  ............................................ 6.2.1 Semantic grammaticalization of fī  ........................... 6.2.2 Formal grammaticalization of fī  ............................... Grammaticalization of ʿalā ‘on, above’  . .............................. 6.3.1 Semantic grammaticalization of ʿalā  ....................... 6.3.2 Formal grammaticalization of ʿalā  ........................... Grammaticalization of min ‘from, of ’  ................................. 6.4.1 Semantic grammaticalization of min  . ..................... 6.4.2 Formal grammaticaization of min  ...........................

167 167 177 186 186 195 202 202 211

Chapter Seven  Bound-Stem Prepositional Forms  ....................... 7.1 Introduction  ............................................................................... 7.2 Grammaticalization of li- ‘to, for’  . ....................................... 7.2.1 Semantic grammaticalization of li-  .......................... 7.2.2 Formal grammaticalization of li-  ............................. 7.3 Grammaticalization of bi- ‘in, at, with’  ............................... 7.3.1 Semantic grammaticalization of bi-  . ....................... 7.3.2 Formal grammaticalization of bi-  ............................

225 225 226 226 236 240 240 250

Chapter Eight  From Preposition to Clause Subordination  . ..... 8.1 Prepositional Subordinators and Non-Prepositional Equivalents  ................................................................................. 8.2 Prepositions and Subordinators: Formal Distinctions  .... 8.3 Interclausal Linkage Strategies  .............................................. 8.4 Layering of Prepositional Subordinators  ............................ 8.5 Layers of Meanings  .................................................................. 8.5.1 Gricean Utterance Meaning  ...................................... 8.5.2 Principle of Informativeness and Implicatures  . ... 8.6 Scales of Grammaticalization for Subordinators  ..............


6.2 6.3 6.4

Chapter Nine  Causal, Concessive-Conditional, and Concessive   Subordinators  ...................................................................................... 9.1 Introduction  ............................................................................... 9.2 Causal Relations  ........................................................................ 9.2.1 Purpose  ........................................................................... 9.2.2 Cause/Reason  ................................................................ 9.2.3 Textual Frequency of liʾanna ‘because’  ................... 9.2.4 Textual Frequency of bi-mā ʾanna ‘since, because’  ........................................................................

257 259 263 266 272 272 274 285 289 289 289 291 295 298 306

x 9.3 9.4

contents 9.2.5 Diachronic Frequency of li-d̠ālika ‘therefore’  ....... 9.2.6 Textual Frequency of mund̠u ‘since’  ....................... Concessive-Conditional Relations  ........................................ 9.3.1 Diachronic Frequency  ................................................. 9.3.2 Concessive Relation  ..................................................... Diachronic Textual Frequency  ..............................................

309 311 314 325 327 334

Chapter Ten  Summary and Conclusion  ........................................ 339 Appendix A  .............................................................................................. 351 Bibliography  ............................................................................................. 357 Indices Author Index  ....................................................................................... 371 Subject Index  ....................................................................................... 374

Figures Figure 7.1  Diachronic shifts in the semantic evolution of li-  ..... Figure 7.2 Network of semantic senses for bi-  . .......................... Figure 8.1  Lehmann’s continuum of “explicitness of linking”  . Figure 8.2  A continuum of layers of prepositional complexity  . .. Figure 8.3  Continuum of semantic functions for subordinators   derived from prepositions  ............................................................. Figure 8.4 Network of some semantic functions for ḥattā  .......

228 243 266 267 271 278

Tables Table 1.1  Reductive Changes in Forms of Prepositions   in Arabic  ........................................................................................... 2 Table 1.2  Selected Stages in the Possible Functional Evolution of ʿalā ‘on, above’  . ........................................................ 3 Table 1.3  Pennacchietti’s Abstract Representation of Cognitive-Semantic Relations of Prepositions  . ........................ 38 Table 2.1  Corpora Selected from ACT for This Study  .............. 32 Table 2.2  Body Part Terms and Their Corresponding Spatial Relations and Reference Points  .................................................... 41 Table 2.3  Lexical Sources Denoting Environmental Landmarks  ........................................................................................ 43 Table 2.4  Lexical Sources Denoting Relational Concepts  ......... 45 Table 2.5  Lexical Source of Abstract Nature  ............................... 45 Table 2.6  Lexical Sources of Dynamic Nature  ............................ 46 Table 2.7  Categorical Shift Resulting from Grammaticalization  . ....................................................................... 51 Table 3.1  Formal Properties of Selected PNP-Constructions in Arabic  ........................................................................................... 79 Table 3.2  Diachronic Total Textual Frequency of Selected PNP-units in Newspapers (1996–2002)  . ...................................... 80 Table 3.3  Major Stages and Functions in the Evolution of bi-n-nisbati li-  .................................................................................. 85 Table 3.4  Major Diachronic Stages and Functions of ʿalā/bir-raγmi min  ...................................................................................... 89 Table 3.5  Major Stages and Functions in the Grammaticalization of bi-ḥājatin ʾilā/li-  ............................................................. 94 Table 3.6  Major Stages in the Grammaticalization bi-n-naḏạ ri ʾilā  ...................................................................................................... 97 Table 3.7  Stages and Functions in Grammaticalization of bi-n-niyābati ʿan  .............................................................................. 99 Table 3.8  Stages and Functions Associated with the Evolution of bi-taḥrīḍin min  . .......................................................................... 100 Table 4.1  Testing Internal Cohesion for Selected PN-units  ..... 106 Table 4.2  Diachronic Textual Frequency for Selected PN-units  . .......................................................................................... 107



Table 4.3  The Most Frequent Nominal Complement with fī ʾat̠nāʾi  ............................................................................................. Table 4.4  Comparative Frequency of Textual Occurrence between fī ʾat̠nāʾi and ʾat̠nāʾa  ........................................................ Table 4.5  Major Stages in the Semantic and Functional Grammaticalization of fī ʾat̠nāʾi  . .................................................. Table 4.6  Summary of the Stages in the Development of bi-faḍli  ............................................................................................... Table 4.7  Diachronic Stages in the Development of min nāḥiyati  ............................................................................................. Table 4.8  Diachronic Stages in the Grammaticalization of ʿan ṭarīqi  ........................................................................................... Table 4.9  Major Stages in the Semantic and Formal Grammaticalization of bi-sababi  .................................................. Table 5.1  Textual Frequency of fawqa in the Three Diachronic Corpora  ............................................................................................. Table 5.2  Diachronic Change in Textual Frequency and Its Correlation with Formal Changes  .............................................. Table 5.3  Major Stages in the Evolution of fawqa  ..................... Table 5.4  Diachronic Change in Formal Properties of taḥta  . .... Table 5.5  Major Stages in the Evolution of taḥta  . ..................... Table 5.6  Diachronic Textual Frequency Comparisons Between ʾamāma and quddāma  ................................................... Table 5.7  Major Stages in Diachronic Evolution of ʾamāma  ...... Table 5.8  Frequency Data for Constructions Containing xalfa  ................................................................................................... Table 6.1  Verbs most commonly occurring with fī-mā in al-Ahrām 1999  ................................................................................. Table 6.2  Diachronic Textual Frequencies of fī  .......................... Table 6.3  Major Stages in the Grammaticalization of fī  . .......... Table 6.4  Diachronic Frequency for ʿalā  . .................................... Table 6.5  Major Stages in the Grammaticalization of ʿalā  . ...... Table 6.6  Diachronic Textual Frequency of min  ........................ Table 6.7  Major Stages in the Grammaticalization of min  ....... Table 6.8  Top Ranking Prepositions in online Frequency Search  ................................................................................................ Table 7.1  Diachronic Textual Frequency for li-  . ........................ Table 7.2  Major Stages in the Diachronic Evolution of li-  ....... Table 7.3  Diachronic Frequency of bi- as an Adverbializer  .....

109 112 112 115 118 122 125 136 137 138 146 146 150 153 160 175 184 186 201 202 218 220 221 238 241 249


Table 7.4  Diachronic Textual Frequencies for bi-  ...................... Table 7.5  Major Stages in the Diachronic Evolution of bi-  ...... Table 8.1  Basic Morpho-Syntactic Differences between Prepositional and Subordinating Conjunctions  . ....................... Table 8.2  Examples of Levels of Utterance Meaning  ................. Table 8.3  Grammaticalization Channel of ḥattā from Preposition to Subordinator  . ........................................................ Table 8.4  Kortmann’s Comparative Domains of Meaning for Semantic Relations Coded by Subordinators  . .......................... Table 9.1  Diachronic Textual Distribution of liʾanna in Four ACT Corpora  ......................................................................... Table 9.2  Comparative Diachronic Distribution of li- and liʾanna  . .............................................................................................. Table 9.3  Textual Distribution of bi-mā ʾanna in Four Corpora  ............................................................................................. Table 9.4  Diachronic Frequency for li-ḏālika in ACT corpora  .............................................................................................. Table 9.5  Diachronic Increase in Textual Frequency and Functional Shift of munḏu  ............................................................ Table 9.6  Continua for Evolution of Causal Subordinators from Prepositional Sources  ........................................................... Table 9.7  Entailment Comparisons of Linked Clauses in Conditional, Concessive-Conditional, and Concessive Relations  ........................................................................................... Table 9.8  Textual Frequency Distributions for ḥattā in ACT Corpora  ................................................................................... Table 9.9  Textual Frequency Distribution for Three Concessives in ACT Corpora  . ......................................................

xv 251 255 259 264 279 284 299 299 307 310 311 312 316 326 335

PREFACE This study is the first to offer detailed synchronic and diachronic analyses of the evolution of prepositions in Arabic within the theoretical framework of grammaticalization in a unified account that also explores their subsequent development into subordinate conjunctions. Prior studies of Arabic prepositions from medieval times until the present have consistently offered analysis from an exclusively synchronic perspective. Brief diachronic inquiries into the origins of Arabic prepositions, primarily etymological in approach, have offered little or no theoretical insight into the principles that have guided the selection of linguistic sources for prepositional functions and the patterns and paths for their development. Furthermore, to date no research in Arabic linguistics has explored the functional extension of prepositions into interclausal subordinators. Following the grammaticalization approach in this research, I trace the sources as well as the evolutionary channels for selected linguistic items serving prepositional and subordinate conjunction functions in their authentic historical and contemporary texts from selected corpora from Brigham Young University’s Arabic Corpus Tool (ACT), which spans more than fourteen centuries. In so doing, I combine descriptive and quantitative analysis that is firmly embedded in a data-driven empirical approach. Such an approach makes it possible to trace subtle and gradual changes as well as major stages in the semantic and formal evolution of the examined linguistic items—from Classical Arabic texts to present-day Arabic newspapers and spoken vernaculars. This corpus-based method has enabled me to examine in greater detail the historical contexts of use as well as synchronic distributional characteristics of selected Arabic prepositional forms and their evolutionary tracks into subordinator functions. Major gains made by utilizing the grammaticalization framework in examining functional and formal changes of prepositional and subordinator forms have been many. (1) A refined understanding of the life cycle of Arabic prepositions has been established according to a replicable model that could be used in the analysis of similarly functioning linguistic items. (2) New insight into the multicategoriality of prepositional forms along with observable variation in their functional and



structural properties has been accounted for from a wider linguistic perspective (that is, cognitive and discourse-pragmatic as well as formal). (3) Gradational continua extending from prepositional to subordinator functions have been established, and the relevant mechanisms, metaphoric, metonymic, and conversation implicatures motivating such evolutionary change have been examined and accounted for cognitively, semantically, and formally. (4) Unidirectionality of the change hypothesis, a cross-linguistically attested pattern of change from lexical to grammatical and from less grammatical to more grammatical, has been confirmed for Arabic prepositions and subordinators in this study. (5) The degree of grammaticalization for Arabic prepositional and subordinating conjunctions has been assessed and was shown to vary greatly between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and present-day spoken dialects such that forms in the vernaculars frequently appear to be more grammaticalized than their MSA counterparts. The primary data sources forming the basis for this study are the Quran, the pre-modern text of Thousand and One Nights, and the corpora from ACT: modern literature, newspapers, and the Egyptian (dialect). Additional sources of data are examples culled from major treatises of medieval Arabic grammarians and lexicographers, and modern linguists.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Initial interest in researching Arabic prepositions within the framework of grammaticalization began gradually in 2004 as I was completing a lemma on the grammaticalization phenomenon within Arabic for the Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics. As my research in this robust subfield of historical linguistics intensified, thoughts on going beyond a single lemma to the authorship of a full monograph began to crystallize. Mounting enthusiasm for publishing a comprehensive work encompassing multiple syntactic categories such as pronouns, demonstratives, auxiliaries, and prepositions soon followed. However, as initial ideas become grounded in reality, modification of the initial intent has become necessary. I came to realize in the five years that ensued that exploring a single grammatical category in depth is in and of itself a worthy endeavor. Hence, my choice to investigate Arabic prepositions and the subordinators they give rise to within the framework of grammaticalization from among other categories that I initially wished to explore was in part motivated by the enormity of the task, but mostly owing to the very elusive nature of prepositions and the remarkable virtual scholarly abandonment of this category in Arabic linguistics research. This small contribution, it is hoped, will spur further scholarly interest in the field of grammaticalization in Arabic and in Arabic prepositions as well. As work on this monograph progressed, some of its completed portions were presented to colleagues at the annual meetings of the Middle East Studies Association of North America in Boston, MA in 2006 and Montreal, Canada in 2007. The discussions that took place during my presentations at those meetings contributed to improvement in the analysis presented in this study. Also, this book owes a great deal of debt to several of my colleagues. A review of the book proposal from one of the leading grammaticalizationists, Elizabeth Closs Traugott, sharpened the focus of this study. Ernest McCarus’s critical review of significant portions of the first draft was helpful in improving the arguments presented, particularly those in the chapters on the evolution of subordinate conjunctions from prepositional sources. This study also benefited a great deal from the careful reading of Karin C. Ryding, to whom I am most thankful for feedback on the content and



transcriptions of an earlier draft of this volume. My deep appreciation goes to my colleagues Elizabeth A. Fisher and Denis Sullivan for their review and editing of the English text of the earlier draft of the complete manuscript under a very tight timetable. I am also most appreciative of the colleagial support I have received from Elizabeth during the various stages of the writing of this book. I am indebted to my colleague Isella O’Rourke for her assistance with the reading of the Italian materials. Dilworth Parkinson deserves special thanks for his suggestions on maximizing searches of the Arabic Corpus Tool (ACT) by offering the retrieval formulas that effectively capture targeted prepositional frequencies in ACT. I am also most grateful to Brill’s anonymous readers for their critical remarks and suggestions that I have found constructive and beneficial to the overall quality of this work. My book editor, Mariam Shouman, and book indexer, Caroline Diepeveen, deserve my thanks and appreciation for their individual work on the final version of this volume that brought much improvement to it. The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University deserve my deep appreciation for their grants that paid for expenses associated with this research. Finally I wish to record my gratitude to John Benjamins Publishing Company, Mouton de Gruyter, AION and Professor Fabrizio Pennacchietti, and Qamus LLC, for granting the kind permission to reproduce tables and figures in this monograph.

SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS 1 First person 2 Second person 3 Third person ACT Arabic Corpus Tool ASP Aspectual particle CA Classical Arabic CCI Conventional Conversational implicature COMP Complement Def. Definite DU Dual EMPH Emphatic particle F Feminine FUT Future marker GCI Generalized conversational implicature IMP Imperative IPFV Imperfective JSV Jussive LM Landmark M Masculine MSA Modern Standard Arabic N Noun NEG Negation marker NP Noun Phrase P Preposition, prepositional p, q Sentential and propositional variables PASS Passive PCI Particularized conversational implicature PL Plural PN Preposition + Noun (compound-like prepositionals) PNP Preposition-Noun-Preposition (complex preposition) Q Yes/no interrogative particle SBJV Subjunctive SG Singular SUP Superlative

xxii TR V VOC * + - ?? > <

symbols and abbreviations Trajector Verb Vocative particle Ungrammaticality, ill formedness; unless another specific designation is given Presence of a feature Absence of a feature Pragmatically or semantically odd or curious Developed into Derived from

TRANSCRIPTIONS Description of place and manner of articulation of Arabic phonemes and their transcriptions. Consonants: Glottal stop Glottal fricative Voiceless pharyngeal fricative Voiced pharyngeal fricative Voiceless uvular stop Voiceless velar stop Voiced velar stop Voiceless velar fricative Voiced velar fricative Palatal fricative Voiceless alveolar fricative Voiced alveolar fricative Voiced Alveolar liquid Voiced alveolar nasal stop Voiced (emphatic)   interdental fricative Voiceless interdental fricative Voiced interdental fricative Voiceless velarized dental stop Voiced dental (emphatic) stop Voiceless dental fricative   (emphatic) Voiceless dental stop Voiced dental stop Voiceless dental fricative Voiced dental fricative Voiced dental liquid Voiceless labio-dental   fricative Voiced bi-labial stop Voiced bi-labial fricative Voiced bi-labial nasal stop

Transcription symbol ʾ h ḥ ʿ q k g (Primarily Egyptian) x γ y š j r n


ḏ ̣ t̠ ḏ ̣ ṭ ḍ

‫ظ‬ ‫ث‬ ‫ذ‬ ‫ط‬ ‫ض‬

ṣ t d s z l

‫ص‬ ‫ت‬ ‫د‬ ‫س‬ ‫ز‬ ‫ل‬

f b w m

‫ف‬ ‫ب‬ ‫و‬ ‫م‬

� ‫هـ‬ ‫ح‬ ‫ع‬ ‫ق‬ ‫ك‬ ‫ج‬ ‫خ‬ ‫غ‬ ‫ي‬ ‫ش‬ ‫ ج‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ن‬

xxiv Vowels (MSA): Low open long vowel High front long vowel High back long vowel


‫ا‬ ‫ي‬ ‫و‬

ā ī ū

* Three corresponding short vowels are transcribed the same as long ones above but without a macron. Their Arabic equivalents are marked by (1) a slanted dash (i.e., fatḥa) above consonants for the low open short vowel; (2) a slanted dash (i.e., kasra) underneath consonants for the high front short vowel; (3) a ‘‫( ’و‬i.e, ḍamma) above consonants for the high back short vowel. Vowels (Dialect): Long Middle front vowel ē Middle back long vowel ō Central neutral reduced vowel (schwa)

Short e o ә

Other transcription symbols not included in this list are copied from their referenced sources.



Grammatical Categories within Arabic Varieties

Research in the field of Arabic language and linguistics has been founded on the notion that present-day Arabic is diglossic in nature. Whether diglossia harks back to the early Islamic period remains a matter of considerable debate, however, classified as such, Arabic belongs to a minority of languages exhibiting a sharp dichotomy between two coexisting functional varieties, traditionally labeled “high” (= H) for Classical Arabic (CA) and its descendant Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and “low” (= L) for (spoken) dialectal forms (Ferguson 1959, 327). Evidence from morphology, syntax, and lexicon has been used, but is often skewed, to corroborate such a notion. The most compelling evidence for the existence of diglossia comes from phonology, particularly when deviation from the influential and idealized, mainly written, classical source is detected. Phonological deviation from MSA usually stamps one’s speech as colloquial, even when other sub-components of grammar (e.g., morphology, syntax, etc.) conform to MSA rules. In such an instance, the native speaker’s own naturally acquired dialectal phonology lowers the status of his/her discourse. Through this prism, Arabic appears as a complex language comprised of a modern standardized variety, derived from a historically distant classical origin, juxtaposed in a discrete way with its presentday dialectal varieties. There have been challenges to such a notion from various research perspectives (e.g., Mahmoud 1986; Holes 1995, 2004; Mazraani 1997; Al-Batal 2002) that question the validity of such claims and assert the existence of continua among varieties, and this research is neither intended to review nor corroborate such a position since doing so would take us far beyond the scope of this study. However, in virtually every language level spanning the high to the low and including the levels in between, there exist sets of grammaticalized functional classes performing prepositional, clause linkage, auxiliation, negation, and agreement marking functions that seem to have continued the natural course of their development. Despite the presumed


chapter one

fixed, discrete boundaries imposed by language purists, be they native or foreign, on registers and varieties, these function words and expressions have continued their natural evolution unrestrained to varying degrees, and thus have deviated from the idealized standard. To illustrate, table 1.1 exemplifies the reduction, and, by extension, deviation from the preserved rigid CA/MSA rules in phonological structure for two members of the prepositional class owing to fusion with the definite article of their dependents, as they occur in the Egyptian dialect: Table 1.1

Reductive Changes in Forms of Prepositions in Arabic

Independent, full form

MSA in context

Egyptian colloquial form

Dialectal form in context

min ‘from’

min al-bayti from the-house ‘from the house’ ʿalā ṭ-ṭāwilati on the-table ‘on the table’


mi-l-bēt1 from-the-house ‘from the house’ ʿa-ṭ-ṭarabēza on-the-table ‘on the table’3

ʿalā ‘on/above’2

ʿa‘on, above’

Functionally, some of these reduced forms together with their complements have formed tight syntactic units that perform subordinate conjunctions as shown in table 1.2:

1 See Tobin (2002, 146) for parallel morpho-phonetic reductions of the Hebrew preposition min ‘from, of ’ > mi (me-), which are treated within the Jakobsonian notion of markedness where the fuller form min is considered “unmarked” and the reduced variants are marked, owing to the latter forms’ semantic and cognitive feature of “linking a source of entities to those entities themselves viewed within a cognitive set.” (Ibid., 151). 2 Lipiński (2001, 475) claims that ʿalā, ‘on, above,’ and its Semitic variant ʿly in Hebrew, Phoenician, and Aramaic originated in the noun ʿly, ‘upper part’. However, he also relates that noun to the verb root ʿly, ‘to go up’. Beeston ([1970] 2006, 78), on the other hand, suggests that ʿalā could have originated in a “fossilized substantive” whose meaning was ‘top of ’. 3 It seems that ʿa- is also maintained when taking an indefinite nominal object in several of the Levantine dialects. Procházka (1993, 61) cites ʿa-ḍahrak, ‘on your back,’ and a few similar examples showing such morpho-phonological reductions.

background on language change in arabic Table 1.2


Selected Stages in the Possible Functional Evolution of ʿalā ‘on, above’

Stage 0 MSA

Stage I MSA

ʿalā ‘arose.3MSG’ ʿalā šaʾnin ‘on’ ‘affair, matter’

Stage II MSA /Vernacular

Stage III Vernacular

Stage IV Vernacular

ʿalā šaʾni /ʿalā šān ʿalašān ʿašān ‘for the matter of ’ ‘for the sake of ’ ‘because’

Dismissed as colloquial forms (i.e., low variety), they have escaped the scholarly scrutiny of language purists and purveyors. The existence of such forms admittedly poses a challenge to the partitioning of the Arabic language into discrete varieties and, more importantly, suggests that Arabic varieties are neither static nor unchanging. What is more, major treatises in Arabic since medieval times, but more importantly modern Arabic linguists to date, have overlooked such functional continua across Arabic varieties in order to maintain the neatness of the artificial divisions among them. I emphasize the notion of artificiality in the two level bifurcation (H and L) since in many cases functional words appearing in their dialectal form show strong evidence of further advancement along the pathway of their grammaticalization and increasing functional status compared to their manifestations in standard varieties as shown above (see table 1.1 and 1.2). Hence, the alleged discreteness of Arabic varieties is a theoretical construct based on intellectuals’ and grammarians’ idealizations in the categorization of these varieties. Within such configurations, actual manifestations of grammatical categories in forms at variance with CA/MSA have not been viewed in most cases as inevitable, natural language change, but rather as linguistic decay, despite the presence of abundant empirical evidence of the systematicity and regularity of the types and directions of those non-arbitrary evolutionary changes in semantic and formal properties of members of the grammatical categories. 1.2

Prevailing Attitudes and New Assumptions

The scope of this study, although limited to the analysis of evolutionary patterns of Arabic prepositions and clause-linking devices arising from them, puts forth empirical evidence in favor of continuous evolution of certain functional words spanning CA/MSA and


chapter one

present-day vernaculars. This modest contribution may be expanded on in future research by inclusion of more members of the preposition and subordinating conjunction categories as well as non-prepositional functional classes (e.g., auxiliaries, negation, agreement markers, etc.). The premise of this study therefore disputes the presumed static nature of Arabic grammar and highlights the dynamism and non-discrete nature of Arabic grammar across varieties in time and space. This study potentially renders the perennial dilemma that besets the field of Arabic linguistics regarding whether MSA, the primary descendant of CA, coexisted with dialects or preceded them in terms of grammar an unproductive intellectual dispute. In the majority of analyzed members of the functional class (i.e., prepositions and subordinators arising from them), the difference between CA and MSA on the one hand, and dialectal forms on the other, when their degree of grammaticalization is examined and compared, suggests that dialectal forms are far more grammaticalized. That a particular grammatical category exhibits a more advanced degree of functionality resulting from grammaticalization in a colloquial variety than its counterpart in a literary variety is nothing akin to Arabic per se. Simpson’s (2008, 265) comparative study of morphosyntactic characteristics of sentential and clausal nominalizers in colloquial and literary Burmese, which is also used orally in broadcasting as well as in written form, has revealed colloquial nominalizers in the former variety to be more grammaticalized. One possible reason for this situation in Arabic is the broader oral use of dialectal forms compared to CA/MSA varieties. When Badawī and Hinds’s (1986, ix) division of language levels in Arabic varieties as they appear in the Egyptian linguistic context is considered, three of the five identified levels (ordered from the most formal, level 5, to the most colloquial, level 1) may be subsumed under colloquial: (5) (4) (3) (2) (1)

fusḥ ā at-turāt̠ fusḥ ā al-ʿaṣr ʿāmmiyyat al-mut̠aqqafīn ʿāmmiyyat al-mutanawwirīn ʿāmmiyyat al-ʾummiyyin

‘Classical’ ‘Modern Standard Arabic’ ‘Colloquial of the educated’ ‘Colloquial of the semi-literates’ ‘Colloquial of the illiterates’

The most dominant language level in use is therefore dialectal and it is hardly surprising that in the absence of scrutiny by Arabic linguists, certain functional forms within these varieties have continued

background on language change in arabic


their natural cycle of grammaticalization. This observation is not to be immediately interpreted as a strong indication of the chronological lateness of dialects vis-à-vis CA or MSA. Rather, it emphasizes how the effect of the relative degree of freedom to change and thus advance along the grammaticalization continuum on dialects, and its converse for MSA, has unmistakable influence on constraining change. The consequence for certain functional forms in CA and MSA has been, due to extralinguistic and sociolinguistic restrictions, slowed down, or in some instances their natural evolutionary process has even been brought to a premature halt. A case in point is the fact that a subordinating compound such as li-ʾanna, lit. ‘for that = because’ in MSA still retains its agglutinative nature in which two morphemes (the preposition li- ‘to, for’ and the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’) are still morphologically transparent and their preserved CA phonetic structure is still intact, despite the existence of this collocation over many centuries. In dialects, on the other hand, such as the Egyptian, ʿalāšān ‘because’, comprised of the preposition ʿalā ‘on’ and the noun šaʾn ‘affair, matter’, has been agglutinated; in addition, the same preposition has been reduced in status to a clitic ʿa- in the variant ʿašān ‘because’, thus rendering the morphological make-up less transparent when coupled with the decategorialization of the preposition in question. Given the nature and directionality of change in grammaticalization, the aforementioned subordinating connective in MSA is less grammaticalized than its dialectal equivalent, at least in the example given from Egyptian Arabic. This observation notwithstanding, it is not unreasonable to propose that Arabic grammar in its entirety is amenable to change in the main and that the pace of change for the functional categories in each variety can be assessed and catalogued within the framework of grammaticalization. One cannot ignore sociolinguistic and even psycholinguistic contexts in which MSA and dialects are found. Despite the superior expressive power of present-day dialects, their native and natural acquisition, and wider use, they are treated as language decay in the eyes of language purists. To illustrate, in al-Ahrām, April 25, 2006, under the title “li-yaqul majmaʿ al-luγa al-ʿarabiyya kalimata-hu, [Let the Arabic Academy Speak!],” the author, ʿAbdul Munʿim, expresses unequivocal disdain towards the native dialect, presumably Egyptian Arabic, in favor of MSA as he states:


chapter one wa-fī ʾitāri haḏihi l-muṣāraḥ ati l-maṭlūbati fa-ʾinna xuṭūrata l-ʿāmmiyyati lā tatawaqqafu fa-ḥ asbu ʿinda intišāri-hā wa-taγalγuli-hā bal taṣilu haḏihi l-xuṭūratu ʾilā ḥ addin mā yumkinu tasmiyatu-hu infilātu l-ʿāmmiyyati ḥ ayt̠u tanmū bi-lā raqībin wa-tuṭawwiru nafsa-hā fī ʿašwāʾiyyatin wa-fajājatin wa-qubḥ in bi-lā qānūnin wa-lā ḍābiṭin. wa-hiyā fī kulli ḏālika tabtaʿidu kat̠īran ʿan ʾuṣūli l-ʿarabiyyati wa-tujāfī-hā wa-ka-ʾanna l-luγata qad ʾaṣbaḥ at luγatayni. (Emphasis added) And within the realm of this due candor, the gravity of colloquial [language] is not limited to its diffusion and penetration, but [rather] its gravity has reached an extent that we may label “debouchment of colloquial” whereby it evolves without a guardian and it develops itself randomly, hastily, in infamy and lowly and without a regulator. And in all that, it moves away from and shuns the fundamentals of the Arabic language, as if the [Arabic] language has been [split] into two. (Emphasis added)

This indictment against the (spoken) Egyptian dialect is not unique to this particular vernacular; it is the prevailing attitude among a considerable number of native speakers of Arabic, and it is one expected particularly among language purists and prescriptivists. What is immediately noticeable from the underlined glosses is the explicit hostility towards the native speaker’s own vernacular, despite what appears to be a testament to the import of its communicative value in meeting the changing communicative needs of each generation of speakers. Despite these and other negative attitudes toward modern Arabic dialects,4 they continue their natural evolution, if not expansion, and form an integral part of the linguistic identity of each Arab. To date, no modern Arabic dialect has experienced communicative stagnation, decline, or death as a result of the common disapproval of them or the massive efforts in Arab society in recent decades to expand the domain of MSA usage. Such a situation is in sharp contrast to the situation for some European dialects where the death of certain vernaculars has occurred owing to massive efforts towards standardization (Trudgill 2002, 29). From the perspective of language change associated with grammaticalization, it is important to note that psycholinguistic factors motivate

4 See strong anti-dialectal remarks from Mufīd Shihāb, Egyptian minister of higher education (cited in Boussofafra-Omar 2006, 629), who speaks of fuṣḥ ā as “presently suffering from some ailments” owing to present expansions in dialectal domain of usage.

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opposition to language change since change is construed as a threat to the perfection of language that was presumably reached in earlier centuries. That being the case, deviation from the “original grammar” is perceived by adherents of this myopic view as linguistic lawlessness (i.e., absence of [logical] grammatical rules). As un-codified, free-evolving vernaculars, Arabic dialects may show divergence from CA and MSA norms, but as far as the manifestation of the functional categories in them, they generally exhibit features typical of more advanced stages of grammaticalization than does MSA or CA. With a few minor exceptions, prepositions in Arabic varieties, standard and dialectal alike, have shown evolutionary patterns that correspond closely to prepositional forms in other languages. Commonly, they originated in lexical forms having relatively concrete semantic denotations and through cognitive mechanisms such as metaphor, metonymy, and motivating contextual factors they have come to mark spatial, temporal, and even more abstract functional relations such as case functions (e.g., li- ‘to’ when marking dative). When further manipulated, they may serve as sources for even more abstract concepts and relations that include textual functions like subordinate relations (e.g., ḥ attā law ‘even if ’). This is not to suggest that all prepositional forms are equal in their actual or potential functional distribution. For example, members of the prepositional class may perform one or more of the following functions: (1) behave syntactically as prepositions par excellence (that is, take an NP complement) as in the case of fī sayyāratin ‘in a car’; (2) function as both a transitive preposition (e.g., qabla-ka ‘before you’) or intransitive preposition (traditionally known as adverbs as in min qablu ‘from before’); (3) occupy adjunct positions in sentences, thus giving extraneous information (as in taḥ ta l-miḏ̣allati ‘under the sunshade’, in waqafa fī š-šāriʿi taḥ ta l-miḏ̣allati ‘he waited on the street under the sunshade’); (4) occur within VP and modify the meaning of the head verb (e.g. xāfa min ‘dreaded someone/ something’, as opposed to xāfa ʿalā ‘fear for someone/something’; (5) function as a subordinator signaling a dependency relation to the main clause (e.g., li-ʾanna /ʿašān ‘because’; (6) help form complex prepositions (like ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘despite’) or form prepositional compounds (such as bi-sababi, lit. ‘with-reason = because of ’). From the earliest studies of Arabic prepositions in pre-medieval times to the present, diversity in their morpho-syntactic properties and extensions in their semantic senses have not received adequate scholarly


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attention. The reason for this lies primarily in the preoccupation of Arabic grammarians and linguists with formal aspects of single stem prepositions and the class of so-called adverbs. Further, the strictly synchronic and atomistic approach adopted by early Arabic grammarians and most of their successors has ignored the definite evolutionary properties of such important components of Arabic grammar. Few attempts have been made to investigate the origin of Arabic prepositions and adverbs within the context of their Semitic origins; for example, Reckendorf ([1895] 1967, 1921), Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, vol. 2), Wright ([1874] 1974, vol. 2), Gray ([1934] 1971), Fleisch (1956), O’Leary (1969), Fischer (1997), Lipiński (2001) have made inroads into the history of selected individual prepositions by employing commonly used tools in the etymological field. Such tools, while frequently enabling the researcher to trace the origins of a specific grammatical form to some hypothesized source, still treat each of the “recovered” sources in isolation from other similarly functioning linguistic elements and exclude cognitive and discourse factors giving rise to their acquired functions. The consequences of merely looking at individual word histories and overlooking recurring patterns and cognitive and textual factors motivating functional, semantic, and formal change for certain forms are missed opportunities for recognizing diachronic evolution along recurring pathways of other members of the same class whose histories are under-documented. Moreover, such an approach ignores the semantic properties of the linguistic items recruited for grammatical functions such as prepositions and interclausal linkages, and minimizes the potential for formulating predictions regarding likely changes they could undergo. The etymological studies of Semitists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries offered descriptive accounts where functions of grammatical forms are merely enumerated in accordance with research tradition and individual intuitions, a process that is not independent of the investigating scholar’s own abilities, personal intuitions, and predilections toward explaining linguistic phenomena. On the other hand, explanations offered by first-generation Arabic grammarians in pre-medieval times (see 1.4 below) also have their shortcomings. They have rarely been seriously challenged, and thus their explanations have become time-honored traditions, even though their analyses were by and large grounded in much prescriptivism. The consequences of their approach are the inability to recognize synchronic diversity in the behavior of linguistic forms and their functional change over time. For example,

background on language change in arabic


the failure to recognize functional similarity, and in some instances overlap, between the so-called true prepositions, like ʿalā ‘on, above’, and adverbs like fawqa ‘above’, has kept them in separate categories in almost all grammatical analysis to date. The evolution of prepositions into interclausal connectors and the constraints permitting or inhibiting such evolution, as far as I know, have not yet received scholarly attention in the Arabic grammatical tradition. 1.3 The Case for Grammaticalization As will become clear in subsequent chapters, synchronic and diachronic studies of prepositions within the grammaticalization framework offer many benefits, including insights that were not possible under the most informed analyses in the etymological studies of Western Semitists like Reckendorf, Brockelmann, and their contemporaries, which have been cited earlier. The theoretical framework utilized in the present investigation draws on formal properties such as morphosyntactic and phonological aspects of prepositions as well as functional properties, including semantics and discourse pragmatics. It sheds light not only on the possible individual evolutionary pattern of a given linguistic item whose etymology is recoverable, but also those many linguistic items whose origins are buried within the depth of historical layers and now survive as opaque relics. It is the fundamental assumption espoused here, and in grammaticalization studies in general, that in recognizing patterns of linguistic evolution recurring cross linguistically with significant regularity, change in language functional classes under normal conditions is gradual, rather than abrupt. Within the Arabic language context, language change has been conditioned by a plethora of factors, some of which seem natural as they recur elsewhere in other evolutionary linguistic situations; others, compulsory or superimposed, were nonetheless particular to Arabic during the centuries following Arabo-Islamic expansions outside of the Arabian Peninsula. Following the process of Arabicization, speakers in these affected areas gradually changed not only their native languages, but also the Arabic language they received. That is, they were not merely passive recipients of the Arabic language; rather, they participated in what Versteegh (1996, 18) labels “transformation” of the Arabic language. The contemporary linguistic situation of Arabic-speaking countries


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reflects the dynamic interactions of the speakers with their language, even if it is in some sense “inherited” or heavily influenced by classical forms that are supposed to be resistant to change. It is possible that language contact between native Arabic speakers and non-Arabs has contributed to the emergence of grammaticalized constructions not found among native Arabs prior to territorial expansion outside of Arabia. Turning to MSA, it has been shown time and again (see Blau 1973; Kaye 1994; Van Mol 2003) to be neither monolithic nor identical to CA. Change in MSA is nonetheless subject to excessive constraints from various groups including language academies. By contrast, Arabic dialects, having being relatively free from the normative linguistic codifications that are imposed on MSA, have continued to show much greater resilience and innovation, occasioned by changes in social and economic conditions, as well as many other influences. Arabic vernaculars thus continue to be acquired natively and naturally, independent of the sphere of formal education and other related literacy effects. Despite the linguistic distinctions between MSA and vernaculars, the view held in this study is that the artificial divide between grammars of Arabic dialects can be eliminated if they are viewed as part and parcel of a linguistic continuum, through a theoretical framework like grammaticalization that permits continua of language change between grammars of a given language. Grammaticalization offers penetrating insight into multi-functionality and semantic evolution for linguistic forms serving grammatical functions across time, even when they distinguish themselves in the latter part of their linguistic life cycle in form and function from their ancestral forms. In the eyes of prescriptivists or purist Arabists, dialectal forms that appear in forms and functions that deviate from their classical forerunners are dismissed as “corrupt” and degraded forms that must be avoided. Such prejudices seem to have their roots in the notion of fasād al-kalām ‘corruption of speech’ that Versteegh (1996, 16) traced back to early Arabic grammarians themselves in their attitude towards their own language. Given these historically ingrained attitudes of the Arabic grammatical tradition against language change and variation, modern time prejudices against change are easily formulated often in haste and without consideration for whether similar change appearing in dialectal forms is also attested elsewhere in other language families. For example, negation in certain North African dialects (including Egyptian) includes the circumfix mā—š, which is frowned

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upon as low, despite its use by all native speakers of such dialects. Such a myopic view disregards the authenticity and indigenousness of the elements involved in negation as none other than the classical mā ‘not’ reinforced by the semantically superordinate word šayʾ ‘thing’, according to the following hypothesized, schematized, and simplified stages of diachronic evolution, which are adopted from Esseesy (2009, 39): 0.

mā bi-wudd-ī not with-desire-my ‘I do not desire a thing’

šayʾun thing


mā bi-dd-ī not with-desire-my ‘I do not desire a thing’

šēʾ thing


mā bidd-ī-š not want-my-not ‘I don’t want’


bidd-ī-š want-my-NEG ‘I don’t want’

In stage (0), negation is carried out by the codified method of negation with the particle mā in the non-verbal sentence. In (I) the prepositional element cliticizes with the verbal noun complement wuddī ‘my desire’ after the dropping of the initial glide /w/ from its host and thereby the word boundary between the clitic and the host is eliminated. As a result, it is reanalyzed as a new stem biddī, which assumes a quasiverbal function (cf. bidd-ī ʾiyyā-hā ‘I want her/it5). Also, šayʾ ‘thing’ is reanalyzed as part of the negation construction and appears as its reinforcer. Prior to its reanalysis, šayʾun ‘thing’ could be substituted for other negation emphasizers such as qaṭt ̣ ‘ever, at all’ and al-battatu ‘at all’. In (II) the postverbal reinforcer loses its referential lexical content and consequently its phonological form underwent erosion. Following this, it became obligatorily suffixed to what is being negated and thus formed a circumfix with the negation particle mā. In (III), the negation particle mā is dropped, and the enclitic -š alone substitutes for the deleted negation marker. In this usage, -š becomes obligatory as a


Ernest McCarus, telephone conversation with author in March 2004.


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stand-alone negation marker. The final output of this diachronic process is biddīš, appearing in certain present-day spoken Eastern Arabic as a negated single (verb-like) stem, which in essence was an entire phrase (periphrastic construction) whose original syntactic relations are disguised in its present form. The coalescence of three distinct elements, preposition, noun stem, and negation reinforcer all come together in the end as a negated verb-like form in spoken Arabic.6 Such an evolutionary path involves several overlapping stages where syntactic, semantic, and phonological changes take place not only in the grammaticalized negation particle, but also in other clause constituents. At the morpho-syntactic level, elimination of constituent boundaries between the prepositional prefix and its complement is an instance of syntactic reanalysis that sanctions the subsequent morphological bonding between them, thus ultimately leading to the reorganization of the stem of the verbal noun. In this process, the preposition bi- ‘in, at, with’ is reduced from a morpheme to a phoneme and consequently is decategorialized. This reductive process leading to the morpheme’s demise and its rebirth as a mere phoneme is what Hopper (1994, 29) aptly labels “phonogenesis.” Moreover, the reanalysis of the negation reinforcer as part of the negation construction in itself triggers the grammaticalization of šayʾ ‘thing’ and the bleaching of its semantic content. With the reduction of its segmental structure, the remaining -š acquires a new function as a marker of negation, not previously attested. Thus, while emptied of its original lexical semantic content, it acquires a new function as a marker of negation usable in a wider range of contexts than was previously allowed when it was used in its original lexical form. While this process resulted in significant changes to the lexical stem of wudd and bi- in the examples above, the new functions these items have assumed through their grammaticalization do not obliterate their earlier existence. These lexical counterparts remain fully functional in other contexts across Arabic language dialects. Thus, the addition of more grammaticalized functions through the grammaticalization process is not necessarily a priori for eliminating older functions.

6 See Versteegh (1997, 101) and Holes (2004, 243–245) for a brief discussion of mā—š negation; Lucas (2007) for extensive details on the diachronic evolution of this and related negation morphemes in spoken Arabic dialects. Also, the syntactic process leading to the evolution of biddīš gives credence to Givon’s (1971b, 394) oft-cited slogan “today’s morphology is yesterday’s syntax.”

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The emergence of negation markers from lexical origins has been attested cross- linguistically. In French, for example, pas, which originally meant ‘step’, is now used in contemporary French (as in parle pas) as the marker of negation, with the disappearance of ne, ‘not’, in certain instances (Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003, 32). Admittedly, detailed documented evidence of the hypothesized developmental sequence, particularly in the crossing from or transfer between CA and what could be termed dialectal, is missing. However, the unavailability of documented evidence is not indicative of lack of validity of assumptions, or of implausibility, especially when developments such as the one suggested here for Arabic have been frequently attested elsewhere in geographically and genetically unrelated languages. Heine and Kuteva (2002) assembled 400 recurrent evolutionary processes within the framework of grammaticalization in 500 languages that could serve as general models to be consulted for pathways to grammaticalization in cases where direct documented historical evidence is unavailable. Comparisons of evolutionary processes of grammaticalization across languages and time as has been done in Heine and Kuteva’s work may help validate or refute research hypotheses and/or assumptions. 1.4

Grammaticalization and Prepositions

Grammaticalization thus offers potential insights into the panchronic relations for each gram7 individually and for all similarly functioning grams collectively. Patterned evolutions of grams cross-linguistically not only allow the recovery of missing links between resultant forms and their origins, but also facilitate the application of grammaticalization scales and parameters to measure grammaticality through the context in which linguistic items undergoing grammaticalization figure. Identification of intermediate stages between the beginning and end of the evolutionary process is also permissible since each stage, while overlapping with the preceding stage on one end and the succeeding one on the other, is, nonetheless, still discernable. Functional overlapping in grammaticalization has two manifestations: one involving a single gram with its more and less grammatical

7 A term invented by Pagliuca and was first used by Bybee to refer to grammaticalized elements.


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manifestations, and the other relating to what has been termed “renovation” in Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 20) or “renouvellement” in Meillet ([1912] 1958, 133). This occurs when old (synthetic) elements become coextensive with their (analytic) substitutes within a given language variety. For example, in MSA the recently grammaticalized verb tamma ‘completed, finished’ is used in the periphrastic construction tamma + verbal noun, virtually fulfilling the same function as the older (internal) passive fuʿila, as in ḥ ufira ‘it was dug’, while being structurally distinct from it; examples (1a and b) illustrate the similarity in meaning of the periphrastic construction and the internal passive: (1a)

tamma ḥ afru qanāti s-suwaysi completed.3MSG digging Canal the-Suez ‘The Suez Canal was dug 140 years ago.’


ḥ ufirat qanātu s-suwaysi dug.PASS.3FSG Canal the-Suez ‘The Suez Canal was dug 140 years ago.’

qabla 140 ʿāman before 140 year (Ahrām 1999–Ref. 04299INVE02)8 qabla 140 ʿāman before 140 year

The two functionally similar items thus result from syntactic processes (periphrasis) and morphologization (in this case, derivation) respectively. The import of grammaticalization in explaining language change lies in going beyond formal analysis, which tends to treat all functioning grams as belonging to a certain domain, such as prepositions, for example, since they uniformly adhere to the general morpho-syntactic rules of the language. In most Arabic linguistic treatments of prepositions from medieval times to the present, such a category has been typically discussed in terms of its morpho-syntactic properties and less frequently in terms of its evolving semantic and functional complexities. Classed as members of the ḥ arf ‘particle’ category by early Arabic grammarians, heterogeneity in prepositional functions is masked. The ḥ urūf ‘particles’ category, from the time of the most influential treatise of Sībawayhi in the late eighth century onwards, was reserved for linguistic items not fitting neatly within the sharply discrete classification afforded to the two other major categories: nouns and verbs (more will be said below in this section). In his al-Kitāb, Sībawayhi cites several members of the particle category, such as t̠umma ‘then’; sawfa, future 8 is example is from the Brigham Young Arabic Corpus Tool; see section 2.1 below for more details.

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denoting particle; wa-, used for oath constructions; li-‘for, to’, used in status constructus; and describes the class of particles as that which “has a meaning but is neither a noun nor a verb” (Sībawayhi 1988, 1:12). Characterized as such, they appear as residual items whose properties are described in negative terms. What is more important is to note their presumed unchanging functional properties. This notion is succinctly expressed by Ibn as-Sarrāj of the fourth century Hijra (tenth century AD) when he remarks in his treatise al-ʾUṣūl fī an-Naḥ w that ḥ urūf ‘particles’ are ʾadawātun tuγayyiru wa-lā tataγayyaru “unchanging instruments of change” (Ibn as-Sarrāj 1999, 1:43). The linguistic elements affected by the “instruments of change” are nouns and verbs as a result of their co-occurrence with members of the particle category. According to the Arabic grammatical tradition, the two forms li‘for, to’ and ʿinda ‘with’, functioning as prepositions, are said to belong to the same category. However, the present state of Arabic research has little or nothing to say about why li- appears as clitic and typically fuses with personal pronoun complements and is subject to further reduction in spoken dialects (whereas ʿinda ‘at’ does not do so as the following examples show: (2) li- ‘for’ + hu ‘him’> la-hu ‘to/for him’ (MSA) > lo [h] ‘to/for him’ (Egyptian dialect)9 (3) ʿinda ‘at’ + hu ‘hum > ʿinda-hu ‘at him’ (MSA) > ʿando [h] ‘at him’ (Egyptian dialect)

What factors, linguistic or otherwise, have prepared li- to be prefixed to its complement and precluded ʿinda from such behavior? Also, li- is presumed to have an etymological connection with the fuller directional form ʾilā ‘to, toward’ (Wright [1874] 1974, 2:147),10 whereas ʿinda, while functioning as a preposition, still retains its free and

9 See Chapter 7, section 7.2.2 for further evidence of morpho-phonetic reductions and decategorization of li-. 10 Wright ([1874] 1974, 2, 147) states that li- “is etymologically connected with” ʾilā. I interpret “etymologically connected” to be derived from. More recently, Ryding (2005, 373) seems to accept Wright’s position without raising an objection as she cites Wright’s etymological analysis in her reference grammar. Furthermore, Procházka (1995, 419) suggests that ʾilā and li- synchronically are “one preposition” (emphasis in original). However, it is unclear whether presumed oneness is etymological, functional, or both. An anonymous Brill reviewer of this study also noted an historical


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autonomous form. What semantic properties are common to both these prepositions that award them presumed equal membership in the same theoretically closed class? As will become clear in subsequent chapters, grammaticalization enables us not only to identify factors responsible for selection of grams for certain functions, but also the approximate place of each gram on the conceptual and functional cline of grammaticalization. For Arabic in particular, such a theoretical framework has far-reaching implications for potentially linking syntactic categories typically treated under separate rubrics in treatises of medieval Arabic grammarians and their followers in modern times. To illustrate, the verbal prefix bi- found in a number of present-day Arabic dialects, which is identified (see Brustad 2000, 234; and Mitchell and El-Hassan 1994, 13–14, 19–20) as one of the imperfective markers and as a non-past marker, is none other than the locative preposition bi- whose function leaped into the domain of verbal constructions in a few spoken dialects to mark a range of functions such as indicative mood, future, and even intention. This categorical change from locative prepositional to mood and aspect marker is not unique to bi- in Arabic. Consider the following examples for the Dutch locative aan ‘at’ in:11 (4)

zij is aan she is at ‘She is talking.’

het the

praten talk


wij zijn aan we are at ‘We are walking.’

het the

lopen walk

Given examples (4) and (5), it is plausible that bi- in its function as aspect/mood marker on verbs is historically derived from the locative preposition through further grammaticalization as the Arabic and Dutch examples point out.12 In this more abstract function, it still

functional link between the two forms that in an earlier study. Citing Bejamin Hary as source, the reviewer states “both serve as accusative markers in Middle Arabic”. 11 These Dutch examples parallel those in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 36); Rubin (2005, 143). 12 The preposition bi- has also been shown in Blau (1981a, 81) to function in Christian Arabic texts of the ninth century AD as marker of sentential objects.

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retains its earlier function as a preposition, sometimes in the same clause with noun complements, as in the Egyptian dialect: (6)

howwa bi-yākol bi-ʾīd-o he with- hand-his ‘He eats/is eating with his hand’ (i.e., instead of eating with silverware).

Such a cline of grammaticality is quite frequent as evidenced in the cited studies of Heine and his colleagues, Sweetser, and Traugott herself in Traugott ([1995] 1997, 2) who has as a result sketched the following evolutionary cline: locative adposition > tense marker

More importantly, since Arabic bi- specifically came to mark continuous aspect on verbs, it follows the cross-linguistic grammaticalization pathway that has been found in Imonda and Diola Fogny, Irish, and Seychelles languages that Heine and Kuteva (2002, 202) have identified and presented as LOCATIVE > CONTINUOUS. As will be demonstrated in more detail in chapter 7, the form bi- in its more grammaticalized function as tense marker underwent syntactic reanalysis and functional extension. In the Egyptian dialect, for example, when it occurs within verb phrases, it forms a paradigmatic contrast with the future marker ḥ a- and imparts non-past inflection on verbs. This newer, more grammaticalized, function of bi- highlights the change from marking what Langacker (1987, 242) calls “atemporal” (i.e., prepositional) relations to temporal (i.e., tense, aspect) ones. To recap, grammaticalization theory in the broadest sense, when used in investigating prepositions, offers insights into recoverable but hard to reconstruct sources and patterns of evolution in grammatical functions that are perceived as falling outside of the functional domains of prepositions (e.g., aspect marking on verbs). 1.5

Early Scholarly Treatments of Arabic Prepositions

Prepositions in Arabic have been discussed in major grammatical treatises, albeit under divergent nomenclatures, created by early Arabic grammarians and faithfully preserved and transmitted in the works of their successors. The authors’ theoretical predilections and


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perception of their status place prepositions in chapters or subsections of considerable theoretical variation.13 The diversity of these designations notwithstanding, they have ḥ arf, lit. ‘edge = particle’ as a common denominator. As ḥ urūf or ‘particles’, prepositions, as stated earlier, would be characterized in negative terms, rendering members of this class as those not meeting the standard definition for major categories like nouns and verbs put forth by the grammarian Sībawayhi. It will be recalled that Sībawayhi’s definition of the particle in the preceding section is “that which has a meaning but is neither a noun nor a verb such as t̠umma ‘then’; sawfa ‘future particle’; wa- (oath); li- ‘to, for’” (Sībawayhi I, 12). Along similar lines, in modern times Anderson (1997, 67) cites features distinguishing the category of prepositions as [-N, -V]. Within the theoretical framework of early Arabic grammarians, ambiguity regarding the necessary and sufficient criteria used for identifying the category of preposition is not the only unresolved issue. The choice of items to be included under the designation preposition has also been the subject of considerable disagreement. A cursory review of the inventory of Arabic prepositions for select Arabic grammarians from different generations reflects a state of indeterminacy in membership and, consequently, size of the preposition class. Sībawayhi (177 H/793 AD): ka- ‘as, like’; bi-‘in, at’; oath particle ta-; li- ‘to, for’; min ‘from, of ’; muḏ ‘since, ago’; fī ‘in, at’; ʿan ‘about’; rubba ‘perhaps’; ʾilā ‘to, towards’ (1, 419–420) (incomplete list cited) Mubarrad (285 H/898 AD): min ‘from, of ’; ʾilā ‘to, towards’; rubba ‘perhaps’; fī ‘in, at’; ka- ‘as, like’; bi- ‘in, at’; li- ‘to, for’ (4: 136) (he categorizes as nouns ʿalā ‘on, above’; ʿan ‘about’; qabla ‘before’; baʿda ‘after’; bayna ‘between’; mā ‘what’) Ibn ʿUṣfūr (669 H/1268 AD): bi- ‘in, at’; ka- ‘as, like’; li- ‘to, for’; coordinate particle or oath wa- ‘and, by’; oath particle ta-; rubba ‘perhaps’; arcane clitics like ru-, ʾa, mi-, mu-; min ‘from, of ’; ʿan ‘about’; fī ‘in, at’; muḏ ‘since, ago’; demonstrative hā;

13 Treatments of Arabic prepositions appear in the major treaties of early Arabic grammarians under the rubrics ḥ urūf al-jarr, lit. ‘particles of dragging = genitivizing’ (Ibn Hišām of the fourteenth century AD), ḥ urūf al-xafḍ ‘particles of lowering’ (Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s commentary Šarḥ Jumal az-Zajjājī, of the thirteenth century AD) and ḥ urūf al-ʾiāḍāfa ‘annexation particles’ (Sībawayhi of the late eighth century AD; Mubarrad of the late ninth century AD). These divergent nomenclatures, however, can be grouped under genitive constructions.

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bal ‘indeed’; arcane stem mun; ʿalā ‘on, above’; ʾilā ‘to, towards’; ḥ attā ‘until’; exceptive particles ḥ āšā, xalā, ʿadā; munḏu ‘since, ago’; lawlā ‘if it were not for’ (I:476–477) (exhaustive list) Ibn ʿAqīl (698 H/1298 AD): min ‘from, of ’; ʾilā ‘to, towards’; ḥ attā ‘until’; exceptives like xalā, ḥ āšā, ʿadā; fī ‘in, at’; ʿan ‘about’; ʿalā ‘on, above’; two variants for ‘since, ago’ muḏ, munḏu; rubba ‘perhaps’; li- ‘to, for’; kay ‘in order that’; coordinate and oath particle wa-; oath particle ta-; ka- ‘as, like’; bi- ‘in, at’; laʿalla ‘perhaps’; matā ‘when, whenever’ (II:3) (exhaustive list) Ibn Hišām (761 H/1360 AD): min ‘from, of ’; ʾilā ‘to, towards’; ʿan ‘about’; ʿalā ‘on, above’; fī ‘in, at’; li- ‘to, for’; bi- ‘in, at’; rubba ‘perhaps’; two variants for ‘since, ago’ muḏ, munḏu; ka- ‘as, like’; ḥ attā ‘until’; coordinate and oath particle wa-; and oath particle ta- (he omits exceptives xalā, ʿadā, ḥ āšā; laʿalla ‘perhaps’; matā ‘when, whenever’; kay ‘in order that’; and lawlā ‘if it were not for’ from this class because the first four are exceptives and the remaining three are all ill-fitting as prepositions) (279)

When comparing lists of accepted prepositions for each grammarian, the differences between them do not appear to be exclusively generational since two contemporaries, ʿAqīl and Ibn Hišām of the thirteenth century, could not agree on the size of the prepositional class; the earlier admits twenty and the latter categorically denies membership for four (laʿalla, matā, kay, and lawlā). Ibn Hišām further reclassifies xalā, ʿadā, ḥ āšā as exceptives, thus accepting fourteen as the only true prepositions. To be sure, no reasonable analysis would expect any two grammarians from the same or different generation to agree on the size of the prepositional class. Classificatory disagreements among these and other grammarians may be reflective of dialectal differences (e.g., Huḏayl dialect was said to permit matā ‘when’ as a genitivizing particle, but it is a preposition according to Ibn ʿAqīl (2, 6), of the thirteenth century AD), the specific criteria employed by the grammarians, recognition of contextual factors, and in some cases diachronic change. The latter reason, diachronic change, seems to be of marginal or no significance since Arabic grammarians in their analysis of prepositions have approached it from a strictly synchronic perspective, and more importantly from a static view of grammar in general.14

14 See Versteegh’s (1996, 17) analysis and conclusion (Ibid., 27) of the widely shared implicit view of the early Arabic grammarians of the static nature of CA, particularly its grammatical rules and dismissal of the “development in languages” (Ibid., 28).


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Although classed as ḥ urūf, roughly ‘particles’, within the traditional three-way distinction (the other two are ʾasmāʾ ‘nouns’, and ʾaf ʿāl ‘verbs’), Ibn ʿUṣfūr (1998, 1:487) in the thirteenth century AD cited multiple categories to which some of the members of the prepositional class may also belong. He divides prepositions into four distinct functional subclasses: (1) Exclusive use as particle (min ‘from’; bi- ‘in, at, with’); (2) Particle and nominal (ʿan ‘about’; munḏu ‘since, ago’; muḏ ‘since, ago’); (3) Particle and verbal (xalā ‘except’); and (4) Particle, nominal, and verbal (ʿalā ‘on’ originated in the verb ‘arose.3MSG’) Being viewed as elements belonging to more than one category is, if anything, indicative of the tendency of prepositions to defy strict categorization, even when subjected to stringent formalist criteria that attempts to analyze them from a purely structural and synchronic perspective, according to necessary and sufficient standards. It is precisely for this reason that cases of disputed prepositions in grammatical commentaries exist in the first place. If all the non-controversial cases are considered, the following seven forms are always included in the class of prepositions: ka- ‘as, like’; bi- ‘in, at, with’; particle for oath ta-; li- ‘to, for’; fī- ‘in, at’; min ‘of, from’; ʾilā ‘to, toward’15

One possible reason for the unanimous agreement among the grammarians in question on this list of basic prepositions is that these items adhere to criteria they either explicitly state or the reader may deduce from their exposition; namely: a. These items are never governed by another preposition (that is, they are the ultimate head of prepositional phrases if another preposi-


Variants of the three bound morphemes bi-, li-, and ka- are found in several Semitic languages such as Amharic, Argobba, Canaanite, Hebrew, Phoenician, Sayhadic, and Ugaritic (see individual chapters on these languages in Hetzron 1997 for manifestations of these and others in Semitic languages).

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d. e. f.


tion is part of the same construction), and they always mark their dependent in the genitive case. They do not display overt nominal or verbal properties (inflect for case, gender, number, or mark their dependants in the accusative case). Despite these grammarians’ acknowledgement of the polysemous nature of some elements, in most cases, the semantic properties of these items are essentially conceived of as unchanging; hence, they are typically considered monosemous, e.g., fī designates containment/container (Sībawayhi 1982, 4:226; Mubarrad 1979, 4:136; Ibn ʿUṣfūr 1998, 1:533); min ‘beginning of a goal’ (Sībawayhi 1982, 4:224; Mubarrad 1979, 4:139). Ibn ʿUṣfūr clarifies this point when stating “[whether] [functioning as] a noun, verb, or particle, ʿalā has a single meaning—to rise or to be above; likewise, all particles mentioned whether [functioning] as particle or non particle, are the same” (Ibn ʿUṣfūr 1998, 1:498) (translation, mine; italics added). This statement indicates that the semantic denotation of the preposition is always viewed from its ʾaṣl ‘underlying or actual source’, and that all other semantic senses are directly derived from such semantic sources. Implied in their classification as preposition is their lack of lexical (mainly noun) origins. All members meet criteria (a)–(d) to the same degree. Reduced phonological substance of the first four strongly indicates their classification as particles, since nouns and verbs are typically bi- or tri-consonantal morphemes.

The restrictive criteria (a)–(e) presume uniformity in formal properties for prepositions, and hence, these are the only elements that qualify for prepositional status. There are several problems associated with this approach to categorization of prepositions. First, the presumed uniformity masks some notable morpho-phonological variations among the seven members of the prepositional class. Considering the morpho-phonological properties of the seven prepositions in question, they vary in some significant ways. Whereas bi-, li-, and ka- are bound, min, fī, and ʾilā are not. Within the bound subclass, li- and bi- can be further distinguished according to the degree of variability of their morpho-phonological


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shape, which depends on the nature of their host, as the following two examples show: (7)

bi- ‘with, by’+ hā ‘her’ > bihā ‘in/with her’


li- ‘for/to’ + hā ‘her’ > lahā ‘to/for her’

In (7), the cliticized preposition bi- is unaffected by its host; however, in (8) li- shows a morpho-phonological variation resulting from its relative sensitivity to the host (e.g., personal pronoun suffixes and aspectual particle qad) to which it cliticizes, which in this case is the class of personal pronouns that trigger the change in its morpho-phonological form. The particular fusion of li- with the personal affixes that results in the change of its form to la- may be the result of what Bybee (2007, 316) labels “linear fusion hypothesis,” which she explains as “items that are used together fuse together.” Given this powerful phenomenon, li-, in the three corpora that form the primary data source for this study, co-occurs most frequently with personal pronouns, particularly those marking the third person (e.g., lahu ‘for/to him’, lahā ‘for/to her’, etc.). Semantic and formal constraints on the type of complement these prepositions govern also vary considerably. The bound preposition tais highly specific in its selection of its nominal complement as it is used exclusively as an oath initiating particle (as in ta-l-lāhi ‘by God’) and cannot be followed by any lexical form other than ʾallāh ‘Allah = God’. Furthermore, bi-, fī, min, ʾilā, and li- may be suffixed with personal pronouns (e.g., fī-nā ‘among us’), yet ta- and ka- do not share this property. Given these variations, the seven prepositions may be distinguished into the following layers: (1) (2) (4) (5)

Bound stem (variable, e.g., before personal suffixes): li- ‘to, for’ Bound stem (fixed): bi- ‘at, with’ Bound stem (not permitting personal pronouns): ka- ‘as, like’ Bound stem (not permitting open lexical choice of [nominal] complement): ta(6) Autonomous stem: fī ‘in, at’; min ‘from, of ’; ʾilā ‘to, toward’ Through the criteria of the Arabic grammarians outlined above and the additional analysis presented thus far, I was able to analyze some of the formal properties of these prepositions, which has led me to

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represent them in several distinguishable layers within the category of Arabic preposition. But the picture I have of Arabic prepositions is far from complete, and it remains partial at best. Early Arabic grammarians, at least those traditionally identified as members of the Basran school, applied rigid criteria for selection to membership in the preposition category in order to preserve the elegance of their tri-partite word-class distinction as ism ‘noun’, fiʿl ‘verb’, and ḥ arf ‘particle’; and those prepositions conforming to the ḥ arf ‘particle’ category fully were so categorized. To that end, they imposed an artificial functional divide between the small class of prepositions cited above and another class of much larger membership, which they called ḏurūf ‘locatives’. ̣ That class includes ʾamāma ‘front’, xalfa ‘behind’, taḥ ta ‘under’, fawqa ‘above’, wasṭa ‘middle’, qabla ‘before’, baʿda ‘after’, etc. The criteria they used in this case, either expressed overtly in their commentaries or logically deducible, were also formal: a. These locatives, while having the potential to govern their complements in the genitive, may be governed in certain circumstances by a preceding preposition from the group of seven prepositions identified above (e.g., min taḥ ti l-bābi ‘from underneath the door’). Therefore, in some occurrences they may not be the ultimate head of the prepositional phrase. b. Their semantic content specifies a spatial location or temporal relations and nothing beyond. c. Depending on their syntactic function, they may inflect for case, which makes them closely identified with members of the noun category. d. They may also be indeclinable or occur without an object NP (e.g., laysa baʿdu ‘not yet’), much like adverbs (I shall identify them in this function as intransitive prepositions). e. Given their functional ambiguity in that they straddle functions belonging to nouns and prepositions, they fail to exhibit all exclusively prepositional functions. Hence, they must be excluded altogether from membership in the prepositional category. f. Given criteria (a)–(d), locatives cannot evolve further to join the class of true prepositions. The inherent inadequacy in the approach to categorizing Arabic prepositions as belonging to categories with absolute and discrete boundaries,


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which was commonly followed in medieval times, becomes obvious when considering the sources shared by prepositions belonging to different layers. For example, fī ‘in/at’—whose status as a preposition was never in doubt in the works of the Arabic grammarians consulted thus far—has its origin in the body part term fū ‘mouth’, given the grammarians’ specification of the semantic denotation of fī ‘in, at’ as a container and the correspondence in form. It is not clear whether Ibn ʿUṣfūr’s ([1268] 1998, 1:497–498) refutation of the claim that fī ‘in, at’ and min ‘from, of ’ have lexical sources (such as the noun al-mayn ‘lying’ and the imperative fi ‘redeem, fulfill’ respectively) is founded on semantic unrelatedness or a fundamental objection to the conception of an evolutionary connection between lexis and grammar (i.e., prepositions). That issue aside, the conceptual connection between body parts and prepositions and the process and pathways through which these terms come to serve as prepositions is well-established crosslinguistically (see Svorou 1993, 70; Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a, 128). In Arabic, a few more examples of body part terms pressed into service as prepositions have been identified in Esseesy (2007, 193). These include wasṭa ‘(in the) middle (of )’ < wasaṭun ‘waist, mid-section’; tujāha ‘towards’ < wajhun ‘face’; and jāniba ‘side’ < jānibun ‘flank’. If the nouns eventually advance to full membership in the preposition category, it follows that the door is open for other nouns (or other lexical sources)—locative or otherwise—to proceed along the same path. Functionally, the so-called locative adverbs may substitute for prepositions with very little or no semantic difference. Examples of syntactic and semantic substitution abound in CA and MSA alike, as shown here: (9)

ʾaṭʿama-hu min jūʿin fed.3MSG-him out of hunger ‘He fed him out of hunger=to feed someone to save him/her from hunger’ (Sībawayhi 4, 227)

(10) ʾaṭʿama-hu ʿan fed.3MSG-him out of ‘He fed him out of hunger’ (11) saʾaltu bi-hi asked.1SG about-him ‘I inquired about him’

jūʿin hunger (Ibid., 226)

(Ibn ʿUṣfūr 1, 489)

background on language change in arabic (12) saʾaltu ʿan-hu asked.1SG about-him ‘I inquired about him’



In the above, (10) and (12), containing locatives, show overall semantic and syntactic equivalency to (9) and (10), thus establishing functional (i.e., syntactic and semantic) similarity between the two classes, thereby exhibiting a departure from previous scholarship. 1.6

Recent Studies of Arabic Prepositions

For the most part, Arabic prepositions have escaped scholarly attention in modern times. Apart from designated chapters in Arabic grammar textbooks (e.g., Ḥ asan 2004), only a few studies by native linguists, namely, Saʿd (1988), Khuḍarī (1989), Bū Rīqah (1990), Lūshan (1995), al-Khawwām (2001), and Baqqāʿī (2008) have been published. These studies, however, still followed the tracks of the traditional normative frameworks of medieval Arabic grammarians, and, in most cases, the examples they cited in their works were directly culled from CA varieties such as the Quran and published medieval Arabic grammars. One of the most comprehensive scholarly treatments of Arabic prepositions in recent decades is found in Lentzner’s (1977) doctoral dissertation. Utilizing generative semantics and case grammar theory in the analysis of corpus data from a single authentic MSA textual source, Lentzner’s study recognizes the role of metaphor underlying semantic shifts for prepositions from the basic, concrete domains (i.e., spatio-temporal) to other non-basic, more abstract ones (she termed these collectively “figurative senses”) pertaining to the “non-physical” domain as important steps towards exploring strategies underlying semantic extensions. Nevertheless, characterized as “figurative senses” in Lentzner’s study of Arabic prepositions, these non-spatial senses are thus construed as what Gibbs (1999, 145) labeled “linguistic” or more specifically “figure of speech” instead of cognitive conceptual mapping or structuring of the more abstract concepts in terms of the lexical or less abstract as advocated in the various studies on metaphor in Lakoff (1987), Sweetser (1990), Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 1991b), Gibbs (1999) among several others. Lentzner’s treatment of Arabic prepositions is strictly synchronic in nature and the limited textual data forming the basis for her analysis, a single MSA


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source, offers a partial, yet important, treatment of the wide range of functions that prepositional forms assume in the course of their evolutionary cycles. Another detailed, but more recent, study of Arabic prepositions is Procházka’s (1993) published doctoral dissertation in which he focuses on the etymological sources, and semantic and syntactic properties of prepositions in present-day Arabic dialects, both major regional and local ones. Using the collective label “neuarabischen Dialekten” he traces their forerunners in CA and Modern Arabic, “Hocharabisch.” Forming the primary basis for his research data are published dialect studies, reference grammars, textbooks, dictionaries, poems, and proverbs, as well as elicited input from native Arabic speaking informants, on whom he does not provide details concerning number or ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds. Procházka’s work catalogues the (hypothesized) etymological origins for each of the prepositions in CA based on a summary of etymological analysis found in reference grammars such as those authored by Fischer, Reckendorf, and Wright, among several others. In his covering of Modern Arabic, “Hocharabisch,” his main data sources are a few bi-lingual dictionaries, among them Hans Wehr (1985), Lane ([1863–1893] 1968), and Hava (1899, cited in Procházka). Parallel to the method that he uses in his analysis of CA, he catalogues summaries of features the prepositions included in his study have. Procházka’s study recognizes the role of metaphor in expanding the use of prepositions into contexts beyond their original signification. For example, in this example from diwān ʾašʿāri l-hyḏayliyyīn, he considers the shift from locative or temporal meanings to more abstract ones to be illustrative of a change facilitated by metaphor as is the case of bi- ‘to/for’, which in his view expresses “agent” in ʾanā ʾbū ḥ abībin lā ʾuxaššā bi-ḏ-ḏiʾbi ‘I am Abū Ḥ abīb, and I do not fear the wolf ’ (45) (transcription and translation, mine). Through analysis of the remarks he obtained from his data sources, Procházka in this study and its derivative in 1995 make some striking generalizations regarding the diachronic evolution of prepositions in Arabic vernaculars. While his studies succeed in identifying the diachronic morpho-phonological changes in major and minor Arabic dialects, the generalizations reached are based on remarks made by earlier grammarians and linguists in their reference grammars and case studies. However, frequency and context of use of those prepositions in their erstwhile,

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derivative, and extended meanings are totally absent in the study. As a consequence, one cannot establish with certainty when, how, and to what extent any of the identified functional changes have taken place and under which motivating factors. Other problematic features of his studies are some unsupported claims made in both of Procházka’s studies in 1993 and 1995 that ʿalā ‘on/above’ “[i]n CA . . . is only used for a movement is [sic] the vertical direction such as saqaṭa ʿalā ‘to fall on’ ” (1995:420). Ibn Hišām’s Muγnī al-Labīb I (n.d., 126) of the fourteen century cites nine semantic senses (among them: comitative, causative, concessive) for ʿalā, from which the following Quranic example is taken: (13) wa-daxala l-madīnata ʿalā and-entered.3MSG the-city on ‘And he entered the city unexpectedly’

ḥ īni time

γaflatin inadvertence

In (13), ʿalā takes a noun denoting temporal designation and in such a collocation it ceases to designate any spatial configuration, including “vertical direction,” and instead approximates an adverb in its reference to time, ḥ īn. Further problematic assertions made in Procházka’s study concern the preposition bi- ‘at/by means of ’, about which he states “in the majority of dialects bi- has kept only its instrumental function” (1995, 421). If this is the case, then would bi- in bi-kām ‘how much’ in the Egyptian dialect, be regarded also as instrument case, where bi- presupposes a measurable value? According to this author, the instrument interpretation is hardly possible in this case. Apart from Procházka’s study, in recent decades less detailed scholarly investigations of Arabic prepositions have been part of a wider examination of Semitic prepositions. Of these studies, Pennacchietti (1974) and Voigt (1999) are most notable. Pennacchietti has developed an abstract model aiming to account for the semantic-cognitive functions of prepositions as relational predicates governing linear syntactic relations that they hold with their two arguments (x and y). From Hebrew, he gives the example Dāwīḏ maṣlīf ’et̠-sūsō Ba-ššōṭ (Pennacchietti’s transcription), ‘David hit the horse with a whip’ (163), where B- governs two arguments: Dāwīḏ maṣlīf ’et̠-sūsō, ‘David whips the horse’ represents the first relation and ha- ššōṭ ‘the whip’ represents the second. In this case, according


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to Pennacchietti, B- preposition expresses the means or instrument used in whipping the horse. However, in the Hebrew example Dāwīḏ mištammeš ba-ššōṭ Le-haṣlīf ’et̠-sūsō ‘David used the whip in order to hit the horse’, the first correlation corresponds to Dāwīḏ mištammeš ba-ššōṭ ‘David used the whip’, and the second correlation corresponds to haṣlīf ’et̠-sūsō ‘to hit his horse’ (Ibid., 163). From these and similarly semantically contrasting examples, Pennacchietti constructs a highly abstract skeleton comprising nine types of relationships prepositions could have with their arguments. These are presented in table 1.3 below. Table 1.3

Pennacchietti’s Abstract Representation of Cognitive-Semantic Relations of Prepositions

puntuali centrifughe


lineari centrifughe

puntuali puntuali centripete

equazionali centripete

lineari lineari centripete

Source: Pennacchietti (1974, 172). Reprinted with kind permission from the author, Professor Pennacchietti, and the publisher, AION.

These relationship types depend on the semantic focus given to each profiled relation that a given preposition profiles in which certain semantic information is brought into the foreground while other semantic information is relegated to the background. Pennacchietti’s model is quite successful in identifying the interface between formal and semantic properties of prepositions, particularly the relevance of syntactic arrangement to semantic denotations. However, his model suffers from major shortcomings. First it is unclear from the model what contextual or cognitive factors or strategies motivate semantic extensions that result in the formation of complex polysemies in the semantic functions of prepositions. Second, his dismissal of one of the fundamental semantic relations that prepositions code— the spatial sense—as “superficial” in the analysis of prepositions is unfortunate, given that prepositional meanings are generally grounded in physical environment (Lakoff 1987, 267; Zelinsky-Wibbelt 1993, 4; Tyler and Evans 2003, 27). Third, using Rauh’s (1991, 189) analysis of two-place argument structure, it is unclear whether Pennacchietti’s prepositional (x, y) arguments are assigned an internal (i.e., complement role) or external (i.e., adjunct) role to their prepositional head. Fourth, the model presupposes the presence of the two arguments that

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relate to the preposition. This can be problematic in a case like binisbati lī huwa lam yafham šayʾan ‘as for me, he did not understand a thing’, which is modeled here after Cadiot (1997, 30), where only the internal argument (i.e., prepositional complement) is present. Finally, how have B-, L-, and K- prepositions in his Hebrew examples evolved syntactically, morphologically, semantically, and phonologically? Pennacchietti leaves that unanswered. Voigt (1999) examined the morphological and, to a lesser extent, the semantic properties of Semitic prepositions, with a marked emphasis on Arabic. He ranks prepositions according to their morpho-phonological structures into four sets of decreasing nominal properties, thus ranging from what he labels “monemiserbar” that includes bi-, which is comprised of a single consonantal radical and a vowel, to prepositional compounds like fī wasaṭ ‘in the middle of ’, on the opposite end. It is unclear however how in his prepositional rankings tuḥ ayt-a, a diminutive form of taḥ ta ‘below, underneath’ is ranked in group II, ahead of ʿalā ‘on, above’, on such a prepositional scale, when in fact the latter displays fewer properties of nounhood than the former. Utilizing the standard theory of grammaticalization as presented in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a), Voigt uncovers the evolutionary processes leading to grammaticalized prepositions from autonomous sources like nouns to reduced, bound forms like flexion. He further recognizes semantic evolution from concrete towards abstract denotations as one of the “abschwächungsprozesse” (31), whereby a preposition like bi- evolves from locative as in bi-bait-i-hi ‘in his house’ to temporal in bi-l-layl-i ‘at night’ (Voigt’s transciption, my translation). Furthermore, one of the processes, “verstärkungsprozesse” or reinforcement, was responsible for the appearance of lä- + lāʿәl-ä in ancient Ethiopic out of two separate hypothesized morphemes *la-ʿalay (33). This study is important in that it is the first attempt at examining Semitic prepositions as a system in that language family within the framework of grammaticalization. An earlier study by Rubba in 1994 focused exclusively on a limited number of prepositions in one member of the Semitic language family, Aramaic. The study is important in that it recognizes that Semitic prepositions have evolved over time from nominal to adverbial and finally into prepositions. However, the focus of the study was almost exclusively on morpho-phonological features of prepositions to the exclusion of semantic evolutions beyond


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locative and temporal functions of prepositions. Furthermore, in his study, despite recognizing prepositional compounds, they were limited to representing constructions that have led to the evolution of single prepositional forms such as the change from fī wasaṭi ‘in the middle of ’ > wasṭa, which still overlooks other complex constructions that parallel with ʿalā r-raγmi min ‘despite’ and bi-sababi ‘because of ’. Finally, Voigt’s study has left out altogether the various mechanisms, contextual or cognitive, that motivate the process of grammaticalization. 1.7


In the following, I shall provide an overview of the remaining chapters of the book. Chapter 2 makes a case for an empirical and descriptive approach to the analysis of Arabic prepositions through grammaticalization theory, including a discerning view of the life of functional grams from their birth to their maturity—even detailing their demise. In chapter 3, the first, i.e., most emergent, layer of Arabic prepositions, the complex prepositions, are examined. Chapter 4 is devoted to a detailed analysis of selected two-word prepositions (i.e., compoundlike units) according to the same semantic and formal criteria used in the analysis of complex prepositions. Chapters 5 and 6 investigate two sets of autonomous single-stem prepositions/prepositionals, and assess the relative degree of their grammaticalization. In chapter 7, two of the most high frequency, mature prepositions, appearing in bound form, are examined in detail and their complex polysemies and multi-functionalities are reconstructed. Chapter 8 lays down the relevant theoretical foundation for the subsequent examination of the evolutionary process from prepositional to subordinating functions. In chapter 9, a selected set of subordinating conjunctions evolving from prepositional sources is examined according to the semantic function they mark on linked subordinate clauses. A considerable discussion of the relevant theoretical framework for the grammaticalization of subordinate conjunctions marking purpose, cause, and concessive relations will take center stage as the subject of the discussion. Chapter 10 offers summary of the major findings of this study and important conclusions regarding the evolution of Arabic prepositions and the subordinators arising from them.

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Grammaticalization 2.1  Scope, Aim, Data Sources, and Limitations of the Present Study This study offers panchronic (i.e., synchronic and diachronic) analyses of the evolution of prepositions in Arabic in an account that also integrates their subsequent development into interclausal subordinators. Formal and semantic properties of Arabic prepositions and subordinators included in this study are examined within the framework of robust grammaticalization theory. Through the framework that I have followed, I trace the sources, evolutionary patterns and processes, and output of change using authentic diachronic and synchronic data from the Brigham Young University electronic Arabic Corpus Tool (ACT) database. Three sets of empirical data from ACT are consulted in this investigation. Specifically, contextualized individual prepositional forms and strings in corpus data from the Quran are used as the primary source for classical Arabic. Where additional evidence is needed, a variety of other sources are consulted, including examples cited in the works of major medieval and pre-modern grammarians (e.g., Sībawayhi, Mubarrad, Ibn as-Sarrāj, Ibn Hišām, Ibn ʿAqīl, and later ones like as-Suyūtī of the sixteenth century AD), modern Arabic grammarians (e.g., Wright ([1874] 1974, vol. 2); Brockelmann [1913] 1966, vol. 2; Reckendorf [1895] 1967, 1921; Fischer 2002; Howell 1986; and Ḥ asan 2004), lexicographers from the fourteenth century AD, (Ibn Manẓūr’s Lisān al-ʿArab and al-Fīrūzābādī’s al-Qāmūs al-Muḥ īṭ) as well as Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon ([1863–1893] 1968) from the nineteenth century. For the historical period stretching from the early Islamic period to pre-modern, corpus data from the Thousand and One Nights narratives serves as the primary source.1 The language variety represented in this collection of tales is what Blau (1973, 173) labels “Middle­ 1   The edition of the Thousand and One Nights used by ACT, according to its administrator, Dilworth Parkinson, is to be recognized as “the electronic edition of the”


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Substandard Arabic,” which exhibits an “admixture” of CA and Middle Arabic. Middle Substandard Arabic, it is important to note, is also the primary language vehicle for “the literatures of the religious minorities,” namely Christian and Jewish Arabic (Ibid., 173). For the modern period, the consulted data are culled from multiple corpora encompassing literary essays, fiction, and non-fiction, some of which are written in mixed registers, i.e., formal (primarily MSA) and dialectal, which are present in ACT under the collective category modern literature.2 For additional supportive evidence, reference grammar books such as Ḥ asan (2004); Cantarino (1975); El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer (2003); Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004); the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (1994), henceforth, Hans Wehr Dictionary; and al-Munjid in Modern Standard Arabic dictionary (henceforth al-Munjid dictionary) (2001) are consulted. Data sources, periods covered, size of the corpus, and Arabic variety at the time the corpus was consulted are presented in the following table.3 While the reference codes used in ACT are not easily converted to tradition citations, further details on the specific literary works covered by the modern literature and newspaper corpora, including reference codes, can be found in appendix A. Table 2.1 Corpora Selected from ACT for This Study Data source

Period covered


Quran Thousand and One Nights Modern literature Arabic newspapers

7th century AD ~9th–18th century?

84,532 557,908

Arabic variety

Classical Admixture of Classical and Middle Arabic4 19th century–present 403,901 Modern Standard Arabic Present-day 66,887,726 Modern Standard newspaper Arabic Arabic from 4 major Arab newspapers (1996–2002) Egyptian Arabic Present-day dialect 157,099 Colloquial

2  Newspapers and Egyptian Arabic corpuses are also consulted as data sources for the modern period. See table 2.1 for details. 3   Detailed information on Arabicorpus is found at . 4  Middle Arabic is to be understood in Blau’s (1973, 173) terms as a variety that exhibits “the oldest stage of Neoarabic, to which all the modern dialects belong.”



A few important remarks regarding the usefulness of ACT must be made explicit. To date, it is the only known extensive electronic source suitable for Arabic linguistic research. The database is by no means sufficient for comprehensive diachronic analysis, yet it is a valuable source that enables the corpus linguist to trace the major evolutionary stages of a selected grammatical category both quantitatively and descriptively. As can be gleaned from table 2.1, the data sources include texts whose writing and compilation ranged from a few months to centuries.5 Of all data sources, the Thousand and One Nights, commonly known as The Arabian Nights, is of significant importance to this investigation for three notable reasons: (1) the language variety in most of the tale collections is rather fluid in registers as it spans multiple levels ranging from the classical style to those close to Arabic colloquial discourses; (2) the popular narratives seem to have developed over several centuries (i.e., historical longevity), by multiple authors, at several cultural centers in the Arabic-speaking world as well as in others outside the Arab world proper; (3) it is very likely that popular narratives in Thousand and One Nights were scripts for oral public performances (Reynolds 2006, 273). In this respect, the Quran and Thousand and One Nights both have their origin in oral transmission. Data size for each Arabic variety in table 2.1 is uneven in terms of number of textual sources, periods covered, and number of genres— factors directly affecting research results. Moreover, in connection with textual occurrences of a given linguistic item, closer examination of retrieved data reveals that some examples appear more than once and therefore the total number of occurrences should not be considered completely accurate. The potential for inaccuracy in total count therefore increases in occurrences retrieved in the thousands where manual combing of data was deemed impractical. However, such cases were encountered infrequently. They do not constitute a serious problem with the findings, and their adverse impact on the accuracy of the data and analysis is marginal. The magnitude of ACT corpora for this study, however, is to provide electronic access to retrieved authentic and contextualized data that reflects the usage of grammatical coding devices through time and space. More importantly, despite its   The precise date for this collection of tales is hard to establish. Roger Allen (2000, 171), citing Muḥsin Mahdī, suggests an Indo-Persian origin with subsequent accretions from Iraq, Syria, and Egypt respectively. Earliest tales may hark back to the eighth century AD. 5


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retrieval shortcomings, ACT permits access to most full texts from which the data are taken, thus enabling further examination beyond the immediate sentences and clauses of retrieved individual forms and ­constructions. As stated above, the three main data sources for prepositional and subordinator forms just mentioned, the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and modern literature, have evolved over quite long but unequal periods of time. They are used for diachronic and synchronic analysis of semantic and formal grammaticalization and frequency of occurrence of selected prepositional forms and subordinating conjunctions that spans a lengthy textual history between the seventh and twentieth centuries AD. Given the data-driven approach of this study, it was necessary to include an additional, more contemporary, data source where newer prepositional complexes are more likely to occur with greater frequency than in the literary sources comprising the modern literature corpora. Thus, corpus data from present-day Arabic newspapers in the 1990s has also been included, particularly for their relevance to the analysis of complex and two-word (i.e., compoundlike) prepositions. The Egyptian dialect corpus is modest in size and, together with the native knowledge of this author, forms the primary basis for the dialect component in this investigation. This study is currently the first in the field of Arabic prepositions that (1) makes extensive use of substantial data from authentic historical and present-day Arabic; (2) identifies general processes and patterns of evolution for Arabic prepositions from their lexical sources into their more grammaticalized subordinating functions; (3) analyzes and compares quantitative patterns (i.e., frequency counts) and explores the correlations between increases in grammaticalization and textual frequency; (4) recognizes the functional continuum for prepositions extending between formal/standardized and dialectal registers; (5) treats Arabic prepositions as a dynamic functional class distinguishable into layers, which are amenable to functional and formal change over time; (6) highlights the actual patterns of use of prepositions in discourse based on recorded empirical data in each of the historical periods under examination, which facilitates the making of insightful generalizations; (7) takes a much wider view of the category of preposition beyond the single word focus that has hitherto dominated the studies of Arabic and Semitic prepositions; and (8) draws attention to the emergence as well as demise of forms serving prepositional ­functions.



There are some limitations to this study that should be noted. The present study is not a comprehensive panchronic account of all prepositions in Arabic. Rather, it offers descriptive details on the genesis of selected Arabic prepositions and the subordinators arising from them as it also sheds light on the major diachronic stages and recurrent patterns of evolution. The three ACT corpora forming the primary data source for this study, despite the significance of their literary value, still offer at best only a partial, yet invaluable, insight into the nature of synchronic and diachronic grammaticalization. As such, the conclusions that have been reached in this investigation should be construed as an empirically firm step towards a better understanding of how prepositional and subordinating grams could have evolved. A single text, like the Quran or the Thousand and One Nights, certainly constitutes valid representative evidence of language use of the historical period in which each appeared. By the same token, neither text alone, however important its literary or religious value, can be considered a sufficient sample to effectively substitute for all other contemporaneous texts. That is, no selected text in this study, however extensive in textual size, extended historical evolution, or metalinguistic value, can provide exhaustive descriptive details for the evolution of all grams under investigation. Hence, the conclusions reached in this study are by no means final or definitive on the grammaticalization of those forms and constructions. Given this premise, the present study makes only a modest contribution to the understanding of the diachronic and synchronic aspects of functionally similar forms that are prepositions and subordinate conjunctions in Arabic. It is meant as an illustration of how prepositions and subordinators could be gainfully investigated through the grammaticalization framework in Arabic, a framework that can perhaps be replicated and expanded for other related languages (e.g., other Semitic languages), as well as genetically and geographically unrelated ones. This study is not committed to any particular strand of grammaticalization theory that currently exists. Rather, as will be noticed throughout this volume, certain principles of grammaticalization theory are utilized when explaining certain properties of the investigated items or phenomena, while others predominate elsewhere. This eclectic approach within the broad theoretical domain of grammaticalization has as its core the aim of describing and adequately explaining phenomena rather than strictly adhering to a particular sub domain of grammaticalization. An unintended consequence of


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this ­methodological choice is to highlight the resilient nature of grammaticalization theory and its tenets and the fact that what have been previously conceived of as contradictory and conflicting approaches within grammaticalization proper may not be so after all. 2.2  Theoretical Background It has been generally accepted that the Indo-Europeanist Meillet ([1912] 1958) coined the term “grammaticalization.” His characterization of it then reflected the change linguistic items undergo from an autonomous (lexical) word to a functional morpheme serving some grammatical functions. However, another prominent Indo-Europeanist, Kuryłowicz ([1965] 1976), expanded the domain where grammaticalization operates to include the change already grammaticalized items and constructions undergo from less to more grammatical, thus construing the process as unsegmentable change in a continuum-like fashion with blurred boundaries among otherwise distinguishable functional and semantic categories. The status of grammaticalization as a theory has been the subject of intense scholarly debate, particularly from generativists who question its theoretical validity (see Newmeyer 1998, 240; Campbell 2001, 113). The challenge they posit rests on a narrow definition of what a theory is or should be as Fischer (2007, 54) points out, “where the system of grammar became more important as an object of study than the actual language data” (italics in original). An entire volume in the academic journal Language Sciences in 2001was dedicated to questioning the grammaticalization enterprise, with much criticism targeting the adequacy of its principles and the universality of its hypotheses, particularly unidirectionality, its wide-ranging and apparently conflicting definitions, and its overall usefulness in explaining change. Reduction of grammaticalization to the status of an epiphenomenon is strongly suggested in the volume. In response to these claims, Fischer and her colleagues (2004) compiled a collection of articles in Up and Down the Cline—The Nature of Grammaticalization from both proponents and opponents of grammaticalization to provide a scholarly forum for a balanced assessment of grammaticalization, but, despite the effort, the volume did not seem to settle differences in intellectual positions. In recent years, however, after further empirical cross-linguistic testing, reflections, and refinements of the boundaries of grammaticaliza-



tion as an intellectual discipline, grammaticalization has been widely recognized as a theory that has been shown to account for language change for individual linguistic items as well as stretches of discourse. This is evidenced by the mounting interest in grammaticalizationbased research and publications. The two recent volumes Rethinking Grammaticalization: New Perspectives (López-Couso and Seoane 2008) and Theoretical and Empirical Issues in Grammaticalization (Seoane and López-Couso 2008) further reassert the validity of grammaticalization as a theory as they reexamine its scope and the applicability of its delineated principles to new domains (e.g., numeral systems) and attempt to reconcile formal approaches with grammaticalization (e.g., Klausenburger’s 2008 article “Can Grammaticalization Be Parameterized?”). Finally, another significant indicator is the rise in utilization of the theoretical principles of grammaticalization in forming the foundation for the study of prepositions—a subfield of grammar—in Hoffmann’s (2005) full monograph on English complex prepositions and in Jonin’s study of Korean prepositions in the specialized volume on adpositions, edited by Kurzon and Adler (2008). It has been conceded by at least one of the prominent grammaticalizationists, Haspelmath (2004, 23), that grammaticalization is perhaps not a theory in the strict sense but rather “theorizing” about change in language to the extent that grams would evolve in a principled way and may occur without imposing a strict set of maxims to be observed in each individual case. It is with this flexibility within the framework of grammaticalization in mind, that I proceed in the analysis of Arabic prepositions and their evolution into subordinate conjunctions. Following Kuryłowicz’s ([1965] 1976) definition of grammaticalization that it “consists in the increase of the range of a morpheme advancing from a lexical to a grammatical or from a less grammatical to a more grammatical status,” e.g., from a derivative morpheme to an inflectional one (Ibid., 52), grammaticalization framework as utilized in this study is concerned with the life cycle of forms serving prepositional and subordinating functions typically, but not necessarily, originating in lexical sources, which in the course of their evolution give rise to additional, more abstract grammatical functions beyond prepositional or subordination (e.g., bi- ‘in, at, with’ usage in marking mood or aspect on verbs). Given Kuryłowicz’s definition, change resulting in usage of grammatical forms in textual functions, such as interclausal linkages, should be subsumed under the grammaticalization phenomenon. Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003); Kortmann


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(1997); Genetti (1986, 1991); and Givón (1991), among several others, have presented substantial empirical evidence in support of such a hypothesis. The grammaticalization framework utilized in the analyses of Arabic prepositions and clause-linking forms arising from them is thus broadly concerned with: 1. Basic (mainly lexical) sources giving rise to grammatical morphemes and constructions that serve spatial, temporal, and more abstract functions resulting in the formation of synchronic polysemies represented as conceptual networks of related semantic senses of varying complexities; 2. Repeated collocations and emergence of formation of grammaticalized constructions and the functions for which they were formed; 3. Cognitive mechanisms and discouse factors motivating change of meaning and function of these linguistic items and how they relate in those aspects to their ancestral forms; 4. Unidirectionality of diachronic change along predictable grammaticalization clines and continua; 5. Parameters of diachronic stages aiming at measuring the relative degree of grammaticalization and emergence of prepositional and subordinating conjunctions; 6. Changes in frequency of occurrence for grammaticalizing forms and construction as a result of increases in grammaticalization. 2.2.1  Basic Lexical Sources Following Genetti (1986, 1991); Svorou (1993); Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a); Heine (1995, 1997b); Heine and Kuteva (2002); and Kortmann (1997), questions will be raised regarding the nature of the semantic domains (e.g., body parts, environmental landmarks, etc.) from which prepositions and subordinators are selected for admission to the grammaticalization process. Also of relevance here is the relationship holding between the semantic content of the lexical or less grammatical item constituting the input to the grammaticalization process to its more grammaticalized output or destination. Changes in semantic content for a given preposition or subordinator will be catalogued and ranked along gradational continua patterning according to known cross-linguistic evolutionary channels. In general, those grams denoting relatively concrete concepts but still retaining much of their lexical



content will be ranked lower on the grammaticalization scale than those already stripped of their erstwhile restrictive lexical content, which have matured enough to serve even more abstract functions. However, as it will become clear in subsequent chapters, semantic senses and functional distinctions are not easily segmented at any stage of change resulting in grammaticalization, as change is usually gradual, subtle, and often involves intermediate stages where less and more grammaticalized functions overlap (see Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a). The following example illustrates the nature of those changes. (1a) qaṭaʿat s-sayāratu l-masāfata min al-bawwābati ḥ attā traversed.3FSG the-car the-distance from the-gate until

bābi l-qaṣri fī ḥ awālay niṣfu sāʿatin door the-palace in approximately half hour ‘The car traversed the distance from the gate until the door of the palace in approximately one half of an hour’ (Sleeps 15, 69) (1b) ʾakāltu s-samakata ḥ attā raʾsi/u-hā ate-1SG the-fish until/even head-her ‘I ate the fish until/even its head’ (Ibn Manẓūr 1, 111) (1c) kullu-nā narūḥ u ʾilā l-baḥ ri ḥ attā l-maliku all-us 1PL.go.IPFV to the-sea even the-king

ʾiḏā if

ʾarāda ʾan wanted.3MSG to

yarūhu ʾilā l-baḥ ri 3MSG.go.IPFV to the-sea ‘All of us go to the sea, even the king if he wanted to wash, we would go to the sea’ (1001N 789, 3)

yaγtasila fa-ʾinna-hu 3MSG.wash.SBJV so-that-he

In (1a), the preposition ḥ attā unequivocally marks the allative within the spatial domain (i.e., from the gate until the door). In (1b), however, two readings are possible: one belonging to the spatial domain (the region that terminates at the head of the fish), the other belonging to the subjective, evaluative domain in which ḥ attā functions as a focus particle whose meaning is ‘even’. A case such as (1b) thus represents an intermediate stage in the grammaticalization of ḥ attā where one possible meaning in the relatively more basic domain such as the spatial domain overlaps with another meaning pertaining to the subjective and evaluative domain. In (1c), however, the newer, more abstract meaning of ḥ attā is the only possible reading. Examples (1a–c) capture the major stages of meaning change by grammaticalization.


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2.2.2  Classes of Lexical Sources The principles of grammaticalization research are theoretically rooted in cognitive semantics, which establishes empirically that our human conceptual system, regardless of which term cognitive linguists like Jackendoff 1983, Langacker 1987, Taylor 1995, among others, choose from among the following nuanced alternatives—construes, represents, organizes, and structures—our interaction with the (physical) external world through subconsciously created gestalt that distills accumulated knowledge and experiences into frames, scenes, scripts, and image schemas. These need not be a mental construct of concrete physical objects such as the human body being conceived of as a container, for a container can also be an image schema for linguistic expressions as Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 11) have pointed out. Along the same line of thought, Boers (1999, 47) remarked that such constructs (which he chose to label image schemas) may also be extended into the experiential domain of the human body, hence the human body as a container for emotions is quite possible. Categorization of physical, concrete objects is the easiest and most common to access since they are at the basic level of conception. Basicness, as Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a) pointed out, is rooted in the fact that these items are not derived from another more basic category (33). Several parts of the human body—“basic-level categories” (e.g., fū ‘mouth’, jānibun ‘flank’)—have been observed cross-linguistically (e.g., Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a, 1991b; Heine 1995, 1997b; Svoru 1993) to feed into the grammaticalization process. The most salient and frequent among the other categories (e.g., superordinate) are basic level categories (Taylor 1995, 48) since the other categories, superordinate and subordinate, seem to require typological and encyclopedic knowledge beyond the level at which we experience and interact with salient objects in the universe. Available linguistic evidence also suggests that basic level categories in Arabic may be involved in the development of the gender and number system vis-à-vis the superordinate level of the same categories. The basic level categories such as rajul ‘man’ and ʾimraʾa ‘woman’ have no corresponding gender-differentiated stems at the superordinate level where, for example, the noun bašar ‘human’ lacks gender and number markings. As we shall see, the fact that these items lack such inflectional distinctions attests to what Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a,



43) characterize as their inclusiveness and, by extension, their higher degree of abstraction to designate all of those who fall under the category ‘humans’ whether they are children, adults, males, females, etc. This observation is in accord with Zubin and Kopcke (1986; cited in Lakoff 1987, 201–2) about gender-marking distinctions for basic level categories and its absence for superordinates. Heine and his colleagues ascribe their basicness to being related to fundamental usefulness in human life. Given this assumption, and following Svorou (1993) and Heine (1995, 1997b), I present four classes that correspond to those identified in Svorou’s cross-linguistic study of the evolution of spatial grams and will supplement them with one additional class that I have uncovered for Arabic. The first class of lexical sources recruited from the noun category involves terms pertaining to a few subparts of the human body. Given the cross-linguistic commonality of recruiting names of body parts to serve as prepositional grams, it is reasonable to assume that several of the spatio-temporal grams in Arabic have their ancestral forms in body part terms, as shown in the following table, in which two of its criteria (i.e., spatial relation and reference point) are modeled after Heine (1995, 120). Table 2.2  Body Part Terms and Their Corresponding Spatial Relations and Reference Points Body part term

Prepositional form

Spatial relation

Reference point

fū ‘mouth’ wasaṭun ‘waist’ jānibun ‘flank’ xalfun ‘rump, back’ wajhun ‘face’

fī wasṭa jāniba xalfa

interior medial region side region back/bottom region front region

in middle, center side back, behind

wijhata, tujāha


It is immediately noticeable that the various body parts are not concentrated in one sub-region of the human body, but rather have dispersed locations and functions. More importantly, they are not all grammaticalized to the same degree. Where fī ‘in, at’ has shown signs of maturing when considering its synchronic complex polysemies that have accumulated beyond the spatio-temporal domain, others like


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xalfa and wasṭa still function primarily within the spatial domain and have developed limited semantic and functional extensions. Similar to recruitment of body parts to serve functional relations like those coded by prepositions, through grammaticalization basic human activities denoting bodily functions also serve as sources for other functional categories. Of these are motion in space, rāḥ a ‘went during nighttime’> rāḥ a ‘went’ > ḥ a- ‘marker of futurity prefix’; body posture qāma ‘stood up’ > auxiliary qāma ‘began, started (i.e., onset of an event or process) qaʿada, ‘sat down’ > ‘kept doing something’ (continuous aspect). The semantic shifts, like those in body part terms at the onset of grammaticalization, result in generalization of their erstwhile meanings through cognitive mechanisms like metaphor and metonymy (discussed in sections 2.3.1 and 2.3.2) to other contexts beyond those semantically allowed for their sources as they proceed to encode more abstract, non literal meanings and relations. Frequency of recruitment of body part terms in coding spatial and other functional relations has been noted in a number of published works (e.g., Svorou 1993; Heini 1995, 1997b). Dependency on the human body to experience the world has prompted Tyler and Evans’s (2003, 23) use of the term “embodied meaning” to describe the experiential basis for the conceptual structure humans develop within the constraints of the body and its neural make up. Empirical evidence in Svorou (1993, 70) on the emergence of spatial grams from body parts and the conceptual processes facilitating such evolution also confirms these notions. The second class of lexical sources serving prepositional functions includes members of what Svorou (1993, 79) has designated “environmental landmarks.” The choice of members of that class is, according to Svorou, culturally dependent. In particular, the recruitment of a given term (e.g., riverbank, dam, etc.) largely depends not only on its presence in that culture but also its particular utility to the members of the society. Through the oldest available Arabic thesauruses from the fourteenth century, Lisān al-ʿArab of Ibn Manẓūr and al-Qāmūs al-Muḥ īṭ of al-Fīrūzābādī of roughly the same period, I was able to trace three prepositional forms to that class. They are presented in the following table.



Table 2.3 Lexical Sources Denoting Environmental Landmarks Source item

Prepositional form

Spatial Reference Example relation point

ʿibrun6 ‘riverbank, riverside’ (Ibn Manẓūr Lisān al-ʿArab, 4, 2782)

ʿabra ‘across, through, via’


ʾat̠arun ‘track, ʿalā ʾit̠ri, ʾit̠ra back trace’ (Ibid., 1, ‘after, following’ region 25)

ṭarīqun ‘road, path’

ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of ’


jāʾū ʿabra n-nīli bil-marākibi ‘they came by boat across the Nile’ (ʿurs 120, 5; cited in El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer 2003, 506) back ʾit̠ra xurūxi (temporal) raṣāṣatin bi-ṭarīqi l-xaṭaʾi ‘after a shot was fired in error’ (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 211) through, ʿan ṭarīqi š-šabakati via l-qawmiyyati ‘via the national network’ (Ibid., 179)


A few important observations can be made from table 2.3. First, the lexical sources are not names of specific rivers, tracks, or roads. They are general in their referential content to the external world. Second, they do not cluster around a specific domain, instead they are drawn from bodies of water, land (possibly desert, for ʾat̠arun, ‘trace, track’), and roads. Third, whereas ʿabra and ʿan ṭarīqi code spatial and nonspatial relations, ʾit̠ra is strictly temporal in its denotation. Fourth, while ʿabra and ʾit̠ra do occur in a single stem and in an inflectional form that is consistent with the formation of the class ending with an –a inflection,7 traditionally known as locative adverbs, ṭarīqi cannot occur by itself (i.e., not in compound-like construction), hence, the ungrammaticality of *ṭarīqa. 6   In al-Fīrūzābādī’s al-Qāmūs al-Muḥ īṭ (1998 [d. 817], 435), he gives the phrase ʿibru l-wādī to which he assigns the meaning ‘its coast’. 7   Fleisch (1956, 120) observes the continued appearance of the accusative inflection on nouns as they assume prepositional functions in modern Arabic when he states “[l]a langue littérale moderne continue cette manière de faire et tend à constituer de nouvelles prépositions avec l’accusatif de noms: qayda ‘en connexion avec’. . .” (Fleisch’s text and transcription).


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These observations indicate not only the diversity in the lexical sources within a given semantic class, but also the relative potential for grammaticalization of the recruited members. Specifically, ʿabra and ʾit̠ra seem to be at a relatively more advanced degree of grammaticalization than ʿan ṭarīqi given the inflectional invariability of ʿibra and the possible occurrence of ʾit̠ra alone, not governed by ʿalā. Furthermore, syntactically the first two forms may head a prepositional phrase, whereas in the latter, the compound-like construction, the lexical source occurs as a dependent that receives its genitive marking from the more grammaticalized head ʿan. Turning to the third class of lexical sources, also known as the “relational object-part” in Svorou (1993, 83) and “relational nouns” in Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 77; 1985, 303; 1986, 3), the class comprises objects (including body parts) that are not individuated semantically. That is, they are defined through their inalienable relation to a larger entity of which they form a part (e.g., top/side/bottom of an object). In Lehmann’s and Svorou’s studies, relational object-parts or relations nouns appear cross-linguistically as a source for prepositional grams (e.g., in Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Japanese, Basque, Ewe, Hausa, and many others). Many, if not all, of the body part items included in table 2.2 would qualify for membership in this class. However, for the purpose of identifying other linguistic items denoting relational object-part that do not belong to the body part class, they are kept in separate tables. The lexical form warāʾa ‘behind’, which originally refers to a posterior region, develops an ambiguous sense denoting separation from the reference object (al-maktabi ‘the desk’) in the example cited in table 2.3. The other lexical source ḥ addun ‘border’ refers to outer limits or the boundary of an object. However, in the example cited in table 2.3 that sense is metaphorically extended to the domain of socio-cultural norms where the expected boundaries or limits of behaviors have been ostensibly violated. Given this final example of relational object-parts, these lexical sources may develop synchronically complex polysemies beyond their primary senses and their immediate semantically transparent extensions.



Table 2.4 Lexical Sources Denoting Relational Concepts Source item

Prepositional form

Spatial relation

warāʾu ‘hidden, warāʾa ‘behind’ behind’ (Ibn Manẓūr Lisān al-ʿArab 6, 4807)

Reference Example point

posterior back

ḥ addun ‘barrier ḥ adda/ʾilā ḥ addi/ boundary until, between two ḥ udūdi ‘until, around entities, edge until around’ of something’ (al-Fīrūzābādī al-Qāmūs al-Muḥ īṭ 276)

wa-wajada ʿammu xalīlin bi-majlisihi warāʾa l-maktabi ‘and he found uncle Khalīl at his sitting place behind his desk’ (ṭarīq 39, 7; cited in El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer 2003, 567) ḏahaba bi-ka l-γurūru ḥ adda ʾan ṣaraxta fī wajhī ‘arrogance brought you to the limit of shouting in my face’ (γīla 169, 22; cited in Ibid., 493)

The next class, the abstract lexical source, comprises a number of sources denoting notions like length, closeness, and the like. Members of this class are typically verbal nouns that describe an abstract spatial notion. Table 2.5 Lexical Source of Abstract Nature Source item

Prepositional form

ṭūlun ‘length’ ṭūla, ṭīlata, ṭiwāla ‘throughout, during’

qurbun ‘closeness, proximity’

Spatial relation Reference point

ṭiwāla r-riḥ lati ‘throughout the journey’ (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 218) proximative bi-l-qurbi min al-madrasati ‘in proximity of the school’ (Ibid., 215)

path through durative bounded space or event

qurba, estimative of qurābata, (spatial) bi-l-qurbi min distance ‘near, close to’



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The two-source members ṭūlun and qurbun in table 2.5 give rise to multiple grammaticalized variants. In the case of ṭūlun, variations are restricted to morpho-phonological mutations of the structure of the stem. On the other hand, the corresponding grammaticalized variants of the source qurbun exhibit differences in their morpho-syntax as they include Preposition + Noun + Preposition configuration. Given the bulkiness of such a construction, the single form qurba should be placed ahead of bi-l-qurbi min on the grammaticalization continuum. The diachronic frequency of textual occurrence lends support to this hypothesis. In Thousand and One Nights, bi-l-qurbi min occurred with comparable frequency, as did qurba. Namely the configuration Preposition-Noun-Preposition occurred nine times and qurba alone occurred eight times. However, in the modern literature corpora, the frequency of bi-l-qurbi min remained low (totaling only eleven occurrences), whereas qurba occurred sixty-two times in the same texts. Given the strong empirical correlation between an increase in grammaticalization and increases in textual frequency (attributed in Bybee 2007 to generalization of meaning), and between reduction in syntagmatic size and increased grammaticalization, it would seem that qurba is more grammaticalized than bi-l-qurbi min. The final class of lexical sources for Arabic prepositions includes members that denote activity, whether human controlled or otherwise. Table 2.6 illustrates the characteristics of this class. Table 2.6 Lexical Sources of Dynamic Nature Source item

Prepositional Spatial form relation

ḥ attā ‘until, ḥ atta ‘rubbing, peeling’ (Ibn even’ Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab 2, 767; al-Fīrūzābādī, al-Qāmūs al-Muḥ īṭ 1998 [d. 1414], 150) ṣawbun ‘rainfall’ ṣawba (Ibn Manẓūr, ‘towards’ Lisān al-ʿArab 4, 2578)

Reference point


allative, durative


lan yufāriqa-hu ḥ attā l-mawti ‘he will not leave him until death’ (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 186)



ṣawba t-ṭawwuri wa-ddīmuqrāṭiyyati, ‘towards development and democratization’ (Ibid., 216)



The source ṣawbun pertains to the realm of natural phenomenon and, as such, its metaphorized sense ṣawba is directional in its denotation in that it encodes the spatial allative sense. Whereas the falling of the rain denoted by the source ṣawba typically happens along the vertical axes, ṣawba, the grammaticalized target, has been freed from such a restriction as it is generalized to any direction along the vertical as well as horizontal axes. The word ḥ attā, in table 2.6, as will be discussed in detail in chapters 8 and 9, initially referred to the activity of rubbing with the aim of removing soil from a garment. The durative aspect of that action is what has been retained in its metaphorized sense, which is denoted by the ḥ attā gram. To recap, grams, markers of grammatical relations, did not commence their functional cycle ex nihlo. Instead, they have been shown to have etymological sources in lexical or less grammaticalized sources. The process of their selection is constrained in that only linguistic elements from certain semantic domains and with particular semantic qualities ever acquire grammatical functions. The semantic filtering mechanism that ensures the suitability of a lexical candidate to serve a grammatical function lies in the relative degree of generality the form has in its lexical source that perhaps more or less predicts its possible generalization to a wider range of contexts. For example, kulyatun ‘kidney’, whose bodily function seem to be fairly specific, was not selected in Arabic, whereas fū ‘mouth’ was recruited to serve a grammaticalized function. One possible reason for this common situation, as several grammaticalizationists have argued, is the inherent semantic specificity the lexical source has that predetermines its suitability to serve a grammatical function. Grammaticalizationists typically appeal to the principles of Rosch’s (1975, 1977, 1978) prototypical theory, which arose in stark opposition to classical theory that stipulates that a limited and sufficient condition is necessary for categorical membership. In the evolutionary process of change, grams display prototypical or semantic senses/ focal functions that may overlap with less prototypical ones. In most typical cases, nascent grams, first belonging to major lexical categories such as nouns and verbs, decategorialize or undergo categorical downgrading as they assume grammatical functions. The principle of “fuzzy” boundaries between categories in cognitive linguistics underlies grammaticalization studies. Within this strand of research, the function(s) and forms of grams are neither fixed nor closed to the conditioning contextual factors that influence them. Discourse context (i.e., pragmatics) and social interactions play a crucial role in resolving­


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semantic and functional indeterminacy for a given gram, and thus language users may manipulate a given gram further and use it in novel contexts, which would gradually extend and expand the functional potential of the emergent gram. But use in novel contexts is again dependent on language users’ cognitive capacity to conceive and perceive of unconventional ways to express new meanings and conceptual relations for existing forms and the ability of the hearer to detect, decode, and infer the semantic senses associated with the unconventional usage of those forms. 2.2.3  Grammaticalized Constructions Categorical change from lexical to grammatical or from less grammatical to more grammatical is often concomitant with the creation of new morpho-syntactic constructions through shifts in linear, syntagmatic boundaries and relations among sentence/clausal constituents. New structural relations emerge, for example, when autonomous lexical items enter the process of grammaticalization and begin collocating or forming syntactic units as they expand their functional potential (e.g., from the lexeme ʿalā/yaʿlū ‘to rise’8 > preposition ‘on, above’> constituent of prepositional verbs qaḍā ʿalā ‘put an end’. As a subordinator, it collocates with the complimentizer ʾan thus forming the constituent ʿalā ʾan ‘provided that’. Notwithstanding these changes in categorical affiliation and constituency of syntactic structure, the grammaticalized item often still retains its earlier membership in its original functional category. In some advanced stages of grammaticalization, the merger of the gram with adjacent constituents may lead to its incorporation as part of a stem of another linguistic item owing to the formation of a very tight syntactic unit. For example, in the case of the mature prepositional gram bi- ‘in, at, with’, its formation of a constituent with the verb jāʾa ‘he came’ has led to further reduction of its phonetic size to the phoneme b-. As such, it has helped reorganize the consonantal stem of that verb into jāb ‘brought’, as shown in the hypothesized stages 0–II below:

8  Lipiński (2001, 475) claims the root ʿly ‘upper part’ to be the etymological origin for ʿalā and its variants in Semitic languages. See table 1.1 and footnote (1) in chapter 1 for other hypothesized origins of ʿly.



MSA 0. jāʾa [bi-s-sayyārati] came.3MSG with-the-car ‘He came with/brought the car’ I.

[jāʾa bi-] came.3MSG with ‘He brought the car’

II. [ jāb] s-sayyāra ‘brought.3MSG the-car’ ‘He brought the car’

s-sayyārti the-car


In stage 0, the preposition bi ‘with, by’ is open to two overlapping functions: heading a prepositional phrase, which is set off by brackets, and forming a constituent of a VP. In this case, bi- has a transitivizing effect on the verb heading the verb phrase. Functional ambiguity of this type is contextually induced in accordance swith what Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 65 and 1991b, 164) label “context-induced interpretation.” In stage I, the dominant function, the preposition forms a syntactic unit with the verb jāʾa ‘he came’ and still governs a nominal dependent in the genitive case. At this stage, it would seem that the collocation of the verb with the preposition bi- has been strengthened, whereas its semantic connection with its dependent s-sayyāra ‘the car’ is weakened. In II, the loss of the glottal stop on the verb has opened its stem in spoken Arabic to allow the preposition bi- to be reanalyzed as part of the verb root in order to restore the erstwhile triconsonantal root of the remnant stem jā-. This merger is further facilitated by the loss of the final short vowel /i/ and subsequent reanalysis of bi- > b. Not only does the verb jāʾa ‘he came’ change as a result of glottal stop deletion, but also the preposition bi- is recategorialized as a mere phonetic segment and thereby ceases to exist as a meaning-bearing bound morpheme. In this instance, the reduction from bi- > b- and subsequent restructuring of the verb stem jāʾa (root JYʾ) > jāb (root JYB), which is found in several Levantine dialects, are indicative of the association bi- now has formed as phoneme in the underlying verb root and actual stem. The above observation confirms the hypothesis put forth by Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 87) and Bybee (2007, 336) that grammaticalization is not limited to individual forms; instead it advocates the inclusion of multi-word constructions. In this investigation, therefore,


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multi-word sequences like bi-sababi ‘because of ’ and ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’ will be included as prepositional forms undergoing grammaticalization. As will become clear in chapters 3 and 4, these constructions have evolved in a manner consistent with the principles of grammaticalization: 1. The noun element in these constructions has undergone semantic changes from its original denotation; sababun in CA denotes ‘tent rope or cord’ and raγmun denotes ‘dust’. 2. In the course of their development as prepositional complexes, they shed some of their noun trappings: sababun ceases to take the definite article and occurs only in this syntactically fixed position as a dependent of the invariable bi- and cannot take an adjectival modifier without loss of the because of meaning. Likewise, the noun element in ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min in this syntactic configuration cannot change its definiteness, be modified by an adjective, or permit other variations of prepositions. 3. The semantic change of these multi-word constructions has been extensive enough that they can be used in contexts at odds with the original semantic sense. The example below for ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min illustrates a semantic shift from the typical association of such a construction with negative denotations such as ‘aversion’ or ‘disdain’ to more favorable contexts: (2)  wa-bi-r-raγmi and-with-the-spite

min of

at̠-t̠aqāfati the-culture

l-mawsūʿiyyati the-encyclopedic

li-d- duktūr ʾaḥ mad mustajīr for-the-doctor Ahmad Mustajir

yatamayyazu bi-t-tawāḍuʿi 3MSG.standout.IPFV with-the-humility

wa-l-ʾadabi and-the-politeness ‘In spite of the encyclopedic knowledge of Dr. Ahmad Mustajir, he is distinguished by modesty and extreme politeness’ (ACT 041199WRIT03).

fa-ʾinna-hu so-that-he š-šadīdi the-intense

4. Reduction in syntagmatic size. In most contexts in MSA the construction ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min is replaced by raγma ‘despite’, which is also case invariant in much the same way as typical “adverbs” like xalfa ‘back, behind’, and the like.



It is evident then that linguistic forms performing prepositional functions defy strict categorization, owing to their multi-functionality and the complex polysemies they have developed diachronically as they advance further along their grammaticalization pathways. The following examples are only a representative sample of some of the functions Arabic prepositions perform. Table 2.7 Categorical Shift Resulting from Grammaticalization Source category


N xalf ‘rump, back’ ʿindī ʾalamun fī l-xalfi ‘I have pain in the rump (region)’; xalfa l-bayti ‘behind the house’ P min ‘from, of ’ min al-bayti ʾilā l-jāmiʿati ‘from the house to the university’; ʾanā ʾaṭwalu min-hā ‘I am taller than her’ P maʿa ‘with’ takallamat maʿa-hu ‘she spoke with him’; al-ʾanwāru l-xārijiyyatu muḍāʾatun maʿa ʾanna l-waqtu nahārun ‘the outside lights are on while/ nonetheless it’s daytime’ (chi 29, 55)

Direction of shift body part > spatial (locative) adverb ablative (P) > comparative particle comitative (P) > concessive subordinator

The above examples illustrate the following general characteristics, which are adduced from the works of several grammaticalizationists such as Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003); Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a and 1991b); Traugott and Heine (1991); Lehmann ([1982] 1985, 1986, 1995); and Svorou (1993); Blank and Koch (1999); Brinton and Traugott (2005), Fischer and Rosenbach (2000); Fischer (2007); Couper-Kuhlen and Kortmann (2000); Wischer (2002); and Hoffmann (2005). (i)

Grammaticalization is not limited to the emergence of markers of grammatical relations for a given functional domain in language, rather those markers tend to transcend other functional domains; (ii) Linguistic items selected by the grammaticalization process for marking grammatical relations are, from a synchronic perspective, essentially polysemous and their semantic denotations are contextually dependent;


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(iii) Since linguistic elements selected by grammaticalization mark diverse grammatical relations, they are decategorized or undergo a categorical shift whose direction is typically from major classes (nouns, verbs, adjectives) to minor classes (e.g., clause ­connectors); (iv) The inputs of the process are usually lexical or less grammatical items and the resultant forms are less lexical and more grammatical; (v) Related to (iv), not all grammatical items are easily traceable to their lexical origin, nevertheless, through regular universal recurrences of similar grammaticalization clines, predictions can be made with reasonable levels of accuracy about their evolutionary track, even if their forms are linguistically opaque synchronically; (vi) Each item shows a varied degree of retention of its erstwhile (lexical) semantic content and the items located closer to the rightmost of the cline show less retention of their original (lexical) source meaning and increased (abstraction, i.e., taṣʿīd) grammatical meaning; (vii) Within each grammatical domain (i.e., prepositions and clause connectors), linguistic items vary in their degree of grammaticalization: the less grammaticalized is typically periphrastic, the more grammaticalized is cliticized, agglutinated, or affixal; (viii) The direction of change is from the lexical to grammatical or from the less grammatical to the more grammatical; (ix) Each shift in meaning, form, and function is characterized by an intermediate stage where old and new (more grammaticalized) properties overlap; (x) While there is some certainty concerning the input of grammaticalization, there is less certainty concerning the particular end point for a given gram or the type of gram it evolves to be. 2.3  Motivating Strategies for Semantic Extensions through Grammaticalization Following the standard grammaticalization research as it currently exists, a number of cognitive and discourse-driven strategies that motivate semantic and functional change of grams will be examined. In particular, special attention shall be given to metaphor, metonymy,



reanalysis, and what Traugott and König (1991, 190) label pragmatic “strengthening of informativeness” as possible mechanisms involved at various stages either singly or in tandem during the grammaticalization process. 2.3.1  Metaphor and Meaning Extensions Polysemy of prepositional forms has been noted, albeit as semantic deviation, in the consulted works of Arabic grammarians and linguists since early Islamic times to the present (e.g., Mubarrad of the ninth century AD; Ibn Hišām of the fourteenth century AD; as-Suyūt ̣ī of the sixteenth century; Wright of the nineteenth century; Ḥ asan of the 1960s; Fischer 2002; El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer 2003, among several others). The inventory of the semantic derivatives for a given prepositional form is typically listed without reference to any filtering or guiding of their extensions or organization of those meanings in relation to the primary or proto-sense. Hence, it would appear that all listed senses seem conceptually unstructured and equal in their conceptual relationship to the source and in their overall semantic peripherality to the ʾaṣl ‘original, inherent’, which is construed as the only semantically authentic sense. In most cases, the process that derives change in the primary sense, if explicitly stated, is variably dubbed as majāz, roughly ‘metaphor,’ ittisāʿ ‘expansion’ or istiʿāra, lit. ‘borrowing = metaphorization’. Traditional Arabic grammarians have concerned themselves with two consequences when discussing meaning expansion through metaphor: the obvious one is that prepositional forms tend to multiply meanings and that multiple prepositional forms can share the same semantic denotation, i.e., the relationship between a given semantic sense and its overt formal coding is one-to-many. The following examples from Sībawayhi of the late eighth century AD, which are copied from (9) and (10) in Chapter One, illustrate this point: (3a)  (3b)

ʾaṭʿama-hu ʿan jūʿin fed.3MSG-him out of hunger ‘He fed him out of hunger’ ʾaṭʿama-hu min jūʿin fed.3MSG-him out of hunger ‘He fed him out of hunger’

(Sībawayhi, 4, 226) (Ibid., 4, 227)

In (3a) and (3b) the two prepositions ʿan ‘about’ and min ‘from’ code the same semantic sense since they may substitute for one another


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without a loss of semantic denotation, a situation arising due to min ‘from’ being used in a metaphoric sense in this context. Ibn Jinnī of the late fourth century of the Hijra (early tenth century AD) dedicates an entire section in his al-Xaṣāʾiṣ to the disputation of metaphorized meanings of prepositions and other word classes (mainly verbs) as equal to or enduring as their primary senses. His reasoning for such an unwavering intellectual position is based on the fact that such meanings are only context sensitive (Ibid., 2, 205). The fact that context of usage has a role in expanding the interpretation of semantic senses for Ibn Jinnī is, in and of itself, a major step towards recognizing the effect of language use in change, which seems in line with what modern grammaticalizationalists like Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a) and elsewhere have proposed as “context-induced interpretation” (65). Against this backdrop, I shall examine the role metaphor plays in expanding meanings of a given gram undergoing grammaticalization. In so doing, I shall draw on the works of prominent grammaticalizationists who have advocated the principled metaphorization of meanings and synchronic polysemization for grammaticalizing linguistic forms. It is generally held in the field of grammaticalization research (Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a and 1991b; Heine 1993; Sweetser 1987, 1988, 1990; Bybee, Perkins, and Pagliuca 1994) that metaphoric transfer, which is generally described in their works as permitting abstract entities to be expressed in terms of concrete or less abstract ones, is among the major universal mechanisms for semantic extension by grammaticalization. Metaphoric transfer is said to be “paradigmatic” in nature and is motivated by “analogy” between two conceptual domains, an abstract and less abstract one (Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003, 93; Bisang 1998, 16; Wiemer and Bisang 2004, 11; and Fischer 2007, 121). As will be demonstrated later in this chapter, meaning extensions are possible through mechanisms other than metaphor. Metonymy, reanalysis, and discourse factors may each instigate meaning change in tandem with metaphor. Perceived similarities, however tenuous, between a relatively concrete entity and another that is intangible or abstract in metaphoric transfer could be based on attributes of shape, size, configuration, location, or function (Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a). In the case of grammaticalization, the image schemata resulting from repre-



senting or structuring experiences are utilized in establishing analogical transfer of meaning between two cognitive domains. Lakoff (1987, 271) has convincingly argued for the involvement of a limited number of image schemas in metaphoric transfers. Similarly, Taylor (1995, 132) points out the general role metaphor plays in generating complex meanings beyond their literal meanings and the basic functions of linguistic items. To illustrate, my daughter at age five, when seeing the Washington Monument in the U.S. Capitol for the first time, without knowing its proper name or historical significance, referred to it as the “giant crayon.” Being a child, unaware of the cultural, historical, and political significance of the piece of architecture, she manipulated whatever similarity she conceived of through her mental schema and mapped it onto the Washington Monument, and along the way she extended the mental representation to a new domain despite the clear visible difference in size, shape, properties (crayons are usually stored in boxes and do not easily stand vertically without external support!), material from which it is composed and function. All of these differences between the two objects were relegated to the background and only the gestalt perception of shape and thinning of the top were foregrounded in such mapping between the crayon, “the source,” and the unfamiliar entity, the Washington Monument. Thus, in her conceptual system, in the absence of a better exemplar, crayons were the best fit for analogical transfer in this case. One may suggest that a child, say an Egyptian child, who is familiar, for example, with obelisks from ancient Egypt, but unfamiliar with the Washington Monument, might, in the absence of world knowledge about the same artifact, choose to call it the Pharaoh’s monument. This observation confirms Svorou’s (1993, 95) remarks regarding the important effect of culture on the type of image schemata emerging from landmarks, which in the context of this exposition is taken to suggest that metaphoric transfers are culturally dependent. Universal as well as cultural-specific models constrain and influence metaphoric transfer across conceptual domains. Such an observation was also made in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 45; Heine 1997b, 36) discussion of the evolution of linguistic items denoting spatial relations. They, as well as Svorou (1993), suggest that concepts designating concrete objects from certain domains are recurrently recruited to designate spatial and other more abstract relations. But within each domain, it appears that the choice of the source concept


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is perhaps culturally determined. For example, several body parts are frequently and perhaps universally recruited for marking some spatial relations of various types as Van Oosten (1986) suggests (cited in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a, 33). The selection of the specific part seems to be subject to cultural and universal conceptual constraints. Metaphorization of body parts and their selection is thus subject to cultural norms and contexts; in Africa, for example, Heine (1997b, 42) has found that body part terms like “buttocks/anus” account for more than one-fifth (22.3%) of all expressions for ‘back’ in his sample of 125 languages. In Arabic, by contrast, the spatial relation “back” is expressed via xalfun ‘rump, back’ region of the body. Additionally in table 2.2 above five conspicuous etymologically transparent body parts are recruited in Arabic for adverbial and prepositional functions and quite possibly there are more that are currently etymologically opaque. The etymological origins of maʿa ‘with’ and ʿalā seem to suggest that their origin lies in ʿam (m) ‘people’ through metathesis, and ʿly ‘upper part’ respectively (Lipiński 2001, 475). As was stated previously, transfer from one domain (body parts, for example) to another (space) is usually achieved through image schema extensions to new domains where they in turn become subject to further shifts in meanings and functions. In the case of a body part as the source for marking spatial relations, the topology, skeletal, or structural patterns, or function is abstracted away and schematized through our embodied experience and, owing to perceived similarity, is extended or mapped onto another (less concrete) domain via what Lakoff (1987, 20) labels “category chaining.” Such conceptual transfer has the consequence of allowing further motivated extensions into other previously cognitively unrelated domains that were conceptually distant before the transfer. In each case of transfer, the direction is reportedly from the perceptually concrete to the conceptually abstract or from the less abstract to the more abstract. This inherent unidirectionality in the transfer has been viewed as symptomatic of asymmetry between source concepts and target concepts. The direction of mapping or projection is from the lexically specific to the less or semantically underspecified subdomain, from the familiar to the new and unfamiliar. Thus metaphors in grammaticalization are not typically based on resemblance, strictly speaking, since in such a case metaphor would permit bi-directionality as in “Einstein is the modern Pythagoras” or conversely, “Pythagoras was the Einstein of his age” (Grady 1999, 95). Nor is metaphor in grammaticalization based on



the blending of two input sources as recent theories of blending suggest (e.g., Fauconnier and Turner 1996, 113–130; Grady, Oakley, and Coulson 1999, 101–124) since the latter approach implies symmetrical relations between the source and target inputs that would run counter to the strong unidirectional tendency found in the grammaticaliation process. Creativity was invoked in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 78) as an “activity” that links source and target domains in metaphorized meaning change with the upshot of bringing about a marker of grammatical relations: a gram. Drawing on earlier studies (e.g., Mednick 1962 and Taylor 1975, cited in Heine 1991a, 30), they emphasize it as an act “to see things in an original way.” Seen as such, creativity is presumed to be universal, given, for example, the widespread semantic extensions from the concrete objective domain to the spatial domain and from the spatial to the temporal domain of conception. Furthermore, creativity is subdivided into universal, communal, and individual types in their classification of it. They then award individual creativity the primary role in conceptualization of novel ways to express new concepts and communal and universal creativity respectively follow. Creativity seems plausible as a motivation leading to novel or original ways of cross-domain conceptualization. It is very hard to conceive of individual creativity leading to communal and universal creativity. The act of using old/existing means to express something new can be classed as creativity, but what follows such an act is conventionalization of implicatures within the community in question. It seems intuitively plausible to suggest that the original way of expressing a new concept needs to “catch on” throughout the community. This is what Bisang (1998, 14) labels “propagation” of change, which typically follows change in a given context. When this happens, the new concept is embraced throughout the community and thus becomes part and parcel of the community’s standard way of expressing the new concept. I would therefore suggest the following stages: Creativity > Conventionalization > Semanticization

These three stages highlight the fact that individual activity, if it gains wider acceptance and use and becomes conventionalized, may eventually supplant the original sense (i.e., semanticization), and may in turn be the basis for further expansion into other discourse contexts


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through metaphorization of an already grammaticalized item in its progression towards further grammaticalization. Correspondence between the linguistic sign and its meaning underlies the concept of iconicity. Although such correspondences are frequently encountered in the study of grammaticalization, mention of the relationship between metaphor and iconicity is infrequently made explicit. Hiraga (2005), who bases her studies of poetic metaphor in Japanese texts on Piercean analysis of metaphor and iconicity, establishes such a connection between the two on the grounds that they both operate on principles of similarity and analogy respectively. In fact, she considers metaphor as a subtype of iconicity (Hiraga 2005, 32). Grammaticalized forms are metaphorized when viewed from their concrete sources, which have been schematized and are mapped across conceptual domains based on conceived similarity in topology, function, and/or structure, and they are iconic to the extent that there is tight correspondence between form and meaning in the stages of the grammaticalization process. As will become evident in subsequent chapters, lexical forms entering the grammaticalization cline when undergoing semantic change undergo formal changes that mirror the change in their semantic content. As they, for example, become what Heine (1997b, 36) and Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 156) call “synsemantic,” that is “emptied” of much of their (lexical) semantic content, and become increasingly dependent on context for their interpretation, they undergo change in morphological form first, and if their grammaticalization proceeds further, they subsequently lose phonological materials, and in some cases become zero if they reach the end of the grammaticalization cline. It is thus true that more meaning typically corresponds to more form, as Hiraga suggests (2005, 41), when iconicity between form and meaning is considered. This is particularly evident in the case of Arabic verb patterns, which also show that expanded semantic content correlates positively with an increased quantity of morpho-phonological materials between measures I and X. For example, basic roots in Arabic most often denote meanings that are “tangible and concrete” (Stetkevych 2006, 71). Reduplication of radicals of the root, as in the case of the second segment of the radical of verbs traditionally labeled in Western grammatical tradition as Arabic measure II, i.e., qattala ‘massacred’ or kassara ‘smashed’, results in the intensification of the action, adding more abstraction to the basic meaning of the same root without such reduplication (i.e., in measure I) qatala ‘killed’. Only recently in grammaticalization



research have scholars like Frajzyngier (2008) advocated the expansion of grammaticalization proper to include inflectional and derivational morphology of grams. Increase in morpho-phonological form is thus motivated by the increase or expansion in semantic content. It is also no coincidence that overt markers of futurity in Arabic are prefixed to verb forms, while those with past tense (perfective) inflections are suffixed to the stem. These two observations underscore the presence of iconicity and its relation to grammar. Prepositional forms such as ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, despite’ comprise bulky constructions that stand in iconic relation to the complex concessive semantic meaning that they code, as will be shown in more detail in chapter 9. Compared with the morphologically reduced form li- that denotes conceptually more basic relations such as allative or purposive, the size of ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min mirrors the conceptual difference in complexity between the two. In many of the grammaticalization phases, change in meaning results in change of categoriality, be it conceptual or linguistic, of morphological property, and finally of phonetic material thus evidencing the effect of iconicity throughout. Within the metaphor-iconicity relation, many grammaticalizationists have advocated the view that linguistic coding devices become grammaticalized, and progressively lose their link to their objective, concrete, or tangible origins with the increased level of their grammaticalization. In the absence of recorded histories, the lost connection to external concrete objects in advanced stages of grammaticalization makes their origin hard to recover without special insight into diachronic etymology. However, a conceptual continuum of categorical change such as the following from Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 55) suggests the following metaphorical chains linking a number of conceptual categories with increasing level of abstraction: PERSON > OBJECT > ACTIVITY > SPACE > TIME > QUALITY

The authors demonstrate that a cross-linguistic survey in the domain of interrogative pronouns from fourteen languages evidences that morphemic size corresponds with level of cognitive complexity. In Arabic, when a body part, for example, wasaṭun ‘waist’ or xalfun ‘rump, back’, is used to designate spatial and temporal relations, it progressively moves away from its reference to physical objects toward a non-physical, more abstract denotation (i.e., space), but as a body


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part term, it is not reducible to a more basic concept. As Langacker (1987, 150–151) notes, physical objects are three dimensional, space is two dimensional, and time, like temperature, is one dimensional. Furthermore, whereas physical objects are bounded, space and time are not. Extending this view into the grammaticalization continua, one could conclude that items located to the right are abstractions of their earlier forms located to the left. Heine and his colleagues in several of their writings thus speak of intermediate, in-between stages along the grammaticalization channel or cline where literal and metaphorized senses are co-activated, which they label “chaining.” When reaching a more mature stage of grammaticalization, the gram usually profiles several relations synchronically, as accumulated multiple metaphorized semantic senses. To illustrate, bi- is used as a locative, e.g., bi-l-maktabi ‘at the office’, or a temporal preposition, bi-n-nahāri ‘in daytime’. Furthermore, it also marks more abstract relations such as the instrumental case, qaṭaʿa l-xubza bi-s-sikkīni ‘he cut the bread with the knife’, or manner as in rakaḍa bi-surʿatin, lit. ‘he ran with speed = he ran rapidly’. From the perspective of grammaticalization, bi- ‘in, at, with’ is considered a mature preposition or coding device for grammatical relations, most notably, on account of its evidenced polyfunctionality, increased dependency on context for its interpretation, and reduced morpho-phonological structure. 2.3.2  Metonymy Whereas metaphor has been mentioned either implicitly or explicitly in the treatment of semantic extensions for Arabic prepositions, to my knowledge, metonymic processes have not yet been part of any discussion of semantic change in Arabic prepositions or subordinate conjunction extensions. This is somewhat surprising given that in the works of Arabic grammarians there is clear recognition of certain metonymic extensions of meaning, which in their terms are majāz mursal ‘synecdoche’. Nevertheless, in the major treatises on semantic properties of Arabic lexicon and constructions in medieval times (e.g., Jurjānī’s Dalāʾil al-ʾIʿjāz and ʾAsrār al-Balāγa from the fifth century Hijra [eleventh century AD]; Zamakhsharī of the sixth century Hijra [twelfth century AD]), not a single mention was made of metonymic processes in prepositions. Zamakhsharī’s ʾAsās al-Balāγa, a multi-volume work that examines the expansion of meaning of lexical classes by metaphoric and other cognitive processes, avoids the meaning expansion



of prepositional sources. Lexical sources like xalfun ‘rump, back’ and janbun, a variant of jānibun ‘flank’, are cited, but their prepositional meanings are left out. The role of metonymy in extending semantic senses of prepositional forms continued to be overlooked in modern times as well. In major studies of Arabic prepositions (e.g., Lentzner 1977; Procházka 1993 and 1995), as well as Arabic prepositions within the context of Semitic languages, (e.g., Voigt 1999; Pennacchietti 1974) not a single reference to metonymic semantic extension was made. This is perhaps due in part to the characterization of metonymy as “covert” as Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 93) do. Related to this characterization is Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 65) suggestion that metaphor is an abrupt mechanism that operates across domains. If an accurate account of gradual semantic transition within a given domain is desired, then metonymy must also be considered in the grammaticalization process to explain the subtle changes and semantic shifts between senses of a single linguistic item. Metonymy is frequently associated with the referential function (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, Nunberg 1978 [cited in Taylor 1995, 122], Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003, 87) where one entity stands for another that is syntagmatically contiguous to it or conceptually associated with it. The emphasized referential function has been made explicit in Taylor (1995, 122) as a function that “permits the name of a container to refer to the contents of the container.” The following example (4) below illustrates this metonymic process. (4)  ʾat̠nāʾa julūsi-hi ʿalā during sitting-his on ‘Whilst he was sitting in a coffee house’

maqhan coffee house (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 177)

In (4), maqhan ‘coffee house’ is in metonymic relation to a seat or chair (one of its contents) since the person in question does not literally sit on the coffee shop (container) itself. A series of metonymic extensions eventually takes the gram out of its original domain into another (more abstract) domain. Traugott and König (1991, 211) suggest that metonymy is not only operational at the referential level, but also at the cognitively more abstract, covert level in the discourse world, thus establishing a link between metonymy and what they label “pragmatic strengthening.”


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In recent refined analysis of metonymic relations, Croft and Cruse (2004, 217) have further divided them into “intrinsic associations” and “extrinsic associations.” Expressed as a part-whole relation, it would fall under the former and the “place for the institution” under the latter. Notable examples of metonymic processes in grammaticalization appear in reference to various spatial scenes within a given domain. For example, ʿalā typically profiles a spatial relation within the TrajectorLandmark schema, where the Trajector (TR) is directly supported by the Landmark (LM) as in ʿalā ḏ̣ahri l-faras ‘on the back of the horse’. Within the same spatial domain, it may also profile a region within the TR itself in waqafa ʿalā qadamay-hi ‘he stood on his two feet’. In the first example, the LM is external to the trajectory; in the second, the TR forms a subpart of the LM (the body in this case). In several of Herskovits’s (1986) analyses of the elusive meaning of English prepositions, she offers an insight into the “ideal meaning” associated with each form and the extensions of those meanings. In a few of these extensions, metonymic processes seem to be involved, although she does not explicitly credit metonymy with semantic expansion. Of those instances, the following examples are modeled after hers. The preposition ʿalā cited above through metonymic extensions also encodes a different conceptual construal in t̠imāru l-burtuqāli ʿalā š-šajarati ‘the orange (fruit) on the tree’, where oranges are actually hanging from the tree or supported by its branches, which means that while in contact with the branches, the configuration is the reverse of that in the proto-typical case where the TR is atop of the LM and the weight of the hanging oranges presses towards the ground, not the tree or its branches. Compare these configurations with aṣ-ṣūratu ʿalā l-jidāri ‘the picture on the wall’ and al-buqʿatu ʿalā l-qamīṣi ‘the spot on the shirt’, where the picture hangs rather than rests on the wall in the first example and the spot forms a recognizable part of the fabric of the shirt rather than being external to it. Similarly al-ibtisāmatu ʿalā wajhi-hi ‘the smile on his face’ locates a feature, which is part of the referent. Such metonymic processes that help stretch the spatial configuration between the TR and LM depend largely on contextual cues for accurate interpretation and informativeness to overcome the diversity in topological details and spatial configurations that are present in each situation. Following Taylor (1995, 127) in his elaborate discussion of the spatial meanings of the English preposition ‘over’, I claim that polysemous spatial senses of ʿalā are metonymically related. For example,



ruḥ nā netmaššā ʿalā/ʿa-k-kurnēš ‘we went walking on the corniche (riverside)’ profiles the path, and ʾanā sākin ʿalā/ʿa-l-baḥ r ‘I live by the sea/river’ profiles a location/place. If place is construed as a point on a path, as in Taylor, then the spatial relationships that ʿalā designates is a whole-part relation motivated by metonymy. Another important role metonymy plays in grammaticalization is in the evolution of text-organizing markers (more about metonymy will be said in the chapter on subordination). For example, munḏu ‘since, ago’ when functioning as a subordinate conjunction conventionally marks temporal relations as in (5a). However, through metonymy, a cause implicature can be detected in (5b). (5a) waqafat stood.3FSG

ʾumm-ī mother-my

munḏu since

ʿišrīna twenty

sanatin year


li-turāqiba ṭ-ṭarīqa the-road ‘For twenty years, my mother has stood watching the road’  (Smell 2,3:4) munḏū ʿāda ʾilā miṣra lam yašʿur since returned.3MSG to Egypt not 3MSG.feel.JSV

siwā bi-l-ʾasā wa-l-ʾalami wa-l-yaʾsi except with-the-distress and-the-pain and-the-dispair ‘Since he returned to Egypt, he has felt only distress, pain, and despair’

The context-dependent inference in (5b) that the event, his return to Egypt, is temporally prior, may give rise to an implicature-based reading of cause for his emotional state described in the main clause through metonymy. Such a role for metonymy where temporal relations give access to cause implicatures has been observed and elaborated on in Traugott and König (1991, 210) and O’Dowd (1998, 145). 2.3.3  Metaphor and Metonymy in the Stages of Grammaticalization The relationship between metaphor and metonymy and their possible role as processes motivating grammaticaliation have been subject to much scrutiny and controversy within grammaticalization and resulted in divergent, and at times, contradictory conclusions. Svorou (1993, 98), for example, sharply distinguishes between the two, and suggests that metaphor is involved in the initial stages of grammaticaliztion and reserves metonymy for later stages of the process. By contrast, Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 93) claim that metonymy is linked to reanalysis (see below), but conclude that conventional-


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ized “conceptual” metonymy motivates reanalysis in the early stages of grammaticalization. Yet, Taylor (1995, 140) claims that “metaphors . . . are . . . grounded in metonymy.” The position adopted in this study follows Heine and others (e.g., Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003) that metaphor and metonymy, as far as their contribution to the grammaticalization process is concerned, are complementary where one (metaphor) is responsible for mappings between two domains of conception based on perceived similarity or analogical relations between them; the other (metonymy), working in tandem, operates within a single domain and facilitates graduality in the transition from one semantic sense to the next through implicatures and preparing the gram in question for further metaphorical semantic transfer into other domains. Hence, neither mechanism is confined to a single stage or set of stages in the grammaticalization process, but it would seem that the continuity of semantic change is achieved through metonymy, given its gradual and “covert” operation on linguistic items. However, the intricate relationship between metaphor and metonymy cannot be underestimated. Croft and Cruse (2004, 218), commenting on the nature of the relationship between the two cognitive processes, suggest that the two processes are in a cooperative, symbiotic relationship. Recognizing this interdependence between and inseparability of metaphor and metonymy, Goossens (1990 cited in Croft and Cruse) coins the term “metaphtonymy.” 2.3.4  Reanalysis Reanalysis is intimately related to grammaticalization and very often the two affect each other in unique ways: grammaticalization may trigger reanalysis and vice-versa. Reanalysis is defined as “change in the structure of an expression or class of expressions that does not involve any immediate or intrinsic modification of its surface manifestation” (Langacker 1977, 58) and the type of underlying ‘silent’ structural changes associated with it were further elaborated on as one of either constituency, hierarchical structure, category labels, or grammatical relations in Harris and Campbell 1995, 50). While disagreement exists on the nature of the relationship between grammaticalization and reanalysis, particularly over whether the two are one and the same phenomenon (as Carol Lord 1976, 179 cited in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a suggests), or inextricably related (as Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003 and Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer 1991a surmise), one thing is clear, that each is important and relevant to the



other. In Esseesy (2009, 39), a number of examples including the following one, both in MSA and dialectal, which was cited in Chapter 1, have shown that reanalysis may trigger grammaticalization and viceversa. In the development of negation construction of the type mā—š several diachronic steps have taken place, possibly among them are the following example, which is repeated here from chapter 1: 1.

mā [bi-wudd-ī] not with-desire-my ‘I do not desire a thing’

IV. mā [bi-dd-ī not with-desire-my ‘I do not desire a thing’ V.

šayʾun thing šēʾ] thing

mā [bidd-ī-š] not want-my-not ‘I don’t want’

VI. bidd-ī-š want-my-NEG ‘I don’t want’

Stages 0–III are hypothetical focal points in the course of the development of such constructions. Other in-between stages may also have taken place, but the ones shown here serve to illustrate the possible grammaticalization cline for such constructions. In stage 0, the main negation particle is mā, but šayʾun ‘thing’—a superordinate-level term—serving as a negation emphasizer is also present. In this case, šayʾun is much the same as qaṭt ̣ ‘never’, which occurs typically in CA in past tense negation, or like ʾabadan ‘never’, which typically occurs in negative constructions denoting futurity. The function and history of šayʾun resembles that of pas, point in their evolution within the French negation system (see Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003, 65–66). In stage I, the preposition bi­- ‘with’ collocates with the noun wudd ‘desire’; the negation emphasis, due to its frequent co-occurrence in such constructions, loses much of its lexical semantic content and is reanalyzed as part of the negation construction, specifically as part of what is being negated. In stage II, bi- is reanalyzed as part of the verb stem, thus creating the new stem bidd ‘desire’. The noun šēʾ ‘thing’ loses much of its phonological material and becomes a proclitic operating on the negated entity together with mā ‘not’, as a circumfixed construction. In this stage, it also becomes essential to negations,


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not only where nominals are present, but also in verbal constructions as well (for example, in Egyptian Arabic, ma-katabte-š ‘I did not write’; ma-ba-ktebš ‘I do not write’), hence it is generalized beyond its original use as such. In stage IV, the proclitic -š becomes the sole ­negation marker (as is the case in Palestinian dialect and perhaps other Arabic dialects) and mā is reanalyzed as an optional negation marker. This type of grammaticalization where the original negation element is dropped and its reinforcement substitutes for it is “complex reinforcement” in Lehmann’s ([1982] 1995, 23–24) terms. From the sketch of its possible history, it is very likely that the first step in the grammaticalization of šayʾun in negative constructions was its reanalysis as part of the negation construction, resulting in further changes such as its decategorization and phonological structure reductions. Likewise, its grammaticalization triggered further reanalysis where it became part of the morphological makeup of the negated entity. Reanalysis, thus, while independent of grammaticalization, interacts with it in several possible ways: as a catalyst in some instances and as a consequence in others. 2.3.5  Pragmatic Strengthening Following Traugott and König (1991), extension of semantic meaning for linguistic items undergoing grammaticalization arises out of recurring contextual implicata derived from inferences that become frequently associated with the use of a particular linguistic form or construction in a given discourse context. When implicatures become strengthened to the point of conventionalization (also known as “semanticization”), in some cases they eventually replace the earlier meaning. According to this view, polysemous extensions resulting in reanalysis and grammaticalization of linguistic forms and constructions follow certain evolutional semantic-pragmatic tendencies, which are cited below: 1. Meanings based in the external-described situation [become] meanings based in the internal (evaluative/perceptual/cognitive) situation. 2. Meanings based in the described external or internal situation [become] meanings based in the textual situation. 3. Meanings tend to become increasingly situated in the speaker’s belief-state/attitude toward the situation (Ibid., 208–209).



By way of illustration, consider the use of ḥ attā ‘until’: (6a) wa-stamarrū alā ḏālika ḥ attā ṣ-ṣabāḥ i and-continued.3MPL on that until the-morning ‘And they continued that until the morning’  (1001N691, 3) (6b) lam yamḍi yawmāni ḥ attā not 3MSG.pass.JSV day.DU until šāhada ʾahla l-qaryati watched.3MSG people the-village ‘No sooner had two days passed than he saw the village people’ (HaluSirr 3, 15) (6c) ḥ attā d-diʿāratu tujarribu-hā yā even the-prostitution 2MSG.experiment.IPFV-it VOC

ʾaqḏara man xalaqa dirty.SUP who created.3MSG ‘Even prostitution, you experimented [with] it, oh you dirtiest of [God’s] creation!’  (Mahfouzchildren 1, 9:11)

Corresponding to the first tendency, in (6a) above, ḥ attā is used to denote a time period of the day that is externally observable. In (6b), by contrast, the same form ḥ attā serves a text organizing function (labeled “correlative subordination” in Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 628) as part of the construction lam yamḍi . . . ḥ attā ‘no sooner . . . than’. In (6c), ḥ attā no longer serves a prepositional function, but serves as a focus particle expressing the speaker’s own objection towards the behavior of his/her listener rather than describing an external situation belonging to the spatio-physical domain. In light of examples (6a–c), those tendencies capture the semantic grammaticalization of prepositions and their functional extensions into textual functions and the increased coding of subjective belief of language users. These tendencies will also be of utility in the discussion of semantic grammaticalization of subordinators in chapters 8 and 9. 2.3.6  Synthesis of Mechanisms Metaphor, metonymy, and reanalysis are three important mechanisms that set grammaticalization in motion. Ostensibly, the three, or at least metaphor and metonymy, on the one hand, and reanalysis, on the other, appear as somewhat disparate in their workings within grammaticalization. Whereas metaphor and metonymy express one entity in terms of another entity related either paradigmatically or syntagmatically, reanalysis facilitates the redrawing of inter-constituent


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boundaries to correspond to changes motivated by conversational implicatures in certain discourse contexts (Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003). ­Metaphor, having its roots in metonymy, as suggested by Taylor (1995, 140), operates at the paradigmatic level, whereas reanalysis operates with subtlety at “syntagmatic axes.” Viewed from this ­perspective, reanalysis and metonymy operate syntagmatically. Indeed, both processes have been linked operationally along the syntagmatic axes in Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003) and further reiterated and articulated in Wiemer and Bisang (2004). At the conceptual level, metaphor and metonymy are both utilized consciously, but reanalysis stems most often from unconscious flawed abductive reasoning. The latter part of this hypothesis is in accord with Hopper who purports that “[I]n every instance of reanalysis we can posit that it is the result of abduction” (Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003, 52). Metaphoric leaps across conceptual domains are by their nature discrete, but the overt working of metonymy coupled with what Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 92) call “covert” change in redrawing constituent boundaries—reanalysis—ensures the gradualness of the grammaticalization process. Reanalysis is thus sensitive to both and responds to changes in communicative functions, which the grams come to serve. It further aligns the syntactic relations of the construction undergoing grammaticalization with the acquired semantic denotation. Viewed from this perspective, the three mechanisms constitute complementarities, which enable change in language to take place without observable discontinuity. Also, a unitary analysis of the three mechanisms suggests that the source concepts or structures of these mechanisms are not identical or symmetrical to their output. Metaphor and metonymy, to some extent, help express new, more abstract concepts using existing means; reanalysis, on the other hand, helps create new structures iconically, which correspond to the conceptual structure or re-arrangement of an existing one. 2.4  Unidirectionality of Change Recognized as a major principle of grammaticalization, unidirectionality has been subject to much controversy. In earlier studies of grammaticalization, Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 19) suggested that unidirectionality is a universal principle of change under grammaticalization. However, Lass (2000) contradicted Lehmann’s assertions regarding the univer-



sality of unidirectionality with persuasive counter-examples. It has been widely accepted that counter-examples to unidirectionality of change by grammaticalization do exist, but their presence in no way categorically invalidates it since the overwhelming number of crosslinguistically attested cases of unidirectionality of change by grammaticalization across various functional domains makes it clear that it is at least a “statistical universal,” as Haspelmath (2004, 23) calls it. As will become evident, unidirectionality of change spans semantic (e.g., from concrete to abstract), syntactic (e.g., from taking nominal objects to clausal complements), morphological (e.g., from autonomous inflected form to bound, fusional, invariable form), and phonetic (e.g., loss of phonetic materials ʿalā ‘on, above’ > ʿa-; reduction in syntagmatic size fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ > ʾat̠nāʾa ‘during’. The effect of unidirectionality on grammaticalized items and constructions is increased textual frequency, development of complex polysemies, and multi-functionality. 2.5  Measuring Grammaticalization The scalar nature of change by grammaticalization along conceptual and functional pathways has been subjected to empirical testing using Lehmann’s ([1982] 1995, 121) grammaticalization parameters. Namely, the relative degree of grammaticalization for a given linguistic sign, regardless of the functional domain to which it belongs, is measured according to three specific criteria, weight, cohesion, and variability, synchronically along the paradigmatic and syntagmatic axes. The usefulness of these criteria essentially lies in their purported power to capture the overall gradual loss of autonomy for a grammaticalizing linguistic sign as indexed by changes to its semantic and formal properties vis-à-vis its less grammaticalized source, as well as empirically allowing for the ranking of members of a given functional domain (e.g., prepositions or subordinators) along a synchronic grammaticalization scale extending from the less to more grammatical. The processes responsible for these changes according to Lehmann are highlighted with examples from Arabic below: –Attrition. Losses in semantic content (e.g., min ‘from’, ablative > comparative) where the source in this case belongs to the spatio-directional domain, while the target belongs to the more abstract notion of comparison, of which many do not have tangible physical correlates.


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Reduction in phonetic content (e.g., ʿalā ‘on, above’ > ʿa- in Egyptian and other Arabic dialects; MSA ʿinda ‘at’, which is also a possessive marker > ʿid- in Iraqi [(Alkalesi 2006, 174)]). –Paradigmaticity. In pre- or early grammaticalization stages, linguistic items tend to be part of a fairly large functional set. As their grammaticalization increases, they form a subcategory of a functional paradigm. In Arabic, bi- ‘in, at, with’ when used as a locative, as in bi-l-bayti ‘in the house’ may be substituted by fī ‘in, at’ or dāxila ‘in, inside’. It may also form a semantic contrast with xārija ‘outside’ and the like. However, when used in Levantine and Egyptian dialects as a marker of non-past tense, aspect, or mood, it enters a more cohesive paradigm of tense and aspect markers. –Obligatorification. Related to paradigmaticity, the extent of freedom or otherwise constraint in the choice of a linguistic item from among other members of that class, according to Lehmann, correlates with the degree of its grammaticalization. This is evident in the case of the choice of a preposition to serve locative function, which is generally less constrained when compared with the choice of preposition within prepositional verb complexes. For example, the use of bi- as an overt marker of tense, mood, or aspect or min ‘than’ as a comparative particle are not subject to the choice of individual language users, hence their choice is severely constrained as they become standardized forms of tense, aspect, and mood marking, or in Lehmann’s terms “obligatorified.” Given the decreased flexibility of choice of a marker of grammatical relations, obligatorified items should therefore correlate positively with an increase in contextual frequency. –Condensation. The syntagmatic size (“scope” in Lehmann’s terms) of the construction, which the grammaticalizing element helps develop, according to Lehmann, is indicative of its degree of grammaticalization. He proposes that reduction in syntagmatic scope should correlate positively with an increase in grammaticalization. There is some evidence of syntagmatic condensation in Arabic prepositional constructions as defined by Lehmann. For example, the synchronic variants of ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, despite’—ʿalā/bi-raγmi, bi-raγmi, and raγma—may be ordered according to their syntagmatic size with the most shortened manifestation of it, raγma, outranking all others in terms of its degree of grammaticalization. Shrinkage of syntagmatic size of the construction seems to be analogous to observed cases in Arabic like the diachronic change from fī wasaṭi ‘in the middle of ’ > wasṭa, and fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ > ʾat̠nāʾa. However, despite this empirical evidence, Tabor and Traugott (1998) have challenged Lehmann’s



claims regarding the universal validity of reduction in syntagmatic size or scope by grammaticalization with empirical cases of c-command where the scope expanses run counter to Lehmann’s proposal (i.e., expansion of structural scope) of grammaticalizing elements. Widening of syntagmatic scope is observed in the grammaticalization of Arabic, particularly in the evolution from prepositions into subordinators. For example, when the enantiosemic9 noun bayna ‘separation, connection’ functions as a preposition in coordinated phrases, its structural scope displays the following properties for its prepositional subordinating conjunction functions: (7a) (7b) (7c)

bayna l-ḥ īni wa-l-ʾāxar between the-time and-the-other ‘From time to time’ bayna-ka wa bayna-hā between-you.MSG and-between-her ‘Between you and her’ tajammaʿat ʿarabātu l-ḥ anṭūri gathered.3FSG wagon the-carriage

baynamā whereas

nāḥ iyata kubrī kurmuz toward bridge Kurmuz ‘The carriages assembled and got closer [to one another] whereas the taxis began [driving] towards Kurmuz Bridge’ (Sleeps 4, 44)

ʾaxaḏat began.3FSG

wa-taqārabat and-got closer.3FMSG

t-tāksiyyātu the-taxi.PL

ṭarīqa-hā road-her

In examples (7a) and (7b), it appears that when bayna ‘between’ functions as a preposition, its structural scope—defined in terms of size of the complement or governing coordinate phrases—decreases only when taking a pronoun suffix as its complement. That is, according to Lehmann’s “structural scope” criteria, (7b) is more grammaticalized than (7a) because the preposition bayna is obligatorily repeated in (7b), which is indicative of reduction in its reduction scope. However, when assuming a textual function, such as a subordinating conjunction as in (7c)—a more grammaticalized function when compared to prepositional functions—its structural scope expands. The conclusion to be drawn in the case of Arabic is that Lehmann’s condensation is


  See David Justice (1987, 195) for the class of entantisemic in Arabic.


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limited to evolution from the stages associated with the change from lexical to grammatical, but not subsequent evolution to more grammatical functions like subordination. Coalescence. As items continue losing their semantic and formal autonomy in grammaticalization, they coalesce with other items syntagmatically and become increasingly dependent on them. For ­example, whereas ʾilā ‘to, towards’ marks the allative, it is morphologically autonomous; the allative marker li- is bound. In more advanced grammaticalization stages, a bound morpheme may become a phonetic segment of its host. As a result of collocation in MSA with the verb and forming jāʾa bi> jāb in certain dialectal Arabic, the preposition bi- has become a phonetic segment of its host, as has been stated earlier in Chapter 1. Fixation. As items become more grammaticalized, their word order becomes less amenable to change. Whether bi appears as a verbal prefix (e.g., bi-yelʿab ‘he plays/is playing, has been playing’), or linearly following the verb in a prepositional verb phrase (e.g., nahaḍa bi- ‘raise, boost’), its syntactic position becomes fixed with respect to other (sub) constituents. On the whole, Lehmann’s parameters will guide and inform the assessment of the degree of formal grammaticalization of grams selected in this study. The choice of a given parameter for measuring the degree of grammaticalization of a given gram will be solely based on its applicability to that gram at the specific stage where it is shown to operate. Division of the classes of Arabic prepositions selected for this study is also influenced by Lehmann’s (1985, 1986) synchronic scale in the form of a continuum of increased grammaticalization, extending from complex prepositions ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, despite’ to a case affix like bi- ‘in, at, with’ for similarly functioning grams. Between these two poles, other prepositions (e.g., secondary, primary, agglutinative) may be ranked according to the relative degree of their formal properties relevant to grammaticalization. 2.6  Textual Frequency and Grammaticalization Frequency of occurrence counts for grammaticalizing individual words and multi-word sequences have been shown to provide indispensable, credible empirical evidence of change in textual distribution in a num-



ber of grammaticalization studies (e.g., Hoffmann 2005, Krug 2001, Kortmann 1997, Barth-Weingarten and Couper-Kuhlen 2002, Laury 1997). The present investigation follows in the footsteps of the abovementioned grammaticalizationists in considering changes in textual frequency and distribution as diagnostic of grammaticalization. Bybee and Pagliuca (1985, 61) maintain that frequency increases are a reliable sign that grammaticalization has taken place. Repetition of use, or frequency of use, has been upgraded in Bybee (2007, 354) to “universal to the grammaticalization process.” The basic premise for this claim in several of Bybee’s writings is that grammaticalizing items typically generalize into contexts not previously permitted to their etymological sources and consequently appear more frequently in more contexts. Loss of constraining semantic content of the lexical sources of grams would permit the emerging gram to acquire new functions, further widening their textual distribution. For example, the loss of the physical referential aspect of fū ‘mouth’ as a body part term as well as its nounhood trappings (e.g., inflections for number and case) has contributed to its much wider distribution as a preposition whose polysemous meanings still include ‘in, at’. Repetitions of use in frequency-based studies have been shown in Bybee (2007) and Hofmann (2005) to have cognitive and linguistic consequences that bear directly on grammaticalization of recurring items and their constructions. On the cognitive side, Langacker (1987, 59) linked repetitions of use to “entrenchment” of structures as units that are cognitively processed with more speed in the memory than infrequent forms and constructions. A related view on the quickening in cognitive processing (i.e., storing in memory as well as retrieving) of repeated units over time in discourse is found in Haiman’s (1994, 9) notion of “automatization,” which results in semantic and formal changes like loss of meaning and double-articulation respectively. On the linguistic side is the so-called Zipfian Law of Abbreviation, which is based on Zipf ’s (1949, 66–133) remark that high frequency linguistic items seem to have reduced size.10 As will be demonstrated throughout this study, reductive changes on grammaticalizing forms  Mindt and Weber 1989, cited in König and Kortmann (1991, 111) have validated Zipf ’s Law of Abbreviation empirically as they have shown that the 13 most frequent prepositions in English include in the order of frequency are of, in, to, for with the top two alone, of and in, constituting 45% of all occurrences in their corpus study. 10


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serving prepositional and subordinating functions have been attested. They appear in variegated forms: loss of case inflections on wasaṭu/a/i/ ‘waist’ > wasṭa ‘in the middle of, amid’; morpho-phonological reduction from bi-syllabic to monosyllabic ʿalā ‘on, above’ > ʿa-; vowel deletion li- ‘to, for’ > l- as in l-bētak ‘your house’ in the Iraqi dialect of Arabic (Alkalesi 2006, 173). In the present investigation, frequency of occurrences for individual forms and multi-word sequences serving prepositional and subordinating functions are tallied and compared to each other in terms of their textual distributional characteristics in order to detect emerging changes in their patterns of use. Textual appearance of retrieved prepositional and subordinating forms in the three main sources of data in this study, the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and the modern literature corpora shall be counted and compared to demonstrate changes in grammaticalization that occur over time. To recap, in this chapter, the scope, limitations, data sources, and theoretical foundation on which this investigation is based have been laid out. Specifically, the selected three ACT corpora covering a historical period spanning almost thirteen centuries are utilized as the primary source for authentic data that is subjected to examination under the theory of grammaticalization as it is currently practiced. Within the grammaticalization framework, the etymological sources for emerging grams are identified according to their semantic characteristics, the mechanisms and processes motivating change are highlighted at the stages where they operate, the degree of grammaticalization is measured within Lehmann’s ([1982] 1995) parameters, and finally the frequency of occurrence of grammaticalizing forms and constructions in the ACT corpora is analyzed as an empirical diagnostic of synchronic and diachronic grammaticalization. All of the foregoing provides a frame of reference to the present investigation.

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Complex Prepositional Phrases 3.1  Introduction It has been common practice in the study of Arabic prepositions, especially in most reference grammars, to focus on a limited number of single-stem linguistic items (see chapter 1) that fulfill a prepositional function to the virtual exclusion of multi-word prepositional phrases that may perform functions similar to those carried out by one-word prepositions. The following examples illustrate possible functional substitution of multi-word constructions for the simple preposition maʿa ‘with’ in two of its distinct semantic senses: (1a)  qutila maʿa šajāʿati-hi killed.PASS.3MSG with bravery-his ‘Despite his bravery he was killed’ (Wright [1874] 1974, 2: 164; transcription, mine) (1b) qutila bi-r-raγmi min šajāʿati-hi killed.PASS.3MSG in-the-spite of bravery-his ‘Despite/in spite of his bravery he was killed’ (2a) (2b)

maʿa kawni-hi γarīban with being-his stranger ‘In addition to his being a stranger’ (Ibid.; transcription, mine) bi-l-ʾiḍāfati li-kawni-hi γarīban in-the-addition for-being-his stranger ‘In addition to his being a stranger’

In (1a), maʿa exhibits a concessive sense; that same sense is coded by the multi-word prepositional phrase bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’ in (1b). Likewise, the additive sense of maʿa in (2a) is almost synonymous with that which is denoted by the multi-word prepositional phrase bi-l-ʾiḍāfati li ‘in addition to’ in (2b). Substitution is also possible where a compound-like preposition performs the same function as a simple preposition:

76 (3a) (3b) 

chapter three li-ʿaybin fī-hā for-fault in-her ‘Because of some fault in herself’ bi-sababi ʿaybin fī-hā with-reason fault in-her ‘Because of some fault in herself’

(Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 191)

In (3b), the prepositional compound bi-sababi ‘because of ’ substitutes for the simple preposition li- that marks cause in (3a). Given the examples (1b, 2b, and 3b), it is evident that complex prepositions of the type designated in Hoffmann (2005) as PNP-construction, and what I label compound-like prepositions (henceforth PN-units/constructions), fulfill syntactic and semantic functions equivalent to simple, single-stem prepositions. Hitherto, such constructions have not been universally recognized as syntactic and semantic units in Arabic linguistic research. Only the brief mention of a few PNP examples in Syntax der Arabischen Schriftsprache der Gegenwart of ElAyoubi, Fischer, and Langer (2003, 585) and their citations in Hans Wehr Dictionary offer a possible indication of emerging attention to this prepositional sub-class. However, this situation is not particular to Arabic alone, for despite the cross-linguistic frequency of PNP units (e.g., Quirk and Mulholland 1964; Trawiński, Sailer, and Soehn (2006), for German; Adler 2008, for French), there have been wide-ranging scholarly views on these units and their acceptance as units of grammar for over 150 years, as chronicled in Hoffmann (2005). Acceptance of PNPs as units of grammar is still not widely shared, as some notable scholars (e.g., Huddleston [1984] 1993, Huddleston and Pullum 2002) reject complex prepositions as a syntactic category. It is also equally surprising that notable grammaticalizationists such as Lehmann (1985, 1986, [1982] 1995) have not explicitly recognized PNP-constructions in their scale for structural devices marking case relations on nominal constituents. The category closest to the complex preposition on Lehmann’s synchronic scale of grammaticalization is his relational noun-class. The class has been specified in terms of its semantic functions as locative (e.g., on top of, at the back of). But, as will be demonstrated, the PNP sequences display great semantic and formal diversity, which is perhaps among the reasons that insufficient scholarly attention has been paid to this sub-set of the prepositional category and for the denial of its existence as a component of grammar.

complex prepositional phrases


3.2  Formal Properties of PNP-Constructions Recalling Lehmann’s (1985, 1986) grammaticalization parameters, reduction of the autonomy of a linguistic sign evidences grammaticalization. Considered for our purpose here, components of these constructions show varying degrees of formal autonomy and internal interdependence, in spite of the fact that lexical entities within these complexes uniformly belong to the class of verbal nouns. A scalar continuum of increased grammaticalization can therefore be established when considering the differing degrees of cohesiveness within these constructions and their amenability to internal variability. When a version of the scale of cohesiveness put forth by Quirk et al. (1985, 671–2) and Lehmann’s scale of grammaticalization are adopted and applied to Arabic complex prepositions, the relative degree of grammaticalization can be established for Arabic PNP and PN (discussed in chapter 4) on empirical grounds. In the following criteria, adapted from Quirk et al. and successfully utilized in Hoffmann (2005), as applied to the analysis of English PNP grammaticalization, a continuum of internal cohesiveness as an indicator of grammaticalization for Arabic PNPs may be established: a. Variation/deletion of P2 bi-n-nisbati li-/ʾilā ‘in reference to’; bi-l-ʾiḍāfati li-/ʾilā ‘in addition to’ b. Pluralization of N No pluralization is allowed without loss of grammaticality bi-ḥ ājatin/ *ḥ ājātin li-/ʾilā ‘*in needs of’ c. Variation in definiteness bi-t-taʿāwuni maʿa/bi-taʿāwunin maʿa ‘in cooperation with’; bi-lʾiḍāfati ʾilā/*bi-ʾiḍāfatin ʾilā d. Addition of possessive pronouns to N bi-dūni xawfin min ‘without fear of’, bi-dūni xawfi-hi min ‘without his fear of’; *bi-ʾiḍāfati-hi ʾilā ‘in his addition to’ e. Modification by a demonstrative fī insijāmin maʿa ‘in harmony with’, fī hād̠ā l-insijāmi maʿa ‘in this harmony with’; *ʿalā/*bi-hād̠ā r-raγmi min ‘in spite this of ’ f. Replacement of N by a semantic equivalent ʿalā ʿilmin/maʿrifatin bi ‘by knowledge of’; bi-maʿzilin ʿan ‘in isolation of’; *bi-inqiṭāʿin ʿan ‘in separation of’ g. Modification by an adjective


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bi-ḥ ājatin māsatin ʾilā ‘in dire need of/for’; *bi-n-nisbati l-kabīrati li- ‘in great reference/respect to’ h. Variation of P1 ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, although’; bi/*fī-n-nisbati li-/ʾilā ‘in reference to’ The above cited criteria will be applied to several PNP phrases using data from ACT, as they will help demonstrate the range of variations in the semantic and formal grammaticalization of a given PNP and their relative textual frequency. Through these criteria, the range of semantic, formal, and textual distribution characteristics for each construction vis-à-vis others in a given corpus will be established on theoretical and empirical grounds. 3.3  General Characteristics of PNP-units in Arabic The table below includes a representative sample of PNP-constructions with varying degrees of morpho-syntactic characteristics and textual frequencies. All but one test (replacement by semantic equivalent) successfully diagnoses syntagmatic cohesion and fixedness; therefore, the fewer the (+) signs for a given PNP, the less autonomous and interdependent its sub-constituents are. Furthermore, the fewer prototypical nounhood trappings the N element exhibits, the more decategorized it is. More precisely, reduction in nounhood features evidences categorical reanalysis and distancing from the nominal source and consequently an observably greater degree of grammaticalization As will be demonstrated below, PNPs in the table above seem to have entered the Arabic language at various time periods. In fact, of the six PNPs in table 3.1, only ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’ was found in Ibn Manẓūr’s Lisān al-ʿArab of the fourteenth century. With the exception of that single citation, the consulted corpora in this study show no historical roots going as deep as the early period of CA. That is, it is very likely that they developed historically late, as all but one, taḥ ta/bi-tahdīdin min ‘under threat of ’, are found in Hans Wehr Dictionary. Most, but not all, of these constructions appear to be calque translations, primarily from the increasing influence of, if not direct replication from, European language sources in recent decades.1 For

1   The phenomenon was identified in Holes (2004, 315) in his discussion of “multiword idioms” or “phraseological calque” being literally translated into Arabic.

complex prepositional phrases


Table 3.1  Formal Properties of Selected PNP-Constructions in Arabic PNPVariation Variation Addition Modification Modification Variation/ Plural Replace construction in P1 in of by a by an adjective deletion of N by definiteness possessive demonstrative of P2 semantic of N pronoun equivalent to N ʿalā/bi-rraγmi min ‘in spite of ’ bi-n-nisbati li-/ʾilā ‘with regard to’ bi-ḥājatin ʾilā/li‘in need of ’ bi-n-nad̠ari ̣ ʾilā ‘in view of ’ bi-n-niyābati ʿan ‘on behalf of ’ taḥta/ bi-tahdīdin min ‘under threat of ’











example, bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā ‘in need of’ in (4a) may be supplanted by the native participial form muḥ tājun or the verb inflected for the imperfective without incurring a loss in meaning in (4b) and (4c): (4a) (4b) (4c)

huwa bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā he with-need to ‘He is in need of money’ huwa muḥ tājun ʾilā he need to ‘He is in need of money’ huwa yaḥ tāju he 3MSG.need.IPFV ‘He needs money’

mālin money mālin money ʾilā to

mālin money

Given the intensity of language contact between Arabic and European languages and the direction of transfer from the latter to Arabic, it is reasonable to assume that language-external factors, i.e., contact-induced factors, have triggered the formation of several PNPconstructions in Arabic according to Heine and Kuteva’s notion of “grammatical replication” (2005, 9).


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Not all PNP-constructions first appeared in their current syntagmatic size. Some of those included in table 3.2 have evolved through syntagmatic enlargement or linear expansion. One such case is ʿalā r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’, which as we shall see, appeared first in the pre-grammaticalization stage in the frequent collocation raγma ʾanfi, lit. ‘nose in dust’, which metonymically has been extended to the associative meaning of ‘humiliation, spite’—an adversative meaning—before expanding into full fledged PNP-constructions with a concessive denotation. In order to obtain a snapshot of the historical development of PNP samples, quantitative data on their diachronic textual frequency is provided in the following table where they are listed according to their relative frequency in modern Arabic. Table 3.2  Diachronic Total Textual Frequency of Selected PNP-units in Newspapers (1996–2002)2 PNP-construction

bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in regards to’ bi-n-nisbati ʾilā ‘in regards to’ ʿalā r-raγmi min ‘despite, in spite of ’ bi-raγmi min ‘despite, in spite of ’ bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā ‘in need of ’ bi-ḥ ājatin li- ‘in need of ’ bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā ‘in view of ’ bi-n-niyābati ʿan ‘on behalf of ’ bi-taḥ rīḍin min ‘with prodding from’

Classical/ Pre-Modern Arabic

Modern literature

Contemporary newspapers

1 0 *9

130 11 30

22,469 8,980 4,990




** ** 1 ***

36 13 5 2

3,183 1,441 993 368




Note: All forms with asterisks (*) were not fully PNPs in CA but appeared as P-N or N-P.

The first attestation for the PNP-constructions in table 3.2 cannot be established with absolute certainty from the corpora cited in the table.

2   From al-Ahram, al-Ḥ ayat, al-Tajdid, al-Thawra, and al-Waṭan; see Appendix A for more corpus detail.

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Notwithstanding this observation, precipitous increase in relative textual frequency and usage over time appears to be a strong tendency among all the PNPs under consideration here. In the following discussion, attention to semantic and formal grammaticalization is offered for individual PNP-units, which are contained in table 3.2. 3.4  Grammaticalization of bi-n-nisbati li-/ʾilā ‘in regards to, in comparison with’ It is immediately noticeable from table 3.2 that bi-n-nisbati li ‘in respect to, in comparison with’ surpasses all other PNPs by a wide margin in overall textual frequency in the present-day Arabic printed press. With an attested textual frequency of 22,469 for bi-n-nisbati li- and 8,980 for its variant, bi-n-nisbati ʾilā, in the Arabic newspaper corpus, they are the most frequent syntactic units, exceeding all other PNP units in this study combined. Nevertheless, this wider textual frequency only occurs in modern times, for this PNP has but a single occurrence in Thousand and One Nights, where it signaled a comparison sense as illustrated in example 5 below. (5)  wa-ʿlam ʾayḍan ʾanna jamīʿa mā fī-l-barri and-2SG.know.IMP  also that all what in-the-land

bi-n-nisbati with-the-respect

li-mā to-what

fī-l-baḥ ri in-the-sea

šayʾun something

qalīlun jiddan insignificant very ‘And know that all that is on land compared to what is in the sea is something very insignificant’ (1001N587, 2)

In this usage, bi-n-nisbati li- expresses a comparison between two entities unequal in their respective properties. This sense continued in the modern literature, newspapers, and Egyptian dialect corpus: Modern literature: (6a) wa-badaʾtu ʾašʿuru ʾanna-nī lā and-began.1SG 1SG.feel-IPFV that-I not

šayʾun thing

bi-n-nisbati la-hu with-the-respect to-him ‘And I began feeling that I was nothing with respect to him’ (Madbuli 2, 2:430)


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Egyptian Arabic: (6b) il-banī ʾādam the-descendant.PL Adam

bi-n-nisba with-the-respect

l-hom to-them

mā-lū-š ʾayy taman not-have-not any value ‘The human being with respect to them has no value’

(Taxi 45, 6)

The verbal noun nisbatun in CA was used to denote (blood) relationship (Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, 6, 4405), a somewhat abstract concept. Its meaning was consequently extended to express comparisons of unequal quality/type, as the following example extracted from Thousand and One Nights indicates: (7)  fa-hal so- Q

ʾantum bi-n-nisbati you.MPL with-the-relation

kilābun dog.PL ‘So are you to her only dogs?’

ʾilay-hā ʾillā to-her except

(1001N596, 2)

In (7), degradation of humans to the status of dogs—according to well-known Arab cultural norms—demonstrates the comparative notion between two contrasting semantic groups (i.e., animals visà-vis humans). This denotation still persists even in spoken dialects as the above example (6b) in Egyptian Arabic indicates. What is of importance in this case is the expression of the subjective belief or attitude of the speaker in this context when evaluating or comparing two entities and their differing socio-cultural statuses. Alongside its semantic denotations, bi-n-nisbati li- demonstrates diachronic evolution in the modern literature and newspaper corpora towards a textual referential function, much like in reference to N, speaking about N, or as for N. In this function, bi-n-nisbati li- formally functions as a topic introducer of the pattern as for N, it is . . . In this latter function, this PNP-string has entered the domain of textual organization, and as such it exhibits an even more advanced degree of grammaticalization and greater textual frequency. As it assumes this referential function, bi-n-nisbati li- identifies one or more aspects of a single definite referent (see the example from the modern literature corpus above) in stark contrast to its earlier use in comparisons between two dissimilar or unequal entities. In this function, it competes with and occasionally substitutes for the highly grammati-

complex prepositional phrases


cal topic-introducer ʾammā . . . fa ‘as for . . . it is’. In fact, in the Arabic newspaper corpus, ʾammā ‘as for’ immediately preceded bi-n-nisbati li- 2,168 times throughout as the expression with which this PNP most frequently co-occurred. As a topic introducer, bi-nisbati li- is followed by predication, typically expressing the speaker’s subjectivity regarding the situation described in the topical clause: (8) ʾammā as for

bi-n-nisbati li-ṣ-ṣīni with-the-reference to-China

yabdū 3MSG.seem.IPFV

ʾanna-hā that-it

li-ḍ-ḍuγūṭi l-ʾamrīkiyyati to-the-pressure. PL the-American

l-yābānu the-Japan ‘As for China, it does not appear that it responded to American pressure just as Japan did’ (Ahrām99:010999AMOD04)

fa-lā so-not

istajābat responded.3MSG kamā just as

faʿalat did.3FSG

Another semantic shift is discernable in the usage of bi-n-nisbati liin the Arabic newspaper corpus. Instead of marking comparisons between two unequal entities, comparisons highlighting similarities are denoted: (9)  nuʿānī mund̠u 1PL.suffer.IPFV since

sanawātin ḥ ālata year.PL state

rukūdin recession

šadīdatin kamā huwa l-ḥ ālu bi-n-nisbati li-s-sūqi severe as it the-condition in-the-reference to-the-market t-tijāriyyati bi-ṣifatin ʿāmmatin the-commercial in-manner general ‘We have been suffering for [several] years from severe recession just like the commercial market in general’ (Ahrām99, 021699INVE01)

Diversity in the semantic functions of bi-n-nisbati li- in the newspaper corpus correlates positively not only with the statistical increase in its overall textual frequency, but also in textual saliency. For example, whereas bi-n-nisbati li- has a 12.98 frequency per 100,000 words in the modern literature corpus, it has slightly more than double that frequency, or 26.9 instances per 100,000, in the newspaper corpus. Likely factors accounting for the disparity in frequency in these two scripted domains is the relative stylistic freedom in the use of this PNP in the newspaper corpus and the generally unconstrained calque translation


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from European languages, which is virtually absent in the modern literature corpus owing to the generally stricter adherence to writing in more traditional literary styles. Also, the language of the Arabic press seems to follow analogically the source of their news, which is often the Western media. Simply stated, the saliency of bi-n-nisbati li- in the Arabic press seems to be largely contact-induced. These conditioning factors occasion semantic and functional extensions for this PNP in the newspaper more than in the modern literature corpus. From the data count presented in table 3.2, it would appear that the variant bi-n-nisbati ʾilā fulfills the same function, although its textual frequency is less than half of that of bi-n-nisbati li-. One possible reason for the disparity between the two variants is that ʾilā still retains much of its relatively constrained semantic properties as it is frequently used in concrete semantic denotations pertaining to the spatio-directional domain, whereas li-, while also used in the spatial domain, marks a wider range of grammatical relations, including abstract ones like dative and possessive.3 When considering the formal properties of this PNP-construction and its variant, it would appear that its internal cohesion is quite tight since there is only one test of cohesiveness that it does not satisfy, namely variation in P2. The noun element nisbati in this construction also appears to be decategorialized. It has shed most of its nominal trappings. These losses include: variation in definiteness, modification by an adjective or demonstrative, pluralization, and syntagmatic variability. These losses, however, have been counter-balanced by increases in textual frequency and acquisition of several semantic and pragmatic functions, which were not available to its etymological source prior to decategorialization. In sum, bi-nisbati li-/ʾilā appears to have emerged as a PNP in pre-modern Arabic with severely limited textual frequency and fewer semantic senses. Its earliest primary semantic denotation generally pertained to comparisons of radically distinct entities. Over time, shifts in meaning extended to permit entities that exhibit shared similarities to be compared by means of bi-n-nisbati li-. Further semantic and functional extensions of this PNP caused it to function as a topic introducer, even in combination with topic introducers like ʾammā . . . fa . . . ‘as for . . . it is’, which can stand on their own. This dia See chapters 7 and 9 for detailed discussion of li‫־‬.


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chronically late acquired function has become the most widespread for that PNP in Arabic newspapers included in ACT. In most cases, the comment portion of these constructions contains the subjective evaluation or belief of the speaker, as predicted in cases of increased grammaticalization (e.g., see Traugott and König 1991). The culminating effect of its polyfunctionality is the development of a limited synchronic polysemy network. A cursory review of its cited semantic senses in al-Munjid dictionary (2001, 1402) presents six distinct, but related senses and Hans Wehr Dictionary (1994, 1,126) cites ten distinct but conceptually related senses. Table 3.4 below represents a summary of the major grammaticalization stages and functions for bi-n-nisbati li-. Table 3.3 Major Stages and Functions in the Evolution of bi-n-nisbati liStage 0 I II III IV

Period Classical Classical/ Pre-Modern Modern Modern Modern

Function Noun an-nisbatu/nisbatun ‘blood relative’ PNP bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in comparison with’ comparing unequal entities PNP comparing entities with shared similarities PNP topic introducer PNP topic introducers (text organizing function) whose comment constituent expresses subjective, evaluative meaning.

3.5  Grammaticalization of ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, despite’ The next PNP-construction, bi-r-raγmi min ‘despite, in spite of’, and its variant, ʿalā r-raγmi min, exhibits an interesting diachronic pattern of development that warrants further elaboration. In its early attestations in CA, the noun raγmun had a concrete reference to dust. Its collocation with the human nose occurred in specific contexts to denote humiliation or (forced) submission associated with having someone’s nose literally in the dust by the ground. Ibn Manẓūr (Lisān al-ʿArab 3, 1683) cites the verbal form for the verb raγama in collocation with ʾanfun ‘nose’ in wa- ʾin raγama ʾanfuhu, lit. ‘even if his nose be in the dust = even if he is abased’, as part of one of the documented sayings (i.e., ḥ adīth) of the Prophet of Islam. Such a semantic and syntactic collocation involving the nose of a human being in the dust, in a non-literal sense, appears in Thousand and One Nights several


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centuries later. During the medieval period and beyond, prepositions are included in the construction, prior to becoming a full PNP string. The examples (10a–d) below demonstrate the possible gradation into a PNP unit: (10a) fa-xarajtu so-exited.1SG (10b)

yā VOC

ʾamīra prince

l-muʾminīna raγma the-believer.PL dust

ʾanf-ī nose-my ‘So I exited in disdain, O Prince of Believers’ wa-qāda-nī ʾilay-hi wa-ʾanā d̠alīlun and-led.3MSG-me to-him and-I submissive

(1001N804, 4) raγma dust

ʾanf-ī nose-my ‘And he led me to him while I was in a submissive state, humiliated/ in spite of me’ (1001N 3, 20) (10c) wa-ʾusāfiru ʾanā wa-ʾanta wa-ʾawlād-ī ʾilā I and-you.MSG and-son.PL-my to bilād-ī ʿalā raγmi ʾanfi hād̠ihi country-my on disdain nose this.FSG ‘And you, I, and my children travel to my country shameless [woman]’ (10d) ʾinna tark-ī la-ki wa-imtināʿ-ī verily leaving-my of-you.FSG and-refrain-my

l-fājirati shameless.FSG in spite of this (1001N661, 3) ʿan-ki from-you.FSG

bi-r- raγγmi ʿann-ī with-the-spite from-me ‘Indeed, my leaving of you and abstention from you is in spite of me’ (1001 N1, 3)

In the twenty occurrences of raγm in Thousand and One Nights, none appears as a full PNP unit. In eight of these twenty instances, or 40%, raγm appears in collocation with ʾanf ‘nose’. In five instances it collocates with nouns denoting negative and adverse relations typically indicative of conflict, such as ḥ āsidun ‘envious/grudger’; ʿudātu ‘enemies’. In all but two instances, the sentences involve a human participant. Presence of human participants in this context further validates König’s (1988, 152) assumption that the historical development of concessive expressions reveals the involvement of a human agent in their early attestation. Semantic change for the PNP-construction ʿalā/ bi-r-raγmi min ‘despite, in spite of’ from its erstwhile concrete meaning based on frequent collocation with a specific body part (the nose) in the dust

complex prepositional phrases


into concessivity reveals a gradual conceptual shift where associative emotions of adversity towards humiliation resulting from the literal placement of one’s nose in the dust have resulted in its evolution via metonymic processes into a marker of concessive relations (chapters 8 and 9 provide additional analysis of concessivity in interclausal subordinate relations). It is also known that in Arab culture, one of the signs of pride is keeping one’s nose high (cf. the Egyptian idiomatic expression manāxīru fī s-samā, lit. ‘his nose is in the sky = he is haughty, proud’). The opposite of such a scenario, that is having one’s nose in the dust, triggers associative feelings of humiliation and spite. The literal reference to nose in the dust has likely changed over time to express the more subjective belief of the speaker about eventualities where an act of humiliation triggers the interpretation of resentment and reluctance on the part of the experiencer. This suggestion is in accord with the opinion of Traugott and König (1991, 209) that concessives seem to express meanings situated in the speaker’s own belief about the situation rather than in description or external reference to it. It is thus a metonymic extension based on the association of a humiliating and perhaps forced physical act manifested in a concrete sense through placing one’s nose in the dust and the ensuing adverse socio-cultural implication resulting from that act that has given rise to concessive inference for this PNP phrase. Based on the shared culturally specific norms, the incompatibility between acts such as placing one’s nose in the dust and the maintenance of one’s integrity and honor is presupposed under most stereotypical conditions. Gradually, the collocation involving nose has been weakened to the extent that within the 577 instances where raγm occurred in the modern literature corpus, only 6 instances (approximately 1%) were in collocation with ʾanf ‘nose’. In the contemporary Arabic newspapers corpus of the ACT, 205 instances (or .003%) of the collocation raγma ʾanf are found among the total of 61,941 total occurrences of raγma in all genres of that corpus. Diminished textual frequency of the earlier collocation of raγma ʾanfi coupled with an increased overall textual frequency that spans multiple genres for raγma are indicative of the generalization of concessive interpretation that has progressed towards conventionalization, based on the background assumption of incompatibility or conflict between two situations. Continuous change toward greater abstractions of meaning and extension of use in multiple genres beyond earlier concrete denotation is indicative of an increased degree


chapter three

of grammaticalization. In current usage of PNP-constructions that include raγm, the negative denotation of the noun has all but disappeared from its semantic content. The following example, which is repeated here from chapter 2, illustrates this point: (11) wa-bi-r-raγmi and-in-the-spite

min of

at̠-t̠aqāfati the-culture

l-mawsūʿiyyati the-encyclopedic

li-d-duktūr ʾaḥ mad mustajīr for-the-doctor Ahmad Mustajir

yatamayyazu bi-t-tawāḍuʿi š-šadīdi 3MSG.stands out.IPFV with-the-humility the-intense

fa-ʾinna-hu so-that-he

wa-l-ʾadabi and-the-politeness ‘And in spite of the encyclopedic knowledge of Dr. Ahmad Mustajir, he is distinguished by his modesty and extreme politeness’ (ACT 041199WRIT03).

In example (11) above, the two events do not presuppose any negativity, but rather their “remarkable co-occurrence,” in König’s (1988, 155) terms, indicates the distinctive character of the person in question. With the total loss of the earlier connection to humiliation, disdain, and spite, this PNP-construction has attained an advanced stage of semantic grammaticalization. This conclusion is substantiated through the fact that reversal of the erstwhile negative denotation has taken place, which is indicative of a greater semantic distance from the earlier denotation of its nominal source. Similar usage of in spite of in English was also shown in Hoffmann (2005, 75) to exhibit an advanced degree of grammaticalization where negative denotation of spite was also lost: (12) In spite of excellent press notices . . . the play folded at the end of eight weeks.

Markers of concession containing raγma in Arabic are many. They include several competing variants: PNP-constructions ʿalā/bi-r-raγma min ‘in spite of’; compound-like constructions bi-raγmi ‘despite’; a single adverbial raγma ‘despite’; and subordinate conjunction raγma ʾanna ‘although’. Internal fixedness of raγma in constructions where it figures has not yet progressed to the same degree as bi-n-nisbati ʾilā/li-. Instability in the formal characteristics of raγma-constructions

complex prepositional phrases


within the framework developed here are indicative of a lower degree of formal grammaticalization. What the empirical observations stated above may reveal about ʿalā/bi-r-raγma min ‘in spite of’ is that longer historical existence of a grammaticalized construction is not a priori for its further evolution into a more grammaticalized entity. In Lisān al-ʿArab of the fourteenth century AD, Ibn Manẓūr cites ʿalā r-raγmi min ʾanfihi, lit. ‘on dust in his nose = in spite of his disdain’ (3, 1683). In this citation, the string appears to be a PNP unit, even though the collocation still retains the reference to the nose. However, despite its presence in the fourteenth century, this PNP still appears in modest distribution in the consulted corpora. One possible reason for this lower-than-expected textual distribution is the overall infrequency of concessivity in discourse. As will become clearer in chapter 9, concessivity is a “derived” concept and, as König has pointed out in several of his writings, concessives appear historically late in language. In sum, the evolution of concessives involving the lexical form raγm can be charted in table 3.4. Table 3.4 Major Diachronic Stages and Functions of ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min Stage



Classical I


Classical II


Medieval I


Medieval II



Function raγmu/i/u/a-n is fully inflected for case and definiteness Meaning extension to express negative human emotions such as resentment, humiliation, hatred Collocation with ʿalā/bi- appears and extension in usage to non-humans (e.g., ʿalā raγmi ṣ-ṣalībi wa-l-ʾaṣnāmi ‘in spite of the cross and idols’ [1001N732:2]) The stem raγm is followed by ʿan ‘about’ (e.g., bi-rraγmi ʿan-nī ‘in spite of me’ [1001N206:21]) The stem raγm appears in several competing variants that are morpho-syntactically transparent, including PNP-constructions, an adverbial form raγma and the adverbial conjunction raγma ʾanna ‘although’. Complete loss of presupposed negative connotation of complement NP complement in certain occurrences.


chapter three 3.6  Grammaticalization of bi-ḥājatin ʾilā/li- ‘in need of ’

The next PNP-construction bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li- ‘in need of’ seems to have grammaticalized analogically as a result of contact with European languages that generated calque translation. As has been demonstrated in examples (4a–c), native Arabic grammar permits the usage of the imperfect yaḥ tāju ‘he needs’ and participle muḥ tājun ‘needing’ to fulfill similar functions as this complex prepositional construction and its variant. This complex preposition contains ḥ ājatun whose earliest meaning denotes notions such as desire, deprivation, want. In the Lisān al-ʿArab thesaurus, no reference is found that this noun formed a syntactic unit as a constituent of a complex preposition in CA. The noun ḥ ājatun occurred twice in the Quranic text; both of the occurrences exhibit semantic ambiguity between a concrete meaning of a thing to be wanted, a goal, and a need: (13) mā not

kāna yuγnī ʿan-hum min al-lāhi was.3MSG 3MSG.suffice.IPFV about-them of the-God

šayʾun ʾillā ḥ ājatun fī nafsi yaʿqūb thing except something in mind Jacob ‘It did not profit them in the least against (the plan of) Allah: It served only to satisfy Jacob’s heartfelt desire’ (Quran 12, 68)

In example (13), ḥ ājatun has two interpretations: a thing to be wanted, or desire in Jacob’s heart. The concrete meaning of ḥ ājatun persisted alongside the abstract meaning of desire in CA as shown in the following examples from Thousand and One Nights: (14a) wa-ʾid̠ā and-if

kāna la-ka was.MSG to-you.MSG

ḥ ājatun fa-ʾanā something so-I

ʾursilu-hā la-ka 1SG.send.IPFV-it to-you.MSG ‘And if there is something you need, I will send it to you’ (1001N145, 4) (14b) fa-lā ḥ ājata la-ka bi-him fī hād̠ā l-waqti so-not need to-you.MSG for-them.M at this the-time ‘So there you have no need for them at this time’ (1001N141, 24–1)

complex prepositional phrases


The nominal ḥ ājatun does not occur independently in PNP-constructions in Thousand and One Nights, but it has two occurrences with the prefix preposition bi- when preceded by the prepositional verb jāʾa bi‘brought’. Moreover, it has two other occurrences where it is followed by ʾilā and sixteen followed by the prepositional variant li-. In the 309 total occurrences of ḥ ājatun in Thousand and One Nights, 106, or approximately 34%, co-occurred with the verb qaḍā ‘to fulfill, complete, meet the need’ or one of its derivatives. In these collocations, the nominal element permits both concrete and abstract readings. This collocation diminished in frequency when ḥ ājatun formed a PNP string. Of all PNP strings included in this study, bi-ḥ ājatin li-/ʾilā shows the least internal cohesion since it not only permits variation in P2, but the nominal element can also be modified by an adjective: (15) ʾinn-ī bi-ḥ ājatin māssatin ʾilā verily-I in-need dire to ‘Verily I am in dire need of warmth’

d-difʾi the-warmth (AhlamAbir 8, 69)

Given these formal characteristics and the relatively low frequency of occurrence, there is serious doubt concerning its inclusion as a PNP unit. However, its semantic denotations, particularly those found in the newspaper corpus, are diagnostic of emergent grammaticalization. As stated, there are subtle semantic changes in the denotation of this PNP-construction. From early occurrences in the domain of human desires and needs, bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li- ‘in need of ’ was extended to nonhuman domains: (16) lam not

takun il-masʾalatu bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā kimyāʾin the-question in-need of chemistry

wa-fizyāʾin and-physics ‘The question did not require chemistry and physics’

(RiyadGirls 5, 3)

The semantic sense of need has been changed in the modern Arabic press to where this complex preposition increasingly expresses evaluative, estimative, and subjective belief: (17) minṭaqatu  š-šarqi l-ʾawsaṭi area the-east the-middle

wa-šamāli ʾifriqyā and-north Africa


chapter three

bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā in-need to

ʿuqūdin contract.PL

wa-tanmiyati binā-hu t-taḥ tiyyati and-development building.PL-its the-subterranean ‘The area of the Middle East and North Africa is in need of contracts for construction and development of its infrastructures’ (GEN1997, 1129)

li-ʾinšāʾi for-construction

Expression of subjective estimates or evaluations as part of the meaning of this PNP-construction is what Traugott (1995a, 31; 1989, 35) labels “subjectivication.” According to this characterization, meaning expressed through more grammaticalized items and constructions “becomes increasingly based in the speaker’s subjective belief/ state/attitude toward the proposition”. That is, instead of describing external, objective phenomena, more grammaticalized constructions come to express conceptual, subjective attitudes or beliefs about such phenomena resulting from interplay between formal and functional factors motivating the change. This type of semantic change in grammaticalization studies is diagnostic of an increased degree of grammaticalization. Concomitant to this change is the expansion into textual domains and wider distribution due to this semantic extension, which becomes part of the conventionalized meaning of this PNP-construction. From a formal perspective, the nominal element ḥ ājatun, as a result of being part of this grammaticalized syntactic unit, to some extent was partially decategorialized (as part of PNP, it lost prototypically nominal trappings such as pluralization, definiteness, modification by a demonstrative pronoun, etc.) as it assumed a new prepositional function figuring in multiple textual domains, including those not related to human desires or needs, and thus more than its lexical origin would typically allow. Textual frequency of bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li- as a PNP string warrants some elaboration. In table 3.4, it is shown that the total frequency of the two PNP variants is 4,624 in the consulted newspaper corpus. In the modern literature corpus, bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā occurred only thirty-six times and bi-ḥ ājatin li- occurred less than half of that number with thirteen instances. Again, like bi-n-nisbati li-, which was discussed earlier, the possible reason for this disparity in textual distribution has to do more with the increasing emulation of Western style media in news reporting vis-à-vis Arabic literature that still largely maintains native independence in style from foreign influences.

complex prepositional phrases


It would also appear that bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li- has not yet received recognition as a unit of grammar among Arabic lexicographers in modern times. Neither Hans Wehr Dictionary nor al-Munjid dictionary lists this construction. However, both dictionaries list only fī ḥ ājatin ʾilā ‘to stand in need’ (Wehr 1994, 246) that contains the lexical item ḥ ājatun ‘need’. What is interesting to note is that the construction they chose as standard occurs with much less textual frequency than bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li in both the newspaper and modern literature corpora (1,501 in newspapers and 33 in the modern literature corpus). What is possibly deducible from this situation is that these dictionary entries appear to be detached from actual contemporary language usage for reasons that perhaps have a great deal to do with the compiler’s own individual intuition or perception of correctness of grammar. In the consulted newspaper corpus, the string fī ḥ ājatin ʾilā ‘to stand in need’, like its variants that have been discussed in this section, has evolved semantically to be used in evaluative discourse situations, as illustrated in the following example. (18) tārīxu history ḥ ājatin need

l-mut̠aqqafīna the-intellectual.PL ʾilā to

ʾiʿādati repeat

l-ʿarabi the-Arab.PL

l-ḥ adīt̠i the-modern

fī in

tadwīnin documentation

wa-ʾilā ʾiʿādati kitābatin and-to repeat writing ‘The modern history of Arab intellectuals is in need of re-documenting and rewriting’ (GEN1997.3547)

In (18), it is also important to note that in addition to being an expression of subjective attitude, fī ḥ ājatin ʾilā is partially repeated as ʾilā in the coordinated clause that begins with wa- ‘and’. The significance of this partial repetition lies in Lehmann’s ([1982] 1995, 143) reduction in structural scope criteria as an indication of increased grammaticalization. Adhering to that criterion, the partial repetition of this PNP strongly points to the reduction of its syntagmatic structural scope in coordinated phrases. Returning to bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li-, in spite of the observable semantic extension and wider contextual distribution, the semantic sense of ‘lacking, needing’ still persists and constrains the frequency of this construction and therefore is not lost entirely. The following stages in the grammaticalization of bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li- ‘in need of ’ can be envisaged as follows:


chapter three Table 3.5 Major Stages and Functions in the Grammaticalization of bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li-










Modern Modern

Functions Nominal ḥ ājatun ‘need’ belongs to the superordinate category with meaning ‘thing’ as well as (human) ‘need’ Frequent collocation with the verb qaḍā ‘fulfill, complete’ permits concrete ‘thing needed’ as well as ‘desire’ as possible readings Emergence in PNP-construction possibly as a result of loan translation from European languages Use in contexts not involving human agents Extension of meaning to express subjective beliefs such as estimates, recommendations, and evaluations

3.7  Grammaticalization of bi-n-naḏạ ri ʾilā ‘in view of ’ With a total absence in the Quran and a single occurrence of this PNP string in Thousand and One Nights, it is difficult to establish the historical context and extent of its existence in the Arabic language. However, from the dramatic increases to 993 instances in MSA, particularly in the newspapers corpus, and its negligible appearances in the modern literature corpora (only five possible instances), it would appear that the semantic grammaticalization of this PNP string has also evolved analogically as a result of the pervasive influence of European linguistic media styles over Arabic in that field. What is also remarkable in the case of this PNP is that, despite its limited history in MSA, in many respects its semantic properties parallel the English complex preposition in view of, which has extensive historical attestations going as far back as the seventeenth century AD (Hoffmann 2005, 53). The semantic denotation of the single occurrence of this PNP unit in Thousand and One Nights is difficult to determine, as is shown below. (19) iʿlam 2MSG.know.IMP

ʾišārātun signal.PL

ʾanna ʾaṣḥ āba t-taqwīmi la-hum that master.PL the-chronology to-them.M

wa-ʿalāmātun and-sign.PL

tarjiʿu 3FSG.trace.IPFV

ʾilā to

l-kawākibi the-star.PL

complex prepositional phrases


bi-n-nad̠ari ʾilā duxūli s-sanati ̣ with-the-looking towards entrance the-year ‘You should know that masters of chronology have signals and signs that trace stars by looking at the beginning of the year’ (1001N381,3)

In (19), which occurs within a wider discussion about astrology, bi-nnad̠ạ ri ʾilā could have a literal meaning of actually observing the time when the year begins to make astrological predictions regarding rain and ensuing prosperity or otherwise. Alternatively, the PNP unit could refer to the mental evaluation of the time period at the beginning of the year against their pre-established astrological criteria for predicting events in the New Year. In the newspapers and modern Arabic corpus, bi-n- nad̠ạ ri ʾilā ‘in view of’ designates meanings pertaining to several conceptual domains ranging from reference to actual seeing using one’s visual sense to the conceptual and evaluative. The following examples from MSA illustrate these semantic denotations. (20a) wa- bi-n-nad̠ari ʾilā ̣ and-by-the-looking towards

r-rasmi l-bayāniyy the-drawing the-illustrative

l-murfaqi the-attached

narā bi-ʾanna 1PL.see.IPFV with-that


š-šarikati qad tarājaʿa the-company ASP retreated-3MSG ‘And in view of the attached diagram’ (011223145051ECON) wa- bi-nad̠ari ʾilā qillati l-māʾi ̣ and-by-the-looking towards shortage the-water

wa-nudrati-hi and-scarcity-his

yazdāda l-ihtimāmu bi-nid̠ạ̄ mi l-buḥ ayrāti 3MSG.increase.SBJV the-concern with-system the-lake.PL ‘In consideration of the shortage and scarcity of water sometimes, attention to the lake system must be heightened’ (BUS1996,37438)

ʾaḥ yānan sometimes

sahma share

yajibu 3MSG.must

ʾan to

The semantic denotations of the string bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā in (20a) and (20b) are clearly distinguishable: in (20a), it has a literal meaning that indicates visual examination of an actual diagram put before the interlocutors. In (20b), however, bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā permits a causal reading where the shortage of water is the reason for heightened attention to the lake system. Given the latter usage of this PNP, it is clear that its meaning has been generalized beyond the actual act of viewing


chapter three

with the human eye into the realm of contemplation, reflection, and subjective evaluation. Observing similar semantic grammaticalization for the PNP in view of, Hoffmann (2005, 56) explains the relationship between literal mental processes, “there is an obvious connection between visual input on the one hand and cognitive evaluation of this input on the other hand.” The extended, non-literal meanings of bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā ‘in view of’, like the one in (20) have been recognized in modern Arabic dictionaries like Hans Wehr Dictionary (1994, 1144). Eight overlapping senses have been cited in the dictionary, ranging from seeing to the causal domain. Examination of the formal grammaticalization of bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā ‘in view of’ reveals strong internal cohesion, which points to its status as a unit of grammar. Of the nine tests that diagnose internal cohesion of PNPs in table 3.2, it passes eight of those tests (i.e., showing only one plus), as it does not permit insertion, deletion, or modification of other elements within its PNP sequence. In the five attested textual occurrences of the sequence bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā in the modern literature corpus, four of them actually should be ruled out as PNP. The reason for this elimination from the PNP status is the fact that the P1 in the sequence is part of a prepositional verb as the following example from the modern literature corpus illustrates. (21) wa-tad̠āhara ̣ and-pretended.3MSG

bi-n-nad̠ari ̣ with-the-looking

ʾilā towards

š-šāriʿi the-street

li-yuxfiya nfiʿāla-hu to-3MSG.hide.IPFV irritation-his ‘And he pretended to look at the street in order to hide his irritation’ (Yaqub 2, 2, 15)

In (21), the preposition bi- forms a constituent with the verb tad̠ạ̄ hara ‘he pretended’, and thus should not be thought of as part of the n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā ‘looking at’ constituent that follows. Nevertheless, it is not unlikely that similar occurrences of prepositional verbs like those that have occurred in the modern literature corpus (e.g., iktafā bi- ‘be content with’ and talahhā bi- ‘seek distraction in’) may have helped the formation of this PNP through the reanalysis of its affiliation with the verb phrase. This is conceivable if the bi- that forms a part of the verb phrase is reassigned to be part of the constituent that follows instead.

complex prepositional phrases


This PNP unit has a less frequent variant, bi-n-nad̠ạ ri li- ‘in view of’. This variant has no attested occurrences in the modern literature corpus, however in the newspaper corpus it occurred 226 times with meanings virtually indistinguishable from those denoted by bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā. Given the wider textual frequency of the latter, it would appear that it may become the standard marker for the semantic relations it codes. This prediction needs to be further substantiated with additional empirical evidence that is beyond the scope of this inquiry. Summarizing the major stages of the semantic and formal grammaticalization of bi-n-nad̠ạ ri ʾilā ‘in view of’, table 3.6 below contains the relevant details. Table 3.6 Major Stages in the Grammaticalization bi-n-nad̠ari ̣ ʾilā Stage 0 I II III

Period Classical Medieval/ Pre-Modern Modern Contemporary

Function No attestation PNP textually infrequent, whose meaning is ambiguous between literal and non-literal Virtual non occurrence in literary texts. Frequent occurrence as a cohesive PNP in the newspaper corpus with meanings within the causal domain of conception

3.8  Grammaticalization of bi-n-niyābati ʿan ‘on behalf of ’ Strictly speaking, this PNP has no occurrences either in the Quran or Thousand and One Nights. However, the nominal element niyābatun has attestation in ACT in Thousand and One Nights with the denotation in the realm of authority, representation as illustrated in the following examples: (22) maṣīr-ī ʾan ʾāxud̠a niyābatan ʿalā quṭrin destiny-my that 1SG.take.SBJV representation over country ‘My destiny is to hold deputyship over a district/country’ (1001N81, 45)

In the same corpus, the semantic sense of ‘substitute’ is also attested: (23) ʿasā ʾan ʾakūna la-ka muʾnisān niyābatan ʿan may that to-you.MSG companion substitute for


chapter three ṣadīq-ī friend-my ‘May I be a companion to you as a substitute for my friend’ (1001N164, 2)

In the modern literature corpus, the PNP-structure has been fully formed and has clearly acquired the sense of ‘on behalf of ’: (24) bi-l-ʾaṣālati ʿan nafs-ī wa-bi-n-niyābati ʿan kulli with-the-genuineness of self-my and-with-the-behalf of all

l-miṣriyyīna the-Egyptian.PL ‘Genuinely about myself and on behalf of every Egyptian’ (Chi36:49)

The usage of this construction parallels the English ‘on behalf of ’ in its denotation of an agentive representation particularly in its early attestation between approximately mid seventeenth century and early nineteenth century as shown in Hoffmann (2005, 80). The agentive representation sense (e.g., in the name of ) and ‘on behalf of ’ both have been cited in Hans Wehr Dictionary (1994, 1181) but were excluded in al-Munjid dictionary. Also, like the English construction ‘on behalf of’ as noted in Hoffmann (Ibid.), the usage of Arabic bi-n-niyābati ʿan, upon further grammaticalization in certain contexts in Modern Arabic, reflects subjective evaluation in the sense of ‘for the benefit/ interest of’: (25) sa-yuqaddimu l-timāsan bi-n-niyābati ʿan muwakkili-hi FUT-3MSG.submit the-petition on-the-behalf of client-his

ʾilā to

l-ḥ ukmi ṣ-ṣādiri bi-ḥ aqqi-hi the-ruling the-issued with-right-his ‘He will submit a petition for the benefit of his client to President Mubārak in order that the ruling issued against him be overturned’

r-raʾīsi mubārak the-president Mubārak

li-ʾilγāʾi to-abolish

Finally, this PNP occurs in contexts not involving human agents as this example from the Arabic newspaper corpus illustrates: (26) wa-yatawallā ṣ-ṣundūqu bi-n-niyābati ʿan muḥ āfa‘ati and-3MSG.assume.IPFV the-fund on-the-behalf of governorate

complex prepositional phrases


l-qāhirati tansīqa t-taxṭīṭi š-šāmili the-Cairo coordination the-planning the-comprehensive ‘And the fund [administrator] will assume coordination of comprehensive planning for the governorate of Cairo’

In the above example, both the agent (i.e., fund) and the entity who has been acted upon on its behalf (i.e., Cairo) are non-human entities to which this PNP is extended in its usage, albeit infrequently. Assessing the formal grammaticalization of this PNP, it actually displays the highest level of internal cohesion as it does not permit any alteration of any of its components, as illustrated in table 3.1. Despite this high level of internal cohesion and semantic generalization, the textual frequency of this PNP remains the second lowest of the PNPs discussed in this chapter. Perhaps this limited textual frequency has more to do with the saliency of the concept that this PNP gives access to rather than its formal or semantic grammaticalization. Distilling the above mentioned evolution of this PNP, the table below summarizes the possible stages in the evolution of bi-n-niyābati ʿan ‘on behalf of’. Table 3.7 Stages and Functions in Grammaticalization of bi-n-niyābati ʿan Stage










Functions Nominal niyābatun occurs as a verbal noun occupying the object slot in sentences followed by preposition ʿalā denoting a human agent as representative niyābatan occurs as an adverb followed by the preposition ʿan Usage in human contexts is expanded to include non-human entities while maintaining the agentive representative sense Semantic change continues toward expressing a subjective attitude towards events in addition to earlier senses

3.9  Grammaticalization of bi-taḥrīḍin min ‘with incitement/ prodding from/of’ The last PNP-construction bi-taḥ rīḍin min ‘with incitement/prodding from’ has the least number of textual frequencies of all PNPs discussed thus far, standing at eighty-seven instances in the newspaper corpus. A


chapter three

possible explanation for its infrequent distribution is the strong likelihood that such a syntactic unit was formed historically later than all other PNPs. It is also possible that it too entered the Arabic language via calque translation induced by intense contact with European languages in recent decades rather than through native and domestic development. More importantly, the nominal taḥ rīḍ ‘incitement, prodding’ has a strong specific semantic sense that appears to be most resistant to semantic extension. That is, it is very difficult for this sense to be weakened or extended as a result of ‘context-induced interpretation’ of the kind identified in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a). A related alternative bi-t-taḥ rīḍi ʿalā ‘with incitement to’ exists and can be deployed in most of the contexts where this PNP occurs. The PNP containing taḥ rīḍ also seems to be the concept least likely to appear outside the domain of human activities (most notably, war, politics, crime, and violent acts) and experiences, although its occurrence in non-human domains is also attested: (21) wa-ḥ īnan ʾāxaran bi-taḥ rīḍin min taʿaṣsu ̣ bin ʾaʿmā and-time another with-prodding from fanaticism blind ‘And other times with incitement from blind fanaticism’ (GEN1997, 5396)

Two stages can be thus identified in the grammaticalization of this PNP in table 3.8. Formal grammaticalization of this PNP indicates that it has a rather strong internal cohesion, given six (-) out of a possible total of eight in table 3.1. However, it would appear that in terms of internal fixedness, PNPs do very little to advance textual frequency or grammaticalization and that semantic generalization and abstraction appear to be stronger factors in increases in textual frequencies and grammatical functions (i.e., polyfunctionality). Table 3.8 Stages and Functions Associated with the Evolution of bi-taḥ rīḍin min Stage






Features Use as part of a prepositional phrase followed by ʿalā ‘incitement to’ Use as PNP involving human agents and infrequently non-humans

complex prepositional phrases


Conclusion This chapter has examined important, yet overlooked, complex prepositional phrases in Arabic. The complex prepositions identified as PNPconstructions have been analyzed in terms of the semantics of their nominal and prepositional sources, possible stages of their diachronic development, formal properties, as well as their frequency of use in ACT. Through analysis within the grammaticalization framework, important characteristics have been identified. One such characteristic is semantic extension towards greater expression of subjectivity, abstraction, and diminished semantic relatedness to the etymological source for each of the nominal sources according to a gradational continuum and according to their frequency of occurrence. Their uneven frequency in texts spanning several centuries has been linked to their semantic properties and the degree of specialization or exclusiveness in expressing certain functions for which they were recruited. Divergent textual frequencies of the selected PNP-units reveal a few interesting distribution characteristics. In most cases where a semantic variant with a shorter morpho-phonological size exists, reduced size does not seem to affect the overall frequency of occurrence. For example, bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in reference to’ occurs in the consulted corpus at a frequency of approximately 25% fewer incidences than the bulkier bi-nisbati ʾilā. The same distribution pattern holds true in the case of ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’ where the reduced PNP bi-rraγmi min occurs with less frequency than its bulkier counterpart. In both cases, the reverse of expectation in grammaticalization studies has been attested here. It would seem then that for grammaticalized constructions that have a relatively brief history of existence, natively or under the influence of language contact, syntagmatic size is not a reliable diagnostic of increase in grammaticalization. On the formal side of the analysis, PNP-units exhibit a great deal of morpho-syntactic diversity in their internal cohesion as components of grammar. These, as has been discussed, typically betoken varying degrees of decategorialization of the nominal element in these constructions. The assumption espoused here, following Hopper and Thompson (1984), is that the less nominal trapping a noun exhibits, the more decategorialized it is, and vice versa. Other variations in syntactic and semantic properties of these constructions have been accounted for through a scalar notion of the degree of internal cohesion within these units.


chapter three

The kind of change towards morpho-phonological reduction from autonomous items to an affix or clitic, which is described in Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 142) as “morphologization” and included in Givón’s (2000, 121) “internal reconstruction of relative chronology”, is assumed to be typical for grammaticalization, but has not been observed in PNP-units. However, perhaps if morphologization is conceived of as a process that produces grammaticalized and discourse units, then the formation of PNPs would be regarded as morphologization. Furthermore, the use of raγma or (frequently ruγma in Arabic journalese) ‘despite’ as a self-standing morpheme, signaling the same concessive relations as the larger complex PNP containing that lexical item, is a form of morphologization where a single morpheme substitutes for the entire complex phrase. The type of grammaticalization demonstrated in the PNP-units exemplifies what Heine and Kuteva (2005, 92) label “replica grammaticalization.” That is, under the influence of European languages, mainly English, it would appear that Arabic PNP-constructions have emerged through the manipulation of native lexical resources in the creation of constructions equivalent to those found in these languages. Given that European languages are geographically and genetically unrelated to Arabic and that no documented internal diachronic development of these constructions has been attested in the consulted corpus, a tentative conclusion may be drawn that the PNP-constructions that have been examined here may have arisen through language contact. Stated differently, in Heine and Kuteva’s (Ibid.) terms, these grammatical elements are “contact induced.” Expanded further research is needed to corroborate the findings of this study, which is based on a very limited number of PNP-units. It would be interesting to find out the extent of the influence of contact between European languages and Arabic on the introduction and creation of the PNP as a grammatical category in Arabic. Finally, considering the semantic and formal characteristics of the PNP-units examined in this chapter, it would appear that semantic grammaticalization of these constructions follows the typical pathway that has been described in standard grammaticalization studies where reduction of constraining lexical content, change towards generalization, increasing abstraction of meaning, etc. are observed. However, the morpho-syntactic characteristics of the construction do not typically adhere to envisioned pathways leading to phonetic reduction through attrition, incorporation into a paradigm through paradigmatization,

complex prepositional phrases


and obligatorification, which are among the diagnostics of grammaticalization, according to Lehmann ([1982] 1995). These observations may thus cast doubt on the possible inclusion of these constructions under grammaticalization. This need not be so, for dismissing the formation of PNP as grammaticalized constructions overlooks the fact that semantic change typically precedes formal changes, particularly in the incipient stages of grammaticalization. Given the relatively late appearance of most PNP-units in Arabic, it is reasonable to anticipate future reduction in their morpho-syntactic complexity as mental processing of these units undergoes what Haiman (1991, 33) labels “automatization” and their textual frequencies continue to rise. Reduction in the morpho-syntactic complexity of ʿalā/ bi-r-raγmi min to raγma/ruγma, unaccompanied by semantic change, is a plausible attestation for the prediction made here. Furthermore, analysis of PNP within grammaticalization has revealed important aspects of grammaticalization of constructions at the incipient stages of their formal grammaticalization where gradation in achieving internal morpho-syntactic cohesion and shedding of lexical trappings takes place at varying degrees for PNP-units. Finally, it is also interesting to note the crucial role mature prepositions like bi- ‘in, with’ and li- ‘to, for’ have in facilitating the formation of incipient constructions serving prepositional functions. Such a role has not yet been identified in any known previous study of Arabic prepositions. The overall textual frequencies of the PNP-constructions seem to correlate strongly with the nature of their semantic denotations. Considering the dramatic difference in textual frequencies between binisbati li- ‘in reference to’ and bi-taḥ rīḍin min in table 3.2, it would appear that the earlier PNP, belonging to the referential domain, be it in the physical or internal domain of conception (e.g., references to ideas, scenarios, etc.), seems to be more salient in discourse than specific concepts that have not shown semantic generalization, such as the latter PNP bi-taḥ rīḍin min.


Compound-Like Prepositions 4.1  Introduction Like PNP-constructions, which were discussed in the previous chapter, compound-like prepositions (henceforth, PN) have been largely overlooked in the discussion of prepositions in the great majority of research on Arabic prepositions.1 One possible explanation for this notable scholarly disregard is perhaps the characterization of PN phrases as merely prepositional phrases like any others where a primary preposition takes a nominal complement and marks its case in genitive. It is certainly true from the formal perspective that these PN-units are composed uniformly of two linguistic items, a single-stem preposition, either bound or free, and a lexical noun, usually from the verbal noun class, that form tight syntactic and semantic units with noncompositional meanings. As we shall see in the section that follows, a compound-like preposition such as bi-sababi ‘because of’ is comprised of the bound form bi- ‘with, in, at’ and a noun whose etymological source sabab had the literal meaning ‘cord, rope’. As a prepositional unit, its two subcomponents have undergone semantic bleaching that resulted in the generalization of their meaning because of. These prepositional phrases were identified in Lehmann (1985) as “secondary prepositions” that mark case on their NP dependents. On his grammaticalization continuum identifying five focal functions, secondary prepositions rank second to PNP on the lower end of the scalar continuum. Examples of these prepositional phrases of bi-componential nature are found abundantly in English: thanks to, contrary to,

1   As far as this author is aware, recognitions of this sub-class of prepositional form are found in a brief mention in Blau (1973, 218), who regards them as MSA forms that have evolved under the influence of European languages that he, following Blanc (1957)—cited in his article—labels Standard Average European. The other source, the reference grammar of El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer (2003, 574) cites this class under “Erweiterte Präpositionen.” However, they claim that such forms appear mainly “in der Sprache der Presse und Verwaltung gebraucht.”


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courtesy of (König and Kortmann 1991, 110), although very often the two linguistic elements merge through a process known as “univerbation,” leading to the creation of complex stems (e.g., on top > atop; be sidan > beside[s]) (Ibid.). No such case is found in the Arabic PNs under consideration here. As has been demonstrated in chapter 3 in examples (3a and 3b), compound-like prepositionals may offer semantic equivalents to single, prototypical prepositions. Furthermore, examination of the diachronic properties of PN-units reveals a shared common tendency towards the tightening of their internal structures as an unbreakable constituent. There appears to be no substitution permitted in the P element or inflectional variation of the N element in the four PN-units in modern Arabic. Table 4.1 illustrates the morpho-syntactic tests for internal cohesion of these four PN-units. Table 4.1  Testing Internal Cohesion for Selected PN-units PN-unit

fı ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ bi-faḍli ‘thanks to, owing to’ min nāḥ iyati ‘with respect to’ ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of, via’ bi-sababi ‘because of ’

Substitution Substitution Variation in Pluralization Insertion of of P of N definiteness of N a modifier between P and N – –

– –

– –

– –

– –

Note: The symbol (–) indicates absence of a feature and conversely (+) indicates its presence.

Given the diagnostic results in table 4.1 for internal cohesion of the five PN-units, it would appear that these units should be placed on the grammaticalization continuum ahead of the PNP-constructions examined in chapter 3. The PN-units included in this study show stronger evidence of rigidification and fixedness in morpho-syntactic characteristics and greater loss of important nounhood trappings of the N elements than do the majority of PNP-constructions examined in the previous chapter. The semantic characteristics of these constructions also indicate their formation of functional units whose equivalents cannot be formed by

compound-like prepositions


semantically related elements. Examples (1a) and (1b) illustrate this point. (1a) (1b)

ʿan ṭarīqi l-xaṭaʾi by way the-error ‘By mistake’ *ʿan šāriʿi l-xaṭaʾi by street the-error *‘By street of mistake’

In (1a), the prepositional construction ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of, via’ contains the noun ṭarīqun ‘road’, a form that is semantically related to sāriʿun ‘street’ (that is both have PATH designation). However, šāriʿun neither participates in the formation of PN-constructions of this type nor can it substitute for ṭarīqun in this case. The table below contains four bi-morphemic prepositional constructions and their corresponding textual distributions in four corpus sources from ACT. From the data in the table, diachronic increases in textual distributions of these four PN-units appear most noticeably in Arabic newspapers with fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ showing the lowest textual frequency, while bi-sababi ‘because of’ is the most widely encountered PN in the same textual sources. The remaining three prepositional phrases bi-faḍli ‘thanks to, owing to’, min nāḥ iyatin ‘with respect to’, and ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of, via’ occupy an intermediate range between these two bounds. Table 4.2 Diachronic Textual Frequency for Selected PN-units Prepositional type Textual source Quran Thousand and One Nights Modern literature Contemporary newspapers

fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’

bi-faḍli ‘thanks to, owing to’

min ʿan ṭārīqi bi-sababi nāḥ iyati ‘by way of, ‘because of ’ ‘with via’ respect to’

0 3

1 9

0 3

0 6

1 162

6 2,162

54 5,646

93 10,507

69 16,180

233 36,946

In what follows, I shall analyze the semantic and formal grammaticalization of each of the four PN-prepositional constructions in more detail.


chapter four 4.2  Grammaticalization of fī ʾatn̠ āʾi ‘during’

The nominal element of this prepositional phrase seems to have its semantic origin in the designation of ‘folds’, ‘bends’ and the like. In Lane ([1863] 1968, 1: 357), ʾat̠nāʾun (transcription, mine) is defined as “parts of a thing that are laid together like the strands of a rope, or that are laid one upon another as layers or strata, or side by side.” Ibn Manẓūr (1, 511) in Lisān al-ʿArab from the fourteenth century describes ʾat̠nāʾun as the plural form of t̠inā. The plural form ʾat̠nāʾun was used in the spatial domain in his example ʾat̠nāʾu l-wādī ‘bends of the valley’. No further reference was found for the use of ʾat̠nāʾ as part of a locative phrase in the treatises of early Arabic grammarians (e.g., Sībawayhi or Mubarrad) or later ones like as-Suyūtī. In table 4.2 it is evident that fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ occurred only three times in Thousand and One Nights. In two of those occurrences, it took ʾaṭ-ṭarīqi ‘the road’ as its nominal complement, as shown in the following example: (2a) fa-baynamā hum fī ʾat̠nāʾi ṭ-ṭarīqi so-while they.M in during the-road ‘So while they were within the folds of the road/middle of the road’ (1001N449, 17)

It is clear from example (2a) that fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ denotes a sense belonging to the spatial domain. This sense may be contrasted with (2b) from Thousand and One Nights that denotes a temporal event. (2b) fī ʾat̠nāʾi l-kalāmi in during the-talking ‘While talking’

The three occurrences in Thousand and One Nights are too few to substantiate a generalization regarding the semantic evolution of this prepositional phrase. Despite the limited textual occurrences, these early attestations seem to suggest that this PN was formed in medieval times with early semantic denotations in the spatial domain. Given Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 220) grammaticalization chains that indicate that spatial designation serves as input to temporal, it is quite possible that metaphoric extension is responsible for this type of semantic change.

compound-like prepositions

(3) wa-ḥ ad̠d̠arat-nī and-warned.3FSG-me

ʾumm-ī min mother-my of

109 al-laʿibi the-playing

fī in

l-ḥ ujrati fī ʾat̠nāʾi wujūdi-hi the-room in during presence-his ‘And my mother warned me not to play in the room in his presence’ (Mahfouzsīra 1, 47)

In (3), which is found in the modern literature corpus, fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ refers to a certain period of time, namely, during the presence of the person in question. The temporal meaning of this PN is actually the most dominant in the modern literature corpus, for five of the six occurrences of fī ʾat̠nāʾi are temporal in semantic designation and only one is spatial. Increases in temporal denotations of this PN continued on in the newspaper corpus as well. Examination of its top five nominal complements reveals meanings falling primarily within the temporal domain as shown in the following table. Table 4.3  The Most Frequent Nominal Complement with fī ʾat̠nāʾi2 Nominal d̠ālika ‘that’2 ziyārati-hi complement lit. ‘visit-his’ = ‘his visit’ Frequency



ziyārati ‘visit’ 85

l-ḥ arbi ‘the fatrati ‘time war’ period’ 79


Within the temporal domain, there appears to be a change from a point in time to a reference to the entire time period as the two examples below demonstrate: (4a) fūjiʾat bi-ḥ uṣūli surprised.PASS.3FSG with-occurring

l-inqilābi fī the-coup-d’état in

ʾat̠nāʾi ziyārati-hā during visit-her ‘she was surprised by the occurrence of the coup d’état during her visit’ (New 1997, 16922) (4b) ad-dawāʾu lā yusabibu ʿuyūban ʾaw the-medicine not 3MSG.cause.IPFV defect.PL or

2   Occurrences with this masculine demonstrative were not strictly temporal. More will be said about it in the following paragraphs.


chapter four ʾamrāḍan xilqiyyatan wa-ʾāminun fī ʾat̠nāʾi l-ḥ amli disease.PL inborn and-safe in during the-pregnancy ‘The medicine does not cause diseases or birth defects and is safe during pregnancy’ (110899INVE01)

In (4a) the event took place at a point in the course of the speaker’s visit, however, in (4b) the safety of the medicine prevails throughout the entire event (i.e., pregnancy). This latter sense has also been identified in Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 210) in their example fī ʾat̠nāʾi wilāyatihi ʿalā miṣra ‘during his government of Egypt’. Two additional semantic functions indicate the attainment of an advanced stage of grammaticalization in the use of fī ʾat̠nāʾi. The first shows that this PN has acquired a sense belonging to the subjective and evaluative domain through pragmatic strengthening of informativeness in the newspaper corpus. (5a) wa-kāna ṭ-ṭabību fī and-was.3MSG the-physician in

ʾat̠nāʾi during

kulli-hi all-it


tatawaqqafū 2MPL.stop.IMP ‘And meanwhile the physician said to us make calls, do not stop . . . ’ (GEN 1997, 17524)

yaqūlu 3MSG.say.IPVF

la-nā to-us

d̠ālika that.MSG lā not

The sentences (5a) occur within a paragraph in a news article highlighting the shortage of medicine in Lebanon and all the desperate efforts one family makes in order to obtain the needed medications. Given this context, (5a) fī ʾat̠nāʾi may be interpreted pragmatically as marking simultaneity or even contrast between two situations: on the one hand, the family’s search for the medicine domestically and abroad to no avail, and the continuing urging of the physician to keep such efforts going. The linkage between these two situations as conceptually relevant to each other happens internally in the thought of the person who has written this newspaper piece. That is, the sentence containing the PN in question expresses the viewpoint of the speaker towards the situation. The other more advanced semantic function for fī ʾat̠nāʾi has been found in its assumption of a discourse function in the newspaper corpus. In a few cases of fī ʾat̠nāʾi, particularly where it is followed by the

compound-like prepositions


distal demonstrative d̠āika ‘that’, it links the preceding paragraph with the one that it begins. One such instance is the following example. (5b) wa-fī and-in

ʾat̠nāʾi during

d̠ālika that.MSG

ittahama l-baytu accused.3MSG the-house

l-ʾabyaḍu l-jumhūriyyina bi-majlisi the-white the-republican.PL in-council

š-šuyūxi the-senate.PL

bi-s-saʿyi ʾilā l-ʾisāʾati ʾilā klinton with-the-endeavor to the-harm to Clinton ‘And meanwhile, the White House accused the Republicans in the [US] Senate of endeavoring to harm Clinton’ (013199FRON14)

The paragraph immediately preceding describes an unfolding situation where the Republicans were described as having their last chance to impeach President Clinton and details the pending impeachment proceedings that were about to begin. Thus wa-fī ʾat̠nāʾid̠ālika introduces the paragraph that follows that describes the White House’s counter reaction and strategy to combat the Republicans’ attempt. The collocation of wa- ‘and’ and the demonstrative dālika also facilitate the textual function of fī ʾat̠nāʾi. In particular, Holes (2004, 189) has shown that Arabic demonstratives have been shown to refer anaphorically, albeit vaguely, to the preceding paragraph in other contexts independently of fī ʾat̠nāʾi. When they do so, they “mark a shift in the information focus but at the same time signaling that what is coming next is topically connected to what has preceded.” Formal grammaticalization of fī ʾat̠nāʾi can be examined via the tests in table 4.1 showing this PN to be a syntactically tight unit. Consistent with the grammaticalization literature, the lack of internal variability evidences fixedness in constructions and the formation of a unit of grammar. The syntactic tests in table 4.1 show that fī ʾat̠nāʾi has those syntactic characteristics. It is important to notice that fī in this compound-like phrase has a crucial role in its formation. Serving as the syntactic head, it governs its nominal dependent ʾat̠nāʾi in the genitive, which it retains throughout even after grammaticalization into a compound-like expression. However, owing to syntagmatic reduction by further grammaticalization, the compound-like unit eventually is reduced fī ʾat̠nāʾi > ʾat̠nāʾa ‘during, meanwhile’ without ensuing semantic or functional losses. In fact, the frequency of occurrence of ʾat̠nāʾa has shown dramatic


chapter four

increases when compared with fī ʾat̠nāʾi in the modern literature and newspaper corpora as shown in the following table. Table 4.4  Comparative Frequency of Textual Occurrence between fī ʾat̠nāʾi and ʾat̠nāʾa Corpus Modern literature Newspaper corpus

fī ʾat̠nāʾi


6 2,162

267 18,014

In table 4.4, it is clear that reduction in syntagmatic size, generalization of meaning beyond that of the original lexical source, and acquisition of a more advanced grammaticalization function have all contributed to the dramatic increase in the textual frequency and wider distribution of ʾat̠nāʾa, which in its more grammaticalized appearance has evolved morphologically to conform to the class of prepositional forms ending in invariable –a inflection (e.g., taḥ ta ‘below, under’, xalfa ‘back, behind’, etc.). In summary, table 4.5 below highlights the major stages in the semantic and functional grammaticalization of fī ʾat̠nāʾi. Table 4.5 Major Stages in the Semantic and Functional Grammaticalization of fī ʾat̠nāʾi Stage


0 I

Classical Classical


Classical/ Medieval/ Pre-Modern Modern



Function ʾat̠nāʾun/an/in ‘bend, fold’; a fully inflected noun Heading a construct phrase with denotation in spatial domain (e.g., ʾat̠nāʾu l-wādī ‘bends in the valley’) fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘during’ with mixed denotations in the spatial and temporal domains fī ʾat̠nāʾi ‘meanwhile’; serving a textual function as a paragraph introducer that semantically links the preceding paragraph Reduction to ʾat̠nāʾa and invariability in case inflection

compound-like prepositions


4.3  Grammaticalization of bi-faḍli ‘thanks to, owing to’ The first prepositional construction, bi-faḍli ‘thanks to, owing to’, has a single occurrence in the entire Quranic text, although the noun faḍlun appears ninety-five times unaccompanied by bi- ‘in, at’ in the same text. In that single instance, bi-faḍli was used in the favorable, positive sense, denoting ‘bounty of God’: (6) qul bi-faḍli l-lāhi wa-raḥ mati-hi 2MSG.say.IMP with-bounty the-God and-mercy-his ‘Say, in the bounty of God and in his mercy . . . ’ (Quran 10, 58)

The possible concrete reading of bi-faḍli in the verse above may include tangibles provided by God such as food, water, and habitable areas. A metaphorical reading, however, may include spiritual enrichment and guidance. In either interpretation, the construction signifies favorable rewards. In its original meaning, faḍlun signifies notions such as excess or remnant. This meaning was extended to denote the social notion pertaining to generosity. In that already fairly abstract sense, faḍlun did not shed much of its semantic content in order to be generalized into multiple contexts. In Thousand and One Nights, bi-faḍli in all its nine occurrences involved living human creatures or entities with human-like attributes; four of which were in collocation with an agent of divine nature, ʾallāh ‘God’. Its usage in contexts involving non-humans occurs in the modern literature corpus: (7) γayra except

ʾanna that

surʿata speed

l-ʿarabati the-car

badat ḥ āsimatan appeared.3MSG decisive

wa-bi-faḍli-hā γalaba šuʿūrun and-with-thanks to-it overcame.3MSG feeling ‘However, the speed of the car appeared definitive and owing to that a feeling overcame them . . . ’ (Mahfouzchildren 4, 84:6)

Further grammaticalization of bi-faḍli resulted in its usage in contexts permitting negative connotations, signifying a reversal of its erstwhile positive sense. This is clearly illustrated in the following example from the Arabic newspaper corpus: (8) wa-bi-faḍli and-with-thanks to

hād̠ā this

n-nid̠āmi ̣ the-system

l-ʿālamiyyi warīt̠u the-universal heir


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n-nid̠āmi l-istiʿmāriyy fa-ʾinna xumsa sukkāni l-ʾarḍi ̣ the-system the-imperialist so-that fifth inhabitant.PL the-earth

yataḥ akkamūna fī 3MPL.control.IPFV in

kawkabi l-ʾarḍ planet the-earth ‘And thanks to this globalization system, heir to the imperialist system, one-fifth of the inhabitants of the earth control four-fifths of the riches of the planet earth’ (Ref # 020599AMOD02)

ʾarbaʿati four

ʾaxmāsi fifth

t̠arawāti fortune.PL

In example (8) just cited, bi-faḍli implies sarcasm on the part of the speaker who expresses his/her subjective evaluation of the effect of globalization on the planet and its inhabitants and the uneven distribution of wealth. In this usage, a greater semantic distance from the positive semantic meaning of its nominal source faḍlun is observed. Owing to pragmatic strengthening, bi-faḍli in this context suggests a causal implicature in the relationship between globalization as currently exists and the domination of a minority of the world’s inhabitants over the majority. Semantic shifts of this nature, although not yet conventionalized, typically betoken a greater degree of ­grammaticalization. In certain contexts involving religious invocation or political gains, this PN appears as a PNP unit with the preposition min ‘of ’ in the modern literature and the newspaper corpora. In the modern literature corpus, a single occurrence has been found where the PNP was followed by the word ʾallāhu ‘God’. In the newspaper corpus, a total of twenty-eight PNP instances have been found, of which twentyfive were followed by al-lāhu ‘God’ and the remaining three involved one of the nouns from the list of ninety-nine attributes/names of God in the Islamic tradition. It stands to reason that the presence of this PNP almost invariably followed by one of the divine names of God in religious and political discourse is indicative of the retention of the original meaning of virtue associated with the nominal source faḍlun. In other words, it is a case of classicizing this construction so as to conform to the Islamic tradition where God is perceived to be the deliverer of bounty and virtue. Nevertheless, within the total textual frequency of 5,646 bi-faḍli in the newspaper corpus, the 28 of which represent a PNP unit are still a small number of cases. Table 4.6 contains a summary of the major stages in the semantic and formal grammaticalization of bi-faḍli.

compound-like prepositions


Table 4.6 Summary of the Stages in the Development of bi-faḍli Stage





Modern/ Contemporary Modern/ Contemporary


Function bi-faḍli shows very low frequency and is used in collocation with ʾallāh ‘God’ and powerful humans (e.g., kings, rulers, etc.) Extension of use into non-human domain Use in expressing negative connotations

4.4  Grammaticalization of min-nāḥiyati ‘with respect to’ The next prepositional phrase, min-nāḥ iyati ‘with respect to’, is comprised of the preposition min ‘from, of’ and nāḥ iyati ‘region, aspect, standpoint, side’. In early usage, it denoted spatial relations as shown in the example from Thousand and One Nights: (9) wa-kāna and-was.3MSG

fī in

tilka s-sāʿati this.FSG the-hour

qad ASP

ṭalaʿa ʿalay-nā appeared.3MSG on-us

bilādi-nā γubārun qad ʿalā wa-ṭāra country.PL-our dust ASP rose.3MSG and-flew.MSG ‘And in that hour appeared to us from the land side dust [that] rose high’ (Ref. #1001N150, 10)

fī in

l-barri the-land

min from

nāḥ iyati side

All three instances of min nāḥ iyati that occurred in Thousand and One Nights exhibit spatial meaning exclusively like the one in (9). This spatial sense is still present in the modern literature corpus: (10) kāna baytu-hum was.3MSG home-their.M

fī in

šāriʿi street

12 12

min nāḥ iyati from side

karmūz Karmuz ‘Their home is on 12th Street in the direction of Karmuz’ (KarratThrabha 3:34)

With further grammaticalization, min nāḥ iyati appears frequently with the nominal element in an indefinite form, nāḥ iyatin, in the Arabic newspaper corpus. An acquired textual function pertains to the


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domain of organizing propositions with respect to others in addition to the two functions already discussed above. In its textual function, min nāḥ iyatin co-occurs with ordinals such as min nāḥ iyatin t̠āniyatin, lit. ‘from a second side, direction = on the other hand’. Most commonly, min nāḥ iyatin co-occurs as an inter-clausal connector together with min nāḥ iyatin ʾuxrā, lit. ‘from another side/direction = on the other hand’. In the modern literature corpus, only min nāḥ iyatin ʾuxrā occurred with a total frequency of thirty instances. In the newspaper corpus, the same string occurred 2,119 times as well as min nāḥ iyatin tāniyatin in 671 instances. In these instances, min nāḥ iyatin comes to serve a textual organization function, such as contrast. This textual function is also extended into the present-day Egyptian dialect where min nāḥ iyatin occurs without a nominal dependent at all: (11)  howwa men nāḥ ya momken he from side possible ‘It is possible from one perspective’

But this sense has some evaluative overtones of one debating or mentally evaluating possible options regarding a situation or event. Another textual function for min nāḥ iyati is also found increasingly in the newspaper corpus where it serves as an information introducer at the beginning of a paragraph. Two contrasting examples are given below that will highlight changes in the function of min nāḥ iyatin. (12a) ʾakkada nabulyūn emphasized.3MSG Napoleon

ʾanna that

mašāʿira š-šuyūxi feeling.PL the-Sheik.PL

min nāḥ iyati-him taγayyarat changed.3FSG from side-their.M ‘Napoleon emphasized that the feelings of the Sheikhs have changed towards them’ (022399REPO02) (12b) al-yābānu min nāḥ iyati-hā la-hā nafsu l-maxāwifu the-Japan from side-its to-it same the-fear.PL ‘On its part, Japan has the same fears’ (113099REPo01)

In (12a) the PN phrase min nāḥ iyati expresses directionality of the feeling coded in spatial terms, i.e., feelings towards someone. By contrast, (12b) involves an inanimate referent, Japan, appearing in a metonymic relation to its human inhabitants as the source/origin of the fear. In spite of this metonymic link, strictly speaking, use of min nāḥ iyati with an inanimate entity is an extension of the domain of humans

compound-like prepositions


to non-humans indicative of increasing grammaticalization according to Heine’s (1997b, 44) established stages of grammaticalization. This usage is prevalent in present day newscasts as part of Arabic journalese and it is very likely that its textual distribution will widen in the future. In the newspaper corpus, this PN occurred 662 times with the third person masculine singular pronoun, min nāḥ iyatihā 181 times with the feminine singular, and min nāḥ iyatihim 31 times with the third person masculine plural. No further occurrences have been found of its use with the feminine plural form min nāḥ iyatihunna. Extension of meaning from the spatial domain to the textual domain afforded min nāḥ iyatin greater frequency in a variety of genres and contexts. However when compared with the next prepositional construction ʿan ṭarīqi ‘through, via’, it shows somewhat less textual frequency. This can be explained partly as a result of the persistence of the weakened original lexical meaning denoting direction, side in its connotations. From a concrete spatial sense, a metaphorical extension resulted in its usage in contexts of human conceptualization and expression of mental perspectives and personal beliefs: (13) laysa not

fī in

l-ʾamri mā the-matter what

yušīnu ʾid̠ā 3MSG.dishonor.IPFV if

nad̠arta ʾilay-hi min nāḥ iyatin jamāliyyatin baḥ tatin ̣ looked.3MSG to-it from direction aesthetic pure ‘There is nothing dishonorable in this matter, if you look at it from a purely aesthetic perspective’ (Ref. Chi 26, 5)

Formal grammaticalization of min nāḥ iyati indicates decategorization of the nominal element nāḥ iyati. Despite its occupation of a syntactic slot typical of governed nouns, as part of this collocation, it ceases to take a definite article (*mina n-nāḥ iyati) or to take modifiers (*mina nāḥ iyatin baʿīdatin ‘from a far side’). These and other restrictions, shown in table 4.1, are indicative of loss of autonomy and increasing dependency. In sum, the stages of development for min nāḥ iyati can be sketched as follows:


chapter four Table 4.7 Diachronic Stages in the Development of min nāḥ iyati

Stage 0 I II



Classical Modern Modern

Spatial meaning Spatial and textual Spatial, textual, and evaluative

4.5  Grammaticalization of ʿan t ̣arīqi ‘by way of, via’ The data retrieved for the prepositional construction ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of, via’ in ACT reveal several stages of its grammaticalization. In CA, ʿan ṭarīqi expresses relationships pertaining primarily to the spatiodirectional domain of conception interpretable as pathway, road, route. This spatial sense is used in both a concrete and figurative sense through metaphorical extension into the domain of human behavior and morality as the following two examples from Thousand and One Nights show: (14a) fa-baynamā hum so-while they.M

habbat blew.FSG

sāʾirūna sailing

fa-ʾid̠ā so-suddenly

bi-rīḥ in qad with-wind ASP

ʿalay-hum fa-ʾuxrija l-mawkibu over-them.M so-diverted.PASS.3MSG the-procession

ʿan ṭarīqī-hā off pathway-her ‘So while they were sailing, suddenly the wind blew them away from their pathway’ (1001N56, 11) (14b) wa-ʾaʿraḍa ʿan ṭarīqi r-rašād wa-šariba and-steered.3MSG off pathway the-wisdom and-drank.3MSG

r-rāḥ a bi-l-ʾaqdāḥ the-wine with-the-bowl.PL ‘And he steered away from the path of wisdom and drank wine in bowls’

In (14a), the PN ʿan ṭarīqi-hā is unequivocally a tight semantic and syntactic unit forming a cohesive constituent. In (14b), however, its status is somewhat ambiguous because the preceding verb ʾaʿraḍa takes as part of its VP the preposition ʿan, thus giving the idiomatic meaning ‘steer away’, however, ʿan also appears to form a syntactic and semantic constituent with its nominal complement ṭarīqun ‘road, pathway’. This dual status of the preposition ʿan typifies the notion of

compound-like prepositions


the adprep category identified in Bolinger (1971) and applied to English particles in O’Dowd (1998). Formal properties of this construction as found in Thousand and One Nights exhibit retention of certain nominal trappings such as definiteness by means of the definite article al- (e.g., ʿan iṭ-ṭarīqi ‘away from the road, pathway’) or possessive pronouns, as shown in the example above, on the nominal element ṭarīqun ‘road, pathway’. Considering the sequence of semantic extensions in grammaticalization, ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of’ advanced in MSA towards expressing means (i.e., instrument) and manner in addition to its spatial denotation of movement: (15a) laday-hum at-them.M

fuḍūlun curiosity

maʿrifiyyun knowledge

yuḥ āwilūna 3MPL.attempt.IPVF

ʾišbāʿa-hu ʿan ṭarīqi l-qirāʾati satisfy-it by way the-reading ‘They have thirst for knowledge that they attempt to satisfy through reading’ (El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer 2003, 580) (15b) wa-lammā tamakkana l-burtuγāliyyūna ʿan and-when strengthened.3MSG the-Portuguese.PL by

t ̣arīqi way

l-quwwati fī l-qaḍāʾi ʿalā the-force in the-ending on

ḥtikāri monopoly

l-muslimīna li-tijārati t-tawābili the-Muslim.PL for-trade the-spice.PL ‘And when the Portuguese by way of force were able to end the monopoly of Muslims in the spice trade . . . ’ (GEN 1996, 3990)

The meaning of ʿan ṭarīqi in the context shown in (15a) above clearly indicates instrument or means for satisfying thirst for knowledge. By contrast, in (15b) ambiguity in interpretation of ʿan ṭarīqi exists between instrument and quality. On the one hand, ʿan ṭarīqi denotes the means used to end the Muslim monopoly, and on the other, it marks how the process of elimination of the Muslim monopoly over the spice trade was carried out. The transition from the spatial and relatively concrete sense into the expression of a more abstract semantic sense pertaining exclusively to the conceptual domain of quality is shown most clearly in the following example from the modern literature corpus: (16) masaḥ tu damʿatan saqaṭat wiped.1SG tear fell.FSG

ʿan by

ṭarīqi l-xaṭaʾi way error


chapter four min ʿayn-ī from eye-my ‘I wiped a tear that fell from my eye by mistake’

(Madbuli 2, 2:550)

It is worth noticing that ʿan ṭarīqi has a rival in ʿalā sabīli ‘by way of’ since both constructions contain a nominal element that originally denotes a physical path. However, ʿalā sabīli exhibits what Hopper (1991, 22) labels “specialization”. That is, although both constructions are nearly semantic equivalents, in certain contexts ʿan ṭarīqi cannot substitute for ʿalā sabīli. One such context is the following: (17a) ʿalā sabīli l-mit̠āl on way the-example ‘By way of example’ (17b) *ʿan ṭarīqi l-mit̠āli by way the-example ‘By way of example’

Likewise, ʿan ṭarīqi cannot be substituted for where it denotes quality. This observation demonstrates that they no longer can be used as viable alternatives in certain contexts as a result of meaning shifts and functional change associated with the grammaticalization of these two lexical synonyms. Finally, unlike most of the preceding semantic extensions for ʿan ṭarīqi, the following denotation deviates greatly from the etymological sources. In its erstwhile semantic sense, ṭarīqun signifies a path or road that is a bounded landmark. The following extended sense, arising from pragmatic strengthening, can be used with unbounded landmarks. Following Tyler and Evans (2003, 224–225) in their analysis of the semantic senses of the English preposition through beyond its proto sense, examples (18a) and (18b) illustrate its denotation of the transmission sense. (18a) wa-yumkinu li-l-ʾamrāḍi llatī and-3MSG.possible.MDL for-the-disease.PL that.FSG tantaqilu ʿan 3FSG.transfer.IPFV by

ṭarīqi l-jinsi way the-sex

ʾan tusabiba to 3FSG.cause.SBJV

l-ʿuqma the-infertility ‘And it is possible for diseases that are sexually transmitted to cause infertility’ (archive 48846)

compound-like prepositions

(18b) li-ʾanna for-that

munad̠d̠ l-jihādi ̣ amati ̣ organization the-jihād

ʿādatan usually

121 mā what

taljaʾu li-ʾiʿlāni masʾūliyyati-hā ʿan ṭarīqi 3FSG.resort.IPFV to-announce responsibility-its by way l-faksi the-fax ‘Because the Jihād organization usually declares its responsibility [for an incident] via fax’

In (18a) and (18b), the TR (i.e., sexual diseases and the announcement of a usually violent incidence) are transmitted through a particular “covert” medium (e.g., sexual intercourse, and the fax respectively). In the case of (18a), it is a sexual partner, in the case of (18b), the sender of the fax. Based on the frequent, continued use of this prepositional phrase with such implicature of transmission in medical and technological (e.g., ʿan ṭarīqi l-internet ‘via the Internet’) arenas, it is expected that the transmission sense would strengthen to become a conventionalized meaning associated with this phrase. Formal grammaticalization of ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of, through’ demonstrates strong decategorialization of the noun ṭarīqun. As is illustrated in table 4.1, the noun element in such a syntactic phrase no longer takes the definite article and cannot be modified or pluralized. In essence, it has lost several of its prototypical noun trappings. These losses can only result from its grammaticalization as part of a compound-like phrase that functions as a semantic and grammatical unit. The observable uneven frequency of textual distribution of two synchronic corpora (modern literature and newspapers respectively) in table 4.2 can only highlight the importance of extra linguistic factors such as restraint in accepting change in literary writing and the relative openness in newscasts to adopting calque translation in their authorship. The significant differences in textual occurrence of ʿan ṭarīqi at only 69 times in the modern literature corpus vis-à-vis 16,180 times in the newspaper corpus despite the near identical uses in both corpora supports the claim that has been made here that modern Arabic literature prefers relatively more conservative, if not classicizing styles, than newspapers and media Arabic. The table below summarizes the stages identified in the evolution of ʿan ṭarīqi:


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Table 4.8 Diachronic Stages in the Grammaticalization of ʿan ṭarīqi Stage


0 I

Classical Modern



Feature Concrete reference to spatial relations Concrete spatial relations and abstract denotation of instrument and transmission. Loss of nounhood inflectional trappings Usage in denoting quality

4.6  Grammaticalization of bi-sababi ‘because of ’ Finally, the prepositional PN-construction bi-sababi ‘because of ’ is comprised of the bound preposition bi- ‘in, at, by means of’ and the noun sababi ‘cause, reason’. From a semantic standpoint, the noun sababun underwent semantic bleaching of its concrete objective denotation, as stated already at the beginning of this chapter. Its original meaning in CA was tent rope. Later that meaning was generalized to just rope as the following example from the Quran illustrates: (19) kāna was.3MSG

yaḏunnu ̣ 3MSG.think.IPFV

ʾan lan that NEG.FUT


l-lāhu the-God

fī in

d-dunyā the-universe

wa-l-ʾāxirati fa-l-yamdud and-the-hereafter so-to-3MSG.extend.JSV

s-samāʾi the-sky ‘If any think that Allah will not help him (his messenger) in this world and the hereafter, let him stretch out a rope’ (The Presidency of Islamic Researches, IFTA 1989 translation; henceforth, IFTA)

bi-sababin with-rope

ʾilā to

Through metonymic association, the semantic sense of rope as an instrument to obtain something was extended to the more abstract domain of causal relations as the enabling means for something to take place. With its denotation of causality, bi-sababi has been emptied of its concrete reference to the actual object connecting two entities belonging to the physical domain of conception to mark general causal relations across numerous domains. As Meyer (2000, 10) observes “[c] ausality is simply an indispensable principle in the organization of people’s everyday lives.” As bi-sababi entered the domain of causality,

compound-like prepositions


it assumed new functions such as explanation, clarification, and justification, and its textual frequency increased substantially. In Thousand and One Nights, bi-sabab exclusively occurred in post verbal positions and never in the sentence initial slot. In such word order, bi-sabab signifies causal relations in relation to a known event: (20) wa-ʾammā madīnatu and-as for city

l-maliki the-king

d̠-d̠ ̣ ālimi ̣ the-tyrant

fa-ḥ taraqat so-burned.3FSG

ʿan ʾāxiri-hā bi-sababi jūri maliki-hā to end-its with-cause injustice king-its ‘And as for the city of the tyrant king, it burned totally because of the injustice of its king’ (1001N760, 4)

This word order is reversed in MSA, particularly in newspaper Arabic, with significant frequency and causal relation located before the event: (21) bi-sababi ḥ ulmi l-maliki qaṣsạ t il-banātu with-cause dream the-king cut.3FSG the-girl.PL šaʿra-hunna hair-their.F ‘Because of the king’s dream, the girls cut their hair/had their hair cut’ (062299FRON12)

In this usage, the focus is on the cause rather than the event itself. It is the irony expressed in the clause, namely the king’s dream, as a cause that made it suitable as a sentence focus. In the newspaper corpus, bi-sababi has acquired a textual function that links sentences internally. In that function, bi-sababi is best interpreted as therefore as it occupies the clause medial position. Two contrasting examples below from the newspaper corpus highlight the functional difference for bi-sababi. (22a) al-mawḍūʿu the-topic

l-kūbiyyu the-Cuban

mawḍūʿun topic

d̠ālika that.MSG

dāxiliyyun ʿalā internal on

l-ʾaqalli bi-sababi the-least with-reason

l-ʿadadi l-kabīri the-number the-large

min l-ʾamrīkāni min ʾaṣlin kūbiyyin from the-American.PL from descent Cuban ‘The Cuban issue is an internal matter, at least because of the large number of Americans of Cuban descent.’ (GEN 1996, 5758)


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(22b) ʾilā on

ḥ addi extent

ʿalā on

yarfuḍu 3MSG.impose.IPFV

farḍi imposing

ʾaʿḍāʾin member.PL

ʿuḍwiyyati-hi ʾaḥ yānan membership-his sometimes

bi-ʿayni-him with-self-them.M

bi-sababi d̠ālika with-cause that.MSG

l-baʿḍu l-waṣfa t-taqlīdiyya the-some the-description the-traditional

li-l-majlisi l-waṭaniyyi to-the-council the-national ‘To the extent of imposing certain members on its membership sometimes therefore some characterize the national council as traditional’ (GEN 1996, 7760)

Example (22a) illustrates the regular causal use of bi-sababi even when it collocates with the distal demonstrative that agrees in gender and number with the following dependent constituent. However, in (22b) the bi-sabibi d̠ālika phrase actually occupies the medial position within the clause, linking the phrase that follows as the consequence of the preceding preposition, and in such a function should be interpreted as therefore. The formal properties of bi-sababi also reveal characteristics of an advanced degree of grammaticalization. This compound does not permit: a. definiteness of the lexical noun *bi-ʾas-sababi b. pluralization of the lexical noun *bi-ʾasbābi c. Insertion of a demonstrative between the two morphemes *bi-hād̠ā s-sababi d. Modification by an adjective *bi-hād̠ā s-sababi l-muhimmi Loss of these important trappings of proto-typical nouns indicates a decategorialization of the nominal element bi-sababi within the prepositional compound. The textual frequency distribution for bi-sabibi warrants a few comments. Its occurrence of 162 times in Thousand and One Nights has been shown to be of modest frequency. In the modern literature corpus, it occurred at a slightly higher rate of 233 times. One possible explanation is that bi-sababi, which has very likely evolved natively without external influences, divides its functional domain with another PN near synonym min ʾajli ‘because of, for the sake of ’. In Thousand and One Nights min ʾajli occurred 169 times, an almost identical fre-

compound-like prepositions


quency as bi-sababi. In the modern literature corpus, however, min ʾajli occurred 449 times, a frequency much higher than bi-sababi. For reasons to do with stylistic preferences, bi-sababi seems to lag behind min ʾajli overall, since in the newspaper corpus the latter occurred 42,307 times, while bi-sababi occurred 36,946 times in the same corpus. The following table summarizes the semantic and formal grammaticalizaiton of bi-sababi Table 4.9 Major Stages in the Semantic and Formal Grammaticalization of bi-sababi Stage





Classical/ Medieval Pre-modern/ Modern


Modern/ Contemporary

Function The nominal element sababun of the compound bisababi fully retains its etymological lexical meaning ‘tent rope’ bi-sababi denotes meanings pertaining to the actual object ‘rope’ as well as cause bi-sababi generalizes as one of the cause marking phrases after total loss of the concrete reference to ‘rope’ bi-sababi evolves to have the textual function of linking clause to internal components

Conclusion Compound-like prepositions included in this study have been shown to exhibit more internal cohesion and tighter syntactic relations in their formal properties than do PNP-constructions. None of the compound prepositions seems to permit internal morphological or syntactic variability in their syntactic configurations. Like PNP-constructions, however, the compound-like prepositions included in this chapter have all shown varying degrees of semantic extensions, the kind typical of change under grammaticalization. Textual frequency for this prepositional category also shows considerable variation. Despite this noted statistical variation, overall the five PN-units examined here show a considerable increase in their textual frequencies, which surpass all but one PNP-construction (bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in reference to’) in textual frequency. The import of this observation is the fact that expansions in frequency of use could be construed, as was advocated in Bybee (2007, 339), to betoken widening use of the functional form and an increase


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in its generalization. In grammaticalization literature, increases in textual frequency often correlate positively with a rise in the degree of grammaticalization. Considering textual frequency as a parameter of grammaticalization, bi-sababi ‘because of’ outranks all other PN-constructions in textual occurrences. One possible explanation for its textual frequency being higher than all others included in this study is its generalization into a multitude of contexts. Being one of the markers of cause in clauses, bisababi thus joins other highly grammaticalized particles like li- ‘to, for’ and its derivative li-ʾanna ‘because’, which are used in marking causal relations. As will be shown in chapters 8 and 9, cause is considered to be one of the relationships fundamental to human conception. Viewed as such, cause is extremely frequent and salient in discourse. The diachronic picture presented in this study is by no means comprehensive since the number of texts and the types of genres included in the consulted corpora do not represent continuous historical periods without gaps. In this regard, the diachronic stages offer a diachronic snapshot that highlights major changes in the functions of these constructions over time. The functions these constructions are grammaticalized for must therefore be seen as “clusters” or “focal” points on the grammaticalization continuum that most likely include other intermediate functions not addressed in this study. From the preceding discussion of these PN-constructions, it appears that just like PNP-units, which were discussed earlier, they too have emerged as grammatical units mostly under the influence of European languages. One notable difference between them however is that PNcollocations of the type discussed here pre-existed the transfer from European languages in modern times. The foreign linguistic influence that has been exerted on native collocations, it would appear, has had the effect of accelerating the grammaticalization process to match the degree reached in the corresponding PN-constructions in the “model” languages. The modest increases in PN textual frequencies in the modern literature corpus vis-à-vis their dramatic increases in the newspaper corpus strongly suggests that there is little chance that grammaticalization of these constructions occurred independently of foreign influences. Given Blau’s (1973, 218) claim that the emergence of several of the PN constructions (e.g., min ʾajli ‘because of; ʿalā ʾat̠ari ‘immediately after’) is due to external influences, specifically what Blanc (1957) (cited in his study) calls Standard Average

compound-like prepositions


European. With the tendency of Arab authors of literature to be more conservative than Arab journalists, who frequently emulate Western style prose, it is quite possible to account for unevenness in textual frequency and distribution. Moreover, the fact that some of these PNconstructions (e.g., bi-faḍli ‘thanks to’), which originated in favorable contexts in pre-modern times, have shifted to negative connotations, even sarcasm, strongly points to an analogical semantic change under influence from European sources where negative denotation of thanks to, for example, had already been attested prior to its appearance in Arabic.

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Simple Stem Prepositionals 5.1  Introduction In this chapter, I offer an analysis of four prepositional1 forms at varying stages of their grammaticalization. Two of those forms have their basic designation in vertical orientation within the domain of spatial relations ( fawqa ‘above, over’; and its semantic converse taḥ ta ‘under, below’); the other two I shall label “oriented LM” within the spatial domain, following Tyler and Evans (2003, 154–155) in their analysis of their English equivalents. The prepositional forms falling under this designation are ʾamāma ‘in front of’ and xalfa ‘back, behind’. From the earliest Arabic grammatical treatises in pre-medieval times to the present, the four forms under discussion here, which form a sub-set of the “locative” category, have been separated from true prepositions based on morpho-semantic grounds. In contradistinction to this tradition, the empirical evidence put forth here will raise considerable doubts about the justification of a separate treatment of these forms from the class of recognized prepositions as well as challenge the notion upheld by early Arabic grammarians and their successors of the exclusive function of these forms as locative adverbs. That is, the prepositional forms under consideration here, as well as others like them in form and function (e.g., wasṭa ‘amid’, in the middle of ’; bayna ‘between’), should be included as representatives of one of several layers of the preposition category in Arabic. 5.2  Grammaticalization of fawqa ‘over, above’ 5.2.1  Semantic grammaticalization of fawqa The etymology of fawqa reveals that it belongs exclusively to the Arabic lexical stock as no etymologically related forms were detected in consulted sources (i.e., Brockelmann [1913] 1966, vol. 2; Reckendorf [1895] 1967, 1921; O’Leary 1969; Moscati 1964; Gray [1934] 1971; Lipiński 2001;   This term is adopted from Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 198).



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Hetzron 1997, Fischer 2002) to suggest an earlier Semitic origin of this word stem. In CA, fawqa has appeared as a fully inflected noun (i.e., has the possible plural forms ʾafwāqun, ʾafāwiqun, ʾafwiqatun) and takes a definite article and all three case endings (nominative, genitive, and accusative), among a number of other formal properties typical of Arabic nouns. The semantic denotations of the root FWQ in this sequence include fawāqun/fuwāqun designating a period of time between two milkings of a she-camel (Lisān al-ʿArab 5, 3488) and this temporal sense was metaphorically extended to denote repeated rains, hence ʾafāwiqu s-saḥ ābi ‘the repeated rains’. Within the range of semantic denotation of this form in one of the Arabian dialects at the time of Ibn Manẓūr’s writing of his thesaurus is the designation of an object, the notch of an arrow (Ibid., 3490), which is also cited in Lane ([1877] 1968, 5:2462). Nevertheless, the most likely semantic source for the nominal source al-fawqu/alfūqu is the primary pathway/road, which is cited as the semantic designation of Abū ʿAmru in Lisān al-ʿArab 5, 3488. Given the spatial primary sense of fawqa, the notion of spatial primacy seems to be the closest to above, over, which fawqa denotes. In CA, fawqa exhibited semantic polysemy and syntactic diversity that were not at all reflected in the treatises of early Arabic grammarians (e.g., Ibn as-Sarrāj or Mubarrad). In the Quranic text, fawqa exhibited semantic senses belonging to several domains of conception: Spatial sense of above, over: (1a)  ʾarā-nī 1SG.see.IPFV-myself

ʾaḥ milu 1SG.carry.IPFV

fawqa above/over

raʾs-ī xubzan head-my bread ‘I see myself carrying bread over/above my head’  

  (Quran 12, 36)

Non-spatial, command and power sense: (1b)  wa-huwa l-qāhiru fawqa ʿibādi-hi and-he the-victor over worshipper.PL-his ‘And He is overpowering His worshippers’      (Quran 6, 61)

Non-physical, non-spatial sense indicating extreme amount or quantity: (1c)  zidnā-hum ʿad̠āban fawqa l-ʿad̠ābi increased.1PL-them.M suffering over the-suffering ‘We increased for them [more] suffering over [their] suffering’

simple stem prepositionals

(1d)  lā tubāʿu jāriyatun t̠amanu-hā fawqa not 3FSG.sell.PASS slave price-her above

131 l-ʾalfi the-thousand

dīnarin dinar ‘A slave girl whose price exceeds (above) one thousand dinars is not to be sold’ (1001N 38, 8)

In (1a) fawqa has a locative sense within a spatial context where the TR (i.e., xubzan ‘bread’) is spatially located above, and perhaps is supported by, the LM (i.e., raʾsun ‘head’). In (1b) fawqa denotes the sense of authority or eminence of God over his worshippers. It is quite possible that this sense, though metaphoric in nature, may be rooted in metonymy where the sense of being physically above (i.e., fī s-samāʾi ‘in heaven’) has given rise to a metonymic extension of superiority. In (1c), fawqa codes the excess sense where the suffering that is referred to is seemingly insurmountable. In (1d), it is interpreted straightforwardly within the domain of quantity where it refers to an amount in excess of what is customary or normally expected. Semantic extensions of fawqa (> fōq in [2] below) continued in modern Arabic literature, resulting in usage in contexts indicating temporality. Through pragmatic strengthening it often expresses the speaker’s subjective beliefs and attitude towards a situation: Temporal sense of fawq: (2) mitʿawwida ʾašūf šāb suʿūdī fōq it̠-t̠alāt̠īn used to.FSG 1SG.see.IPFV young man Saudi over the-thirty ‘I used to see a Saudi young man over thirty’ (RiyadGirls 19, 3)2

When used to indicate subjective belief, fawqa expresses personal evaluation of situations as the following examples demonstrate: (3)  fa-ʾamaddat-nī bi-mraʾatin ʾarminiyyatin So-provided.3FSG-me with-woman Armenian

fawqa above

l-mutawassiṭi the-middle ‘So she provided me with an above average Armenian woman’ (Miramar 2:20, 3)

 Transcription reflects the semi-formal nature of the written utterance.



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(4)  fa-lābudda ʾan takūna so-must to

la-ka to-you.MSG

ʾaḥ lāmun dream.PL

fawqa l-ʿādati above the-usual ‘So you must have extraordinary dreams’     (Remem 3, 373)

The last two examples show meanings of fawqa in fairly abstract domains of conception since fawqa l-mutawassiṭi ‘above average’ expresses a subjective evaluation of the physical or character attributes that he/she deemed average, as there is no stated objective standard of such a quality within the context of (3) above. In the last example, fawqa l-ʿādati ‘above normal = extraordinary’ has a non-referential, modal sense, expressing an abstract concept also pertaining to quality. In present-day Arabic, fawqa has become the sole formative used for loan translation of Latinate prefixes such as ultra as in ultraviolet translated as fawqa l-banafsajiyy and super as in fawqa l-bašarī ‘superhuman’. Related manifestations of these compound-like phrases, mainly found in the field of science, evidence reduction of the autonomous form fawqa > faw- to a morphological formative that cliticizes to its adjectival complement, serving in this case as its linguistic host. In such a function, it therefore gives rise to faw-bašarī (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 757) and faw-samʿī ‘supersonic’ (Ibid., 759). It is apparent from the foregoing that fawqa underwent extensive diachronic semantic change towards greater abstraction, given its relatively concrete etymological semantic source. Its classification as strictly a locative (i.e., naming location) linguistic form in the grammatical treatises of early Arabic grammarians (e.g., Mubarrad) falls short of the scope of the extended semantic senses of this form as it has evolved in non-spatial contexts, even in CA as was noted in the Quranic and Thousand and One Nights examples cited above. In doing justice to Arabic grammarians of that period, their categorization of fawqa is likely to have been influenced by its then still common usage as a noun, displaying many trappings of a prototypical noun alongside its other semantic senses. Ibn Yaʿīš (3, 112) of the thirteenth century AD characterizes fawqa as “one of the nouns that do not disengage from annexation constructs.” That is, according to this view, fawqa cannot occur as an intransitive preposition, and the nominal object that it governs only defines it. As such, Ibn ʿUṣfūr (1, 307), also of the thirteenth century AD, emphasizes the underspecified meaning of those lexical forms whose specificity is derived from their annexation

simple stem prepositionals


to nominal objects. Notwithstanding this classification, Ibn as-Sarrāj (1, 200) of the tenth century AD, three centuries earlier, recognized semantic extension of locatives into non-spatio-directional domains through metaphors. Considering the directionality of change in grammaticalization, the synchronic polysemy of fawqa can be accounted for more accurately through the principles of grammaticalization chains conceived of in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 65) so that the organization of categorical alternation of fawqa could be reconstructed according to the following simplified representation of conceptual chains: OBJECT > SPACE > TIME > QUALITY

Within the TR-LM framework, the linguistic form fawqa as a locative profiles (i.e., specifies) locations along the vertical space where the TR is located higher than the landmark LM. As such, it contrasts with those particles (taḥ ta ‘under’, ʾasfal ‘below’) specifying relations where the TR is lower than the LM. In its denotation of more abstract concepts like quality, it reflects a personal attitude or stance towards a situation, and therefore fawqa ceases to contrast with other spatial particles. Compare example (4) with the following where its contrast taḥ ta ‘under’ is used: (5)  * fa-lābudda ʾan takūna la-ka ʾaḥ lāmun taḥ ta so-inevitable that to-you.MSG dream.PL under l-ʿādati the-usual ‘*So you must have below average dreams’

Example (5) clearly demonstrates that while retaining the proto-sense of elevation that is typically used in reference to vertical spatial relations, fawqa has come to express more grammaticalized, non-spatial meanings that are expressive of internal subjective attitudes towards situations. Assuming this semantic sense, fawqa cannot be replaced by another spatial synonym such as ʿalā ‘on, above’, or even its comparative form ʾaʿlā ‘higher than, above’, since *ʾaʿlā l-ʿādati ‘above normal’ would be ungrammatical. Becoming a specialized marker of quality in this type of linguistic compound represents a considerable shift from the semantic denotation of fawqa specifying external spatial relations obtained between


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tangible objects in space. Extending its expression of subjective attitudes, fawqa, with further grammaticalization, came to serve linking functions within the textual domain. The “excess”3 sense denoted by fawqa in example (6), meaning more than usual, expresses subjective experience: (6)  li-mād̠ā for-what

ʾuḥ ammilu-ka

fawqa above

mā what

tuṭīqu 2MSG.bear.IPFV ‘Why [would] I burden you with more than you [can] bear?’ (Mahfouz Children 1, 6:74)

This sense is reinterpreted as an increase or addition in the grammaticalized compound where fawqa collocates with deixes such as the proximal hād̠ā ‘this’ and distal d̠ālika ‘that’ to mark textual linkages in the form of in addition to, besides as example (7) shows: (7)  huwa fawqa d̠ālika šāʿirun mutafanninun maṭbūʿ he above that.M poet versatile gifted ‘He is, besides that, a versatile and gifted poet’  (Cantarino 1975 2, 354; transcription, mine)

It is important to notice that the textual reference that is gleaned from fawqa d̠ālika ‘besides that’ is very likely to have had its origin in deictic reference to physical objects in space, particularly when Lane’s ([1863] 1968, 5:2462) interpretation of wa-fawqa d̠ālika is considered. In his explication of this expression, Lane claims, in my paraphrasing of his text, it is a normative statement that depends on what is being referred to. For example, if the item that is being discussed is relatively small and one needs to indicate something even smaller, wa-fawqa d̠ālika would be used to denote ‘and smaller than that’, according to Lane. Conversely, if the entity being evaluated is larger than it is presumed to be, wa-fawqa d̠ālika would denote an excess in size, quantity, etc., as ‘and larger than that’.

3   The term “excess sense” is borrowed from Tyler and Evans (2003, 84), which they used in their examination of the English over.

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Finally, collocation with the particle mā resulted in fawqa pragmatically implying a sense of comparison as in example (8): (8)  ʾanna-hu yaf ʿalu fawqa that-he above

mā what

yaf ʿalu

ʾajdādu-hu ancestor.PL-his ‘That he did more than his ancestors’  (Cantarino 1975 2, 353; tran   scription, mine)

The comparison sense appears to be merely an implicature that has not yet been strengthened enough to become conventionalized. That is, in Tyler and Evans’s (2003, 55) terms, such meaning is an “online meaning construction” where contextual cues and encyclopedic knowledge play a role in its formation. 5.2.2  Formal grammaticalization of fawqa The pathway of semantic change highlighted above leading from an autonomous nominal source to a bound morphological formative and functional grammatical form (e.g., fawqa > faw- discussed above) is indicative of functional and perhaps categorical change in line with Lehmann’s diagnostics of grammaticalized items ([1982] 1995) and observed in grammaticalization cases cross-linguistically (e.g., Fischer’s [2007, 144] example waistcoat > [weiskәut]). While the evolution of fawqa did not reach its full-grammaticalization (e.g., becoming an affix, a case marker, or even zero morpheme), its morphosyntactic distribution evidences increased grammaticalization. Considering its morphological attributes, fawqa originated in a nominal source having most, if not all prototypical features of nouns, that is, it takes the definite article, inflects for case and number, may be modified by an adjective, and serves as a source of the diminutive fuwayqu (Reckendorf 1921, 221). As it began to grammaticalize, the gradual shedding of nounhood trappings is evidenced by a loss of definiteness (*al-fawq) markings, modification by an adjective, and inflection for number or serving as a subject. Unlike most prepositions or prepositional forms in Arabic, fawqa in CA seems to have occurred as an intransitive preposition, even when not linearly preceded by a preposition. In Lane’s ([1877] 1968, 5: 2461) example ʾa-fawqa tanāmu ʾam ʾasfala (transcription, mine)‘dost thou, or wilt thou, sleep in the part that is above of the house . . . or in the part that is below?’ fawqa occurs unaccompanied by a dependent.


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Moreover, in the earliest stages of its grammaticalization, fawqa frequently occurred in genitive constructions preceded by a “primary” preposition accompanied by or without an object of its own:   (9)  fa-xarra ʿalay-him s-saqfu min fawqi-him so-fell.3MSG over-them.M the-roof from above-them.M ‘So the roof fell on them from above them’      (Quran 16, 26) (10)  fa-rafaʿtu raʾs-ī ʾilā so-raised.1SG head-my towards

fawqu li-ʾanḏura ̣ above to-1SG.see.SBJV

min ʾayna saqaṭa from where fell.3MSG ‘So I raised my head higher in order to see from where he fell’ (1001N120, 5)

In this acquired function, fawqa ceased to be a fully autonomous form belonging to a major category as it had earlier, for while it may head a phrase, it still receives its case marking from the ultimate phrasal head, the primary preposition. As shown in (9) and (10) above, it reaches an intermediate stage—one leading to membership in a minor, relatively restricted category, namely that of adverbs and prepositions. The categorical changes highlighted above from nounhood to adverbial/prepositional functions also brought with them greater functional generalization, given the rise in textual frequency of fawqa as the table below demonstrates: Table 5.1 Textual Frequency of fawqa in the Three Diachronic Corpora Textual source Quran Thousand and One Nights Modern literature

Number of instances

Occurrences per 100,000 words

  41 383 888

50.87 68.65 88.63

It is also quite revealing that the instances where fawqa is preceded by a preposition, mainly min ‘from, of ’, in the same corpora indicate diachronic decrease in textual frequency as shown below:

simple stem prepositionals


Table 5.2  Diachronic Change in Textual Frequency and Its Correlation with Formal Changes Textual source

Total number of occurrences

Number of instances when preceded by a preposition

Percentage of change

Quran Thousand and One Nights

  41 383

15 with min 132; ʾilā 9

Modern literature



36.5% total 36.8% with min 34.46%; ʾilā .0023% 11%

On the basis of data contained in the table above, a number of noteworthy details are offered. First, in the Quranic text, when fawqa appears in genitive constructions preceded by a preposition, that preposition is exclusively min ‘from’. In this function, fawqa should be characterized as a noun since it occupies a syntactic position typical of members of that category. In Thousand and One Nights, the textual frequency of fawqa increased not only in the raw number of textual occurrences, but also as a percentage per 100,000. However, it then appeared as a governed dependent preceded by another preposition, ʾilā ‘towards’, in addition to the more frequent collocation with min. When the total number of occurrences with these two prepositions is counted, the percentage of its textual frequency is slightly higher than that in the Quran. However, when counting its occurrences with each preposition separately, its textual frequency in those constructions is reduced below the level found in the Quran. The diminished frequency count of fawqa when preceded by another preposition (either min or ʾilā) in the modern literature corpus is strongly suggestive that the direction of change in its syntactic distribution proceeds from adverbial towards prepositional functions. From the table above, it is immediately apparent that fawqa shows an increased tendency to assume greater prepositional functions in which it acts as the ultimate phrasal head. Its morphological properties also confirm that the lack of variability with respect to its case inflection— that is, it appears invariably as in a-inflection4—attests to its gradual

4  Fleisch (1956, 120) observes that newly introduced prepositional forms in “modern literary” Arabic have invariable accusative marking.


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movement towards more grammaticalized functions where context plays a lesser role in determining its case marking. From a synchronic perspective, there is variability in the syntactic behavior of fawqa such that it functions both as an adverb (e.g., min fawqu ‘from above’) and as a preposition (e.g., fawqa ṭ-ṭāwilati ‘above the table’). In the latter case, fawqa functions much like a proto-typical preposition in locative function. In many of its spatial denotations ʿalā ‘on, above’ can substitute for it. It is worth noting that, unlike in classical literary texts, in the modern literature corpus, fawqa functions predominantly as a preposition unaccompanied by another that marks it for case. That the two functions associated with this single linguistic form co-exist side-by-side validates Hopper’s (1991) concept of layering where old and new functions representing two stages in the evolution of grams co-exist for some time. The concept holds well here in the case of fawqa and it follows the following grammaticalization chain extending between lexical and affixal (grammatical ) poles: al-/fawq/un/an/in >  min/ʾilā fawqi/fawqa > fawqa > faw-

The stages of grammaticalization of fawqa and its functional clusters5 can thus be schematized as follows: Table 5.3 Major Stages in the Evolution of fawqa Stage


Primary form/syntactic Category construction

0 I

Classical Pre-Modern




Modern Modern Modern

al-fawqu min/ʾilā fawqi/fawqu/ fawqa min/ʾila fawqi/ fawqu/ fawqa fawqa fawqa d̠ālika faw-

Noun Noun/adverb/preposition Adverb/preposition Preposition Textual organizer Morphological formative (in limited calque translation phrases)

  The term “cluster”, which refers to a group of related semantic senses, is borrowed from Tyler and Evans (2003). It is used here to signify a number of closely associated semantic senses in the course of grammaticalization of a given linguistic element or construction. 5

simple stem prepositionals


Considering the categorical shift associated with grammaticalization, fawqa underwent syntactic reanalysis from a noun belonging to an open class to a member in a relatively constrained category, that is, from a fully inflected noun to a preposition. From a formal perspective, fawqa fits neatly within the cline of grammaticality presented in Lehmann (1985, 304) where it has moved away from the nominal category into a phrasal preposition (when preceded by a primary preposition), then to an adverb, a preposition, and finally into a morphological formative that has lost phonological substance as a result of the condensation process, discussed in chapter 2, and undergone semantic change and became dependent on its host, which it precedes syntagmatically. 5.3  Grammaticalization of taḥta ‘under, beneath’ 5.3.1  Semantic grammaticalization of taḥ ta The linguistic item taḥ ta has a word stem that exhibits variegated manifestations in Semitic languages, e.g., Hebrew taḥ at (Tigrinya taḥ ti ‘below’ [Kogan 1997, 441]; tḥ t ‘under’ in Ugaritic [Pardee 1997, 141]; and Ethiopic tāḥ tū [Moscati 1964, 120]). Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 419), O’Leary (1969, 268), and Lipiński (2001, 476) seem to agree that taḥ ta has a Semitic nominal origin whose meaning was cited in O’Leary as the lower part. In Arabic, it would appear that it has a noun as its source that was used for reference to a ‘vile and low person’. As a noun, it took the definite article and inflected for number at-tuḥ ūt ‘base persons’, including the diminutive tuḥ ayt ‘little below’ (Lane [1863] 1968, 1: 298). As a linguistic form specifying spatial relations along the vertical axes, it contrasts with fawqa, which was discussed in table 5.2 above. This form also shares semantic space with another linguistic item, ʾasfala, which primarily meant below, but also not infrequently meant under/beneath and thus could be substituted for by taḥ ta as in the example below: (11)  ʾid̠ā jāʾū-kum min if came.3MPL-you.MPL from

fawqi-kum above-you.MPL

wa-min and-from

ʾasfali min-kum beneath you-MPL ‘If they come from above you and from beneath you’   (Quran 33, 10)


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In (11), the spatial contrast cited for min fawqi was ʾasfala min. In this context, min taḥ ti could be used equally as a near synonym and substitute for the entire phrase containing ʾasfala. In CA and beyond, taḥ ta functioned primarily as a locative noun and adverb. Nevertheless, in modern times, it has acquired additional senses within the domain of time and quantity. Through metaphoric extension, taḥ ta denotes age groups as shown in (12) below: (12)  kānū fī muʿd̠̣ami-him šabāban taḥta l-ʿišrīni was.3MPL at most-them.M youth.PL under the-twenty ‘Most of them were young men under twenty’     (Sleeps 19, 4)

In (12) taḥ ta l-ʿišrīni ‘under twenty’ may be used metonymically in certain contexts to refer to certain behavior or characteristics typifying persons belonging to that age group. Related to this sense is (13) from the Egyptian dialect, in which its usage pertains to the domain of quantity, a domain not involving a human participant. (13)  daraget l-ḥ arāra tīgī taḥ t ṣ-ṣifr degree the-temperature 3FSG.come.IPFV under the-zero ‘The temperature reaches below zero’     (Awladna 3, 2:9)

In (13), taḥ t expresses the quantitatively less sense and is to be construed as part of what Tyler and Evans (2003, 124) label the “Down Cluster.” In both (12) and (13), taḥ ta still contrasts with fawqa semantically. However, it cannot be substituted for by ʾasfala in this nonspatial context. Similarly, in none of the examples that follow that illustrate the more abstract semantic senses of taḥ ta does it contrast with fawqa or its near synonym ʾasfala ‘underneath’. This is a result of the specialized non-spatial functions that it has acquired. Consistent with the development of semantic senses typical of linguistic items denoting under/below (e.g., see Tyler and Evans 2003, 121–131), taḥ ta “prompts” for the “Down Cluster,” which is derived from the conceptual correlation that something that is physically lower or inferior (hence, the inferiority sense below) can therefore be (easily) controlled. This control sense has through frequent pragmatic implicature become conventionalized to the extent that taḥ ta is now used whenever any sense of physical and emotional influence exerted, even by non-humans, is detected in context as shown in (14). The distinct semantic senses beyond specifying spatial locations where the TR was metaphorically located below the LM are:

simple stem prepositionals


Inferiority sense: (14)  kānata taḥ ta ʿabdayni min ʿibādi-nā was.3FDU beneath servant.DU of servant.PL-our ‘They were under [the authority] of two of our servants (worshippers)’ (Quran 66, 10)

Derived from the inferiority sense is another distinct one denoting authority or control: (15)  wa-ʾarbābu d-dawlati llad̠īna taḥ ta ʾamri-hi and-ruler.PL the-state who.MPL under command-his ‘And the rulers of the state who are under his command’ (1001N 756, 3)

Both of the senses mentioned above involve a human participant. However in the modern literature corpus in ACT, taḥ ta developed additional senses, some of which do not involve direct human participation as the source of the influence: (16)  taḥ ta taʾt̠īri l-muxaddir under influence the-anesthetic ‘Under the influence of the tranquilizer’       (Chi 17, 9)

In (16) taḥ ta expresses a mental state resulting from administering anesthesia to the person in question. Interpreted as such, taḥ ta seems to signal a causal relationship between the substance that was administered and the ensuing mental state. From the sense of authority in (15), the sense of supervision or sponsorship emerges metonymically. It stands to reason that such a sense first emerged in the literal sense of personal care or protection and then later expanded to the domain of non-humans as example (17) and (18) below demonstrate. (17)  ʾi̠nna-hu taḥ ta riʿāyati l-lāhi wa-fī ḥ ifd̠̣i-hi verily-he under care the-God and-in protection-his ‘Verily, he is under God’s care and protection’    (Fischercastle 1, 42) (18)  al-mušārakatu fī ʿamaliyyāti the-participation in process.PL

salāmin peace

mutaʿaddidati multi

l-ʾaṭrāfi taḥ ta riʿāyati l-ʾumami l-muttaḥ idati the-party.PL under care the-nation.PL the-united ‘Participation in multilateral peace processes under the auspices of the United Nations’   (Hayat 97, NEW 1996:31719)


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In (17), which refers to a king, care and protection are provided to him presumably directly by/through God. By contrast, in (18), the United Nations, a political entity, is the sponsor of the process. Over time, particularly in modern times, taḥ ta developed an additional sense, which I shall call the Progress towards Completion Sense, that is used in describing processes culminating in positive results and in fairly abstract contexts that imply neither spatial reference nor involvement of a human participant as in (19) below: (19)  wa-ʿimāratun ʾuxrā taḥ ta l-ʾinšāʾi and-building.PL other under the-construction ‘And other buildings under construction’      (Yaqub 1, 13:1)

In the above example, taḥ ta describes an event in progress whose full completion is anticipated in the estimation and construal of the speaker. It is plausible that such a sense has developed as a calque translation under the influence of linguistic contact with European languages. In this function, taḥ ta describes a dynamic situation (e.g., taḥ ta ṭ-ṭabʿi ‘in press’)6 rather than a stable spatial relation, which is typically implied in its usage as a locative. It is noteworthy that for taḥ ta to develop an expectation sense within a positive context is an indication of change in its semantic sense, considering its erstwhile semantic denotation in Arabic of characteristics falling below the norm of acceptable behavior. An even more specialized function for taḥ ta, its usage in marking a continuous situation, has emerged in the Arab media in recent decades, perhaps under the influence of foreign (i.e., European) contact, showing total absence of its locative or spatial function. In this emerging function, which is totally absent in the modern literature corpus, but with 108 instances in the newspaper corpus of ACT, its formation of the prepositional compound-like phrase with the non compositional meaning taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi ‘on demand, on call, on order’, particularly in the field of business, indicates a type of service, delivery or a non punctual event.

6  Cited in Hans Wehr Dictionary (1994, 111) and in al-Munjid dictionary (2001, 144).

simple stem prepositionals


(20)  xidmatu l-faks taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi service the-fax under the-demand ‘Fax service is available on demand’

Available business-related services such as taxi rental, faxes, etc. that can be ordered or delivered are referred to as taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi ‘on demand/ call’ in present-day Arabic. The implicature arising from this expression is something like “at your service”. Also, in banking, ḥ isābātun ‘bank accounts’ and wadāʾiʿu ‘bank deposits’ when collocating with taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi refers to the availability of funds for unrestricted withdrawals and deposits. It is very likely that this usage will continue to occur, but on a much wider scale than is found presently in the newspaper corpus of ACT. A cursory online search using on the 18th of July 2009 of the phrase taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi yielded 72,700,000 hits, most of which pertain to advertising of services. Despite the dramatic widening of usage of this sense, neither Hans Wehr Dictionary nor alMunjid dictionary recognizes this sense. In present-day Arabic dialects, such as the Egyptian dialect for example, taḥ ta has come to denote mainly a negative character trait or quality within the conceptual domain of manner, in min taḥ t l-taḥ t, lit. ‘from below to below = underhanded, sly’ or “covertly” in Badawī and Hinds’s (1986, 122) Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic. However, mostly under colloquial influence, four instances of that expression have been found in the newspaper corpus, of which example (21) is one. (21)  faʿalnā-hā wa-lākin min did.1PL-it and-but from ‘We did it underhandedly’

taḥ tin below

ʾilā to

taḥ ti below

Finally, in spoken Egyptian Arabic, taḥ ta has developed a causative sense, particularly as part of an idiomatic expression, which is shown below in admixture registers of Egyptian dialect and MSA: (22)  fa-mād̠ā yigī l-nā min taḥ t rās-ak so-what 3MSG.come.IPFV to-us from under head-your ‘So what befalls us is your fault’    (Mahfuzchildren 3, 50:118)

In example (22), the phrase min taḥ t serves as an expression assigning culpability or blame to the addressee. It is also quite possible to construe (22) as an interrogative clause whose speech act performs a


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rebuke of the deeds of the addressee. In this case the possible interrogative could be interpreted pragmatically as “what [good] do we expect from your deeds?” 5.3.2  Formal grammaticalization of taḥ ta Like fawqa, taḥ ta was categorized as a noun and a locative adverb in the treatises of early Arabic grammarians. As a noun, taḥ ta, as mentioned earlier, is inflected for definiteness and number, including the diminutive. The cline of its grammaticalization seems to have commenced while syntactically it was a noun governed by the primary preposition min ‘from’ as in the omnipresent Quranic example below: (23)  jannātun tajrī min taḥ ti-hā paradise.PL from under-it ‘Paradise with rivers streaming beneath it’

l-ʾanhāru the-river.PL  (Quran 3, 15)

This syntactic function was predominant in CA as forty-four of the total fifty-one occurrences in the Quranic text were prepositional compounds in the form of min taḥ ti, lit. ‘from below = underneath’. In the same text, taḥ tu occurs as a locative adverb/preposition only six times. In the overwhelming majority of occurrences, taḥ ta was used in its locative sense, even when describing intangibles such as paradise.7 While the inferior sense was attested in the Quranic text, it was only a single instance. That is, taḥ ta was predominantly deployed for relatively more concrete referents than for other referents. Semantic extension and syntactic reanalysis of taḥ ta in Thousand and One Nights are attested in instances where taḥ ta, in addition to denoting locative relations, acquired intangible, non-spatial, and more abstract senses like the control sense, and occupied the syntactic position as head of prepositional phrases, thereby dispensing with the primary position as it transitioned into more grammaticalized functions. Of the 476 occurrences of taḥ ta in Thousand and One Nights, only 93 occurred in phrasal form with min, and 3 instances with ʾilā. The most frequently encountered syntactic relation for taḥ ta was as a primary preposition occupying the head position in the phrase. Only one

7  It is noteworthy that al-ʾanhāri ‘rivers’ cited in example (23) above occurred thirtyeight times of the total fifty-one instances involving taḥ ta.

simple stem prepositionals


occurrence is attested for taḥ ta as an adverb, that is, as a complement of min ‘from’, but without a nominal complement of its own: (24)  fa-ʾanā ʾūṣī-ka ʾan so-I 1SG.recommend.IPFV-you.MSG that

tajʿala 2MSG.make.SBJV

ʾax-ī l-ʾasʿada min taḥ tu wa-ʾanā min fawqu brother-my the-ʾAsʿad from below and-I from above ‘So I recommend that you make my brother al-ʾAsʿad from below and me from above’     (1001 N 214, 14)

In (24), taḥ tu is not only used as an intransitive preposition, but also is case-invariable as it does not take the expected genitive case required of dependents occupying its syntactic position. In this function, taḥ tu appears as a particle ending in –u, typically the marker for the nominative case, much the same way as mund̠u ‘since, ago’ and ḥ ayt̠u ‘where’ are the relativization markers of spatial antecedents.8 In the modern literature corpus, taḥ ta increased in overall textual frequency while at the same time its frequency when preceded by a primary preposition was substantially reduced. Of the total 722 attested textual occurrences, taḥ ta was accompanied by min 70 times and ʾilā 6 times. As an adverb, that is, occurring without a nominal/pronominal complement, there were only two attested cases in the same texts. The greater textual frequency and development of additional senses distinct from its lexical source, including those indirectly related to its semantic source (e.g., the causal and incomplete event senses discussed earlier), attest to attainment of an advanced stage of grammaticality in MSA. Furthermore, it appears from the modern literature corpus data that taḥ ta began to assume more fixed syntactic positions as the head of the prepositional phrase, thus contrasting with its earlier syntactic realizations as a noun or adverb. The following two tables (5.3 and 5.4) summarize the textual frequencies and possible grammaticalization cline for taḥ ta in classical and modern times.

8  Ryding (2005, 389) considers the final –u on this and similar prepositionals to be “a remnant of an old locative case.” While this is plausible, actual historical evidence has not been presented.


chapter five Table 5.4  Diachronic Change in Formal Properties of taḥta

Textual source Quran Thousand and One Nights Modern literature

Frequency # of instances preceded by primary preposition   51 476 722

44 96 76

Percentage 86.2% 20.1% 10.5%

Like its spatial contrast fawqa, taḥ ta has also become the specialized formative used in loan translation, induced through contact with European languages, for the Latin-based prefix sub-; hence subconscious is expressed in Arabic as taḥ ta š-šuʿūr. This particular function where it occupies a fixed position in compounds has accelerated reduction in its phonological form as it bonds with its host and cliticizes to it, for example, taḥ - cliticized to the adjective qamar-ī ‘lunar’ in taḥ -qamarī ‘sub-lunar’ (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 761). Considering the grammaticalization process of taḥ ta, despite its reaching an advanced stage as evidenced by semantic and categorical changes, it still does not serve any known textual function (e.g., interclausal linkage). Thus this gram is still only operative at the phrase and clause levels. The following table summarizes the major evolutionary stages in the grammaticalization of taḥ ta from CA until the present. Table 5.5 Major Stages in the Evolution of taḥta Stage


Primary form/syntactic construction


Classical Classical Pre-Modern Modern

al-taḥ tu min/ʾilā taḥ tu + N taḥ ta taḥ ta



taḥ - ‘sub-‘

Category Noun Noun/adverb Preposition Preposition marking more abstract relations (e.g., quality, manner) A formative morpheme in limited calque translation contexts

simple stem prepositionals


5.4  Grammaticalization of ʾamāma ‘in front of, before’ 5.4.1  Semantic grammaticalization of ʾamāma The consonantal root comprised of the hamza, a glottal stop, and geminate nasal stop [m] in this sequence in CA generated several meaning clusters of which leading and front are found. While ʾamāma was mentioned as a member of the locative class in the treatises of early Arabic grammarians (e.g., Ibn as-Sarrāj), not one instance of that stem is found in the Quranic text. However, in Thousand and One Nights in the pre-modern period, ʾamāma appeared without the definite article and most often not in a prepositional compound with a preceding primary preposition. In total, ʾamāma occurred thirty-three times. In the same text, a rival expression with near synonymy was quddāma ‘before, in front of’ whose root morpheme appears in several Semitic languages (see Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 420). The older Semitic form quddāma < derived from the root QDM was more prevalent than the native Arabic ʾamāma as it occurs 286 times in the same text. In the modern literature corpus, the competition for recognition as the standard form of this relational form resulted in ʾamāma becoming far more textually frequent than quddāma. In the modern literature data of ACT, quddāma declined to 86 instances, or 8.58 per 100,000, while ʾamāma recurred in the same texts 1,762 times, or 175.87 per 100,000 words. The form ʾamāma has an ancestral noun form, al-ʾamāmu ‘the front, ahead, before’, which is cited in Lane ([1863] 1968, 1: 91), that is still in use in present-day Arabic (e.g., ʾilā l-ʾamāmi ‘to the front, forward’) alongside its prepositional form. However, its diminutive form, ʾumaymu inflected for the masculine form fell out of use in MSA, while its feminine counterpart ʾumaymatu, lit. ‘a little ahead (spatially)’ is still in use particularly for naming Arab females. In the pre-modern period, ʾamāma developed the following distinct senses: Locative sense: The term ʾamāma occurred predominantly as a locative meaning in front of with LM having an inherent front (e.g., humans) and those with a projected front based on their function:


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(25)  fa-jalasat ʿalā l-kursī ʾamāma l-jāriyati so-sat down.3FSG on the-chair in front of the-slave girl ‘So she sat down on the chair in front of the slave girl’ (1001N800, 20) (26)  wa-lam yadrī ʾanna-hu ʾamāma l-qaṣri and-not 3MSG.realize.JSV that-he in front of the-palace ‘And he did not realize that he was in front of the palace’ (1001N422, 3)

In (25), ʾamāma denotes space with respect to an LM (i.e., l-jāriyati) having an inherent front. In this locative usage, the orientation of the LM with respect to the TR accurately reflects the described situation as construed. In (26), however, the l-qaṣri, being an inanimate object, is assigned a front based on its known functional potential. That is, the likely orientation of TR is to be located on the side where the gate of the palace is found. Accessibility to the palace from a particular side therefore justifies its designation as the front. Accessibility and orientation of LM have been aptly linked in Tyler and Evans (2003, 155). According to their analysis, accessibility of TR to LM from a particular location is the primary motivation for assigning a front to that part of the LM, which otherwise does not have an inherent one. Each of the two examples just discussed involves an orientation of a physical LM (al-jāriyati ‘slave girl’ and l-qaṣri ‘the palace’) who either has an inherent or projected front based on its known functionality. However ʾamāma, with further semantic extension, also came to be used in non-physical domains where partition into front and back is impossible: (27)  yā o.VOC

bna ʾādami son Adam

mād̠ā ʾafala-ka ʿan what neglected.3MSG-you.MSG about

ʾamrin huwa ʾamāma-ka matter he in front of-you.MSG  (1001N481, 5) ‘O offspring of Adam, what has made you disregard a matter that is before/in front of you’  (1001N481, 5)

In (27), the LM ʾamrin ‘matter, affair’ is an intangible entity that has no physical existence and by extension is not amenable to partition into front and back. Usage of ʾamāma in such abstract, nonreferential contexts is strongly suggestive of its advanced degree of grammaticalization.

simple stem prepositionals


Data from the modern literature corpus suggests continued usage of ʾamāma in fairly abstract contexts and its development of additional distinct senses. For example, through metonymic extension, ʾamāma is used to specify relations between intangible, abstract entities as in (28): Temporality: (28)  ʾamāma-hu xamsu sanawāti suxratin in front of-him five year.PL hard labor ‘He has five years of hard labor in front of him’    (Echo 5, 3)

In (28), ʾamāma expresses relations involving temporality—that is, its usage is extended to the non-physical domain of conception. Metonymic extension of ʾamāma has permitted its usage in non-spatial contexts as illustrated in (29). (29)  sa-yabdū FUT-3MSG.seem

l-ʾamru ʾamāma the-matter in front of

ṣ-ṣaḥ āfati the-press

wa-ka-ʾanna-hu mušājaratun and-as-if-it quarrel ‘The matter will appear before the press as if it were a quarrel’ (Chi 36, 15)

In (29), again, neither the LM ṣ-ṣaḥ āfati ‘the press’ nor the TR l-ʾamru ‘matter’ is a tangible, physical entity that can be partitioned into regions having asymmetrical parts such as front or back. The LM here may refer to the press as an institution, which is in metonymic relation to the journalists, editors, and staff who actually produce written press, etc. but it is still an abstract concept. A more abstract denotation of ʾamāma is found in contexts where it is used in expressing the subjective attitude of the speaker towards an event or situation as in (30): (30)  wa-ʾamāma farḥ at-ī bi-jawābi-hi and-in front of happiness-my with-reply-his ‘And before my happiness with his reply . . .’   (AhlamFawda 2, 470)

It goes without saying that the LM farḥ at-ī ‘my happiness’ is an emotion, a feeling that is not physical in nature and thus lacks the orientation of objects in space. The internal feeling in this context was


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positioned in front of oneself by means of ʾamāma. That is, the LM and the TR, the observer/speaker in this case, are one and the same entity expressing internal feelings. The relational concept expressed via ʾamāma is certainly more abstract than other usages discussed earlier. 5.4.2  Formal grammaticalization of ʾamāma Compared to other prepositions analyzed thus far, ʾamāma seems to have a diachronic late start. Although mentioned alongside fawqa ‘above, over’ and taḥ ta ‘below, beneath’ in the writings of early Arabic grammarians, its textual frequency was not attested in the Quran. However, absence of use in the Quran does not conclusively rule out the possibility of its general use in other texts of that period. Owing to its characterization as a noun in the early grammatical treatises and its continued appearance in present-day Arabic in the morphological and syntactic properties of nouns (e.g., with the definite article and assigned the genitive case from a preceding prepositional head), the categorical origin of ʾamāma is indeed a noun. From the textual data of the pre-modern period, ʾamāma vied with quddāma ‘in front of’ for recognition as standard for expressing an oriented LM. In that period, quddāma was the more dominant in Thousand and One Nights and its textual frequency was far greater than ʾamāma. However, in Modern literature, there is an observable dramatic rise in the frequency of ʾamāma, that is, the converse of the pre-modern period as shown in the table below: Table 5.6  Diachronic Textual Frequency Comparisons Between ʾamāma and quddāma Source Thousand and One Nights Modern literature



   32 1,762

286   86

The frequency count reversal presented in the table above of the two near synonyms ʾamāma and quddāma needs to be addressed in some detail, particularly what motivates the choice of one vis-à-vis the other when the two express practically the same concept and have the same syntactic realization? The difference in frequency count between the two forms cannot be exclusively the result of saliency of the con-

simple stem prepositionals


cepts each denotes. However, the difficulty one encounters in situations where more than one form gives access to the same concept is to determine the number of available forms that can fulfill the same semantic and syntactic function in each of the occurrences, that is, the available linguistic forms that can effectively substitute for one form or the other. This method of assessment is quite daunting as each usage of ʾamāma and quddāma needs to be assessed against other functionally and semantically similar linguistic elements available in Arabic. A detailed assessment of this type, though valid and insightful, would entail examining all possible linguistic alternatives for each instance of occurrence and accounting for the choice of the form used in each context. Such an endeavor would take us far beyond the scope of this inquiry. Instead, I shall focus on one possible explanation for the diachronic divergence in frequency between the two forms in question. Utilizing this author’s native speaker-linguist intuitions, there is a remarkable difference in the degree of formality between ʾamāma and quddāma. In the Egyptian dialect, for example, quddāma (appearing as the dialectal variant ʾuddām) is the primary form used in spoken discourse. In the two prominent textbooks for teaching Cairene Arabic, Saliba’s (1992, 355) Spoken Arabic of Cairo and Mughazy’s (2004, 139) Dardasha, ʾuddām is the only form cited for in front of. Furthermore, Badawī and Hinds’s (1986, 689) Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic, the major dictionary in use for that dialect, cites usages of quddām (realized in Cairene as ʾuddām)9 and indicates its usage as standard for contrast with its opposite, warā ‘back, behind’: (31)  ʾillī warā wi-illi ʾuddām-u that behind and-that in front of-him ‘all his worldly goods’  (Badawī and Hinds 1986, 869; transcription,   mine),

In its usage in (31) above, quddām-u ceased to be a synonym for ʾamāma as it cannot be substituted for with ʾamām-u without loss of meaning and idiomaticity along with its associated pragmatic implicatures. Moreover, in this usage, its meaning is not derived from the constituents individually (i.e., it has non-compositional meaning).

9  Ryding, in an editorial remark of an earlier draft of this work, notes ʾaddām in Levantine dialects, which evidences its widespread use in spoken dialects.


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Based on this author’s native intuitions, ʾamām-u in this context would trigger a reading for a spatial relation, which would render the utterance meaningless since the utterance expresses a subjective evaluation belonging to the internal domain of conception rather than a description of an external situation. The narratives in Thousand and One Nights, though now regarded as a literary text, comprise recorded popular tales of a ḥ akawāti ‘storyteller’ as part of the well-established Arabic oral tradition. This may explain in part the frequent deviation from the standard formal register, which is captured by Blau’s (1973, 173) label of such admixture of Classical and Middle Arabic as Middle Substandard Arabic. One would expect the storyteller to tailor the register of the narrative to the audience who may come from diverse educational and regional backgrounds. Moreover, the storyteller’s usage of an admixture of the abovementioned varieties would likely opt for suitable forms for his/ her narratives to avoid sounding pedantic. Use of a simplified register during the performance of the ḥ akawātī therefore seems to serve a practical discourse purpose, which would likely appeal to the widest audience possible. It would seem also that the (common?) perception among native speakers of Arabic is that quddāma is less formal or perhaps a colloquial form, hence its widespread use in spoken dialects. In contrast, ʾamāma is widely accepted among native speakers as the more formal form that is suitable for use in occasions requiring a formal register. This division of function along the formality scale is perhaps one of the main reasons for the rise in frequency of ʾamāma in the modern literature corpus vis-à-vis quddāma. With respect to the formal properties of ʾamāma, in spite of its usage in fairly abstract domains of conception (see above), it is predominantly deployed in spatial contexts. The extended senses described above are too few to be indicative of attainment of semantic conventionalization. From the pre-modern period until the present, persistence of its original semantic denotation still constrains its change in meaning and usage in non-spatial contexts. However, as far as its formal properties are concerned, ʾamāma functioned primarily as the head of a prepositional phrase and much less frequently as a noun (that is, inflected for definiteness and or preceded by a primary preposition) than the two other prepositions ( fawqa ‘above, over’; and, taḥ ta ‘under, beneath’) discussed earlier. Nevertheless, Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 757) cite the following example where ʾamāma also, like the two preposi-

simple stem prepositionals


tions discussed earlier, functions as a formative morpheme in the following compound with the following adjectival form as in ʾamāma ‘in front of’ and jabhiyy giving rise to ʾamāmajabhiyy ‘prefrontal’. This usage appears to be very limited in textual distribution and has not yet spread to other adjectives. Summarizing, the following table highlights the major stages in the evolution of ʾamāma based on the data from the present corpus. Table 5.7 Major Stages in Diachronic Evolution of ʾamāma Stage 0* I II III IV


Primary form/syntactic construction

al-ʾamāmu min/ʾilā l-ʾamāmi+ N/ min/ʾilā l-ʾamāmu Pre-Modern ʾamāma Modern ʾamāma Modern ʾamāma-

Classical Classical

Category Noun Noun/adverb Preposition Preposition Morphological formative in limited calque translationinduced compounds

5.5  Grammaticalization of xalfa ‘back, behind’ 5.5.1  Semantic grammaticalization of xalfa This form does not appear to have Semitic manifestations other than Arabic. It would appear that it has as its source the noun al-xalfu ‘the back’, which is the name of the back region in the (human) body.10 In spite of this etymological connection with the (human) body, it is surprising that Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 421–424) in his analysis of the various body part terms that he identified as sources for prepositional forms in Semitic languages lacks reference to xalfa. Arabic is not unique in recruiting body part terms for expressing spatial and even more abstract non-spatial relations. Of the fifty-five languages included in Svorou’s (1993) study of spatial grams, fifteen genetically unrelated and geographically non-contiguous languages

10   The basis for inclusion of this stage is the descriptions found in the treatises of early Arabic grammarians (e.g., Ibn as-Sarrāj and Ibn Manẓūr’s thesaurus Lisān al-ʿArab).


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have recruited terms used for naming the back part as the source for the concept back. This evolutionary pathway follows Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 130) grammaticalization chain, which is represented as: Object > Space

According to Heine, metaphor is the motivating mechanism responsible for the semantic change where a concrete object such as a body part is exploited to express relations belonging to the relatively more abstract spatial domain (Heine 1997b, 44). Although most data in ACT, which forms the basis for this study, strongly support the metaphoric link between the term xalfa originating from the human back region (in Svorou’s (1993, 73) terms, the “Anthropomorphic Model”), I encountered one instance suggesting the recruitment of terms denoting the animal back or what Svorou calls the “Zoomorphic Model,” as in the following example from the modern literature corpus: (32)  wa-l-masāmīru and-the nail.PL

fī fami-hi wa-l-qalamu in mouth-his and-the-pen

r-rāṣāṣu the-lead

xalfa ʾud̠uni-hi behind ear-his ‘And the nails are in his mouth and the pencil is behind his ear’ (KharratTurabha 5, 28)

In (32), the described spatial situation is that of a carpenter or someone who is holding nails in his mouth and a pencil behind his ear (an expression that is found in English as well ). The use of xalfa here is somewhat semantically curious if it profiles a relation where the TR (the pencil) is behind the ear, as the space behind the human ear typically cannot hold pencils. What is intended here is that the pencil is located on the top part of the ear, in the space between the outer part of the ear and the head. Literally, the pencil is located on top of the ear curve. The “Zoomorphic Model” described in Svorou (1993, 73), which is also possibly the result of a loan translation resulting from contact with foreign languages yet to be identified, provides an adequate explanation for the use of xalfa here since the canonical orientation for the back of animals (e.g., a camel or sheep) is towards the top. In CA, xalfa was categorized as a noun since it took the definite article, inflected for case, and its gender was declared feminine (despite its

simple stem prepositionals


putative masculine morphology). Its distribution in the Quranic text is quite limited. It only occurred 20 times in the entire text, resulting in a low frequency of 28.39 per 100,000 words. The semantic denotation of xalfa in the Quran, while open to readings and interpretations of abstract nature, still falls within the realm of the spatial domain in relation to the human body. That is a frequently encountered cooccurrence throughout the Quranic text where xalfa ‘back, behind’ and other terms refer to the human body or parts of it. Specifically, the word yadun ‘hand’ in various inflectional forms appears fifteen times in collocation with xalfa and the word badan ‘(human) body’ also co-occurs with it once. The strong collocation between xalfa and these body-part terms suggests persistence of the original denotation of xalfa as a term for a region of the (human) body, a physical entity. In half of its total occurrences in the Quran, xalfa occupies a syntactic position typical of nouns. That is, it serves as a complement of a primary position, which in all of these ten cases was the form min ‘from’. The most frequently recurring semantic denotation of xalfa in the Quran falls within the context of spatial relations. However, there are cases where ambiguity of spatial and temporal readings is detected, as in (33): (33)  fa-l-yawma nunajjī-ka so-the-day 1PL.rescue.IPFV-you.MSG

bi-badani-ka with-body-your.MSG

li-takūna li-man xalfa-ka ʾāyatan to-who behind-you.MSG sign ‘[So] [t]his day shall We save thee in the body, that thou mayest be a sign to those who come after thee!’ (Quran 10, 92; IFTA translation)

It is unclear in example (33) whether man xalfa-ka ‘those who come after thee’ are successors in terms of space (TR spatially located behind you) or time. The appeal to a temporal reading of this verse is strengthened when one considers that one of the semantic extensions of xalfa in CA was its denotation of succession of time periods, particularly centuries. In Ibn Manẓūr’s (2:1236) Lisān al-ʿArab thesaurus, al-xalfu meant al-qarnu baʿda l-qarni ‘century following century’ = succession of centuries. It is worth noticing that in Ibn Manẓūr’s thesaurus, xalfa was defined as d̠̣ahru ‘back’ region of the human body. Its co-occurrence in one instance in Thousand and One Nights with d̠̣ahr is strongly indicative of semantic bleaching as it ceased to refer to the back region of the body as in (34):


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(34)  irkab 2MSG.mount.IMP xalfa behind ʿalā on

jawāda-ka horse-your.MSG


d̠ạ hr-ī wa-ʾid̠ā nhazamnā fa-ḥ riṣ back-my and-if defeated.1PL so-2MSG.guard.IMP

nafsi-ka self-your.MSG

min from

l-wuqūʿi the-falling

fa-ʾinna for-that

jawāda-ka mā yalḥ aqu-hu horse-your.MSG not 3MSG.catch.IPFV-him ‘Mount your horse and [stay] behind my back and defeated, guard yourself from falling so that your reached/caught’    

lāḥ iqun successor if we were to be horse cannot be (1001N 742, 12)

The phrase xalfa d̠̣ahrī ‘behind my back’ is quite revealing of the extent that the ancestral meaning for xalfa, which denotes the back region of the (human) body, has been lost. In this instance, it is a functional element denoting a spatial relation, which happens to be in a context where the nominal LM (d̠̣ahrī ‘my back’) is synonymous in its denotation with its erstwhile proto sense. Put differently, owing to the semantic distance resulting from semantic grammaticalization, it is possible to use it in a phrase with a near synonym d̠ạ hr of its ancestral meaning without ensuing ungrammaticality. Yet, this observation does not negate the retention of the image schema pertaining to the back region of the human body in the metaphoric transfer from a physical object to the conceptual domain of spatial relations. Corollary to this type of semantic change is the gain in widening the contextual distribution of xalfa, which is no longer limited to contexts where reference to the back region of the body is intended, but rather it is generalized to the spatial domain to express more abstract notions such as behind that hold between objects or entities regardless of their nature. In Pre-Modern Arabic, xalfa was utilized to denote even more abstract relations beyond its basic meaning where the LM and TR stood for physical and non-physical entities. In Thousand and One Nights, xalfa’s textual distribution dramatically increased to 48.04 per 100,000 words compared to 28.39 per 100,000 in the Quranic text. This significant widening in textual distribution was a consequence of the extension in the semantic senses denoted by xalfa. One of those extended senses was the after sense that emerged most especially where verbs of motion (e.g., ʾarsala ‘to send after someone’, mašā ‘walked’, jarā ‘ran’) are used in the clause containing xalfa with the intention of pursuing an entity as a target:

simple stem prepositionals


(35)  wa-ʾarsaltu xalfa š-šuhūdi fa-ḥ aḍ arū and-sent.1SG behind the-witness.PL so-attended.3MPL ‘And I sent [someone] after the witnesses and they came’ (1001N 22, 79)

The after sense implied in example (35) emerges from the notion of pursuit communicated in the utterance. This sense is essentially temporal in nature as those who were sent after the witnesses are spatially and temporally trailing behind them on their path. This pathway for the body-part term denoting the back region of the body develops the sense of behind and then further develops the sense after as is found in the Icelandic bak (see Heine and Kuteva 2002, 47). The senses discussed thus far involve entities that have inherent front or back regions. In example (36) below, this is not the case. (36)  hal xalaqa l-lāhu jibālan xalfa Q created.3MSG the-God mountain.PL behind jabali qāf mountain Qaf ‘Did God create mountains behind the Qaf mountain?’ (1001N 411, 12)

The inanimate LM, jabal Qāf, an entity that lacks inherent front/back regions, has been projected to have a back region as viewed from the visual perspective of the narrator/inquirer. The conceptual shift in usage of xalfa from animate objects/entities to the inanimate domain is indicative of an increased degree of grammaticalization and generalization, especially when one considers Heine’s (1997b, 44) premise that the semantic shift just highlighted is one of the evolutionary stages from body-part to spatial concept in grammaticalization. Other subtleties in the semantic shifts of xalfa relate to the spatial region it refers to. As stated earlier, the diachronic semantic antecedent of xalfa was used in reference to the back region of the human body. However, as it entered the pathway towards grammaticalization, its usage widened to include the back region of an inanimate object. In CA for example, Ibn Manẓūr cites the following example that demonstrates such usage: (37)  warāʾa bayti-ka xalfun jayyidun behind house-your back good ‘Behind your house is a good back’   (Ibn Manẓūr 2:1235)


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In his exposition, Ibn Manẓūr elaborates on xalfun in this context, which refers to the location in back of the house where camels are housed. It is unclear from his text whether xalfun designates a space within the back part of the house or a location outside the house, detached from the back region of the house. If the latter is the intended reading, then it evidences a more advanced stage of grammaticalization for xalfun where the region in question is detached from the entity itself.11 In Thousand and One Nights, in the example below, xalfa denotes a relation that holds between an LM that is clearly detached from the TR: (38)  ʾarkaba l-jāriyata xalfa-hu wa-ḍ amma-hā mounted.3MSG the-slave girl behind-him and-hugged.3MSG-her ʾilay-hi to-himself ‘He mounted the slave girl behind him and embraced her’ (1001N330,2)

The TR (l-jāriyata ‘the slave girl’) is located in the region immediately behind the LM. This sense is contrasted with that found in (34) above where some distance is implied between the LM and the TR that trails it. The significance of this semantic shift is the moving away from the conceptual source of xalfa where the locative relation it denoted was a region or part of the LM. In this extended sense, the TR is a separate entity located with respect to a spatial region of the LM. To put the semantic shift in simpler terms, the erstwhile denotation of xalfa in interpreting the spatial relation of (38) would yield a paraphrased reading “the slave girl is the back part of the speaker,” which is, of course, untenable in this context. Another recognizably distinct semantic sense for xalfa in the modern literature corpus is denotation of sequence as in (39):

11   This conclusion is based on Heine’s (1997b, 44) four-stage scenario for grammaticalization of body part terms where: Stage 1 – a region of the human body Stage 2 – a region of an (inanimate) object Stage 3 – a region in contact with an object Stage 4 – a region detached from the object

simple stem prepositionals

(39)  fa-tamallakat-hum r-rahbatun then-possessed.3FSG-them.M the-fear


wa-raddadū and-repeated.3MPL

xalfa-hu duʿāʾa l-qunūt xāšiʿīna behind-him supplication the-humility humble.MPL ‘Then fear possessed them and they repeated after him the supplication of humility in submission to [God]’       (424 Yaqub)

In (39), the domain of conception for xalfa is essentially temporal and therefore xalfa can be substituted with baʿda ‘after’ or warāʾa ‘behind’ in this context. Here the spatial configuration where the TR is located after the oriented LM through metaphor was projected on a sequential event where the congregation (the TR) follows the person leading the prayer (the LM) in temporal sequence. In this particular use, the actual spatial arrangement holding between the TR and LM is not conceptually represented as it is replaced with a temporal schema. In the data from the modern literature corpus in ACT, xalfa seems to have increased its overall textual frequency to 49.51 per 100,000, owing in part to pragmatic strengthening in multiple instances. For example, xalfa was utilized to denote subjective commitment and evaluation of the speaker’s intent rather than describe an external, physical, or temporal phenomenon. Example (40) illustrates this sense: (40)  yufraḍ u 3MSG.suppose.PASS

ʿalā ʾaʿḍ āʾi l-ḥ izbi jamīʿan on member.PL the-party entirety

l-wuqūfa bi-kulli quwwati-him the-standing with-all power-their.M

xalfa muraššaḥ ī behind candidate.PL

l-ḥ izbi the-party ‘It is incumbent on all members of the political party to stand with all of their might behind the party candidates’     (Yaqub 1, 26:4)

The expectation that members stand “behind the candidates” here is not intended in physical terms, but rather through moral and perhaps financial support, among several other manifestations of support. The derived benefit from support is essentially securing the success of the political party candidate in his/her effort to win the election. The urging of party members to stand behind their candidate for a common purpose is an expression of a subjective attitude or stance rather than a description of a spatial scenario. Consistent with Traugott and König (1991), through pragmatic strengthening, xalfa thus has come to be used in expressions of internal evaluation.


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5.5.2  Formal grammaticalization of xalfa The form xalfa seems to have undergone significant semantic change but with modest corresponding formal change. Its noun source, which takes the definite article (e.g., al-xalfu ‘the back’), continues to be used alongside its more grammaticalized form, xalfa, which is case invariable, if the preceding preposition is dropped. As a relational noun entering its grammaticalization channel, xalfa was accompanied by a preceding preposition and thus formed the complex structure P + Nrel + N. In this syntactic configuration, xalfa receives its genitive case from the “primary” preposition, while assigning case to its nominal complement. Beginning with the data from the Quranic text, xalfa reveals that approximately 50% of its textual frequency adheres to this type of syntactic configuration. In the data extracted from Thousand and One Nights and the modern literature corpus, however, this relatively high frequency was significantly reduced to 11.1% and 9.6% respectively. Decrease in frequency of this construction is not to be construed as indicative of an overall lessening in textual frequency for xalfa. On the contrary, textual frequency of xalfa from Classical to Modern Arabic shows a countertrend as shown in the table below. Table 5.8 Frequency Data for Constructions Containing xalfa Textual source

Quran Thousand and One   Nights Modern literature

Overall frequency of xalfaconstructions

P + xalfi-N

P + xalfi-N as a percentage of overall frequency

  20 268

10 30

50% 11.1%




Deletion of the primary preposition (mostly min ‘from’) in these constructions has most likely contributed to the incidence of xalfa as the head of prepositional phrases and in the invariable –a ending. Case invariance is likely to have emerged as a result of decategorialization, particularly when xalfa is not preceded by a primary preposition. In the diachronic data from ACT that I consulted, xalfa as the head of its construction, where it also takes an obligatory nominal complement, was 45% in the Quran and 88.9% in Thousand and One Nights. However, the significant rise in this type of construction did not seem to continue in the modern literature data in the corpus. Instead, there

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is an observable decline in the overall frequency of xalfa as the head of its phrase to 75%. As it turns out, overall textual frequency of xalfa included an emergent construction of the pattern P (min ‘from’, ʾilā ‘to, towards’, fī ‘in, at’) + al-xalfi ‘to the back, backwards’. This syntactic construction occurred 76 times with approximately 15.3% of the total textual frequency of xalfa. At first approximation, the fact that xalfa retains its definite article and occupies a syntactically dependent position may strongly suggest that it contradicts the unidirectionality of its grammaticalization in that the shift is from grammaticalized to lexical. One could dismiss this pattern of evolution of xalfa as atypical or, taking a more extreme position, it could be regarded as a special case of degrammaticalization (the reverse of grammaticalization). However, upon closer scrutiny, there appears to be syntactic and morphological rigidification of this construction. Namely, this construction does not permit change in definiteness without ensuing ungrammaticality, hence *ʾilā xalfin is unacceptable. Furthermore, the construction is a relatively tight unit, only permiting three primary prepositions. A plausible explanation is that a construction of the type ʾilā l-xalfi, lit. ‘to/towards the back = backwards’ is indicative of further grammaticalization. The supporting evidence in this case is that while it is true that the nominal element al-xalfi here is an autonomous form exhibiting noun trappings and occurring without a complement (an object in the genitive), it is the absence of the complement in this case that evidences its grammaticalized nature. The noun xalf is relational and as such, as Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 76) aptly notes, “these nouns necessarily have an argument slot for a possessor NP.” Put differently, the LM is missing from the spatial configuration for xalfa. This situation is tantamount to being an extra dependency on the context to recover the missing specification of the LM as xalf becomes a constituent within a phrasal preposition construction. From the perspective of the overall grammaticalization of the form xalfa, it has developed several forms within the following patterns: 1. min/ʾilā/fī + xalfi + N or possessive suffix 2. xalfa + N or possessive suffix 3. min/ʾilā/fī + al-xalfi The first two patterns (1 and 2) appeared in Classical and Pre-Modern Arabic with varying frequencies. The third form appears exclusively


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in Modern Arabic. The principles of grammaticalization suggest that of all three patterns xalfa the third is the more grammaticalized one, given the wide range of its semantic senses (see the previous section), its case invariability, and the fact that it takes a complement. Case invariability of xalfa should be construed as evidence of indifference to the syntactic slot it fills, a precursor for wider generalization in function. Before concluding this section, a brief mention must be made of the functional competition between xalfa and its near synonym warāʾa ‘behind’. The two forms can substitute for each other in most, if not all, contexts. The major difference between the two forms in question is that warāʾa in CA was used to designate the front region as well as the back region of the LM. In Modern Arabic, however, it is used exclusively to refer to the back region. In CA, warāʾa was used in the Quran in fewer instances (only seventeen times) than xalfa. Like xalfa it also recurred in collocations with other body parts, such as ‘ahr ‘back’ region of the human body. In Pre-Modern Arabic, warāʾa seems to have been the less preferred form for designating spatial relations involving the back of LM; its textual frequency represents 37.7 (i.e., 106 instances) of the total instances of xalfa in the same text. Nevertheless, in the modern literature corpus, warāʾa appears in almost equal textual distribution as xalfa in designating spatial relations pertaining to the back region, as it occurs 500 times, compared with 496 for xalfa in the same texts. Conclusion Considering the pathway for grammaticalization of the four prepositionals fawqa ‘over, above’; taḥ ta ‘under, underneath’; ʾamāma ‘in front of, before’; and xalfa ‘back, behind’ examined in this chapter, they demonstrated an overall diachronic change towards greater semantic and formal grammaticalization. Considering their categorical sources, all four grams have been traced to a stable referring nominal source. Where diachronic connections to their sources are historically documented, most of them have shown to be derived from concrete lexical sources, which have been decategorialized as a result of their grammaticalization. In the early stages of their grammaticalization, their semantic denotation was primarily as locatives operating in the spatial domain. As markers of spatial relations, they shared semantic similari-

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ties with other spatial grams: fawqa ‘above, over’ with ʿalā ‘on, above’; taḥ ta ‘under, underneath’ with ʾasfala ‘below, underneath’; ʾamāma ‘in front of, before’ with quddāma ‘in front of, before’; xalfa ‘back, behind’ with warāʾa ‘behind’. Over time, however, their semantic scope widened to include relations belonging to more abstract domains of conception and as such they referred much less to external phenomena and more to internal evaluation of situations and eventualities, following the grammaticalization tendencies outlined in Traugott and König (1991). In these non-spatial functions, they no longer have the spatial semantic substitutes just mentioned. In the incipient stages of their grammaticalization, the four grams appeared in multiple combinations that include: a. Primary Preposition + Relational N + Complement b. Relational Noun/Prepositional + Complement Out of these two syntactic distributions, (b) emerged as the predominant relation for all four forms. The direction of change exhibited here confirms Lehmann’s ([1982] 1995, 80) hypothesis concerning the dropping of the outer case marker (i.e., the primary preposition in the Arabic case) and development of a simple adposition (cover term for prepositions and postpositions). The remaining relational noun in this case assumes the primary predication function and, as it becomes case invariable, its morphological variation also narrows and it becomes more syntactically fixed. The pathway for the four grams under examination here can be thus charted as follows: Relational Noun/Preposition + Complement Primary Preposition + Relational Noun + Complement Primary Preposition + Def. Noun

One of the immediate benefits of following the grammaticalization framework in this analysis is tracing the prepositional forms to their sources, which in most cases are the major category nouns, as has been indicated above. Since categorical shifts have been traced diachronically, semantic and categorical indeterminacy of those forms and


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morpho-syntactic instability have become all the more obvious. This approach thus highlights the grammaticalization stages, showing the fluidity in the change from lexical to functional classes within Arabic. With respect to their semantics, in the course of their grammaticalization, they underwent complex, gradual, unidirectional semantic shifts from the relatively concrete referential functions to relatively more abstract through metaphor, metonymy, and pragmatic strengthening of implicatures. The four prepositional forms examined thus far did not grammaticalize to an extent that allows them to mark a purely grammaticalized relation totally independent of their source semantic denotation. That is, for example, none of them advanced along the grammaticalization cline to become a semantically bleached case marker. Notwithstanding this empirical observation, fawqa ‘above’ seems to have developed a textual organizing function that surpasses all others in this group as illustrated in the following examples: (41a)  ʾaskunu fī šaqqatin fawqa in apartment above ‘I live in an apartment above the bank’ (41b)  wa-fawqa d̠ālika and-above that ‘Moreover, besides’

l-banki the-bank

In (41a), fawqa can be substituted for by xalfa ‘behind’, ʾamāma ‘in front of’, and taḥ ta ‘under, below’ with due adjustments to the intended semantic reference. However, in (41b), fawqa cannot be substituted for by any of the other three forms without ensuing ungrammaticality; hence its semantic contrast in the spatial domain taḥ ta cannot be used here, and as a consequence *taḥ ta d̠ālika is unacceptable in this discourse function. In example (41b), fawqa is no longer a semantic contrast for any other form, it is merely specialized and grammaticalized as a linking device, which also, from a syntactic perspective, diverges from its earlier prepositional function and thus is decategorialized. In this case it no longer takes a nominal complement expected of prepositions and instead collocates only with the masculine singular deictic element (d̠ālika ‘that’). It overcomes the form-meaning asymmetries arising from change associated with grammaticalization by restoring the relationship between cognitive concepts and the linguistic forms giving access to them. This is the position expressed in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 168).

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The approach espoused here also obviates the need to separate the class of what is traditionally termed as ḏu ̣ rūf ‘locatives’ from “true” prepositions since the two actually have several overlapping formal and semantic properties. These similarities in function have been masked in the exclusively synchronic treatment of Arabic prepositions from the time of early Arabic grammarians until the present. The four forms included in this chapter have shown their syntactic behavior to be primarily as adverbs and secondarily, in a more grammaticalized function, as prepositions. Hence the term prepositionals, which I have adopted from Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 198), accurately captures their emerging function. However, in their reference grammar the class of prepositional forms is still treated independently from prepositions, in keeping with the established Arabic grammatical tradition. Finally, contrary to the analysis of medieval Arabic grammarians and their followers in modern times, the four linguistic forms fawqa, taḥ ta, ʾamāma, and xalfa, while still designating adverbial relations within sentences as their primary usages in most of their functional histories, have undergone semantic and formal changes that have been hitherto unrecognized in Arabic linguistic research. It is when we trace their gradual functional change through a grammaticalization framework that subtle but steady unidirectional change towards the more general and abstract can be highlighted and adequately accounted for in a theoretically principled way. Considering the historical evolution of the forms that have been discussed in this chapter, overall, they have relatively longer histories than the PNP and PN forms that have been discussed in chapters 3 and 4. They have become prepositional as a result of a slow and lengthy process that harks back as far as common Semitic (e.g., taḥ ta ‘under, below’), but as recently as the Arabic variety (e.g., fawqa ‘above’). However, longer historical attestation has not proven to be a factor in increased grammaticalization. In the case of taḥ ta, which is presumably the oldest of the four forms examined here, given its common Semitic origins, it did not advance farther along the grammaticalization cline than the other three, especially when considering that it still lacks textual connective functions. Nativeness of grams has also proven to be an insufficient guard against foreign influences that may accelerate grammaticalization. Use of fawqa and taḥ ta as formatives in limited calque translations (e.g., faw-banafsajiyy ‘ultra violet’) in the field of science indicate the effect of language contact on their increased grammaticalization.


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Diachronic increases in frequency of occurrences for fawqa, taḥ ta, ʾamāma, and xalfa have been shown to result from several interrelated factors (1) specialization in coding certain relations (e.g., fawqa as a formative morpheme, and taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi ‘on demand’) and elimination of semantic equivalents in non-spatial domains; (2) decategorialization from noun to adverb and subsequently prepositional; (3) greater semantic distance from relatively concrete etymological sources; and (4) language users’ preferences for a given gram in formal or informal discourse situations. Given these motivating factors and the observable empirical evidence of increases in textual frequency, it would appear that increases in frequency of these grams correlate positively with advancements in their grammaticalization.

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Simple Stem “Primary” Prepositions 6.1  Introduction In this chapter the grammaticalization patterns of three forms of the most frequently used prepositions in Arabic are analyzed: fī ‘in, at’, ʿalā ‘on, above’, and min ‘from’. The documented histories of these words indicate that their stems are etymologically Semitic. Through analyses of these selected forms, it will become clear that they are also among the most polysemous and polyfunctional of all prepositional subsets. 6.2  Grammaticalization of fī ‘in, at’ 6.2.1  Semantic grammaticalization of fī As mentioned in chapter 2, the etymological origin of fī has been linked to the body part term fū ‘mouth’. The etymological analysis provided in the present study strongly suggests that given the number of body part terms serving as the source of Arabic prepositions, it stands to reason that the (human) body is one of the most important donor domains from which forms are recruited for these functions. The ancestral nominal form of fī was inflected for case and marked by a long vowel, hence fū is nominative and fā is accusative, in addition to fī in the genitive, and has the plural ʾafwāhun ‘mouths’ (Lisān al-ʿArab 5, 3492). In spite of this transparent etymological connection between the body part term and the prepositional gram in Arabic, several hypotheses have been posited regarding the Semitic origins of fī. Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 363, 371), for example, traces fī to the older Semitic collocation bi-fī, a compound-like phrase, whose literal meaning was ‘in the mouth’, based on claims made separately by both Prätorius and Nöldeke, which he cites as his source. The meaning of that prepositional compound, he remarks, was later extended to the locative denoting ‘rest in place’, which was later extended to ‘motion into a place’. The latter claim has also been cited in Wright ([1874]


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1974, 2: 153). Nevertheless, in Brockelmann’s view, the Arabic fī frequently substitutes for many functions assumed by bi-. Lipiński (2001, 470), on the other hand, hypothesizes that the Arabic and North Arabian fī are none other than the devoiced variant pī, which is actually the preposition bi- itself. The basis for his assumption, he maintains, is the overlapping semantic range of the Arabic fī and bi- as they are used in West Semitic and South Arabian languages. Whatever the ancestral origin of fī, a compound-like phrase or variant of bi-, its semantic relatedness to the body part term for mouth is strong, particularly when one considers the associated image schema container that it has. Nevertheless, several aspects of fī distinguish it as a form serving prepositional functions distinguished from all the other body part terms mentioned in chapter 2, such as its advancement along the grammaticalization cline to the extent that its earlier ancestral nominal form and grammaticalized form can be placed sideby-side without ungrammaticality ensuing: (1) fī fī-hi yazrī 1 bi-r-raḥīq wa-ʿaṣru-hu in mouth-his 3MSG.detract-IPFV with-the-wine and-nectar-its ‘Inside his mouth is filled with exquisite wine and its nectar’ (1001N174,13)

The usage of fī in (1) above highlights the vast semantic and functional distance between its origin and the grammaticalized form that has developed diachronically, which may eventually be misconstrued as a case of homonymy. In the second place, fī is the only one of the body part terms that merits classification as a preposition (regardless of the nomenclature used for the category) in the treatises of major medieval Arabic grammarians, such as Sībawayhi, Mubarrad, Ibn as-Sarrāj, and Zajjājī among several others. In these treatises, fī was viewed with respect to its semantic source in Arabic since the time of Sībawayhi in the late eighth century AD and was assigned the fundamental semantic notion of container, which in their terms was wiʿāʾu ‘container’ (Sībawayhi, 4: 226; Mubarrad, 4: 139). Within this sense, full inclusion within a container was considered the unmarked, original sense, as in zaydun fī 1   ‘Detract’ is the closest translation of yazrī that I have found in Hans Wehr Dictionary. Lane ([1867] 1968, 3:1229) does not provide a usable translation for this verb in this verbal pattern, except its yazdarī ‘reproach, despise’ derivative.

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d-dāri ‘Zayd is in the house’ (Ibid., 139). Along the same lines of analysis but several centuries later in modern times, Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 371) cites an example from the Quran, labiṯū fī kahfihim ‘they remained in their cave’ as evidence of “das Subjekt ganz umschließt” (371) for total enclosure. Additional semantic expansions for fī totaling ten distinguishable senses, most of which were extracted from the Quran, were included in Ibn Hišām’s Muγnī al-Labīb of the fourteenth century AD (1,144– 146). These senses, which include spatial and temporal locative, causal, associative, preference, allative, substitution for ʿalā (designating a support sense) and emphasis are still reiterated, even with exactly the same examples, in present-day studies of that preposition, as well as others. For example, Saʿd (1988, 247–250) cites senses and examples of fī directly extracted from Ibn Hišām’s seminal treatise, written several centuries earlier. Scholarly interest in the semantics of fī in recent years has also led to the authorship of an entire monograph on its use in a single chapter of the Quran, al-Baqara “The Cow” (Bū Rīqah 1990). Given its long and variegated career in Arabic, the form fī has undoubtedly developed a fairly large set of distinct but interrelated meanings (e.g., Hans Wehr Dictionary cites more than twenty-five distinguishable glosses of fī, excluding its extensive semantic contributions to prepositional verbs) that are attested in a wider range of contexts of varying degrees of abstraction. It is beyond the scope of this study to attempt to present a full range of those senses in anything like a detailed, exhaustive treatment. Instead, the focus in this chapter shall be on the clusters of meanings relevant to the grammaticalization of fī. Locative cluster: The semantic change from reference to a physical object such as a body part to space is fairly uncontroversial, as this type of extension has been shown to recur cross-linguistically, for example Canon and Gore ([1931] 1952, 13: 101) cited in Heine and Kuteva (2002, 214) provide a case in the language Zande where bara ‘place’ + ngba ‘mouth’ > bara-ngba ‘in front of ’, before’. Of interest in this study is the gradual change in the usage of fī within various spatial configurations involving LM and TR. The example oft-cited in medieval Arabic grammatical treatises and transmitted through modern Arabic grammar texts (see Saʿd above), Zaydun fī d-dāri ‘Zayd is in the house,’ exemplifies the prototypical


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configuration of full containment of a TR (Zayd in this case) inside the container, i.e., the house or LM. There is a relatively high degree of concreteness of this spatial configuration, where a three dimensional TR is located within a physically enclosed LM. Another similar configuration is found in al-liṣṣu fī l-ḥabsi ‘the thief is in prison’, cited in Mubarrad (4, 139). This latter example is important in highlighting the effect of confinement and the limitation of movement that is commonly associated with containment. Taylor and Evans’s (2003, 179) discussion of this progression from containment towards confinement and limitations on movement of TR associated with the English in offer insight on the development of the same sense in Arabic, which parallels the one identified for the English in. In the semantic change associated with the locative cluster for fī, I suggest a gradual loss of containment along the following cline: Full containment > Partial containment > Non-containment The scalar cline above conforms to the tenets of grammaticalization in that full enclosure in the physical domain represents the container schema par excellence. In such a configuration, the TR is fully contained within the internal section of the bounded LM. Given the human capacity for subjective conceptualization of other spatial configurations where the located object (TR) may partially fit inside a container, these configurations can still be classed under the containment relation. Herskovits (1986, 44) provides an illustrative example where a pear atop other pears and visually protruding outside the fruit bowl is still referred to using the notion of containment, where in is still appropriate for coding that relation, and “inclusion is generalized across dimensions” (Ibid., 45). Metonymic processes may also facilitate the development of a partial inclusion sense. For example, in my rendering of Tyler and Evans’s (2003, 182–183) the flower is in the vase in Arabic, al-wardatu fī l-fāza, most of the flower stem is contained in the vase whereas the flower itself is, strictly speaking, extending outside the vase. Metonymic relation is possible in this case owing to the support the stem provides the flower. The non-containment sense is found where the LM does not at all surround TR. An example of this relation is al-ʾiskandariyyatu fī šamāli l-qāhirati ‘Alexandria is to the north of Cairo’. In this instance, Alexandria is neither within the geographical boundaries of Cairo proper

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nor is it even geographically contiguous to it. The cardinal orientation north is used metaphorically as a direction pointing towards an entity to be situated geographically. That is, within that conceived orientation, Alexandria is found. What this usage highlights is the generalization of fī to designate an orientation or location of the TR (al-ʾiskandariyyatu ‘Alexandria’) with respect to the LM (l-qāhirati ‘Cairo’), without any concrete containment relation holding between them. In the Quran, fī displays multiple senses within the physical domain of conception. Surprisingly, the least textually frequent is the sense where the TR is fully contained in the LM. One of those instances is illustrated in the following example: (2) huwa llaḏī yuṣawwiru-kum fī l-ʾarḥāmi He who.MSG 3MSG.form.IPFV-you.MPL in the-womb.PL ‘He is the one who forms you in the womb’ (Quran 3, 6)

Given the length of a typical pregnancy that extends over several months for humans, fī in this context exhibits a semantic parallel to what Tyler and Evans (2003, 186) have termed the “in situ sense” for the English in. The most frequently cited LM in the spatial configuration of fī is earth, occurring in 180 instances. However, unlike the earth, which has a recognizable boundary, the word samāwātu ‘skies, heavens’ occurred seventy times as an LM following fī—a term lacking an internal region, a boundary, and an external surface. Other LMs frequently used in the fī spatial configuration are al-ʾāxiratu ‘the hereafter’ (thirty occurrences), followed by ad-dunyā ‘the universe’ (twentyeight occurrences), neither of which has the necessary dimensionality associated with bounded space. Another sense detected for fī in the Quran is its denotation of existential state, be it emotional or psychological, such as doubt, confusion: (3) bal hum fī šakkin yalʿabūn rather they in doubt ‘Rather, they are playing in doubt’

(Quran 44, 9)

The state of doubt in this context is functioning as the LM where the TR (i.e., humanity) in this mental state is conceived of as being contained or surrounded metaphorically by a mental or emotional condition. Doubt thus has been projected in terms of a state that is overcoming humans.


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Another sense, the spatial arrangement as boundary2 in the denotation of fī appears from the corpus data to have its origin in actual physical objects. In Thousand and One Nights, the word ḥalaqatun ‘circle, ringlet’ occurred with fī to denote the spatial configuration or the shape of a physical object: (4) fa-naḏ̣ara ʾilā l-miḥrāṯi fa-raʾā-hu then-looked.3MSG towards plow then-saw.3MSG-it mašbūkan fī ḥalaqatin min ḏ-ḏahabi entangled in ringlet of the-gold ‘Then he looked at the plow and saw it entangled in a ringlet of gold’ (1001N842, 5)

In all five occurrences of the word ḥalaqatun ‘ringlet, circle’ in the entire text of the narrative, the intended LM is a three dimensional object. In the modern literature corpus, however, all five occurrences in all included texts refer exclusively to spatial arrangements. The following example is one such case: (5) tajamhara n-nāsu ḥawla-hu fī ḥalaqatin gathered.3MSG the-people around-him in circle

kabīratin big ‘People gathered around him in a big circle’

(FisherCastle 2, 24)

In the example from Thousand and One Nights, the entity serving as LM (the ringlet) has its own physical boundary with an inherent internal and external surface—essential elements for the conception of bounded entities, according to Lakoff (1987) and Tyler and Evans (2003). However, in the example from the modern literature corpus, the shape of a circular arrangement of discontinuous entities (i.e., humans) forms a boundary, hence the use of fī in example (5) above. The cognitive mechanism giving rise to this usage is unquestionably metaphoric in nature.

2  Evans and Tyler’s (2003, 196) “shape as boundary sense” for the English in, is based on Langacker’s (1987, 195) notion of “virtual boundary”, where shape functioning as part of the mental representation of objects, has inspired the recognition of this sense.

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Temporal cluster: Like many linguistic items that designate spatial relations and with further grammaticalization come to serve temporal relations, fī entered the temporal domain of conception in CA and continues to mark temporal relations in present-day Arabic. In the Quranic text, fī most commonly took LMs designating days and time periods within days (e.g., l-laylu ‘nighttime’, n-nahāru ‘daytime’). In Thousand and One Nights, the pool of LMs also contained days and nights (hence the title of the fictional narratives), years, months, specific days of the week, and the word zamān ‘time’ itself. The textual frequency of fī in the temporal domain increased exponentially from 27 occurrences in the Quran to 1,157 in Thousand and One Nights. In the modern literature data in the corpus, fī continued to co-occur with several additional time units (e.g., stages of life ṭufūlatun ‘childhood’, decades xamsīniyyātu ‘fifties’, historical events fī l-māḍī ‘in the past’). However, the usage of fī in the temporal domain shows a change from describing a time period per se into the temporal contour marking the onset of a situation or activity. By way of illustration, consider the contrasting temporal relations in examples (6a) and (6b) below: (6a) qad yaḥḍuru ʾila bārīs fī bidāyati ASP 3MSG.come.IPFV to Paris in beginning ʾaylūla September ‘He may come to Paris in the beginning of September’ (Remem 4,148) (6b) fī bidāyati niḍāli-hi ḍidda l-muʿtaqalāti l-xāṭiʾati at beginning struggle-his against the-prison.PL the-wrongful fī mujtamaʿi-hi in society-his ‘At the beginning of his struggle against wrongful imprisonment in his society’ (RiyadGirls 16, 2)

In (6a), the expected arrival is temporally located within the month of September—a time period. In (6b), however, only the onset of the event, ‘his struggle’, is marked temporally via fī. This shift from specification of time periods to events and situations marks an increase in conceptual abstraction since in the latter usage fī marks the temporal boundary of an event instead of a time period per se. This semantic shift likely resulted in the development of the clausal linkage construction


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fī bidāyati l-ʾamri ‘at the beginning of the matter’, which occurs most frequently in Modern Arabic in clausal-initial or medial positions: (7) fī bidāyati l-ʾamri kānat tumāḍiru in beginning the-matter was.3FSG Tumāḍir

tašʿuru bi-l-ʾiḥrāji 3FSG.feel.IPFV with-the-embarrassed ‘At the beginning, Tumāḍir felt embarrassed’

(RiyadGirls 35:3)

The construction fī bidāyati l-ʾamri, lit. ‘at the beginning of the matter = in the beginning’, is a generalized complex prepositional phrase that can be used in a wide range of contexts where the onset of a situation, event, or process is marked by a phrase headed by fī. The consequence for the formation of this collocation is the availability in grammar of a clausal marker that can be utilized to mark the lower temporal boundary of an event. Another textual function in which fī occurs is its collocation with the particle mā as in fī-mā ‘in what = as regards’. In the Quranic text, twenty-four instances of this combination have been found. Most of these cases involve a preceding verb that subcategorizes for fī (e.g., ibtaγi fī-mā ʾātā-ka l-lāhu ‘desire what God has brought to you’ (Quran 28, 77). Specifically, the verb ʾibtaγi in this context, as a prepositional verb, requires the preposition fī as part of its verb phrase. In Thousand and One Nights, 142 instances of fī-mā were retrieved. Similar to the occurrences in the Quran, fī-mā was also used as part of the verb constituent (e.g., ʾanā kullu mā ʾaxlaṣu min muṣībatin ʾaqaʿu fī-mā huwa ʾaʿḏ̣amu minhā ‘whenever I get rid of one calamity, I fall in one worse’ (1001N458, 3). Here also the verb aqaʿu ‘fall’ takes the preposition fī as part of its phrasal construction. In modern literature, however, fī-mā occurred 354 times and in several of the occurrences serves as a topic introducer (e.g., fī-mā yataʿallaqu bi-l-quwwāti l-ʾamrīkiyyati ‘as regards the American forces . . . ’) (SaintPrayers 4, 71). In this usage, fī-mā is best translated ‘as regards’, ‘as concerns’, or ‘with respect to’. Dramatic increases in textual frequency of this collocation are found in the newspaper corpus. In al-Ahrām (1999) alone, 7,841 instances of this collocation have been found. A great number of these occurrences involve a verb with the meaning ‘related to, concern, connect’, as shown in the following table.

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Table 6.1  Verbs most commonly occurring with fī-mā in al-Ahrām 1999 Verb

yataʿallaqu ‘related to’

yaxuṣṣu ‘concern’

yattiṣilu ‘connect’

yaxtaṣṣu ‘concern’

yusammā ‘named, so called’

Textual Frequency Frequency with fī-mā











The five verbs cited in table 6.1 that immediately follow fī-mā linearly facilitate its usage as a topic introducer in Arabic newspapers. Emotional and Mental State Sense: Through metaphoric transfer from the physical domain of conception to the emotional and psychological domain, fī has been used in CA from early Islamic times until the present in conceiving emotions or mental conditions as bounded containers. This type of metaphoric extension through which a (mental) state is construed as a container has been identified in Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 32) as permitting the construction: [h]e’s in love. By way of illustration, consider the following examples from CA, Thousand and One Nights, and the modern literature corpus: (8a) (8b) (8c)

ʾinna kunnā fī ḍalālin mubīnin we were.1PL in straying clear ‘We were [truly] in clear error’ (Quran 26, 97) wa-bāta fī qalaqin ʿaḏị̄ min and-spent overnight.3MSG in anxiety great ‘and he spent the night in great, extreme anxiety’ (1001N316, 18) fajʾatan qāla fī hudūʾin wa-ṯiqatin suddenly said.3MSG in calmness and-confidence

lā baʾsa no objection ‘Suddenly he said calmly and in confidence, no objection’ (Smede 4, 3,78)

It is instructive to note in (8a) an adverse mental or psychological state (i.e., ḍalālin ‘straying from the right path) is conceived of as a container surrounding the speakers, similar to šakkin ‘doubt’ in example (3) above. The TR, the speakers in this instance, describe the general state or mental condition they experienced. In (8b), the psychological


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state, qalaqin ‘anxiety’, was temporally determined through the use of the verb bāta ‘to stay overnight’. The mental state pertains to the events that took place at a time preceding the night. In (8c), on the other hand, the state hudūʾin ‘calmness’ describes the manner in which the person spoke. That is, it specifies the mood or manner of the speaker as he spoke, rather than describing the overall state of the speaker. A marked diachronic increase in textual frequency of this sense is observed in ACT; whereas only sixty-nine instances of this sense were attested in the Quranic text, the number increases to ninety-five instances in Thousand and One Nights. Owing to its more generalized reference, the most significant rise in textual frequency of this semantic sense to 1,178 instances is found in the modern literature corpus. Reflexive Sense: Internal dialogue with oneself can be linguistically expressed by means of fī in constructions frequently involving the word nafs ‘self ’. The reflexivity sense where a spatial particle like in is used was recognized in Tyler and Evans (2003, 198), who credit Lindner (1981) for it, in regards to the English preposition in. The spatial configuration, where reflexivity is expressed, entails the occupation by LM and TR of the same location, that is of the spatial identity, between the two entities. The reflexive semantic sense coded in constructions involving fī increased exponentially in textual frequency from a mere 7 times in the Quranic text to 461 in Thousand and One Nights. Nevertheless, its frequency declined sharply to 144 instances in the modern literature corpus. A full investigation of the reasons for such a decline in occurrence, though important, is beyond the scope of this inquiry. Nevertheless, one possible reason for the rise in frequency of reflexivity in Thousand and One Nights is the structure of the narrative itself, where internal dialogue involving reflexivity frequently recurs. In the modern literature corpus, however, a wider range of discourse mode is found, which may bear directly on the frequency of such a construction. The following examples demonstrate the reflexive sense coded in the use of fī in constructions containing nafs ‘self, soul’: (9a) taʿlamu mā fī nafs-ī wa-lā 2MSG.know.IPFV not in self-my and-not

ʾaʿlamu mā fī nafsi-ka 1SG.know.IPFV not in self-your.MSG

simple stem “primary” prepositions


(9b) (9c)

‘Thou knowest what is in myself, though I know not what is in Thine (self)’ (Quran 5,116) tafakkartu fī nafs-ī ʾamra l-jāriyati contemplated.1SG in self-my matter the-slave girl ‘I contemplated the matter of the slave girl’ (1001N 309,3) ʾayyu ḥiqdin ʾaḥmilu-hu fī nafs-ī ʿalā which malice 1SG.carry.IPFV-it in self-my over

nafs-ī self-my ‘What malice do I bear in myself against myself?’

(SayidOdīb 1, 37)

In (9a–c), fī nafsī ‘in myself ’, the domain of reference for fī is self or consciousness within the context of reported speech. From the foregoing semantic analysis of fī, it would appear that from a synchronic perspective, it has developed a complex polysemy network of interconnected meanings. Within the locative domain, it codes spatial relations consistent with the container image schema of full enclosure as well as specifying spatial locations, either partly enclosed or enclosure-free ones. Within the temporal domain, owing to the common metaphoric extension from space to time, fī codes time periods and, via metonymic extension, it also marks temporal boundaries of events and situations. Its more grammaticalized senses denote relations pertaining to manner and quality as well as expressing attitudes and reflection on situations (i.e., subjective evaluations). Finally, fī has developed discourse functions in MSA (e.g., fī-mā ‘as regards’); taken together, these semantic properties indicate attainment of an advanced stage of grammaticalization. 6.2.2  Formal grammaticalization of fī The form fī was linked diachronically to its ancestral body part mouth in section 6.2.1. Several scholars (e.g., Brockelmann [1913] 1966, vol. 2; Cantarino 1975; and Lentzner 1977) seem to accept that fī began its functional career as a host to the clitic bi-. This origin poses no problem for the approach I follow in this study since it gives further evidence that even primary prepositions may have their origin as nominal complements. As the object of bi- carrying the genitive case in historically earlier usage, fī in this function occupies a syntactic position akin to dependent nouns. It certainly could not have been a fully functioning preposition governed by another preposition heading the entire prepositional phrase.


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Insofar as fī could have commenced its process of grammaticalization as a sub-constituent of a prepositional phrase, later, through collocation with other elements, it also helped in the formation of complex prepositional units. One such unit is fī ḥājatin ʾilā ‘in need of ’, which is only attested in the modern literature data of ACT. It has also given rise to several locative and temporal adverbs that, through further grammaticalization, came to serve prepositional functions. Those forms include fī xilāli ‘during’ > xilāla ‘through’, fī ʾaṯnāʾi ‘during’ > ʾaṯnāʾa ‘during’. In recent decades fī has made it possible for a number of nouns to perform prepositional functions. Most, if not all, of these nouns have not yet reached the stage where fī has become elidable and where they are able to stand on their own as single substitutes for complex or compound-like prepositional constructions. Among the new prepositionals for which fī is a productive formative are fī ḥudūdi ‘within’, fī ʾiṭāri ‘in the framework of ’, fī xuṣūṣi ‘regarding’, fī niṭāqi ‘within the scope of ’, fī majāli ‘in the field of ’, fī sabīli ‘in the interest of ’ (Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 185–186); and, fī γuḍūni ‘during’, and fī ḏ̣arfi ‘within’ as temporal relation (El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer 2003, 2: 580–581). The form fī and the prepositions that will subsequently be discussed in this chapter are distinguished from those discussed in chapters 3–5. The functional potential for fī and members of its class of primary prepositions include their collocations with verbs in the formation of prepositional verbs, traditionally labeled “verb-preposition idioms”; some examples are fakkara fī ‘thought of ’, sāʿada fī ‘helped in’, sāhama fī ‘contributed to’, šāraka fī ‘participated in’, ʾinhamaka fī ‘become absorbed in’, batta fī ‘adjudicated’. Most, if not all, of these prepositional verb phrases have become tight semantic and syntactic units. Within these phrases, the semantic contribution of fī to the overall meaning of the verbal phrase largely diverges from its typical prepositional meaning. That is, viewed from its erstwhile semantic content, the preposition fī has simultaneously been weakened semantically and has also become less dominant syntactically within the verbal phrase where the verb subcategorizes (i.e., selects) for the preposition. The change of semantic denotation of prepositions towards greater abstraction and functional specialization in these types of constructions has also been observed in O’Dowd (1998, 153) in her study of English prepositions and particles. Perhaps one of the reasons for the suitability of this and similar primary prepositions for such a function is precisely because

simple stem “primary” prepositions


of the remarkable reduction in their lexical semantic content vis-à-vis the prepositionals discussed earlier, which still retain much of their lexical semantic content and, consequently, still constrain their ability to serve textual organizing and linking functions. Within the prepositional verb phrases in which fī participates, its categoriality is indeterminate. It vacillates between adverbial and prepositional properties. By way of illustration, consider the following examples of syntactic reanalysis of the prepositional verb naḏạ ra fī ‘to study, review’: (10a) wa-ʿarafa-nī wa-ṣāfaḥa-nī bi-ḥarāratin and-recognized.3MSG-me and-greeted.3MSG-me with-warmth

wa-huwa yanḏ̣uru fī dahšatin li-ḥālat-ī and-he 3MSG.look.IPFV in surprise to-condition-my

r-rat̠ta̠ ti the-shabby ‘And he recognized me and greeted me warmly while looking in astonishment at my shabby condition’ (Ahram 99, 013099WRIT01) (10b) ʾan yaʿqidū qimmatan jāddatan tanḏ̣uru to 3MPL.hold.SBJV summit serious 3FSG.look.IPFV fī l-ʾamri wa-tatadabbaru-hu in the-matter and-3FSG.contemplate.IPFV-it ‘That they hold a serious summit to look into the matter and contemplate it’ (Ahram 99, 011399OPIN03) (10c) xālaftu mā kāna sāʾidan min naqdin contradicted.1SG what was.3MSG prevailing from critique

šāmilin yanḏ̣uru fī tajribati n-naṣṣi comprehensive 3.MSG.look.IPFV in experience the-text

wa-ṣīγati-hi wa-mustawā-hi and-form-it and-level-it ‘I contradicted what was prevailing by way of a comprehensive critique [which] reviews the experience in the text, its form, and level’ (Ahram 99:032999WRIT02)

The three examples (10a–c) are instructive in making vivid the subtle semantic and syntactic shifts and the covert workings of syntactic reanalysis of the collocation naḏ̣a̱ra fī. In (10a), without a doubt, fī belongs semantically with the following noun dahšatin ‘in surprise’; that is, it functions as a preposition. In this usage, the prepositional phrase describes the manner in which looking (i.e., in the sense of


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gazing) was carried out. The verb naḏ̣ara has a literal meaning pertaining to actual gazing at someone in this situation. In (10b), the summit can be viewed abstractly as a committee whose task would include reviewing or studying the matter in question, but the study is still carried out by human participants. This usage marks the emergence of a semantic unit where the two parts, the verb and preposition, jointly as a collocation, produce a new, more abstract meaning that supersedes the literal meaning of the sum of its parts (i.e., non compositional meaning). Within this new semantic unit, it is difficult, if not impossible, to measure the independent semantic contribution of each element to the newly formed unit. One cannot with certainty judge which of the two elements, yanḏu ̣ ru or fī, is primarily responsible for the coding of the ‘studying, reviewing’ sense in this combination. However, that fī in these new functions establishes a collocation with another word class (i.e., verbs) in and of itself marks a functional expansion and perhaps widening of its semantic polysemy network and syntactic polyfunctionality. In some of these collocations with verbs, however, radical modification in the semantic content of the verb + fī may be observed. One such case is ʾaxaḏa ‘take, seize’, which, when combined with fī, yields ʾaxaḏa fī ‘began’; in this new combination the prepositional verb functions as an auxiliary rather than as a matrix verb, and its semantic denotation marks the onset of a process rather than a telic event. On the other hand, in (10c) yanḏu ̣ ru fī does not involve a sentient being since the verb is inflected for the third person and the subject of the verb yanḏ̣uru ‘look’ is an abstract concept, naqdin šāmilin ‘comprehensive critique’. The absence of a human participant in this instance evidences an increased degree of semantic abstraction, typically associated with an advanced degree of grammaticalization. The observed semantic change can be tested using O’Dowd’s (1998) verbsubstitution test where the entire prepositional verb construction yanḏu ̣ ru fī can be replaced with a simple verb like yadrusu ‘study’ or yurājiʿu ‘review’ in (10b) and (10c), whereas in (10a) ungrammaticality would result as shown in (10d): (10d) *wa-ʿarafa-nī wa-ṣāfaḥa-nī bi-ḥarāratin and-recognized.3MSG-me and-greeted.3MSG-me with-warmth

wa-huwa yadrusu-nī dahšatan li-ḥālat-ī and-he surprise to-condition-me

r-raṯta̱ ti the-shabby

simple stem “primary” prepositions


‘And he recognized me and greeted me warmly while studying me in surprise at my shabby condition’

From examples (10a-d), it would appear that below the overt sequences of verb, prepositions, and nominal complement might lay covert semantic and syntactic shifts due to the redrawing of syntactic boundaries. The prepositional verb, also termed the verb-particle construction, (see Dehé et al. 2002; Dikken 1995; and O’Dowd 1998) in collocations involving fī as well as many other prepositions in Arabic, while appearing functionally similar to those in other languages like English (e.g., believe in), has not yet reached the degree of syntactic tightness of its English counterparts. Of the ten tests used in O’Dowd (1998, 14), five screen for preposition-constructions (conjunction-reduction, verbgapping, adverb-insertion, P-fronting, NP-ellipses) and five screen for particle-verb constructions (passivization, verb-substitution, NPinsertion, P-stress, and V-nominalization). Of these, verb-substitution (e.g., raγiba fī ‘want, desire’ may be substituted for by ʾarāda ‘want’) seems the most applicable as a potent screening tool for these types of constructions in Arabic. But a single test such as this one diagnostic of particle usage falls short of providing adequate empirical distinctions between particle and prepositional usages in Arabic. The semantic and syntactic shifts highlighted in (10b) and (10c) above call into question the categorical status of Arabic prepositional verbs containing fī and similar primary prepositions that form grammatical units with verbs. Can these forms be unequivocally categorized as prepositions or as adverbial particles? Put differently, do they belong with the preceding verb or with the following noun phrase they govern? The short answer to this question is to suggest that strict categorialization may be untenable, especially since Arabic prepositional verbs would fail nine out of the ten tests mentioned above, which should be viewed as an indication of significant overlap between preposition and particle functions. An alternative to strict categorization of each is the consideration of an intermediate category—“adprep.” This category was identified in Bolinger (1971),3 and its characteristics were amplified and refined in O’Dowd (1998) as a gradational category where a single linguistic item, a preposition, forms a constituency with the 3   Bolinger credits Hill (1968) with the coinage of this term. However, Bolinger modifies its function when he states “it is a prepositional adverb which is an adverb and a preposition at one and the same time.” (1971, 28).


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preceding verb as well as with the following noun phrase it governs. For example, in fakkara fī mawḍūʿin ‘he thought about a topic’, fī would belong simultaneously with the verb fakkara ‘thought’ as well as the following nominal mawḍūʿin ‘topic’ and not exclusively to the verb or the governed nominal. Considering other characteristics of fī indicative of an increased degree of grammaticalization, one must look at its function as a text organizer. The clause-initial linker fī wāqiʿ l-ʾamri ‘as a matter of fact’, or its more grammaticalized variant fī l-wāqiʿi ‘indeed’, was not attested in either the Quranic text or in Thousand and One Nights. One of the examples that occurred in ACT is (11) below: (11) fī l-wāqiʿi fī muwājahati l-mawti in the-fact in confronting the-death

l-ʾunūṯatu kamā l-kitābatu laysat femininity similar the-writing not

ʿazāʾan ʿalā l-ʾiṭlāqi solace on the-absolutely ‘Indeed, in confronting death, femininity is similar to writing in not being a solace at all’ (AhlamFowda 5:1228)

In (11), fī operates at the clausal, not phrasal, level, which marks an expansion of its syntagmatic scope. The textual organizing function expressed by the collocation fī l-wāqiʿi expresses an intensification quality over the situation described in the preposition of the clause in which it figures. In present-day dialects, fī appearing with the third person suffix pronoun -hu fī-hi, lit. ‘in it’ > fīh > fī ‘there is/are’, has evolved into a non-referential pronoun that heads there-constructions (e.g., fīh ʿadl ‘there is justice’). In its most shortened form (in the Egyptian dialect), fī with rising intonation may also function as an interrogative as is expected with pronouns (e.g., ʾinta ‘you masculine’). Hence the interrogative clause headed by fī in (12): (12) fī muškila ? there problem ‘Is there a problem?’

Marking this existential sense, fī has become semantically and syntactically far removed from its ancestral functions. The benefit of this

simple stem “primary” prepositions


new, specialized function is the possible exponential rise in textual frequency. This remark notwithstanding, it cannot be statistically substantiated through the various ACT corpora, which lack adequate representation of dialectal data. In making this observation, I rely exclusively on my native-speaker intuition and on the linguistic prediction of grammaticalization. A further extension of the use of fī as an existential pronoun in present-day Arabic dialects is its functional divergence. Within grammaticalization, the term “divergence” was coined by Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 118–122) and corresponds to “split” in Heine and Reh (1984, 57–9) as one of the consequences of grammaticalization where both the ancestral form and its grammaticalized variant operate in language, oftentimes even side by side. Such is the case for fī, which occurs in a phonologically reduced form as a preposition that co-occurs with its pronoun variant as shown in Arabic dialects (e.g., Egyptian Arabic) in example (13) below: (13) fī f-rās-o ḥāgah there in-head-his thing ‘There is something on his mind’

In (13), the first fī in the sequence functions as an existential pronoun immediately followed linearly by the second f-, which appears cliticized to its host rās-o ‘his head’ without any hint of semantic overlap or redundancy. It is worth noting that the loss in phonological material from fī > f- has its syntactic consequence. Namely, in its reduced form f-, the nature of its relationship with its nominal complement changed into that of dependency on the host rather than that of governing the host. In its reduced form, f- has found a host in the interrogative ʾayna ‘where’ to which it is prefixed, thus giving rise to fēn ‘where’ in Egyptian Arabic.4 4  Conceiving of fēn as a fusional compound of fī ‘in, at’ and the interrogative ʾayna ‘where’ is a hypothetical etymology based on my native intuition, given that other prepositions (e.g., min) also collocate with the same interrogative resulting in minēn ‘from where’. Also, in Moroccan Arabic, Harrell’s (2004, 183) example u f-aš γadi tʿemlu ‘and what are you going to put it in’ supports my intuition, as f- in f-aš is a preposition prefixed to the interrogative ‘what’ that seems to parallel with the Egyptian fēn. Plausibility of the proposed etymological origin of fēn is strengthened further when considering Zack’s (2009, 106) study and edition of Yūsuf al-Maγribī’s Daf ʿ al-ʾIṣr ʿan Kalām Ahl Miṣr of the seventeenth century. In that study she cites


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(14) saʿīd: ʾizzāy. . wi-ʾimtā. . w-fēn? ‘Saʿid: How . . . and when . . . and where?’

(EgColl 3, 2:71)

In (14) fēn ‘where’ appears in a coordinate phrase alongside other interrogatives without markedness. That is, the composite form originating from fī ‘in’+ ʾayna ‘where’ in MSA now substitutes for ʾayna in spoken Egyptian Arabic. The fact that f- does not modify the semantic or syntactic properties of ʾayna in the case of fēn is indicative of its semantic bleaching, loss of categorical status as a preposition, and its recategorization as a stem phoneme. This phenomenon has been identified in the grammaticalization literature as phonogensis in Hopper (1994, 29) and Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 34), and it evidences one of the late stages in the life cycle of grams. An important indicator of the degree of grammaticalization of fī is its impressive textual frequency in ACT. The textual frequency is tabulated below: Table 6.2  Diachronic Textual Frequencies of fī Text type


Thousand and One Nights

Modern literature

Frequency of occurrence Frequency per 100,000

1,675 1,981.5

15,095   2,718.37

20,645   2,060.59

As shown in table 6.2 above, the row showing the overall number of textual occurrences indicates a massive rise of fī over time from Classical to Modern Arabic, particularly in the frequency change from Quran to Thousand and One Nights. This can be largely attributed to the gradual diachronic accretions of semantic senses that have resulted in its polysemization. One observation from the frequency per 100,000 words warrants some attention, namely that despite the al-Maγribī’s own etymological analysis of fēn, which also comprises fī and ʾayna. Furthermore, Zack points out an interesting claim that al-Maγribī himself has made in his text that wēn, where’, which is used by other Arabs, including North Africans, is taṣḥīf ‘mispronunciation’ of the Egyptian fēn. I consider this latter claim to be untenable, given that the presumed sound change from [ f ] > [w] is unattested in Arabic. However, Holes’s (2004, 190) suggestion that wēn has its origin in wa-ʾayna ‘andwhere’ is more plausible. No mention of fēn could be found in Singer’s (1959) study of interrogatives in Arabic dialects.

simple stem “primary” prepositions


overall continuous diachronic increase in textual frequency, fī in the modern literature corpus still lags behind Thousand and One Nights in textual saliency. How can this unexpected anomaly be explained? A thorough analysis of this situation would require microanalysis of the senses and syntactic functions of fī vis-à-vis its possible functional substitutes in those contexts in order to account for the decline in frequency. While this approach is highly desirable, the search tools in ACT that are presently available do not support such an endeavor. In the absence of such a data retrieval tool, I offer conjectural reasons for such a diachronic decline in textual frequency. The raw data that conforms to the tenets of grammaticalization suggests that generalization resulting from increased grammaticalization leads to increased textual frequency. It is thus in the issue of the saliency of fī in contexts requiring the use of such linguistic forms where one might find the answer to the decline in the ratio of its usage in relation to other linguistic tokens. The key perhaps to finding the culprit for the decline is in finding whether there is a change in textual frequency for forms that share semantic space with fī. One prominent form is bi-, which not infrequently substitutes for fī in the spatial domain of conception. The two particles, in my view, have shared a long history together (and according to Lipiński, the two forms were originally one); as stated at the beginning of this chapter, bi- is presumed to be the linguistic form that first introduced fī into its prepositional functions. The nature of the competition between these two forms needs to be addressed and assessed in order to find any contextual factors favoring the usage of bi- where fī could fit without semantic loss at the phrase or clause levels. Data in the corpus does not capture the usage of bi- in present-day dialects, however Rubin (2005, 62) indicates that certain constructions in spoken Arabic dialects that are commonly formed with existential fī ‘there is/are’ are formed with bi- instead. One such instance is bih bisbās ‘there is chili’ in Yemeni Arabic. Decreases in textual frequencies for more grammaticalized forms have also been observed in other corpus-based studies. Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 130) remarked that an S-curve has been observed in textual frequencies of grammaticalized forms and constructions. In those cases, a gradual rise in frequency is followed by dramatic increases and then finally a decline. The described patterns of frequency distribution just mentioned seem to parallel the diachronic statistical distribution of fī, however the observed S-curve still requires an explanation of factors contributing to its formation. As


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stated above, I surmise that one of the likely factors in the S-curve pattern in the distribution of fī is the diachronic dropping of fī from PN constructions like fī dāxili ‘inside’ > dāxila ‘inside’ and fī ʾaṯnāʾi ‘during’ > ʾaṯnāʾa ‘during’. Additional examination of this hypothesis is needed for substantiation. Finally, in the table below, I sketch a continuum of stages of the grammaticalization of fī: Table 6.3 Major Stages in the Grammaticalization of fī Stage


Primary function




Pre-Classical Pre-Classical


Classical/ Pre-Modern Modern Modern

fū/fī/fā ‘mouth’ bi-fī/fī ‘within’/ in, at fī



Concrete reference to body part Complement of bi-; preposition

Preposition/particle Textual organizer


Modern Modern

Existential pronoun clitic


badaʾa fī fī l-wāqiʿ ‘indeed’ fī ‘there is’ f-

Nominal dependent/ preposition Preposition Adprep Clause linker Pronoun Phoneme (e.g., in fēn ‘where’)

6.3  Grammaticalization of ʿalā ‘on, above’ 6.3.1  Semantic grammaticalization of ʿalā The linguistic form ʿalā is likely related to the verb stem ʿalā ‘rise, elevated, to be high,’5 whose orthographic realization of its final long vowel is distinct from its prepositional counterpart. Another more important difference between the verbal source and the prepositional target is the change from directional denotation to static reference6 5   Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 391) also relates the Proto-Semitic stem *ʿalay (my transcription) to a verb stem, which is still in his view associated with the earlier form la, hence lāʿla was formed in Ethiopic and Assyrian languages. Asterisk here marks a hypothetical origin. 6   This remark is based on differences recognized and articulated in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 140) regarding noun-based adpositions and verb-based adpositions.

simple stem “primary” prepositions


of the preposition ʿalā. Although difficult to trace to a specific time period, this form may have older Semitic roots with a much longer time depth than its Arabic history may suggest. Gray ([1934] 1971, 74) and Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 391) both suggest *ʿalay ‘on, upon’ (my transcription) to be the Proto-Semitic stem for ʿalā and its variegated forms in other Semitic languages. Corresponding Semitic stems to the Arabic ʿalā are many. They include ʿal in Ugaritic (Lipiński 2001, 475), Hebrew and Syriac ʿal and ʿǎlēy (Gray’s transcription), Ethiopic laʿla (laʿlē before suffixes) (Gray [1934] 1971, 74). In its grammaticalized form ʿalā has been polysemous in CA, MSA, and in present-day spoken dialects. To illustrate, Ibn Hišām of the fourteenth century identifies nine contextually conditioned but distinct semantic senses for ʿalā (Muγnī al-Labīb 1: 126–127); likewise, Wright ([1874] 1974, 2: 166–173) cites nine distinguishable semantic senses for it; Cantarino (1975, 2: 321–332), on the other hand, cites twenty-five functions clustering around fewer semantic senses, and Hans Wehr Dictionary lists in excess of forty distinguishable but mostly interrelated glosses of ʿalā meanings in MSA. Additionally, ʿalā continues to develop newer senses in present-day Arabic dialects; however, in spite of its diachronic accumulation of an expansive polysemy network, the proto semantic sense for ʿalā essentially marks the support relation holding between LM and TR. From that sense, several branches of meaning have emerged, some of which have come to bear very little semantic relation to the proto sense synchronically due to multiple extended branching. From the treatises of early Arabic grammarians in the pre-medieval period and Quranic data in ACT, it appears that ʿalā has developed multiple senses in CA, many of which pertain to very abstract domains of conception, such as those in the domains of conditional and concessive relations. Given the multitude of senses and the multi-functionality associated with this form, I shall focus mainly on the most notable clusters of meanings highlighting the semantic change associated with grammaticalization. The locative cluster: In the Quranic data, ʿalā appears in spatial relations where both the LM and TR are physical entities as well as where the LM is non-physical: (15a) wa-ʿibādu r-raḥmāni llaḏīna yamšūna and-worshipper.PL the-merciful  who.MPL 3MPL.walk.IPFV

188 (15b)

chapter six ʿalā l-ʾarḍi hawnan on the-land gently ‘And the worshippers of the Merciful who walk gently on the earth’ (Quran 25, 63) li-masjidin ʾussisa ʿalā t-taqwā for-mosque founded.PASS.3MSG on the-piety ‘For a mosque founded on piety’ (Ibid., 8, 108)

In (15a), the spatial configuration holding between the LM (earth) and TR (worshippers) is marked by support, which, as mentioned earlier, is the proto sense for ʿalā. In (15b), while the TR (mosque) is a physical entity, the LM (piety) is not. Rather, the locative relation here is between a physical TR and a non-tangible entity that is interpretable in terms of adherence to religious principles and demonstration of faithfulness. In Thousand and One Nights, the spatial sense for ʿalā continued to be used in relations not marked by the proto sense support as illustrated in the following example: (16) fa-ʾinna-hu lam yazal wāqifan ʿalā l-bābi so-that-he not 3MSG.still.JUS standing on the-door

wa-lam yaftaḥ la-hu ʾaḥadun fa-ṭaraqa and-not to-him someone so-knocked.3MSG

l-bāba the-door ‘So he was still standing at the door but no one opened it, so he knocked on the door’ (1001N 576, 5)

In (16), the TR (the person who knocks on the door) is in a close, contiguous relation to the LM (the door). In this sense, ʿalā locates entities adjacent to the LM and not physically supported by it. Given this usage of ʿalā, Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 391–397) observes the shared semantic denotation in marking spatial relations between ʿalā and bi- ‘in, at, with’. The shared semantic denotation just mentioned is not limited to spatial functions, but rather continues in more abstract functions such as those involving the prepositional verb marra ʿalā ‘passed someone’ that also has the semantic variant marra bi-. Brockelmann illustrates this shared semantic denotation in the example man marra bi-kum ‘who passed by you?’ to which the reply was qālū marra ʿalaynā ‘they said they passed by us . . . ’ (Ibid., 392).

simple stem “primary” prepositions


From the grammaticalization perspective, it is worth noting the metonymic change in coding support relations from direct support in (15a) involving actual contact between TR and LM to marking spatial closeness between them as in ʾaxī ʿalā l-bābi ‘my brother is at the door’. An additional semantic shift by metonymy for ʿalā appears in the modern literature corpus where the located TR is part of the LM: (17) ʾašbahu bi-najmin sinimāʾiyyin mutaʾalliqin law-lā similar in-star cinematic bright if-not

t-tajāʿidu llatī tarakat-hā ʿalā wajhi-hi the-wrinkle.PL which.FSG on face-his

l-ḥayātu ṣ-ṣāxibatu the-life the-tumultuous ‘He would resemble a bright movie star had it not been for the wrinkles which a tumultuous life have left on his face’ (Yaqub 1, 10:1)

The wrinkles on the face in (17) form a part of the face where the contour shows their presence. In this spatial configuration, they appear as though they are supported by the surface of the face. Temporal cluster: In the Quranic text, ʿalā, through metaphoric extension, has also come to mark temporal relations: (18)  wa-daxala l-madīnata ʿalā ḥīni γaflatin min and-entered.3MSG the-city on time inattention of ʾahli-hā people-its ‘And he entered the city at a time when its people were unaware’ (Quran 28, 15)

The temporal sense for ʿalā has appeared somewhat infrequently throughout the diachronic data of ACT. The collocation ʿalā ḥīni γaflatin cited in the Quran was repeated in Thousand and One Nights twice, and in one of the two instances its implicature of surprise was strengthened pragmatically, as shown in (19): (19)  fa-baynamā naḥnu ka-ḏalika ʾiḏ daxala so-while we like-that.MSG then entered.3MSG


chapter six huwa ʿalā ḥīni γaflatin he on time inattention ‘Thus, while we were in this state, he then entered all of a sudden’ (1001 N 548, 5)

Pragmatic strengthening of the surprise inference has given rise in MSA to the use of the collocation ʿalā ḥīni, lit. ‘on time’ = ‘whereas’, as a clausal linkage device marking contrast between two eventualities. By way of illustration, consider example (20): (20) istaslamat hiya li-nawmin hādiʾin ʿalā ḥīni surrendered.3FSG she to-sleep quiet on time ḏalla huwa γāriqan fī xawāṭiri-hi ̣ remained.3MSG he drowning in thought.PL-his ‘She fell into a peaceful sleep whereas he continued to drown in his thoughts’ (Chi 10, 10)

The collocation ʿalā ḥīni in (20) serves a text organizing function (i.e., contrast specifically) linking two clauses. In this capacity, the two contrasted eventualities, while occurring at the content level (i.e., describing two objectively verifiable events), are selected as occurring simultaneously because of the relevant adversity holding between them. Following König (1985, 76), the principle of informativeness in the development of concessives is responsible for the concessive inference beyond the literal meaning conveyed by this clause linker. In this usage, ʿalā has undergone semantic generalization beyond temporal specification to express subjective attitudes and evaluations of situations. Conditional/concessive clusters: In so far as ʿalā marks interclausal relations, it has several collocations marking not only clausal boundaries, but also semantic relations holding between them, most of which are very complex conceptually. The collocation of ʿalā with the complementizer ʾan was mentioned in treatises of the medieval Arabic grammarians (e.g., Ibn Hišām Muγnī al-Labīb). The meaning they assigned to this combination was that of an afterthought or retraction: (21) fulānun lā yadxulu l-jannata li-sūʾi ṣunʿi-hi so and so not 3MSG.enter.IPFV the-paradise for-ill deed-his

simple stem “primary” prepositions


ʿalā ʾanna-hu lā yayʾasu min raḥmati on that-he not 3MSG.despair.IPFV from mercy

l-lāhi the-God ‘So and so shall not enter paradise for his ill deeds, nevertheless, he should not give up hope in God’s mercy’ (Muγnī al-Labīb 1, 127)

This sense, which clearly belongs to the concessive domain of conception, was attested only once in the Quranic text: (22) qāla ʾabšartumū-nī ʿalā ʾan said.3MSG brought.2MPL.good tidings-me on that

massa-nī l-kibaru fa-bi-ma touched.3MSG-me the-old age so-with-what

tubšširūn 2MPL.bring good tidings.IPFV ‘He said: you brought good tidings to me even though old age has affected me, so what are good tidings good for?’ (Quran 15, 54)

In (22) the speaker asserts the incompatibility between two situations as established in his subjective belief. In Thousand and One Nights, the clausal connector ʿalā ʾan occurred 115 times and, of those occurrences, 75 were in conditional clauses. Owing to its post verbal occurrences with verbs denoting commitment or obligations (e.g., ʿazama ʿalā ‘be determined, tawāʿadū ʿalā ‘pledge to’), the obligation denoted by the verb has shifted through reanalysis to the clause linked with ʿalā ʾan: (23a)  wa-ttafaqū ʿalā ʾan yatawajjahū bi-hā fī and-agreed.3MPL on to with-her at (23b)

l-layli ʾilā qaṣri l-maliki the-night to palace the-king ‘And they have agreed to take her at night to the king’s palace’ (1001N115, 2) ʾurīdu ʾan ʾunkiḥa-ka ʾiḥdā 1SG.want.IPFV to 1SG.marry.SBJV-you.MSG one

bintay-ya hātayni ʿalā ʾan tuʾjira-nī daughter.DU-my these.FDU on that

ṯamāniy ḥujajin eight reason.PL


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‘I want to marry one of my two daughters to you, provided that you lend me eight reasons’ (1001N89, 2) (23c) bakaytu ʿalā ʾanna l-bukāʾa lā yanfaʿu weeped.1SG on that the-weeping not 3MSG.serve.IPFV ‘I cried, however, crying has not been beneficial’ (1001N640, 74)

In (23a) ʿalā in its collocation with ʾan ‘that’ still serves as a verbal particle of ttafaqū ʿalā ‘they agree to/upon’, while introducing the subordinate clause that follows. Independently from the matrix clause, the subordinate clause introduced by ʿalā ʾan can also implicate a sense of obligation or commitment through inferencing strategy. In (23b), the clause introduced by ʿalā ʾan has a conditioned commitment interpretation. In (23c), however, ʿalā ʾanna ‘provided that’ with the complementizer (ʾanna requiring a following nominal element) has an adversative reading suggestive of regrets, thus nullifying any benefits denoted in the preceding clause. The chains of semantic changes for ʿalā ʾan/ʾanna seem to have originated in verb-preposition combinations involving verbs denoting intention, obligation, and general commitment. This commitment sense has come to serve the dual function of promise/condition through reanalysis. With change towards further abstraction, ʿalā ʾan/ʾanna entered the domain of concessivity. In the modern literature corpus, the collocation ʿalā ʾan/ʾanna has increased to 327 instances with a dramatic increase in its marking concessivity. Some of these instances were in clause initial position, which has not been attested in classical or pre-modern data in the corpus. Example (24) illustrates this new syntactic position while denoting counter-expectation: (24) ʿalā ʾanna ʾayyama-hā l-ʾūlā fī šikāgu maʿa l-ʾasafi on that day.PL-her the-first in Chicago with the-regret jāʾat bi-ʿaksi t-tawaqquʿi came.3FSG with-opposite the-expectation ‘However/nevertheless, her first days in Chicago regrettably came contrary to expectation.’

Within the concessive domain, ʿalā is also used in other collocations (see chapters 3 and 9 for ʿalā r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’), and its collocation with the quantifier kullun ‘all’ and the noun ḥālin ‘condition, circumstance’ have given rise to ʿalā kulli ḥālin ‘at any rate, anyway’. Early attestation of this collocation is found in Thousand and One

simple stem “primary” prepositions


Nights. In its twenty occurrences, the combination ʿalā kulli ḥālin did not signal concessivity. Instead, it had a literal meaning of ‘in every circumstance’ as in (25a): (25a) wa-l-ḥamdu li-l-lāhi ʿalā kulli ḥālin and-the-praise to-the-God on every circumstance ‘And praise be to God for every circumstance’ (1001N306, 4)

This literal sense shifted to denoting a foregone conclusion and thereby dismissing the antecedent clause in (25b): (25b) ʾinna l-malika ʿalā kulli ḥālin taʿallaqa bi-hāḏā that the-king on every circumstance clung.3MSG to-this.MSG

l-γulāmi wa-fī γadin yajʿalu-hu qāʾida the-young man and-in tomorrow 3MSG.make.IPFV-him leader

ʿaskarin military ‘Verily, the king at any rate is attached to this young man and tomorrow he makes him the military leader’ (1001N 305, 3)

In the modern literature corpus, ʿalā kulli ḥālin, through further pragmatic strengthening, has come to mark what was characterized in König (1985, 278) as “restrictive use,” interpretable as at least and “change of topic/return to previous topic.” These senses are illustrated in (25c) and (25d): (25c) laysa hāḏā smu-ka ʿalā kulli ḥālin ʾinna-hu not this name-your.MSG on every circumstance that-it (25d) 

ʾaḥadu ʾasmāʾi-ka faqaṭ one name.PL-your.MSG only ‘This is not your name, at any rate, it is only one of your names’ (Remem 1, 352) ʾinna-hā falsafatun ʿalā kulli ḥālin mā hiya verily-it philosophy on every circumstance what it

ʾaxbāru majlisi l-ḥukmi news.PL council the-governing ‘It is philosophy. At any rate, what is the governing council news?’ (SaintPrays 4, 204)

In (25c), the conjunct ʿalā kulli ḥālin decreases the categorical negation expressed in the initial clause, while in the second clause this denial is


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partially withdrawn by admission that it is only one of the names. In (25d), the type of concessive relation marked is thus dismissive of an earlier topic via the speech act interrogative, which renders the preceding statement irrelevant. For the preceding, the semantic changes ʿalā has exhibited are illustrative of semantic grammaticalization as they follow the patterned meaning changes that were identified in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a), Traugott and König (1991), and König (1985). It would appear that changes by metaphor were responsible for change from lexical (verbal source) to locational7 (on, above, upon). Furthermore, the change from locational to temporal has also been metaphorically based. Within each of those domains, several senses have emerged, perhaps through metonymy and/or pragmatic strengthening. For example, within the locational domain, instrument may arise as a conversational implicature. Example (26) from El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer (2003, 2: 508) illustrates this change. (26)  laḥmun mašwiyyn ʿalā l-faḥmi meat barbecued on the-coal ‘Meat barbecued on the coals’

The spatial location of the meat in relation to the coal is above or over. However, coal in this context is not only located under the meat, but also serves as the means for preparing the meat for consumption. That is, coal in the context of (26) denotes a method and instrument of cooking rather than merely an object spatially located below the meat. Related expressions for this sense are ʿalā l-hawāʾi lit. ‘on the air = live broadcast’ in MSA and its (Egyptian) dialectal equivalent ʿa-l-hawa, that refer to a type of broadcast delivery method. These types of conversation implicatures facilitate meaning extensions into the more abstract domains like condition, concession, and contrast that ʿalā has acquired in the course of its grammaticalization as a textual organizer and connective device.

7   This term is borrowed from Langacker (1987, 490), who defines it as “[o]f a domain, supporting predications specified by location (rather than configuration) within the domain.”

simple stem “primary” prepositions


6.3.2  Formal grammaticalization of ʿalā The syntactic categorialization of ʿalā was a matter of considerable debate amongst early Arabic grammarians. Four categorical classifications have been attributed to ʿalā in the treatises of early Arabic grammarians: verb, noun, adverb, and preposition. According to Sībawayhi (4, 231), ʿalā is a noun that functions only adverbially. His classification rests on the demonstrated adverbial use of ʿalā in syntactic complexes where it is immediately governed by min ‘from’ in the example he cited: nahaḍa min ʿalay-hi ‘he has risen from above him/it’ (Ibid., 231). Ibn Yaʿīš (4, 496–499), however, in his categorization of ʿalā, elaborated on it within the syntactic domain of major categories like nouns, verbs (given its ostensible past tense inflection), and adverbs. What is interesting in this exposition, is also Ibn Yaʿīš’s documentation of other notable grammarians (e.g., Ibn ʿAbbās) who also presumed a multi-categorical status for ʿalā, namely as a noun, verb, and particle whose source meaning is ‘higher elevation’ or istiʿlāʾu in his terms, and thus has contented himself with the indeterminable categoriality of ʿalā. Sībawayhi’s assignment of ʿalā to the noun and adverb categories warrants further consideration. Following his citation of several examples of the functions ʿalā serves, such as head of a prepositional phrase (e.g., hāḏā ʿalā ḏ̣ahri l-jabali ‘this on the back of the mountain’), a particle in prepositional verb constructions (e.g., marra l-māʾu ʿalay-hi ‘water passed over him’), as well as the example cited above, nahaḍa min ʿalay-hi ‘he has risen from above him/it’ (Ibid., 230), Sībawayhi still reaches a conclusion that appears to be primarily based on the syntactic position ʿalā occupies as a dependent complement of min ‘from’, another primary preposition. In spite of all the cited examples showing ʿalā functioning as a preposition and particle, he opted for its categorization as a noun or adverb. This conclusion is hardly surprising since the approach Sībawayhi and his successors have followed typically viewed prepositions from the semantic and syntactic attributes of their sources and not from what they had acquired over time, an expected consequence of the strictly synchronic approach they followed, in which grammar is viewed as static and unchanging. Similarly, in their treatment of the semantic properties of other prepositions, in Sībawayhi and his successors’ grammatical treatises, ʿalā was assigned a single semantic sense through which semantic extensions (i.e., ittisāʿ ‘expansion of meaning’) were viewed. None of


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the extended senses were considered in their terms as “original” or “authentic.” Moreover, the patterns or nature of these semantic extensions did not seem to interest them enough to warrant any elaboration beyond the primary sense. Within the grammaticalization framework developed here for Arabic prepositions and subordinators, Sībawayhi’s approach to categorization of ʿalā cannot be easily defended. The typical pattern of evolution from lexical to grammatical functions proceeds from the less lexical (i.e., adverbial functions) to more grammatical function (i.e., prepositional verbs), since in both evolutionary stages additional loss of lexical content and gain in grammatical functionality is expected. What is stated in Ibn Yaʿīš is sound insofar as ʿalā exhibits multi-categorical status, however, that ʿalā only has a fixed primary semantic sense runs counter to the approach that is adopted here. Considering the observed textual frequency for ʿalā in various ACT corpora, it is quite surprising that the min ʿalā/min ʿalu collocation that likely motivated Sībawayhi’s categorization of ʿalā as a noun or adverb did not occur in the Quranic data. More importantly, in Thousand and One Nights, this construction occurred in only 12 instances of the total 7,142 occurrences (or 0.16%); and in the modern literature corpus, there were only 52 instances of this syntactic configuration out of a total of 13,277 (or 0.39%). In sum, this function, while capturing the attention of early Arabic grammarians in their treatises as most defining of the categoriality of ʿalā, remained empirically marginal in textual frequency of consulted data sources. In addition to the adverbial function just mentioned that ʿalā came to serve, several others have also been attested throughout its history in Arabic, among them, its use with the definite noun ʿādatun, giving rise to ʿalā l-ʿādati, which was attested twenty-three times in Thousand and One Nights, but fell out of use in the modern literature corpus in ACT. Perhaps this was due in part to the use of the adverbial equivalent resulting from conversion of the noun directly to adverb form (i.e., ʿādatan ‘usually’) without the governing preposition. In the modern literature corpus, however, several adverbial expressions formed by means of ʿalā emerged with observable frequency: ʿalā l-fawri ‘immediately’, ʿalā l-ʾaqalli ‘at least’, ʿalā mahlin ‘slowly’, which semantically belong to the domain of quality. The form ʿalā, owing to its increased grammaticalization, also performed textual organizing functions beyond the level of a single clause. As mentioned earlier, it marked contrast and concessive-conditional

simple stem “primary” prepositions


and concessive relations in collocations such as ʿalā ḥīni ‘whereas’, ʿalā kulli ḥālin ‘anyway’, ʿalā r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’, and ʿalā ʾan/ʾanna ‘on the condition that’. Additional textual linking functions for ʿalā include ʿalā ḏālika, lit. ‘on that’= ‘additionally/besides’. In its collocation with this masculine distal demonstrative, ʿalā recurred 332 times—the most in Thousand and One Nights. This collocation, which has its origin in actual reference to spatially distal objects, particularly with prepositional verbs such as ʾašrafa ʿalā ‘supervise’, ittafaqa ʿalā ‘agreed upon’, qādirun ʿalā ‘capable of ’, later was reanalyzed to form a tight syntactic unit. As such, it did not permit change in gender for this distal demonstrative to the feminine form tilka without ensuing ungrammaticality. This characteristic is indicative of the degree of generalization of this combination since it can be used in all contexts without regard to gender agreement with other linguistic elements in the clauses where it operates. Similar to other primary prepositions discussed in this chapter, ʿalā forms constituents with verbs and thus functions as an adprep. While certain prepositional verbs occurred in CA (e.g., marra ʿalā ‘pass by’, iḥtawā ʿalā ‘contain’), others were created through diachronic reanalysis. One such case is the ubiquitous collocation in Modern Arabic, ḥaṣala ʿalā, which did not exist in CA. The lexical verb ḥaṣala in CA occurred alone (i.e., without an accompanying preposition) and carried the meaning produced, extracted (Lisān al-ʿArab 2, 901). Its overall frequency was 380 instances in Thousand and One Nights. In almost all of the instances, the verb had the unexpected change denotation, as in example (26a): (26a)  qad ʾawfaytu ṣ-ṣawma wa-ḥaṣala ASP fulfilled.3MSG the-fasting and-took place.MSG

stibrāʾu-hā healing-her ‘I have completed fasting and her healing has taken place’ (100191, 3)

The unexpected change sense was not confined to physical conditions, but was also used in instances where the change affects mental condition; hence, ḥaṣala la-hā l-junūn ’she became crazy’ (1001N192, 10) was also encountered in the same text. Use of ʿalā in the same clause with ḥaṣala results in a loose semantic collocation or formation of a syntactic unit as illustrated in example (26b):


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(26b)  as-samaku yaṣṭādu-hu qadra ʾalfin ʾaw the-fish.PL 3MSG.hunt.IPFV-him amount thousand or

ʾalfayni ʾaw ʾakṯara ḥasba mā thousand.DU or more according to what

yaḥṣulu ʿalay-hi li-ttifāqu bayna-hu 3MSG.produce.IPFV on-it the-agreement between-him

wa-bayna wālidi z-zawjati and-between father the-wife ‘The fish which he catches, valued at one or two thousands, or more according to the binding agreement between him and his father-in-law’ (1001N799, 7)

In this instance, the preposition ʿalā together with ḥaṣala generates the meaning of stipulation or obligation in accordance with the terms of the agreement between the two parties mentioned in the text. Each of the two forms, ḥaṣala and ʿalā, independently occasions a sense of obligation on their own. Lane ([1865] 1968, 5: 585) cites ḥaṣala lī ʿalay-hi kaḏā (transcription, mine) “such a thing, or sum was or became, or proved to be binding, obligatory, or incumbent, on him to render as a debt to me” (original italicized). Inducing this sense, ḥaṣala is followed by the possessive lī ‘to me’, which intervenes between the verb and ʿalā, which in this case is not part of the verb phrase. Likewise, in CA ʿalā occasions the obligation sense in verbless clauses, as in mā ʿalā r-rasūli ʾillā l-balāγu ‘the duty of the Messenger of God is only to proclaim the message’ (Quran 5, 99). The collocation of ḥaṣala ʿalā is now ubiquitous in Modern Arabic— it surpasses all other post-verbal particles as it occurs 135 times out of a total of 282, for ḥaṣala frequently signals a change from the unexpected change sense to the resultative sense. By way of illustration, consider (27): (27) taqūlu lāfitatun ʿinda madxali l-qāʿati 3FSG.say.IPFV billboard at entrance the-auditorium

ʾanna-hu ḥaṣala ʿalā ʿiddati jawāʾiza that-he obtained.3MSG on several prize.PL

ʿālamiyyatin international ‘A billboard at the entrance states that he obtained several international prizes’ (AhlamFawda 2, 56)

simple stem “primary” prepositions


The semantic denotation of the preposition ʿalā within the scope of ḥaṣala seems to contribute very little to the overall meaning. One supporting piece of evidence for this conclusion is the possible substitution of this prepositional verb by the single verb nāla ‘obtained, achieved’ in (27), without loss of grammaticality. It stands to reason that the obligatoriness of ʿalā in this construction is exclusively grammatical rather than semantic. The prepositional complement ʿiddati jawāʾiza ʿālamiyyatin ‘several international prizes’ does not constitute an LM where ʿalā mediates its relation with the TR (the person in question), rather the phrase several international prizes serves as an NP argument for ḥaṣala ‘obtain’. However, minimal or absent semantic contributions of ʿalā are not to be generalized to every instance of prepositional verbs involving that form. For example, xāfa ʿalā ‘feared for someone’ contrasts semantically with xāfa min ‘feared someone’ mainly as a result of a change in prepositions within those VP constructions. The formal changes to ʿalā not only affect its morpho-syntax but also its phonological shape. The most notable example of phonological change that betokens an advanced stage of grammaticalization is found in dialectal forms, not in CA or MSA, for in the latter varieties ʿalā only merges with pronouns (e.g., ʿalay-ka ‘on you’) and particles (e.g., ʿalāma ‘on what’) in interrogative constructions. In spoken dialects, such as the Egyptian dialect,8 it has frequently become subject to reductive phonological change (dubbed “erosion” in Heine and Reh 1984, 25) as in (28a–d): (28a) (b) (c) (d)

ʿalā l-ʿiša > ʿal-ʿiša ‘in the evening’ ʿalā l-gāmʿa > ʿa-ggamʿa ‘to the university’ ʿala šaʾn ‘on the matter of ’ > ʿašān ‘because of ’ mā ʿalay-hi šayʾ ‘not a thing on him’> maʿlihš > maʿliš ‘never mind’

As the segments in bold in (28a–d) show, in (28a) ʿalā fuses with the definite article when no regressive phonological assimilation takes 8  Yūsuf Idrīs used ʿa- as part of the short story ʿa-l-māšī ‘cursory’. Additional examples of reductive changes ʿalā > ʿa- are found in Alkalesi (2006, 189) for the Iraqi dialect of Arabic, where the shortened form occurs with definite nouns regardless of the type of consonantal assimilation they may have with the definite article. Hence ʿa-lmēz ‘on the table’ and ʿaṣ-ṣīniyya ‘on the tray’ are found (Ibid.).


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place between the definite article and the following consonant;9 in (28b) it still fuses with the first consonant of the noun stem, which is assimilated (il-gāmʿa > ig-gamʿa ‘the university’), where no phonological trace of the definite article remains. In (28c) ʿalā again is cliticized to the stem šān < šaʾn ‘affair, state, condition’ in CA and MSA. In (28d), together with the remnant of the third person masculine pronoun suffix -hu it forms part of the petrified complex stem, which includes the negation circumfix ma---š. In so doing, ʿalā enters the lexicalization stage where it ceases to function as a preposition, thus it is decategorialized, and becomes what Joseph and Janda (1988, 193) labeled “de-morphologized,” or an example of “phonogenesis” in Hopper’s (1994, 29) terminology, marking a very advanced stage of its grammaticalization. Reduction of token semantic and phonetic integrity exemplified by semantic “fading” and phonological “erosion” is very clear in ʿa-, which ceases not only its function as a preposition, but as a meaningful morpheme. Moreover, the loss of the final syllable leaves behind a single open syllable, which is consistent with Bybee’s prediction that reduction typically occurs on final syllables, particularly their coda consonants in accordance with what she labels the “Preference Law” (Bybee 2001, 204–205). The relics of the complex structure ʿašān are still synchronically traceable, but could potentially become opaque with the passage of time. The semantic and phonological features of this structure most likely remain fossilized or frozen, and most importantly from a synchronic perspective, the reduced form of ʿalā in this syntagm is fixed syntactically and thus is not substitutable with any other preposition or particle in this one complex stem. Finally, ʿalā shows traces of what is labeled morphologization (see Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003, 145) where independent words are reduced to affixes, as a bound morpheme. Examples from MSA include collocation with the particle mā ‘what’ resulting in ʿalāmā/ʿalāma ‘on what’ and, in dialects, (i.e., Egyptian) with the shortened and gender neutralized relative pronoun illī ‘who, that’ yielding ʿallī ‘on whom’. Considering the textual frequency of ʿalā, strong evidence of its diachronic generalization is gleaned from its distribution in the Arabic corpus. The table below contains its textual frequency in the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and the modern literature corpus:

9  Anīs (1995, 136) attributes shortening of ʿalā ‘on, above’ in spoken Arabic to the Yemini tribe of Bil-Hārith.

simple stem “primary” prepositions


Table 6.4  Diachronic Frequency for ʿalā Text


Thousand and One Nights

Modern literature

Total frequency Frequency per 100,000 words

714 845.83

7,142 1280.14

13,277 1325.98

The dramatic diachronic increases in the textual frequency of ʿalā can be accounted for in some detail. Throughout the text of the Quran, ʿalā performs adverbial and prepositional functions. In these functions, it heads prepositional phrases and its syntagmatic scope is thus limited primarily to the phrase level. This observation does not deny the presence of the predicative and modification function ʿalā performs at the clause level, rather, it is to distinguish phrase level functions from interclausal linking functions that are indicative of expansions in syntagmatic scope of ʿalā, which it acquired in the course of its grammaticalization. A strong correlation between increase in functionality and rise in wider textual distribution is observed in ACT. To situate this textual frequency within a diachronic frame of reference, in the Quranic text ʿalā takes mainly NP complements, while in Thousand and One Nights, its collocations with demonstratives (ḏālika ‘that-MSG’, (distal), hāḏihi ‘this.FSG’ (proximal), hāḏā ‘this.MSG’ (proximal), tilka ‘that.FSG’ (distal) respectively) and the relative particle mā ‘what’ total 828 instances, which topped complements of all other categories individually. Frequent recruitment of (distal) demonstratives for text organizing functions, especially in narrative discourse has been noted and explained in Greenberg (1985, 282) as “distance demonstrative is easily extended to that which is absent in the narrative, or present but not visible as far distant or behind the speaker.” The frequency of these collocations outnumbers those prepositional and adverbial instances found in the entire text of the Quran. As noted earlier, combinations such as ʿalā ḏālika frequently serve as emphatic or additive devices at the clausal level. The effect of such expansion into textual organization must have contributed to the rise in the overall frequency of ʿalā, for in this function its distribution is much more generalized than before acquiring this function. What is also revealing in the frequency data of ʿalā is the dramatic increase in its collocation with complementizers (ʾan/ʾanna ‘that’). In its collocations in the modern literature data of ACT, ʿalā ʾan/ʾanna is the single most frequent among all other collocations, which total 293


chapter six Table 6.5 Major Stages in the Grammaticalization of ʿalā



Focal function




verb, noun, adverb/ preposition noun, adverb



lexical verb/ noun/adverb/ preposition noun-like, adverb, preposition preposition, clause linker



Proto-Semitic/ Pre-Classical/ Classical Classical



Modern (written)

Modern (spoken)

preposition, clause linking expansion into concessive domain cliticized preposition and formant

ʿalā ʿalā ḏālika ‘besides’ ʿalā kulli ḥālin ‘in all situations’ ʿalā kulli ḥālin ‘anyway’ ʿalā r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’ ʿalā ʾan ‘on condition that’ ʿa- ‘on’

preposition, clause linking complexes preposition, subordinating conjunction


instances. This high degree of frequency, especially in MSA variety, signifies a greater functional shift towards linking functions. Within the textual organizing functions, ʿalā ʾan began to shift syntactic positions from the typical in-between clause position to the initial position, evidencing the greater extent of its syntagmatic scope for linking clauses. From the foregoing, it is possible to sketch the focal functions in the grammaticalization of ʿalā. The following chart presents the major stages of its diachronic evolution. 6.4  Grammaticalization of min ‘from, of ’ 6.4.1  Semantic grammaticalization of min The documented history of min lacks any link to an ancestral lexical (i.e., noun or verb) root. It is, perhaps, owing to its historical longevity in Arabic and Semitic languages that such a link, over the course of time, has been obliterated. While lacking evidence of a connection to

simple stem “primary” prepositions


a lexical source or traces of a definite article or inflectional variability, among several others, min has diachronically accumulated a plethora of semantic senses in an expansive complex polysemy network. The basic meaning of its Semitic stem was identified in Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 397) as ‘part of ’, which, according to him, remains so in all living Semitic languages.10 In CA, min has been identified as having some fifteen distinct senses (see Ibn Hišām’s Muγnī al-Labīb, 2:14–16) of varying degrees of abstractions. In Hans Wehr Dictionary, more than fifty distinguishable but mostly interrelated glosses of senses spanning multiple domains of conception and functions have been listed. Most of these senses can be divided into fewer, semantically related clusters as demonstrated in Cantarino’s (1975, 2: 262–276) examples that identify seven semantic clusters for min in Modern Arabic literature. Considering semantic senses for min as they pertain to grammaticalization, I shall limit analysis to certain semantic clusters. In the grammatical treatises of early Arabic grammarians (e.g., Mubarrad 4, 136), the proto sense for min was presented as ibtidāʾu γāyatin ‘starting of a goal’, which is reinterpreted here as source function.11 The inadequacy of the semantic analysis of min in Mubarrad and his contemporaries essentially lies in their view of all extended senses of min as having emerged equally from that single sense. They failed to recognize that the semantic branching of min would lead to an evolution of senses conceptually distant from that primary sense that do not relate in any direct way to it. Similarly, their followers in modern times (Khuḍarī 1989, Laqqānī 1990) also overlook the possible conceptual hierarchy in the ranking of the extended senses according to diachronic increases of conceptual complexity. In the following, I shall discuss several senses within semantic clusters to illustrate the meaning changes associated with the grammaticalization of min. The Locative Cluster: In the Quran, min, in a very few examples, refers to location as source as in (29):

10   Gray ([1934] 1971, 74) suggests *min to be Proto-Semitic for min in Arabic and Hebrew, men in Syriac. Also, O’Leary (1969, 270) links the Abyssinian ʾam and ʾamna to the Semitic stem min whose meaning is ‘from’. 11  See Tobin (2002, 148) for the similarity of source or “beginning point” sense of the Hebrew min.


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(29)  wa-qāla llaḏī štarā-hu min misra and-said.3MSG who.MSG bought.3MSG.him from Egypt ‘And the one [man] from Egypt who bought him said . . . ’ (Quran 12, 21)

In (29) the man referred to in the example above is identified by his place of residence or origin, Egypt in this case. A metonymic extension from location to direction is observed in the following example, also from the Quran: (30) yudabbiru l-ʾamra min s-samāʾi ʾilā l-ʾarḍi 3MSG.manage.IPFV the-matter from the-heaven to the-earth’ ‘He manages matters from heaven to earth’ (Quran 32, 5)

In the Quranic example above, the pathway between the two locations (i.e., heaven and earth) is important in highlighting the movement between two spatial locations. This extensive pathway extending between locations is manipulated for use in expressing temporal relations. Haspelmath (1997, 67) has aptly identified a metaphoric mapping between spatial and temporal domains where “the model of the observer moving along a temporal path from earlier to later, and when situations are thought of as occupying a path in time.” The temporal sense has a built-in iconicity, mirroring the unidirectional movement in time (expressed below in terms of stages of human life) in this proverb from CA: (31)  waqtu t-taʿallumi min al-mahdi ʾilā l-laḥdi time the-learning from the-cradle to the-grave ‘The time of learning extends from the cradle to the grave’ (Wright [1874] 1974, 2: 130; transcription, mine)

Upon pragmatic strengthening, the temporal sense of min marks the onset of events, which with metonymic extension may mark cause. This pattern of semantic grammaticalization conforms to the general pathway ablative > since (temporal) that has been identified in Heine and Kuteva (2002, 35) in a number of languages (e.g., Romanian de ‘from’ > ‘since’, Polish od ‘from’ > ‘since’, among many others). Additionally, the change from since (temporal) > cause has also been cited as evidence of a cross-linguistically recurring pathway for semantic extension (e.g., Latin posteaquam ‘after’, ‘ever since’ > French pisque

simple stem “primary” prepositions


‘since’, causal subordinator). By way of example in Arabic, consider (32a) and (32b): (32a) (32b)

min ḥīni kuntu rāḍiʿa l-labani since time was.1SG suckling the-milk ‘Since the time I was in the suckling stage’ (1001N340, 28) ʾinna maryama min sāʿati mā ʾaʿṭat-nī verily Maryam from time what gave.3FSG-me

qadaḥa l-xamri mā ʿaraftu nafs-ī glass the-wine not knew.1SG self-my

ʾillā fī hāḏā l-waqti except at this the-time ‘Verily, since Maryam gave me the glass of wine, I was not aware of myself except at this time’ (1001N22.48)

In (32a), min marks the temporal beginning of the described situation, and it is clear in this case that the reference is to a period of time marking a stage in the speaker’s life. By contrast, (32b) shows semantic ambiguity as it permits two possible readings. One such reading is temporal since min sāʿati, lit. ‘from the time’, denotes the onset of an event (i.e., receiving a glass of wine from Maryam). However, there is a pragmatic implicature here, namely that the wine that the speaker (i.e., the Visir, mentioned in the same paragraph in which the sentence occurred) received and consumed, caused him to temporarily lose awareness. Insofar as distribution of the cause implicature arising from the temporal sense of min is concerned, it is quite infrequent in Thousand and One Nights. Hence, the cause sense of min in this text does not show evidence that semanticization has taken place. The causal sense of min as arising first as an implicature has also been subject to further semanticization and abstraction where in its collocation with the particle ṯamma ‘there’ when forming min ṯamma ‘therefore, hence, for that reason’, it assumes a text-structuring function. As a textual organizer, min ṯamma typically takes the preceding proposition as the cause or reason for what follows. The semantic sense arising from this collocation is therefore the result sense, illustrated in example (33) from the modern literature corpus. (33)  ʾiḏ dafaʿa kullun min-humā niṣfa ṯ-ṯamani since paid.3MSG each of-them.DU half the-price


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wa-min ṯamma fa-huwa yastaḥiqqu l-jāʾizata and-from there so-he 3MSG.deserve.IPFV the-prize ‘Since each of them paid half the price, hence, he deserves one-half of the prize’ (Sleeps 22, 65)

In its function as a textual connector marking the result of the clause, min increases not only its grammaticalization, but also its textual frequency. Not a single instance of min ṯamma is found in the Quranic text. In Thousand and One Nights one occurrence is found, min ṯamma qultu ‘then I said . . . ’ (1001N828, 4) where it marks temporal sequence. In the modern literature corpus, ten occurrences of causal min ṯamma have been retrieved; however, a dramatic textual increase of min ṯamma has occurred in the newspaper corpus, where 8,405 instances have been found. Examination of the specific factors that have led to the discrepancy in the textual distribution between literary and newspaper Arabic, though important, would take us afar, however, it is clear that grammaticalized min ṯamma as a text organizing construction containing min has been shown empirically to widen its textual use and distribution and distances min further from its original semantic source. Another pathway of extension from the ablative source is discernable where min comes to denote the material source or substance of which an entity is constructed. This sense was already prevalent in CA as shown in the example from the Quran below: (34) xalaqa l-ʾinsāna min ṭīnin created.3MSG the-human from mud ‘He has created man from mud’

(Quran 31, 7)

Through metonymic extension, min came to mark the source in spatial relations. Brockelmann’s ([1913] 1966, 2: 399) example, xaraja ṣawtu-hu min bābi l-masjidi ‘his voice came out through the door of the mosque’, illustrates the semantic change min has undergone from marking the substance (min ṭīinin ‘from mud in [34]), to marking of source as a path (i.e., min bābi l-masjidi ‘through the door of the mosque’) in Brockelmann’s example. The source sense that min denotes that has just been discussed may also give rise to causal relations, a more informative pragmatic implicature. In the MSA example, fa-farakat kaffay-hā mina l-bardi ‘so she rubbed her two palms owing to cold [temperature]’, cited in

simple stem “primary” prepositions


El-Ayoubi, Fischer, and Langer (2003, 2: 554), the cold serves as the root cause for the act of rubbing hands. In early Arabic grammatical treatises and beyond, one of the senses that grammarians have associated with min has been the partitive (or part-whole) sense which they labeled at-tabʿīḍ. An example of that sense is (35), found in Thousand and One Nights. (35)  wa-qaṭaʿa qiṭʿatan min ʿimāmati-hi wa-ʿaṣaba and-sliced.3MSG slice of turban-his and-folded.3MSG bi-hā raʾsa-hu with-it head-his ‘And he cut off a piece of his turban and wrapped it around his head’ (1001N 20, 18)

In (35), the qiṭʿatun ‘piece’ literally marks a part of the whole, that is ʿimāmati-hi ‘his turban’. In this instance, both the part and whole are physical objects. This part-whole relation sense later shifted in use from the domain of concrete and tangible objects to the non-physical domain as in (36a) from the modern literature corpus. (36a) wa-marrat bi-nā fī ṭarīqi-hā ʾilā l-xāriji and-passed.3FSG by-us in way-her to the-outside li-ʾādāʾi wājibin min wājibāti-hā to-perform duty of duty.PL-her ‘She passed by us on her way to the outside to perform one of her duties/obligations’ (Miramar 1:43:8)

The wājibin ‘duty, obligation’ as a unit or part of the set of wājibati-hā ‘her duties’ still pertains to the nonphysical domain of conception. Use of min in marking a unit or part of a whole like wājibun min wājibatihā ‘one of her duties’ in (36b) was likely the source of the sense of obligation, authority, and or privilege, particularly in MSA. Examples (36b–c) illustrate these semantic shifts. (36b) al-ḥifāḏ̣u ʿalā l-ʾamni wājibun min wājibāti the-maintenance on the-security duty of duty.PL (36c)

l-ḥukūmati the-government ‘Maintaining security is one of the duties of the government’ al-ḥifāḏ̣u ʿalā l-ʾamni min wājibāti the-maintenance on the-security of duty.PL


chapter six l-ḥukūmati the-government ‘Maintaining security is one of the duties of the government’

In (36b), wājibun min wājibāti denotes a subset of the government’s duties without reference to the full scope of its duties. In (36c), min wājibāti l-ḥukūmati assigns security to be fully under the authority of the government. From this type of semantic relation it is very likely that the construction min + definite participle/adjective that confers an intentional impersonal basis for the meaning of the construction is likely to have emerged. Examples of this construction include min al-wājibi ʾan ‘it is necessary to’; min al-maʿrūfi ʾanna ‘it is well known that’. The semantic function of min in this syntactically fixed position is purely grammatical as it only helps the formation of such syntactic units with very little or no contribution to their overall meaning. While min invariably participates in the generation of the constructions interpreted as it is . . . , the specific semantic meaning of the construction almost exclusively depends on the participial or adjectival form. The obligatorification process that Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 139) suggests is evident in the usage of min in these constructions, particularly since substitutability of min by another preposition or its deletion from the construction is not possible without ensuing ungrammaticality. What this syntactic constraint indicates with respect to the grammaticalization of min is that the presence of the grammaticalized form becomes essential for the well formedness of the construction where it occurs; put differently, in these constructions, min occupies a syntactic slot that cannot go unfilled or be substituted for by another linguistic element. The ablative case function associated with min has also given rise to several highly specialized functions. One such function is its use as a standard comparative particle that has also been found in several Semitic languages (e.g., Hebrew, Aramaic, and Ethiopic), according to Wright ([1874] 1974, 2: 134).12 Throughout the consulted ACT corpora, the comparative sense that min marks has been found in all data sources for this study. In this function, it typically occurs with the nominal forms in the inflected pattern traditionally known in Arabic 12  Also, for use and analysis of min as a marker of comparative in Hebrew, see (Tobin 2002, 145).

simple stem “primary” prepositions


grammar as the ʾaf ʿal form expressing superiority in the same way it is expressed in English by the ending -er (e.g., -er in taller) or as in Arabic ʾakbaru min ‘bigger than’, ʾaṭwalu min ‘taller than’. The grammaticalization pathway that min takes from ablative ‘from’ to comparative ‘than’ has been documented in Heine and Kuteva (2002, 30–31), who provide a number of cross-linguistic examples ranging from ablative case markers (e.g., in Latin Heine and Kuteva cite Stassen’s (1985, 27) example, Cato Ciceron-e (ABL) eloquentier est. ‘Cato is more eloquent than Cicero’, and ablative suffixes (e.g., Turkish -den, -dan), to prepositional forms (e.g., Bulgarian ot ‘from, than’). This semantic shift from the ablative from to the comparative than has also been suggested in Ultan (1972, 131, 134; cited in Heine 1997b, 116) to be linked to “the notion of separation.” While Ultan’s observation was considered “speculation” by Heine, there is suggestive evidence in the ACT corpora that the semantic sense of separation or difference denoted by min may indeed be linked to its comparative sense. By way of example, consider (37) from CA: (37) wa-l-lāhu yaʿlamu l-mufsidu min ṣ-ṣāliḥi and-the-God 3MSG.know.IPFV the-wicked from the-virtuous ‘And God knows the wicked from the virtuous’ (Quran 2, 220)

The contrast in character traits between l-mufsid ‘the wicked’ and ṣ-ṣāliḥ ‘the virtuous’ presented in (37) has the semantic parallel hal taʿrifu l-jayyida min ar-radīʾi ‘dost thou know the good from bad? (Wright’s translation; transcription, mine) in Wright ([1874] 1974, 2: 132). It seems then that distinguishing between two or more entities with respect to a characteristic, feature, or trait may have been the precursor to the comparative sense that min denotes. The input to the differentiation or separation sense that has been identified for min could be traced to contexts where more than one reading is possible in (38) from Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 363, 403): (38)  lā ʾadrī ʾayna raʾsu-hu min rijli-hi not 1SG.know.IPFV where head-his from leg-his ‘I cannot distinguish his head from his leg’/‘I do not know where is his head in relation to his leg?’

Semantic and pragmatic disambiguation of (38) would largely depend on the intonation the speaker uses when uttering the piece of discourse.


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Regardless of which reading is more dominant in (38), it stands to reason that from contexts similar to (38) that the next semantic ambiguity in (39) also results from similar factors. (39)  ʾaynā s-sāʾiru mina ṭ-ṭāʾiri where the-walker from the-bird/aviator ‘What a difference there is between the walker and the bird/aviator’ Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, 2: 363, 403)

Again, to arrive at the intended interpretation of (39), pragmatic factors must be considered. The meaning of (39) is open to at least two interpretations: exclamation and comparison. The choice of one interpretation or another would depend mainly on the context and intonation of the speaker, among other factors. However, from the perspective of semantic grammaticalization, increased informativeness that is possible in contexts like (38) and (39) has likely contributed to the use of min as the comparative marker in Arabic and perhaps in other Semitic languages. Finally, in MSA, a number of syntactic collocations, primarily with nouns denoting directions, such as jihatin ‘direction’, nāḥiyatin ‘side, direction’, or relational nouns, (e.g., ṭarafin ‘edge’) have enabled min to denote the agent sense. There is some evidence that these constructions existed in the pre-modern period as shown in (40). (40) fa-ʾiḏā jāʾa ʾaḥadun min jihati mraʾat-ī so-if came.3MSG someone from direction wife-my

wahabtu la-hu darāhima granted.1SG to-him dirham.PL ‘So if someone related to my wife comes, I will grant him dirhams’ (1001N 34, 4)

In (40) as well as in other near synonyms (e.g., min ṭarafi ‘from the side of ’, min jihati ‘from the direction of ’, min nāḥiyati ‘from the direction of ’), min marks a purely grammatical function that introduces the agent in much the same way as by in security measures undertaken by the government. The case role min serves in this instance goes beyond the semantics at the phrase level to the sentence level. Other more textually oriented functions have also evolved from min jihatin and min nāḥiyatin. These two semantic and syntactic collocations have emerged in Modern Arabic as part of linking duets of

simple stem “primary” prepositions


at least two propositions that have as their second part min jihatin ʾuxrā ‘from another side’ and min nāḥiyatin ʾuxrā ‘on the other side’ respectively. The English equivalent for these clause-linking devices is on the one hand . . . on the other hand. The semantic denotations for these constructions include contrast and concession senses as illustrated in (41): (41) istarxat ʾaʿṣābu šāfʿī wa ʿabduh min relaxed.3FSG nerve.PL Shafʿī and ʿAbduh from

nāḥiyatin wa-tawattart ʾaʿṣābu xunfusin min side and-tensed.3FSG nerve.PL Khunfus from

nāḥiyatin ʾuxrā side another ‘On the one hand, Shafʿī and ʿAbduh’s nerves relaxed, and Khunfu’s nerves became tense on the other hand’ (MahfouzChild 3, 51:38)

The comparison between the two mental states in (41) is organized textually and logically through min nāḥiyatin ‘on the one hand’ and min nāḥiyatin ʾuxrā ‘on the other hand’. From the foregoing analysis of the semantic senses that min has developed diachronically, which are reflected in its complex synchronic polysemy network of interrelated meanings, not only did its semantic range expand and generalize across many conceptual domains, but also its specialization has increased for marking notable grammatical functions like comparisons between entities, regardless of their nature. 6.4.2  Formal grammaticalization of min As stated at the beginning of the previous section, the morphological properties of min indicate synchronic detachment from a lexical source. Its lack of inflectional variability is one of the strongest indicators of such a status. Another more important indicator of its advanced degree of grammaticalization is its formation of syntactic complexes involving other prepositional forms. These include, in the order of frequency in ACT from high to low, in CA qabla ‘before’, baʿda’ after’, dūna ‘without, below’. In these prepositional complexes (e.g., min qablu/qabli ‘previously, prior’), min heads prepositional phrases and syntactically outranks all less grammaticalized prepositions with which it collocates. In this function, min thus helps create stable adverbial constructions in tight syntactic relations that do not


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permit permutations or paradigmatic variability with other prepositions. That is, of all other primary prepositions in Arabic, only min performs that function and without it the constructions are ill formed. Furthermore, qabla ‘before’, which takes a nominal complement when preceded by min, ceases to do so and instead becomes intransitive and its meaning undergoes a semantic shift before > previously. It stands to reason that min functions as an adverbializing formative (i.e., a particle) whose collocation with other less-grammaticalized prepositionals is syntactically and semantically motivated. Collocations with other prepositions for min are not limited to it being the ultimate syntactic head of the phrase. It can also help form complex prepositions and, in doing so, may occur as the second preposition (P2 position). One such case is ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’. Occupying this syntactic slot, min still maintains a highly grammaticalized function since the degree of grammaticality of the complex prepositional phrase as a unit of grammar depends on it. As evidence of its advanced grammaticalization, min in this function is not paradigmatically substitutable with other prepositions, which, again I view as an indicator of what Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 139) labels “obligatorification.” That is, construction of those complexes and their grammaticality hinges on its presence. Another prominent grammatical function for min in CA is its usage as a negation emphasizer as in (42): (42)  qul ʾinna-mā ʾanā munḏirun wa-mā min say.2MSG.IMP that-what I cautioner and-not from

ʾilāhin ʾillā l-lāhu l-wāḥidu l-qahhāru god except the-God the-One the-Conqueror ‘Say, truly am I a Cautioner, no god but Allah, the One Supreme’ (Quran 38, 65)

I suggest that out of the negation constructions above containing mā . . . min ‘not a single item of ’ where min functions as a negation emphasizer through syntactic reanalysis, there evolved a relative construction where mā is not a negation particle but an indefinite relative particle. Compare (43a) with (43b) below: (43a) mā ʾaʿṭā-nī min kitābin not gave.3MSG-me from book ‘He has not given me a single book’

simple stem “primary” prepositions


(43b) šakartu-hu ʿalā mā ʾaʿṭā-nī min kitābin thanked.3MSG-him on what gave.3MSG-me from books ‘I thanked him for what he gave me in the way of books/I thanked him for what books he has given me’

In each of the mā . . . min collocations, a distinct function is observable. In (43a), mā . . . min serves a negation function where the negated entity is categorically denied. In example (43b), the syntactic collocation is used for relativization where an overt antecedent is lacking. In grammaticalization studies, negation has been shown to be the source for yes-no questions (e.g., Tibto-Burman languages cited in Harris and Campbell 1995, 294–5); however, I have not encountered a single study documenting a grammaticalization process similar to the one just mentioned for the mā . . . min construction. This type of semantic reanalysis should be of interest to grammaticalizationists in future research. For now, suffice it to say that in MSA the mā . . . min construction denoting negation has completely disappeared and such a collocation now only serves the relativization function, particularly with inanimate, implicit antecedents. Like fī ‘in, at’ and ʿalā ‘above, on’, min forms a phrasal constituent with verbs (e.g., taxallaṣa min ‘get rid of ’, tamakkana min ‘to strengthen, able, possess’, najā min ‘be safe from’). It appears that in some of these verb-preposition constructions min is not the only preposition to co-occur with a verb; one such case is the verb tamakkana, which in Thousand and One Nights, although frequently collocated with min, also took fī ‘in, at’, and ʿinda ‘at’ as illustrated in (44a) and (44b) respectively: (44a) wa-ḥtaḍanat-hu wa-qabbalat-hu wa-tamakkana and-embraced.3FSG-him and-kissed.3FSG-him and-possessed.3MSG

ḥubbu-hu fī qalbi-hā wa-bāḥat love-his in heart-her and-revealed.3FSG

la-hu bi-sirri-hā to-him with-secret-her ‘And she embraced and kissed him and his love spread in her heart and she revealed her secret to him’ (1001N 49, 25) (44b) wa-tamakkana ḥubbu-hā ʿind-ī and-strengthened.3MSG love-her at-me ‘And her love for me was strengthened’ (1001N 22, 55)


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Diachronically, however, the competition with other prepositions resulted in min being recognized as the standard preposition to form a verb-preposition construction with tamakkana in MSA. It is interesting to note the semantic shift that resulted from the common frequency of the collocation of tamakkana with min. In Thousand and One Nights, the most frequently encountered sense for this collocation was the control and strengthening senses in reference to physical or conceptual entities. In the modern literature corpus, on the other hand, the meaning shifted to mark ability or possibility, although the earlier sense is still present in some contexts. Consider example (45): (45)  fa-qad yamurru waqtun ṭawīlun qabla so-ASP 3MSG.pass.IPFV time long before

ʾan ʾatamakkana min ziyārati-him to from visit-them.M ‘Perhaps a long time will pass before I am able to visit them’ (Rememberance 1, 307)

This pathway of semantic change, to my knowledge, has not been encountered before in grammaticalization studies. The closest to this pathway is Bybee’s (1994) identification of the pathway from deontic mood-marking obligation to epistemic modality, that is, for example, must do something semantically shifts to must be something. The semantic shift associated with tamakkana min into marking ability requires further investigation, particularly of the motivating factors contributing to effecting the change. As was noted earlier, min is used as the standard comparative particle in all varieties of Arabic. It has also served this specialized function in CA and perhaps even before the codification of that variety. As an ablative source for comparative constructions, min joins a great number of similar grammaticalized particles that underwent semantic change from from > than. Building on earlier cross-linguistic studies by Ultan (1972) and Stassen (1985), Heine (1997, 115) observes that one of the eight main source schemas for comparative constructions, the ablative schemas to which particles similar to min belong, are one of the most widely used sources for comparative constructions worldwide. What is more important in Heine’s analysis of this particular schema is that while it constitutes 66% of all Asian languages, it is not the main schema used in languages of Africa and the Middle East

simple stem “primary” prepositions


where Heine has found the action schema to be the most common, as it constitutes 65% (Ibid., 128). In light of this empirical evidence, min, while the standard comparison marker in Arabic and the most common worldwide, belongs to a marginal schema in the Middle East. Another notable indicator of increased grammaticalization of min is its frequent use as an introducer of agents in passive constructions, particularly in Arabic journalese. The following example from al-Hayāt newspaper illustrates this usage: (46)  ʾilā ʾanna l-filma qūbila bi-stiḥsānin except that the-film met.3MSG.PAS with-favorable

min qibali baʿḍi l-miṣriyyina from part of some Egyptian.PL ‘However, the film has been well received by some Egyptians’ (Hayat 1996 GEN, 5720)

In this purely grammatical function, min collocates most frequently with the noun qibali ‘on the part of ’ to introduce the agent in this passive construction. It would appear that this function for min qibali is “contact-induced” under the influence of European languages. This assumption is in agreement with Blau (1973, 187–188) who has traced this influence specifically to Greek. The reason for this assumption is that Arabic grammar does not typically permit an explicit agent to be expressed in passive constructions, hence, if the agent is known, the clause must be constructed in the active voice. With the grammaticalization of the collocation min qibali to mark the agent, it became possible to state the agent overtly in passive constructions and, consequently, the introduction of this new sentence type into Arabic grammar was possible with this expanded use of min. The patterns of textual frequency of min qibali in the ACT corpus raise some important questions. In the Quranic text, this collocation was not attested, however, in Thousand and One Nights eight instances were found. The context of occurrence reveals that it was rarely used as an introducer of agent in passive constructions, as the following example from Thousand and One Nights illustrates: (47) fa-raʾā-hu mahmūman min qibali l-ḥiṣāni so-saw.3MSG-him concerned from by the-horse ‘He saw him concerned about the horse’ (1001N734, 1)


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In (47), min qibali introduces the object of concern (i.e., l-ḥiṣāni ‘the horse’) of the person described in the narrative, rather than marking the agent. In fact, example (47) does not at all suggest a passive reading and, even if it does, the horse cannot function as an agent. Another related usage of min qibali in Thousand and One Nights is its reference to the means or medium through which an action takes place, as in (48): (48) kalāmu-hā min qibali l-qināʿi talk-her from by the-mask ‘Her talking through the mask’

In the modern literature corpus, the frequency of min qibali, contrary to expectation, declined to six instances, however, all of them were indicative of usage in passive constructions as (49) illustrates. (49) fa-qad kāna maḥbūban min qibali l-jamīʿi so-ASP was.3MSG beloved from by the-everybody ‘He was beloved by everyone’ (RiyadGirls 17,3)

The question that this decline in textual frequency raises is the remark Blau (1973, 187) makes in support of Brockelmann’s ([1913] 1966, 2:134–144) claim that in many Semitic languages, including Arabic, the usage of min in marking the agent in passive constructions has become frequent. Without citing the data source for this claim, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find the empirical basis for such a claim, nevertheless, in the newspaper corpus of ACT, more than 26,00013 instances of the use of min qibali have been retrieved. With this discrepancy in textual distribution of the construction in mind, it seems that the widespread use that Brockelmann and Blau alluded to is confined to Arabic newspapers. Turning to the range of complements min takes, in additional to nominals and primary prepositions, deictic particles such as the proximal hunā ‘here’ have also combined with it to form collocations. While none of the deictic complements were attested in the Quranic text, seventeen instances were found in Thousand and One Nights. In all of them, the referential denotation of hunā was still intact; that is,

13   Given the impossibility of filtering all other usages through a manual count of all retrieved instances, this approximate figure is the best accurate estimate available at the present.

simple stem “primary” prepositions


they all refer to the spatio-physical domain, however in the modern literature corpus, 103 instances are found of min hunā ‘from here’, most of which still belong to the spatial domain. Of that total, twenty-seven were non-spatial senses denoting a sense pertaining to the textual function marking the result sense, similar to its collocation with ṯamma discussed in the previous section. In this derived function, min hunā marks the speaker’s departure point from the preceding proposition rather than reference to spatial relation per se. Of the 103 instances, 5 show transition in the functional change from the spatio-physical to the textual domain where interpretation is ambiguous between the two functions. Examples (50a) and (50b) illustrate the difference between the two functions: (50a)  (50b)

lā ʾaḏkuru ʾann-ī mararatu min hunā not 1SG.remember.IPFV that-I passed.1SG from here ‘I do not recall that I passed by here’ (AhlamFouda 6:168) li-ʾanna-hā turīḥu-hu wa-tuʿīdu for-that-she 3FSG.comfort.IPFV-him and-3FSG.return.IPFV

ʾilay-hi t-tawāzuna wa-tamnaḥu-hu l-iḥtirāma min to-him the-balance and-3FSG.grant.IPFV-him the-respect from

hunā yataṭallaʿu dāʾiman ʾilā  ʿilāqatin here 3MSG.look.IPFV forward always to relationship

mustaqirratin steady ‘Because she comforts him and brings back balance to him and grants him respect, hence, he always looks forward to a steady relationship’ (Yaqub 2, 27:1)

In (50a), min hunā clearly refers to a specific spatial location, however, there is no possible spatial reference detected for min hunā in (50b). The proposition in the initial subordinate clause functions as a prelude to the clause following min hunā. The function of min hunā is thus to connect the two clauses, the subordinate and the main clause, in terms of logic. This semantic and syntactic collocation, which textually links two propositions, one serving as the source for the conclusion to the second, is syntactically tight and semantically specialized. To illustrate, the proximal hunā ‘here’ cannot be substituted with hunāka ‘there’ without loss of semantic sense. One of the main indicators of the highly grammaticalized nature of min is its generalization and vast textual frequency in ACT, which


chapter six Table 6.6  Diachronic Textual Frequency of min



Thousand and One Nights

Modern literature

Total frequency Frequency per 100,000 words

3,400 3,780.82

18,551   2,744

25,898   2,196.52

surpasses all of the prepositional forms discussed thus far. The frequency data shown below provides evidence of its dramatic diachronic increase from CA to MSA. The frequency data in table 6.6 presents a paradox. While the absolute frequency counts conform to the expectation of an overall dramatic diachronic increase over the period under study, the frequency per 100,000 shows a trend in the opposite direction, that is, diminished frequency per 100,000 words. How can this anomaly in frequency statistics be explained, particularly from the perspective of the grammaticalization framework, where textual frequency, which correlates strongly with generalization, predicts an increase in overall frequency? One possible key to understanding this unexpected diachronic inconsistency is to consider the frequency of similarly functioning linguistic elements with which min competes. That is, in its linking function that marks result, one should consider other particles or compounds that perform the same function and see whether min in its various collocations could potentially substitute for those elements in such contexts. For example, where min hunā is used to mark result on the linked clauses, it competes with li-ḏālika ‘therefore’ and li-hāḏā ‘thus, therefore’. At 278 instances in the modern literature corpus, li-ḏālika occurred more than twice as often as min hunā, and li-hāḏā occurred 168 times in the same texts as min hunā. In ranking order, of the two clause linkers performing similar semantic and syntactic functions, min hunā ranked third in overall textual frequency. Another possible reason for the decline in frequency diachronically is the usage of min in semantic functions of a more abstract nature. Given the general preponderance of the concrete over the abstract in textual frequency, reduction in occurrences per 100,000 words comes as no surprise. Other possible factors may have contributed to the diachronic decline in textual frequency of min.

simple stem “primary” prepositions


As it has been pointed out in the earlier discussion of the use of min in collocations involving other primary (e.g., min ʿalā ‘from above’) and emerging prepositional forms and constructions (e.g., the PNP ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min), it is conceivable that reductions of these complexes (e.g., min ʿalā > ʿalā, and PNP bi-/ʿalā r-raγmi min > raγma) obviates the need for min in the constructions, however additional research is required to substantiate these claims and, more importantly, identify other conceivable factors pertaining to conceptual saliency that have contributed to this downtrend in textual frequency for min (per 100,000 words). Investigation of those points, although beneficial, would take us beyond the scope of this inquiry. Two other notable instances of further fusion with interrogative elements that turn the autonomous min into a prefix through morphologization are: (1) fusion with man ‘who’ as in mimman ‘from whom’; and (2) with the polysemous particle mā (‘what’, relative pronoun, interrogative), resulting in its appearance in affixal form in mimmā and mimma ‘from which’, and ‘from what’ respectively. Finally, there is scant evidence that min had already grammaticalized to a CV syllable but without fusion, as in mi l-ʾān ‘from now’ cited in Lisān al-ʿArab (6, 4282); however, it is not clear in the citation whether this was in literary or spoken variety or both and the frequency of this usage was not addressed. Phonological reductions in these cases are symptomatic of an advanced stage of grammaticalization. In present-day Arabic dialects, min continues its maturation along the grammaticalization channel. Its fusion with the definite article is more extensive and widespread, (e.g., mi-l-bēt ‘from the house’); it also fuses with the dialectal relative pronoun ʾillī ‘who, whoever’, resulting in mi-llī as in millī ḥaṣal ‘from what happened’; and finally with the interrogative ʾayna ‘where’ it forms the univerbated form min ʾayna > minēn ‘from where’. All in all, given the extensive nature of its semantic polysemy, conditioned by its contextual use and the composition of its phonological substance, min exhibits levels of grammaticalization that surpass those of prepositions discussed thus far. Finally, the possible focal stages in the grammaticalization of min are sketched in table 6.7 below:


chapter six Table 6.7  Major Stages in the Grammaticalization of min




Pre-Classical/ Lexical (possibly) Classical Classical Adverbial formant/ preposition


Focal function



Comparative marker



Negation marker




Modern (written)

Sub-constituent of prepositional verbs Preposition, clause linking function


Modern (spoken)




Noun (possibly) Preposition


min + prepositional form + LM ʾafʿalu min Particle ‘superior than’ mā . . . min ‘not a Particle single X’ tamakkan min Adprep

min ṯamma/min Text hunā ‘hence’ organizing function Cliticized preposition mi- ‘from’ Clitic and formant

Conclusion While each of the three primary prepositions discussed in this chapter has a distinct history in Arabic and varying time depths in the Semitic language family, they share certain common properties of relevance to grammaticalization. When compared to other prepositional forms analyzed in earlier chapters, they are by far the most frequent ones textually. This observation is not limited to their occurrences in the ACT, which is the primary source of empirical data used in this study, but also for other corpora as well. In a summary of the top thirty words containing fī ‘in, at’, ʿalā ‘on’, and min ‘from, of ’, and other prepositions and particles that were encountered in the online search engine Google, carried out by in February 1999, 2001, and August 2002, min, ʿalā, and fī consistently topped all other linguistic elements in overall Google frequency. Table 6.8 below is a partial representation of those frequencies and is adopted from the study just mentioned, which may be accessed at wordlist.html.

simple stem “primary” prepositions


Table 6.8 Top Ranking Prepositions in online Frequency Search Feb




1 2 3

fī min ʿalā






5,645,218 3,871,153 2,310,879

1 2 3

min fī ʿalā







13,624,732 18,817,693   7,508,546

1 2 3

min fī ʿalā

26,533,543 36,615,810 14,173,880

Copyright © 2003 by Tim Buckwalter. Reprinted by permission of Qamus LLC.

Given their high ranking in textual frequency in Google, which the author of those statistics describes as the “mother of all corpora,” it is evident that the three prepositions discussed in this chapter continue to generalize in their function and are used in a wider range of contexts. The three prepositions that have been the focus of this chapter have also shown characteristics akin to linguistic items in the advanced degree of their grammaticalization. One of those characteristics is the development of complex semantic networks of interrelated senses. Within these semantic expansions, their source meanings have been stretched and altered to the point of bleaching of their erstwhile meanings. One of the consequences of those semantic changes is the juxtaposition of the lexical source next to the grammaticalized form (e.g., fī f-rāso ḥāga ‘there is something on his mind’) without ensuing ungrammaticality. As another characteristic resulting from their generalized functions, they collocate with other linguistic elements that later came to serve prepositional functions on their own. Specialization of some of their functions is a third characteristic. One such case is the use of min as the standard marker of comparison. Formal grammaticalization of these forms shows that they collocated with other emerging prepositional forms. In so doing, they helped introduce what Lehmann (1986, 3) labels “secondary prepositions.” Examples of these formations are fī xilāli, lit. ‘in through’ > xilāla ‘during’, ʿalā šarṭi ‘on the condition that’ > šarṭa ‘on the condition that’, min dūni ‘from beneath’ > dūna ‘without, below’. In this aspect, min appears to be more advanced in its grammaticalization than any other member in its group since it has been numerically shown to surpass ʿalā and fī in forming those compound-like collocations. Some of the prepositional formations of min include min fawqu ‘from above’, min taḥtu ‘from below’, min xalfi ‘from behind’, which are not available for


chapter six

either fī or ʿalā. Moreover, min, in certain contexts, precedes another “primary” grammaticalized preposition syntagmatically; when this happens, it can govern it and modify its meaning from a prepositional to an adverbial sense, hence min ʿalā, lit. ‘from on’ is in fact ‘from above’. A similar compound appears in Sayhadic with b- ‘in, by, with’ b-ʿly ‘above’ (Kogan and Korotayev 1997, 237). The process of utilizing older (primary) prepositions in the formation of emerging prepositional forms is not unique to Arabic. This productive process seems to have its roots in earlier times in Semitic languages. Kaufman (1997, 124) observes that in Aramaic the development of new prepositions typically involved collocations with “simple common Semitic prepositions,” i.e. primary ones as in mn gb ‘from the top’ and mn byny ‘from between’. Similarly, Gragg (1997, 255) observes that complex prepositions like bä-qädmä ‘in front of ’ are common in Geʿez (Ethiopic). Unlike the other prepositional forms discussed hitherto, fī, ʿalā, and min form syntactic units with verbs. This is one of the hallmarks of attainment of an advanced degree of grammaticalization as these prepositional forms begin to operate within the scope of verbs. As has been demonstrated in such a function, the prepositions in question functioning as adpreps have double constituency with the preceding verb and the following nominal complement. I have addressed the semantic and formal consequences of their collocations with these prepositional verbs in bringing about shifts in semantic functions and modification to the transitivity for verbs with which they form constituents. Their role within verb phrases ranges from purely grammatical (e.g., ḥaṣala ʿalā ‘obtained’) to purely semantic (e.g., intahā min al-filmi ‘he ended the [making of] the film’ versus intahā l-filmu ‘the film ended’, [Mitchell and El-Hassan 1994, 92]). However, unlike their counterparts in other languages such as English and Arabic, prepositional verbs do not form tight syntactic units with their prepositions, as the latter permit separation and would fail most of the tests mentioned in O’Dowd’s (1998, 15) study of English prepositions and particles, labeled P-forms in her study. Another important characteristic of the three prepositions analyzed in this chapter is their grammatical specialization as morphemes performing non-prepositional functions. In the case of fī, its usage as an existential marker that has acquired the meaning there is/are in spoken Arabic has been demonstrated. In that function, fī at times appears as

simple stem “primary” prepositions


a yes-no interrogative, usually accompanied by a suffix pronoun, (e.g., fī[h] šāy ‘is there [any] tea?’ in Egyptian Arabic), or unaccompanied by such a pronoun (i.e., alone) as a participant in negated clauses, such as in the Lebanese mā fī dāʿī taʿrifnī ‘there is no need for you to know me’ (Mitchell and el-Hassan 1994, 35). In the case of ʿalā as a prefix in ʿa-šān ‘because’, it has become the standard form to express reason or justification in replies to whyinterrogatives. As for min, it has in CA and other intra Arabic layers assumed the standard marking for comparatives and as the agent introducer in the construction min qibali ‘by’ in passive clauses. In that function, min has introduced a new type of clause structure that was previously unavailable in Arabic. Moreover, in these highly grammaticalized functions, each of the three prepositional forms fī, ʿalā, and min can no longer be substituted for by other prepositions, nor do any of them form a semantic contrast with other prepositions. That is, they have lost what Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 137) labels “paradigmatic variability.” In spite of the properties outlined above that would indicate their attainment of an advanced degree of grammaticalization, the three forms still would not rank the highest on the gradational grammaticalization scale as envisaged in this study. The prepositional forms, bi- ‘in, at, with’ and li- ‘to, for’ that I discuss in the following chapter outrank these three prepositional forms in their polysemies and polyfunctionalities.

chapter seven

Bound-Stem Prepositional Forms 7.1  Introduction In this chapter, the semantic and formal grammaticalization of the two most grammaticalized prepositional forms in Arabic, li- ‘to, for’ and bi- ‘in, at, with’, are examined. These two forms lack autonomous existence without a host as they exist primarily in a cliticized form. Graphically, they appear in mono-consonantal forms prefixed to their head-nouns across the Semitic languages.1 Given their existence in this dependent form, they qualify as “non-root” grammaticalized forms according to the Croft (2003, 255) classification of compound types. Members of this class, which also includes ka- ‘as, like’ and ta- the oath particle (which have fallen out of use in MSA), do not share any semantic connection to each other; that is, they neither form semantic contrasts with each other nor are they in complementary distribution. Their categorization as a subset of prepositional forms is based on formal and functional grounds: their existence in short, bound forms as clitics with complex polysemy networks is what brought them together as a prepositional subclass, which on the lower end of their grammaticalization continuum performs prepositional functions, and on the upper end of their grammaticalization continuum decategorizes and loses their preposition status. In the case of li-, it lexicalizes after having formed a tight unit with another particle (e.g., mā ‘what’ + lipossessive particle > māl2 ‘why’ interrogative as well as ‘wealth, asset’ [Singer 1958, 177]). In the case of bi-, it undergoes phonogenesis (e.g., jāʾa ‘come’ + bi ‘with’ > jāb ‘brought’) where it ceases to have a recognizable morphemic existence.

 I am grateful to an anonymous Brill reviewer for this observation.  In certain Arabic dialects (i.e., Kuwaiti and Iraqi) māl, feminine mālat, or plural mālōt are used as genitive exponents (Brustad 2000, 72). Use of māl in those dialects will be discussed in 7.2.2 below. 1 2


chapter seven 7.2  Grammaticalization of li- ‘to, for’

7.2.1  Semantic grammaticalization of liThe form li- has a long documented Semitic existence that predates Arabic. Its attestation in various Semitic languages with varying time depths shows some diversity with respect to the extent of its phonetic reduction, vacillating between a single consonant or CV-structure, but not in its basic meaning, which is essentially allative. The following are some examples of its manifestations in Semitic: Ancient Hebrew lә̌- (Steiner 1997, 155); Sayhadic l- (Kogan and Korotayev 1997, 237); Geʿez (Ethiopic), lä- ‘to’ (Gragg 1997, 255); and Amharic and Argobba lä- ‘to’ (Hudson 1997, 481). Perhaps all of the variegated Semitic appearances just cited led Gray ([1934] 1971) to propose a Proto-Semitic origin *la ‘to’ as the source for all descendent Semitic languages. In the absence of documented evidence and in its existing reduced form, li- is very difficult to relate to a lexical origin. To my knowledge, there is no documented history that establishes its link to a lexical ancestry. However, Wright ([1874] 1974, 2: 147) relates li- etymologically to the autonomous Arabic preposition ʾilā ‘towards, to’.3 His suggested historical relatedness between the two forms conforms to the premise of this study in that the earlier fuller form ʾilā frequently denotes relatively concrete relations pertaining to direction in the spatio-temporal domains of conception. There also seems to be a parallel development in Hebrew where el > l- has taken place (Newman 2000, cited in Tobin 2008, 278). While li- still semantically overlaps with ʾilā in those domains, it designates far more abstract relations (e.g., dative, benefactive, possessive, etc.), which ʾilā fails to mark, as the examples (1a) and (1b) illustrate: (1a) ištaraytu sitāran li-n-nāfid̠̱ati bought.1SG curtain for-the-window ‘I bought a curtain for the window’ (1b) ištaraytu sitāran ʾilā n-nāfid̠ati bought.1SG curtain toward the-window *‘I bought a curtaintoward the window’

 Procházka (1995, 419) also seems to relate li- and ʾilā at least functionally in modern Arabic dialects when he states “these two prepositions have merged into one in nearly all vernaculars. So, from a [sic] synchronic point of view, we have only one preposition, serving the functions for both li- and ʾilā (Emphasis is in original). 3

bound-stem prepositional forms


In the treatises of medieval Arabic grammarians, li- was consistently recognized as a preposition alongside several other phonologically reduced ones sharing the CV- structure, such as bi- ‘at, with’, ka- ‘as, like’, and two oath particles (as in ‘by God’): wa- and ta- (Ibn Hišām Qaṭr, 278). Of this subclass of prepositions, ta- fell out of use in modern Arabic, which is indicative of the diachronic change in the prepositional inventory where older, functionally obsolete prepositions are purged and their functions are taken over by non-prepositional forms, such as wa- ‘and’ in this case resulting in wa-l-lāhi ‘by God’. In CA, at least twenty-two senses were identified with li- in Ibn Hišām’s seminal monograph on Arabic particles and prepositions, Muγnī al-Labīb (I, 175–184). Most of these can be unambiguously subsumed under fewer semantic clusters. For example, his istiḥ qāq ‘possession’ (e.g., al-ḥ amdu li-l-lāhi ‘praise be to God’); ixtiṣāṣ ‘monopoly, privilege’ (al-jannatu li-l-muʾminīna ‘paradise is for the believers’); mulk ‘ownership’ (hād̠ā l-mālu li-zaydin ‘this money is Zayd’s = it is Zayd’s money’); tamlīk ‘conveyance of ownership’ (wahabtu li-zaydin dīnāran ‘I have granted one dinar to Zayd’); šibh tamlīk ‘quasi ownership’ from the Quran (jaʿala la-kum min ʾanfusik-kum ʾazwājan ‘He has made for you husbands and wives from thy selves’). Shades of several of these meanings may fit under the possession sense. Eight of the twenty-two senses are also context-dependent where in those cases li- functions as a semantic substitute for other prepositions like ʾilā ‘toward, to’; fī ‘in, at’; min ‘from, of ’, etc. In modern Arabic, Hans Wehr Dictionary (1994, 998–999) cites almost seventy glosses for this form, which illustrates the multitude of functions and polysemic senses it has accumulated over time. Given the focused interest in this study on the semantic grammaticalization of li-, I shall concentrate on the development of a complex network of polysemy and attempt to present a partial reconstruction of some of the semantic senses and functions associated with li-. Following the model for development of a network of allative case markers in Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 151), presented below is a somewhat modified model that effectively accounts for the development of several senses for li-. Like Heine and his colleagues, I shall take allative as the source for all other case functions that follow. The schematized structure below in figure 7.1 represents the possible evolutionary tracks for the development of the semantic senses associated with li-.


chapter seven Allative Locative


Intended Recepient Purpose




Cause Analytic genitive Manner

Subordinator Figure 7.1 Diachronic shifts in the semantic evolution of li-

It is important to note from the outset that more than one cognitive mechanism is responsible for the development of some of these senses. For example, the evolution from locative to temporal is metaphoric in nature, whereas the change from possession to attachment is metonymic. Considering the evolution from locative to temporal, change from the spatial to the temporal domain is an overwhelmingly recurring pattern of semantic change that has been attested in numerous genetically unrelated languages. Haspelmath’s (1997) typological study of fifty-three languages puts forth convincing evidence for such crosslinguistically common semantic transfer from space to time. Examples of locative and temporal functions for li- are shown in (2a) and (2b) respectively. (2a) ḥ attā until

ʾid̠ā when

ʾaqallat transported.3FSG

saḥ āban cloud.PL

t̠iqālan heavy

suqnā-hu li-baladin mayyitin drove.1PL-it to-land dead ‘When it transports heavy clouds (rain-bearing clouds), we drive them to a dead land’ (Quran 7, 57)

bound-stem prepositional forms


(2b) hād̠ā mā tūʿadūna li-yawmi l-ḥ isābi this what 2MPL.promise.PASS for-day the-reckoning ‘This is what you are promised for the Day of Judgment’ (Quran 38, 53)

In (2a) li- refers to spatial direction and, in such a usage, it is interchangeable with ʾilā ‘toward, to’. In (2b) it locates a temporal event (Day of Judgment) in the future. The cognitive mechanism responsible for such a transfer across categories is undoubtedly metaphoric in nature, taking as its source the allative sense with its unidirectionality expressed in a spatio-directional sense and mapping it onto an event in the unidimensional temporal domain. Considering the semantic continuum in the grammaticalization from allative to benefactive in the tree diagram above, (3a) and (3b) below illustrate these two distinct senses respectively. Whereas in (3a) TR motion towards an unknown LM is marked, in (3b) there is no such action involved. Tyler and Evans (2003, 147) make a useful distinction between what they label as “purposeful” and “non-purposeful” movement in their distinction between to and for in English. It appears that this distinction highlights the difference between (3a) and (3b) below. The goal of the movement in (3a) is not expressed, for the relationship that li- profiles in the example is that of an additional step that the TR has taken regardless of whether it was intentional or not. In (3b), however, in the la-hu phrase, which is headed by li-, the intention of the TR (singing to the person mentioned) is clearly stated; that is, the action of the TR is purposeful. (3a) madda extended.3MSG

xuṭwatu-hu step-his

li-l-ʾamāmi to-the-front

wa-ʾanā and-I

ʾatbaʿu-hu 1SG.follow.IPFV-him ‘He extended his step forward and I followed him’ (3b) fa-ʾaḥ ḍara-hā wa-γannat so-brought.3MSG-her and-sang.3FSG

(Chi 16, 81) la-hu for-him

la-hu min-hā to-him from-her

wa-ʾaṭrabat-hu and-enchanted.3FSG-him

fa-ḥ aṣala so-happened.3MSG

surūrun ʿadị̱̄ mun happiness great ‘And he brought her and she sang for him and enchanted him and brought him great happiness’ (1001N 355, 35)

Along the continuum of semantic shifts, there may be cases where allative and purposive senses overlap, for example, jarā li-ʾaxī-hi ‘he


chapter seven

ran to/for his brother’ may produce the reading he ran to his brother as well as he ran for his brother, that is, on behalf of his brother. Examples like this one that generate more than one reading illustrate the subtleties encountered in semantic shifts where old and new meanings overlap, often resulting in ambiguity in meanings. The semantic sense denoted by li- below, due to its extreme closeness to the benefactive sense in (3b), is likely to be regarded as one and the same, however, following Tyler and Evans (2003, 154), who introduced the intended recipient sense, I find their semantic distinction between benefactive and intended recipient senses holds well in differentiating between (3b) and (4). Whereas in (3b) there is no doubt that the recipient has obtained the benefit (i.e., singing) intended for him, in (4), it is doubtful that he did, as the tag question that follows amplifies the doubt and makes it clear that while the purpose of cooking the fish was for the intended person to eat it, the beneficiary of that action may decline or alternatively may have failed to receive it. (4) la-qad EMPH-ASP

ṭabaxtu cooked.1SG

la-ka for-you-MSG

samakan fish

il-yawma the-day

tuḥ ibbu s-samaka ʾa-laysa ka-d̠ālika the-fish Q-not.3MSG as-that.MSG ‘I have cooked fish for you today; you like fish, don’t you?’ (Smell 1, 2:46)

Considering the fine distinction between the benefactive and intended recipient senses just described, it is worth noting that in the benefactive sense, as highlighted in Tyler and Evans (2003, 154), the receipt of benefit is the intended goal as has already been demonstrated in (3b) above. In (4) the cooking of fish was exclusively designed and carried out for an intended person to eat, regardless of whether that person consumes the prepared meal. What is most important to notice here is the pragmatic strengthening of li, which in this context strongly connects the recipient to the purpose of the action of the TR. Given such a correlation between the recipient and the purpose for which the action was carried out, the intended recipient sense thus is located between the benefactive sense and purpose. The purpose sense, while an implicature in (4), is conventionalized in (5) below: (5) wāḍiḥ un ʾanna-ka taltazimu bi-ṣ-ṣamti iḥ tirāman clear that-you.MSG 2MSG.adhere.IPFV with-silence respect

bound-stem prepositional forms


li-ʿahdi ṣ-ṣadāqati for-oath the-friendship ‘It is clear that you adhere to silence out of respect for the oath of friendship’ (Karnak 2, 2:57)

The preposition li- in (5), following the verbal noun in the accusative iḥ trāman ‘respect’, marks purpose, as this collocation has justifiably been labeled in the Arabic grammatical tradition “accusative of purpose.” The verbal noun must be followed by a preposition, most often li- in these constructions, whose function is to explicate the purpose or reason for the action denoted by the matrix verb taltazimu ‘adhere/ pledge’ to silence in (5). In denoting the cause sense, li- collocates with several particles: proximal deictic hād̠ā ‘this’, distal deictic d̠ālika ‘that’, and the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’. It is instructive to follow one of these causal senses diachronically from such collocations. In Thousand and One Nights, the collocation li-hād̠ā, lit. ‘for this = therefore’, occurred fiftynine times. In 94.2% of those times, it had a referential meaning like the one expressed in (6a): (6a) lābudda ʾanna inevitable that

li-hād̠ā l-mamlūka for-this.MSG the-male slave

min of

sababin reason

ʿajībin mysterious ‘There must be a mysterious reason for this male slave’ (1001N 319, 2)

The combination li-hād̠ā refers to the male slave, and as such it agrees with it in its inflection for gender, however, when expressing a causal sense, no gender agreement takes place, as shown in (6b): (6b) xuṭūratu-hā peril-her/its

laysat not

fī in

quwwati-hā power-her

ʾinnamā however

fī in

ḥ umrati redness

γuwāyati-hā wa-rubbamā li-hād̠ā yaṣʿubu ʿalā seduction-her and-perhaps for-this.MSG difficult.IPFV on

n-nāḏiri ʾilay-hā muqāwamatu-hā ̣ the-onlooker to-her resisting-her ‘Its peril is not in its power, rather, it is in the enticing redness and therefore perhaps it is difficult for its viewer to resist it’ (AhlamAbir 7, 230)

Additional remarks about li-hād̠ā in (6b) are warranted. First, it will be recalled that there is no gender agreement between li-hād̠ā and the


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entities to which it is supposed to refer. Second, the deictic element hād̠ā lacks a required nominal element if used referentially. Third, the li-hād̠ā collocation reflects the speaker’s personal conclusion as it pertains to the characteristics of the item described in that proposition. Taken together, the remarks presented here allude to the increased grammaticalization of li-hād̠a in the modern literature corpus as compared to Thousand and One Nights. Additional supporting evidence for such an increase in the degree of its grammaticalization is found in the great disparity in textual frequency of li-hād̠ā in both periods. It will be recalled that li-hād̠ā occurred 59 times in Thousand and One Nights, and, of those instances, in only 05.8% did it mark cause. In the modern literature data of the ACT, however, li-hād̠ā occurred 162 times, and, of those instances, 40.7% denoted cause. This dramatic increase in textual frequency can be attributed unequivocally to its semantic shift toward marking cause, a more generalized, yet fundamental relation. Finally, grammaticalization of li-, when combined with the complementizer ʾanna ‘to’, has resulted in its use as a subordinating conjunction in embedded clauses marking cause. This particular usage is discussed at length in chapters 8 and 9, which deal with the evolution of prepositions into subordinating conjunctions linking clauses together. Continuing with semantic case expansions for li-, a discussion of its evolution into the dative and possessive constructions is in order. The allative case, which li- marks, has already been established in examples (2a) and (3a) above. The dative case for li- has also been established in Lentzner (1977) who also observed the obligatoriness of li- in marking dative relations, where its deletion would result in ungrammaticality, in contrast with its optionality in English. The following two examples from Lentzner (1977, 259) illustrate this syntactic requirement: (7a) ištaraytu li-l-binti kitāban bought.1MSG to-the-girl book ‘I bought the girl a book’, lit. ‘I bought to the girl a book’ (7b) *ištaraytu l-binta kitāban bought.1MSG the-girl book ‘I bought the girl a book’

Of particular interest to this study is the development of a possessive sense for li- from the dative/benefactive senses. Rubin (2005, 59) has

bound-stem prepositional forms


remarked that the evolution of possessive constructions from dative li- is a common occurrence in Semitic. I suggest that through reanalysis li- came to mark possessive relations from the dative/benefactive senses. In example (8), from Thousand and One Nights, li- clearly marks the dative case on the indirect object of the di-transitive verb yuʿṭā ‘to be given’, which is inflected for passive. Through reanalysis (i.e., what Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 51) label “re-bracketing”), the item to which the indirect object has been given becomes its possession as demonstrated in the following example: (8a) fa-ʾamara so-ordered.3MSG

l-xalīfatu the-caliph

l-xāzindāru the-Khazindar

li-l-wazīri to-the-vizir

jaʿfari ʿašratu Jaʿfar ten

yuʿṭā 3MSG.give.PASS.

ʾalfi dīnārin thousand dinar ‘So the Caliph Khazindar ordered 10,000 dinars be given to the Vizir Jaʿfar’ (1001N255, 6) (8b) li-l-wazīri jaʿfara ʿašratu ʾalfi dīnārin to-the-vizir Jaʿfar ten thousand dinar ‘The Vizir Jaʿfar has ten thousand dinars’

In the absence of the verb yuʿṭā ‘be given’, the prepositional phrase headed by li- acquires a new function as the predicate of the clause in (8b), and in this context the case function li- no longer serves in the dative but rather in a more abstract relation—possession, particularly in the sense of belonging. Consistent with other Semitic languages, Arabic possession is marked only through prepositions, not verbs. The possessive sense of li- must be distinguished from that denoted by another locative preposition ʿinda, which shares the denotation of possession with li-. While both prepositions participate in marking what Heine (1997a, 28) labels the have-construction, there are distinctive differences between them. It appears that li- essentially marks the belong- to-sense as a participant in the have-construction; however, ʿinda does not share such a sense. By way of illustration, consider the following contrasts in examples (9a–d): (9a) l-ī sayāratun to-me car ‘I have a car’


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(9b) ʿind-ī sayāratun at-me car ‘I have a car’ (9c) *l-ī bardun to-me cold ‘I have a cold’ (9d) ʿind-ī bardun ‘I have a cold’

In (9a) and (9b), both prepositions mark possessive relations equally. In (9c), however, li- fails to mark possession of a medical condition outside the belong-to-sense, while ʿinda successfully marks such a relation. Additional evidence of functional distinction between the two markers of possession is also demonstrated in (10a) and (10b) below where li- again shows constraints on marking possession involving time periods, whereas ʿinda does not. (10a) hal ʿinda-ka laḥ dạ̱ tun Q at-you.MSG moment ‘Do you have a moment?’ (10b) *hal la-ka laḥ da̱̣ tun Q to-you.MSG moment ‘Do you have a moment?’

Based on the demonstrated generality of ʿinda and the contextual constraints on li-, it stands to reason that li- lags behind ʿinda in generality of marking possession. Another piece of evidence for the wider use of ʿinda vis-à-vis li- in marking possession is in negative constructions in these two contrasting examples from the Moroccan dialect. (10c) ma ʿandu-š әl-ktāb not at-him-not the-book ‘He doesn’t have the book’ (10d) *ma l-u-š әl-kitāb not to-him-not the-book ‘He doesn’t have the book’

(Rubin 2005, 58)

In (10c), ʿinda, appearing as ʿand- in the Moroccan dialect, is the only form that can be used in this possessive context; however li- is incapable of expressing negative possession as shown in (10d), which parallels Rubin’s example, hence its ungrammaticality.

bound-stem prepositional forms


Further abstraction of the already grammaticalized possessive sense has led to the evolution of a purely formal function of li- where it marks of relations. In that function, li- substitutes for the genitive relation through pragmatic strengthening of the possession sense. In Modern Arabic, adjectives modifying nouns in constructs must not break up the construct state, and instead occur at the end of the entire phrase, however, Holes (2004) noted that increasingly in contemporary Arabic, these li- constructions form prepositional phrases that “reduce the functional load on the morphological marking of the adjective” (207). That is, in complex noun constructs, li- turns these constructs into a noun-adjective phrase that has as its sub-constituent a prepositional phrase. In connection with the usage of li- in MSA constructions, which have become increasingly more frequent than in CA status constructus phrases, Blau (1973, 219) also has observed the use of li-, among other prepositions, as “circumlocution” of older phrases, of which he gives the following example. (11a) bi-ltiqāṭi with-collecting

ṣuwarin picture.PL

fūtūγrāfiyyatin li-saṭḥ i photographic to-surface

l-qamari the-moon ‘To collect photographs from the surface of the moon’

In (11a), li-saṭḥ i l-qamari ‘of the surface of the moon/of the moon’s surface’ in CA would have been placed not at the end of the expanded genitive construction, but rather immediately after the constituent bi-ltiqāṭi ‘collecting’. Thus in CA this construction would have been, in the absence of li-, ordinarily expressed in the sequence bi-ltiqāṭi ṣuwari saṭḥ i l-qamari l- fūtūγrāfiyyatin, lit. ‘collecting of the pictures of the surface of the moon the photographic’ as a chain of complex status constructus that is rather taxing in cognitive processing and shows awkwardness in word order, where the modifying adjective fūtūγrāfiyyatin ‘photographic’ is far removed from its modified noun ṣuwarin ‘pictures’. It would appear that use of li- in this and similar constructions is motivated by calque translation of English and French genitive constructions. A parallel functional development for li- in construct states in spoken Arabic dialects involves its collocation with the multipurpose particle mā ‘what’. Singer (1958, 176–177) offers a diachronic, semantic,


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and functional sketch of mā-l- in three stages, which he labels mālforms. The particle mā in these constructions does not function strictly as an interrogative since such a sense is neutralized. The three stages of evolution for māl are: (1) mā-l- was formed from an older form with a pronoun suffix in interrogatives of the type mā-lak tibkī ‘what do you have, that you cry?’ (Ibid., 176); (2) next māl evolved as its own interrogative with the meaning “what have + Personal Pronoun Suffix? > Why? as in māl-ak taṣīḥ ‘why are you crying?’ from Masqat ̣ of Oman dialect (Ibid., 177). This construction constitutes the second level in the development of māl; (3) finally, from those interrogatives, the noun māl ‘state, condition’ has become more abstract to refer to a condition or state as in šū māl hanniswān ‘how is the condition/state of the women?’/ ‘what is with the women?’ (Ibid., 176). From this, the class of māl ‘asset, wealth’ has evolved through what I consider to be a case of metonymy or associative meaning of māl ‘belonging’ mā-l with personal pronoun suffix (ī, -ak, etc.). 7.2.2  Formal grammaticalization of liThe wide range of semantic senses associated with li- matches its multi-functionality in MSA and present-day Arabic dialects. Appearance of this form in a phonologically reduced, “non-root” bound form facilitates its pre-fixation to a wide variety of hosts. Of these hosts, a number of highly grammaticalized particles exist such as the purposive kay (resulting in li-kay ‘in order that’) and its negative counterpart li-kay-lā ‘in order not to’, the standard causal collocation li-ʾanna ‘because’ and the negated li-ʾan-lā > li-ʾallā ‘in order not to’, li- with deixis like hād̠ā ‘this’ and d̠ālika ‘that’ resulting in li-hād̠ā, lit. ‘for this = therefore’ and li-d̠ālika, lit. ‘for that = therefore’, and the interrogative mād̠ā ‘what’ which becomes li-mād̠ā, lit. ‘for what = why’, among many others. What is germane to all these collocations involving li- is the absence of case markings on the host. This distinction is of some importance since one of the main formal properties of prepositions in Arabic is marking case on their dependents. For example, ḥ attā ‘until’ typically marks case on its nominal dependents. However, when it functions as a focus particle, its semantic denotation shifts to even, and in that case it ceases to mark case on its nominal dependents as it changes its function into a scalar focus particle (see 9.2.3 and 9.3 for illustrations). As a further consequence of this semantic shift, ḥ attā began collocating with conditional particles (e.g., ḥ attā law ‘even if’),

bound-stem prepositional forms


and in this function it may be followed by verbs when occurring in concessive conditional clauses. In many cases, loss of the ability to mark case on dependents marks a change in categorical status from preposition to particle. A number of formal functions for li- have emerged; in addition to its formation of purposive collocations and its serving as a subordinating conjunction marking causal relations, li- also collocates with verbs. When it does, it expresses purpose and adhortative functions. For example, li-yaʿmalū has two possible readings: in order that they work or let them/have them work. It is not surprising that a single form like li- generates these two readings pertaining to two divergent functions. Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 12) cite the following example from Old English where the adhortative was also expressed by the subjunctive, hence establishing a formal connection between the two functions. (12)  Cild binnan d̠ritegum nihta sie gefulwad. Child within thirty night.PL be-SBJV baptized ‘Let child be baptized within thirty nights’ (transcription and glossing modified)

The use of li- in the formation of exclamation constructions also evidences its attainment of advanced grammaticalization. The following example from the modern literature corpus illustrates this use: (13)  yā la-ka min ʾabin ḥ anūnin oh to-you.MSG of father tender ‘Oh, what a tender father you are!’

(Chi 17, 16)

In (13) yā li > la +pronoun suffix + min is used idiomatically and as such it is syntactically a tight unit that does not permit insertion or deletion of elements other than varying pronoun suffixes. The form li- also serves several other functions that help in forming other syntactic constructions. For example, when prefixed to certain verbal nouns, it turns them into adverbs marking manner. Thus the phrases ḥ usnu l-ḥ aḏ̣ḏ̣i ‘good fortune’ > li-ḥ usni l-ḥ aḏ̣ḍi̱ ‘fortunately’ and sūʾu l-ḥ aḏd ̣ ̱ị ‘bad luck’ > li-sūʾi -ḥ aḏd ̣ i̱̣ ‘unfortunately’ all owe their transformation into adverbials to li-. Other syntactic units that li- helps construct are complex prepositions such as bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in regards to’, which has been discussed in chapter 3. Prepositional compounds


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like naḏ̣aran li- ‘in view of ’ that also serve a clause-linking function also owe their formation to li-. Like the autonomous single-stem prepositions discussed in chapter 6, li- forms part of prepositional verb phrases. In particular, verbs denoting permission collocate with li-, and combinations like samaḥ a li ‘permit someone to’ and ṣarraḥ a li- bi- ‘permit/grant someone to do something’ are thus created. As was demonstrated before, such a collocation evidences semantic unity such that it may be substituted for by a single stem verb. In the case of samaḥ a li-, the single verb manaḥ a ‘to grant’, which takes a direct object, is a suitable paraphrase in most contexts where samaḥ a li- would appear. The textual frequency for li- surpasses all prepositions discussed thus far. Owing to its multi-functionality and the ease with which it collocates with other linguistic elements, li- shows a diachronic increase in its textual frequency. The table below illustrates the diachronic rise in its textual frequency in the ACT. Table 7.1 Diachronic Textual Frequency for liText


Thousand and One Nights

Modern literature

*Total frequency **Frequency per   100,000 words

3,236 3,490.3

18,853   3,320.6

35,101   3,021.3

NOTES: *  Best approximate estimate for manual count as ACT search tools do not filter out instances of the phoneme l-. **  Best approximate estimate for manual count for the same reason given above.

It would appear from table 7.1 above that the overall textual frequency for li- in the modern literature corpus exceeds all prepositions discussed thus far. Judging from the word forms in the Arabic data, it would seem that the occurrences of li- as a preposition attached to suffix pronouns (e.g., la-hu ‘to, for him’) is the most frequent of all combinations in all periods under study. This should come as no surprise since, of the twelve distinct senses on the polysemy network, six of them typically involve a human participant. Like min ‘from’ in the last chapter, the textual saliency for li- per 100,000 seems to decline over time. This is perhaps due to similar factors related to saliency and competition with other forms that code the same concept that li- gives access to.

bound-stem prepositional forms


Finally, one important piece of evidence that li- has reached grammatical maturity is the further reduction (li- > l-) it exhibits when occurring within verb complexes and followed by pronoun suffixes in Arabic dialects, as the Egyptian Arabic example below illustrates. (14)  katabtә-l-kum wrote.1SG-to-you.MPL ‘I wrote to you’

In its usage in (14), the Arabic li- has paralleled with its l- counterpart in Modern Hebrew where it has become a consonant and its occurrence in the syllabic form is conditioned by its host (see Tobin (2008) for detailed treatment of li- and bi- in Hebrew). Reduction of its phonetic substance to a mere consonant should be construed as a sign of the weakening of boundaries and an increasingly tighter unity with some of its complements. Finally, as was shown in the semantic grammaticalization section on li-, it has a special collocation with the multipurpose particle mā ‘what’. In that collocation, both forms, mā and li-, neither of which is an autonomous lexical item, have become synchronically opaque through unification or Lehmann’s univerbation (2002, 15). The lexical form māl, whose meaning is ‘asset, wealth’, later was regrammaticalized into a single non-reducible particle māl ‘belonging to’ that effectively substitutes for genitive case in Kuwaiti and Iraqi Arabic dialects in certain contexts, such as in alienable possessive constructions (Holes 2004, 208). In this newly formed lexical item, the two individual elements have undergone decategorization and become synchronically indistinguishable parts of the word. In this lexical formation, whereas mā still retains its morpho-phonetic shape in mā as a sub-morpheme, li- loses its vocalic element i- and thus undergoes further reduction of its phonological make up. While the lexicalization process resulting in the formation of the new lexical item māl as a fully inflected nominal element is quite distinct from the grammaticalization of māl as a particle marking possession in construct states in dialects, they are certainly related in that the lexical māl serves as the source for the possessive particle māl in construct states. The following cline illustrates the evolution of māl: Interrogative mā + Possessive li- > mā li- ‘why, what have’ + Personal pronoun suffixes > Noun māl-un/in/an ‘asset, wealth’ > māl Particle used in alienable possessive construct states.


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The following table summarizes the major functions that li- performs from a diachronic perspective. Table 7.2 Major Stages in the Diachronic Evolution of liStage


Older/new functions




Proto Semitic/ Pre-Classical



(possibly) Noun



Preposition/ adverbial formant

li-taḥti + locative prepositional form




Negation emphasizer

mā . . . li-




Exclamation marker

yā . . . li- min




Sub-constituent of prepositional verbs

samaḥa li-




Spatial reference/ textual reference (quasi-subordinator)

li-d̠ālika ‘for that > therefore’

Preposition/ subordinator



Subordinator marking cause

li-ʾanna ‘because’




Formative of complex prepositions

bi-n-nisbati li- ‘with respect to’, nadạ̱ ran li‘in view of ’

Prepositional formative



Newer subordinating functions marking cause

li-hād̠ā ‘therefore’

Clause linker




li- > lil- > l-

Phonetically reduced preposition (dialectal Arabic)


Modern Dialects

Lexicalization to genitive exponent

mā ‘what’ + li ‘to’ > māl ‘belonging to’ as possession marker

Marker of inalienable possession in construct states in certain Arabic dialects

bound-stem prepositional forms


7.3  Grammaticalization of bi- ‘in, at, with’ 7.3.1  Semantic grammaticalization of biA (lexical) origin of bi- cannot be established with any certainty. Several scholarly attempts aimed at exploring its ancestral realizations have not produced satisfactory or convincing evidence. It will be remembered that Brockelmann ([1913] 1966, vol. 2) and Lipiński (2001, 470) relate this preposition, which is found in West and South Semitic, to fī ‘in, at’ as its devoiced variant. This hypothesis is unlikely, owing to the fact that fī shows lexical content and in most of its realizations is autonomous in form, whereas bi- lacks lexical content, has more semantic senses and grammatical functions that surpass fī, and is obviously a bound morpheme. Considering these properties of bi-, it is grammatically more mature than its hypothesized descendant fī. Rubin (2005, 146) suggests derivation from yet another preposition, bayn- (< bayna) ‘between’, as the source for bi- when prefixed to verbs in the Yemeni dialect. This hypothesis, while conceptually possible given the strong possibility of phonological connection between the two forms, still represents an unlikely scenario. The form bayna is attested in Ugaritic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Epigraphic South Arabian, Modern South Arabian, and Ge’ez, besides Arabic, and in none of those languages has this pathway of grammaticalization occurred. Furthermore, there are no documented semantic traces linking bayna and bi-. That is, considering Rubin’s claimed link between bayna and bi-, Hopper’s (1991, 28) notion of persistence linking bi- to its erstwhile form and function has been forever lost. What is not in dispute in the case of bi- is that it appears uniformly in bound form in all of its realizations in other Semitic languages of varying time depths. This observation thus suggests that its reduced form has been in existence at least throughout its documented history in Semitic languages. As a common form in Semitic, Gray ([1934] 1971, 74) suggests a Proto-Semitic source *bi ‘in’ of which daughter languages have their allomorphs (e.g., bә-, ba-in Hebrew, Ethiopic ba-, and Arabic bi-). The form bi- is recognized as a preposition in treatises of the early Arabic grammarians. In Sībawayhi’s al-Kitāb of the late eighth century AD and Mubarrad’s Muqtaḍab of the ninth century AD, only one semantic function for bi- is recognized. However, later grammarians in medieval times such as Ibn Hišām in his Muγnī al-Labīb


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recognized fourteen distinct senses for bi-. Such recognition of a considerable semantic expansion for bi- in the time period between Sībawayhi and his predecessors is possibly indicative of a paradigm shift in the Arabic grammatical tradition that otherwise remained faithful to their forerunners in methodology and analysis in conceiving of an invariant original meaning of bi-. Notwithstanding this shift in approach, Ibn Hišām’s presentation and analysis of the fourteen senses did not establish any conceptual connections among those conceived semantic senses. In what follows, I present a network of semantic senses for bi- in the form of a tree diagram where the top (the root) of the tree represents the older, more basic sense from which others are either derived or conceptually and diachronically related. It should be noted that the senses identified in the network are to be seen as clusters and that intermediate senses (or shades of meanings) can be envisaged, hence the gradual meaning shift is presupposed. The conspicuous polysemy of this form makes interpretation independently of context of use very difficult. As a consequence, the object or host to which bi- cliticizes assumes a great role in its disambiguation. Noting this contextual dependency in Hebrew b-, Tobin (2008, 274) remarks, “The object of the preposition constitutes part or all of the scene.” An exceptional rise in importance of the LM, in my terms, in the interpretation of Hebrew b- has led Tobin to establish a core sense of this form, which he labels b-circumstance. What Tobin suggests may be stated differently as testament that b- has become synsemantic; that is, it has lost its autosemantic properties and has become partially or fully semantically dependent on the context in which it appears for disambiguating its meanings. The designation circumstance that Tobin suggests for Hebrew b- is also applicable to Arabic bi-, at least in several of its semantic and syntactic functions. For the partial cline of grammaticality b- place, instrumental, and manner all have in common the feature “PLACE, where, instrument and/or the manner BY WHICH an action, state, or event occurred (emphasis in original)” (Ibid., 278). However, Tobin’s sign-based approach within the field of semiotics suggests an invariant meaning of b- that runs counter to the polysemy-oriented approach that is espoused here. His invariant circumstance meaning of the Hebrew b- does not hold well for Arabic, particularly when considering the usage of bi- as a marker of tense-aspect-mood in Arabic dialects. It is very difficult to conceive

bound-stem prepositional forms


Locative Comitative

Temporal Continuous

Ingredient Cause



Instrument Means Manner

Subordinator Figure 7.2 Network of semantic senses for bi-

of a circumstantial meaning of bi- in the Egyptian bi-yākul ‘he is eating/he eats’. Turning to one of the most basic meanings coded by bi- in Arabic, its locative sense, bi- infrequently shares semantic space with fī. However, unlike fī, which denotes containment sense, bi- denotes coincidence where the TR and LM overlap in space. This semantic notion, which holds well for Arabic bi-, was first recognized for English at in Herskovits (1986). It has been commonplace in Arabic grammar to assume that bi- designates spatial proximity, spatial closeness, or contact (Wright [1874] 1974, vol. 2), an assumption that is also accepted by Cantarino (1975) and Lentzner (1977). This assumption, when tested, does not hold well, since the following example, which suggests proximity or even contact under static condition (i.e., in situ) is ungrammatical when bi- is used: (15)  *ṣadīq-ī bi-š-šajarti friend-my at-the-tree *‘My friend is at the tree’


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Example (15), which is modeled after the semantically odd example from Herskovits (1986, 128) Joe is at the bush and is also unacceptable in Arabic, clearly shows that bi- fails to mark closeness (next to) or contact in cases such as the one in (15) where ‘my friend’ is sitting at the tree and/or in contact with it. Example (15) thus highlights constraints on the use of bi- in marking the next to or adjoining sense, particularly when the LM is not conceived of as a point on the path of the TR. Despite sharing semantic space in certain contexts, fī and biare distinct in that the former usually holds true in precise locations of TR within LM, whereas for the latter exact location cannot be determined with the same precision for TR vis-à-vis the LM. Thus, ṣadīq-ī fī l-bayti ‘my friend is in the house’ implies that the person in question is located inside/within the walls of the house, however, ṣadīq-ī bi-l-bayti ‘my friend is at the house’ may imply that he is not in fact inside the house, but is in its vicinity or immediate surroundings. The locational sense of bi-, although easily recognized, is fairly infrequent, even in CA texts such as the Quran. The locative sense in certain contexts may mark an event in addition to location. Example (16) illustrates its semantic ambiguity. (16) wa-la-qad naṣara-kum and-EMPH-ASP aided.3MSG-you.PL ‘And God had aided you at Badr’

al-lāhu the-God

bi-badrin at-Badr (Quran 3, 123)

In (16), Badr, the battleground where early Muslims met their enemies, may refer in this context to the actual location where the battle took place or to the event itself (i.e., γazwat badr ‘Badr raid’) as it is known in Islamic history. If referring to the event, then metonymy is the likely cognitive strategy responsible for the extension from location to event. Metonymic transfer from the place for the event is a common metonymic pattern of semantic shift that was recognized in Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 39). It typically results from a strong association between the event and the spatial location where it took place. The temporal sense of bi­- evolved in accordance with the commonly observed cross-linguistically attested pattern of metaphoric transfer from space to time (Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a). Temporality of bi- in Semitic languages has also been observed in Brockelmann ([1913] 1966: 2, 367) as a result of metaphoric extension from the spatial domain if the temporal sense of bi- is marking a time period as shown in the Quranic example below:

bound-stem prepositional forms

(17)  wa-min ʾāyāti-hi and-among sign.PL-his

manāmu-kum sleep-your.MPL


bi-l-layli at-the-night

wa-n-nahāri and-the-day ‘And among his signs are your sleep at nighttime and daytime’ (Quran 41, 38)

Owing to its marking of temporal relations like the one in (17) and to its locative sense, a more specialized, grammatical function exists for bi­- where it collocates with qabla ‘before’ and baʿda ‘after’ to mark strictly temporal relations. No other preposition is substitutable for bi- in this function. Examples (18a) and (18b) (adapted from Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 214) illustrate the collocation of bi- with the adverbials qabla and baʿda. (18a) fa-yuγādiru-hu and-3MSG.leave.IPFV-him

qabla before

maḥ aṭtạ ti station

l-maḥ kamati the-court

bi-maḥ aṭtạ tin with-station ‘And he would leave him one station before the court’ (18b) wa-waṣalū qabl-ī bi-sāʿatin and-arrived.3MPL before-me with-hour ‘And they arrived a whole hour before me’

The metaphoric transfer from location to time is discernable from (18a) and (18b) above. In neither of these specialized, more grammaticalized functions can fī, the closest semantic cognate, substitute for bi- without ungrammaticality ensuing, hence *qabla maḥ aṭtạ ti l-maḥ kamati fī maḥ aṭtatin and *qabla-ī fī sāʿatin are both grammatically unacceptable. Finally, the locational cluster has given rise to semantic senses used in marking moods such as progressive, continuous, and habitual on non-past verb inflections in present-day Arabic dialects, particularly in Egypt and the Levant.4 The semantic shift from locative to progres4  Alternative origins of the bi- that is used with verbs in spoken Arabic dialects have been suggested in Anīs (1995, 243). Without citing any specific sources, he claims that “modern linguists” thought b- to have originated either from the first phoneme of bāqī ‘remnant’, the last phoneme of ḏāhibun ‘going’, or the first of biddī ‘I desire’. However, data in ACT does not support that claim, for none of the cited forms shows any consistent collocations with verbs nor is any documented historic attestation of such a collocation known to this author. Moreover, given the composite origin of bidd < bi-wudd ‘with desire’, the bi- in that form is different than the preposition bi-.


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sive is well documented cross-linguistically as one of the major channels for the development of progressive grams. Bybee (1994), Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 36), and Rubin (2005, 143) have found grams from the locative schema to be a major contributor to the development of verbal tense, aspect, and mood cross-linguistically. In the majority of cases, locative prepositions whose semantic denotations are in, at, on are most frequent. Bybee (1994, 130) proposes a useful template for the evolution of progressive grams from locative sources, where it came to mark ‘be in the place of verbing’ or ‘be at verbing’. Thus, I surmise bi- may have entered the verb inflection paradigm through constructions such as yaʿmalu bi-maxbazin ‘he works in a bakery’, by means of associative inferencing, where performing an activity at a location (the bakery in this case) implies being a baker, hence bi-yexbiz ‘he bakes’ in the Arabic dialects where bi- operates on verbs. Alternatively, the locative sense may have been extended metaphorically into the activity domain in accordance with Bybee’s (1994, 135) hypothesis that locatives when marking progressives are possibly construed as “the subject is in the midst of doing something,” where the agent is an active participant in the activity. Two semantic senses have become associated with this usage: the continuous and habitual respectively. Holes (2004, 226–227) identified these two senses in the examples cited below: (19a)  bi-yeʾra ‘He is reading a book’ (19b) bi-yeʾra ‘He reads a lot’

ktāb book (Holes 2004, 127; transcription, mine) ktīr much (Holes 2004, 126; transcription, mine)

In (19a) bi- marks a continuous (i.e., ongoing) aspect of reading. In (19b), bi- marks the reading activity as a regular habit or routine. The comitative cluster, which forms the major tack for semantic expansions for more grammaticalized senses for bi-, has three major pathways: one ultimately leading to the development of a verbal aspect in Arabic dialects and the other two leading to the development of subordinators and complex prepositions participating in clause linkages. The comitative case for bi- is closely associated with the motion schema, which goes as far back as CA. The following two examples from the Quran illustrate this function:

bound-stem prepositional forms

(20a) sāra walked.3MSG ‘He walked with his relatives’ (20b) ihbiṭ 2MSG.descend.IMP ‘Descend in peace from us’

bi-ʾahli-hi with-relative.PL-his bi-salāmin min-nā with-peace from-us


(Quran 28, 29) (Quran 11, 48)

In (20a), the person referred to walked along with his relatives, perhaps leading them to a destination. This usage is quite prevalent with motion verbs where bi- has regularly become a transitivizing particle. In (20b), the command to descend includes the state in which the person in question is to carry out the action required. The comitative case has given rise to the ingredient sense identified in English in Quirk, et al. (1972, 331). (21) wa-ʾamāma-hu and-before-him

kūbun cup

min of

šāyin tea

bi-ḥ alībin with-milk

yaršifu min-hu 3MSG.quaff.IPFV from-it ‘And in front of him a cup of tea with milk; he drinks from it’ (Yaqub 28, 13)

The notable distinction between the comitative case in (20a) and (20b) and the one in (21) is the fact that the two earlier examples include human participants as companions, whereas in (21) ḥ alīb ‘milk’ refers to an ingredient used in making the tea. It is also important to point out the emerging use sense in this context that motivated the emergence of the instrument sense. A similar pathway of semantic shift is observed in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 166) where he cooked the meat with wine (italics, except for with, not in original) is shown to be paraphrasable with he used wine to cook the meat. Given this observation, Heine and his colleagues conclude, as I do in the case of bi-, that the ingredient sense is closely related to the instrument case on the conceptual continuum. The instrument case, because it is connected to comitative, may, in certain contexts, overlap with it. For example, sāfara bi-jawāzi safarin muzayyafin ‘he traveled with a false passport’ may be interpreted as he traveled carrying or using a false passport since a situation can be conceive of where the traveler carried the false passport but did not use it or, alternatively, he both carried it and used it. The cognitive pathway for expressing instrument in terms of the comitative case has


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already been established in the numerous cases where an instrument is a companion in Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) study of metaphor in language. With further pragmatic strengthening, the emerging instrument case has become conventionalized as shown in the following example from Thousand and One Nights where instrument case is not dependent on context. (22) wa-yataʿallamāni and-3MDU.learn.IPFV

ḍ-ḍarbi the-hitting

bi-s-sayfi with-the-sword

wa-ṭ-ṭaʿni bi-r-rumḥ i and-the-stabbing with-the-spear ‘And they learn hitting with the sword and stabbing with the spear’ (1001N143, 44)

The instrument case in (22) is further strengthened by the use of ḍarbi ‘hitting’ and ṭaʿni ‘stabbing’, which are specific to the instruments used in committing the violent acts described. An extension of the instrument case is the means sense, first introduced for the English in in Tyler and Evans (2003, 190); the means sense, in their terms, emerges as “correlation between activities and their means of accomplishment.” Thus, taḥ addaṯa bi-l-ʿarabiyyati ‘he spoke in Arabic’ would be an instance of the means sense. Also belonging to this sense is the use of bi- in activities such as selling, buying, and bartering where bi- marks the means (i.e., price) used in obtaining the goods (e.g., bi-dīnaryni ‘for two dinars’). The manner sense of bi-, indicated on the tree diagram, arises out of the instrument sense through pragmatic strengthening. The pattern found in its formation is bi + abstract noun denoting quality (e.g., bi-surʿatin, lit. ‘with speed = quickly’). Whereas in the instrument sense the means used to perform an action is a relatively concrete entity (e.g., a physical object), in the manner sense the noun typically refers to qualities and mental states (e.g., bi-ṣarāḥ atin, lit. ‘with candor = frankly’). Construed in this fashion, bi- in these usages typically marks the internal evaluations or attitude of the speaker rather than describing an external situation, as Traugott and König (1991) suggest to be the case for increased grammaticalization. Although present in a few cases in CA, bi- constructions marking the speaker’s modal evaluation have increased in frequency dramatically in the modern literature corpus of ACT. In the table below, five constructions containing high frequency nouns have been compared with respect to their

bound-stem prepositional forms


textual frequencies in Thousand and One Nights and the modern literature corpus in ACT: Table 7.3 Diachronic Frequency of bi- as an Adverbializer Construction

Frequency in Thousand and One Nights

Frequency in modern literature

Percentage of change

bi-surʿatin ‘quickly’ bi-quwwatin ‘forcefully’ bi-šiddatin ‘intensely’ bi-suhūlatin ‘easily’ bi-ṣuʿūbatin ‘with difficulty’
















Considering the notable disparity in textual frequency for each construction, the consistent increase in frequency of bi- points to its attainment of an adverbializing formative status in Modern Arabic where it helps form adverbials denoting manner. Increased grammaticalization for bi­- is further evidenced in its formation of collocations serving subordinating conjunctions. Among these constructions are bi-r-raγmi min ʾanna ‘in spite of, although’ marking concessive relations (discussed in detail in chapter 3) and bi-mā ʾanna ‘since’ marking cause, as well as several others. In regards to the semantic expansion of bi- from locative to cause, the conceptual process through which a locative marker becomes a marker for cause has been identified for several languages, including Imonda and Albanian, in Heine and Kuteva (2002, 200). In the case of bi-, one can conceive of it marking a locative relation such as māta bi-ʾamrīkā ‘he died in America’, where bi- marks the location where death occurred as the foundation for māta bi-s-saraṭān ‘he died of cancer’, where the cause of death occupies the same syntactic position as the location in the earlier example. From the comitative case emerges a more grammaticalized sense: possession. This semantic transfer proceeded according to Heine’s (1997a, 51) hypothesized schema from location to possession:


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(23) Y is at X’s body-part > X has, owns Y

For our purpose, bi- is not infrequently used in describing physical attributes that the person described has, that is, what Heine (1997a, 27) labels “attribute possession”. The following examples from Thousand and One Nights and from modern Arabic literature illustrate this function: (24a)  wa-ʾann-hā bi-wajhin jamīlin wa-xaṣrin naḥ īlin and-that-she with-face beautiful and-waist slim ‘And that she has a beautiful face and narrow waist’ (1001N689, 8) (24b) ʿāda ʿalī ʾilā bayrūta bi-liḥ yati-hi returned.3MSG Ali to Beirut with-beard-his l-qaṣīrati the-short ‘Ali returned to Beirut with a short beard’ (KhouryKingdom 1, 691)

Extension of this sense has led to its use with inanimate objects, particularly properties of clothing items as exemplified in (25). (25) tayirun ʾaxḍaru dākinin bi-kummin ṭawīlin suit green dark with-sleeve long ‘A dark green women’s suit with/having long sleeves’ (Chi 6,134)

7.3.2  Formal grammaticalization of biAs expected of a mature gram like bi-, its multi-functionality is fairly extensive, for in addition to its core function as a preposition, bi- has evolved to serve multiple syntactic functions evidencing its multicategoriality and polygrammaticalization. As shown above, bi- takes a wide range of complements. In addition to members of the noun category, bi- cliticizes to a wide range of linguistic items to produce or introduce new grams. To exemplify, bi- forms collocations with interrogatives like mā ‘what’ > bi-ma ‘with what,’ with the negation particle lā ‘not’ > bi-lā ‘without’, with the conditional particle ʾid̠ā ‘if ’ > ʾid̠ā bi-to mark surprise ‘suddenly, all of a sudden’, and with particles expressing temporal relations qabla ‘before’, baʿda ‘after’ > qabla biand baʿda bi-, where it marks time measurement on linked clauses. In addition to the functions mentioned above, bi- participates in the formation of numerous prepositional complexes, for example, in bin-nisbati li- it cannot be substituted for by any other members of the preposition class. Likewise, in the compound-like prepositional con-

bound-stem prepositional forms


structions bi + noun (e.g., bi-sababi ‘by reason of ’ and bi-mūjibi ‘in accordance with’), it forms tight syntactic units that cannot be altered or modified. Like other mature grams discussed thus far (e.g., min ‘from, of ’, li ‘to, toward’), bi- collocates with verbs to form prepositional verbs. In these collocations, bi- assumes a specialized transitivizing function, particularly with verbs from the motion schema (e.g., jāʾa ‘come’ > jāʾa bi- ‘bring’). In Arabic dialects, this prepositional verb is no longer recognized as being comprised of two stems. Due to syntactic tightening of this collocation, phonetic substance has been lost from the verb stem and from the preposition, thus jāʾa has been reduced to jā and bi- has become b-. As a result of this loss, the new stem jāb ‘bring’ has been created. It is instructive to note that b- in this restructured stem is merely a phoneme and no longer functions as a preposition or a particle. Its decategoriality is part of what Hopper (1994, 29) labels “phonogenesis” where at the end of the life cycle of a given gram new phonemes are created out of older grams. The result of this process, which falls squarely within grammaticalization proper, is the formation of a very abstract unit (the phoneme) in language. Turning attention now to the textual frequency of bi-, the table below summarizes the instances of its occurrences in ACT in the three corpora, the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and modern literature. Table 7.4 Diachronic Textual Frequencies for biText


Total frequency Frequency per   100,000 words

2,673 3,110.92

Thousand and One Nights

Modern Literature

16,355 2,407.34

28,591   2,819.45

From the table above, it is evident that the overall textual frequency for bi- steadily rose diachronically as shown in the selected periods from ACT. Similar to li-, frequency per 100,000 words did not keep pace with the overall increase in textual frequency. The decline in textual saliency may be explained more adequately if a more detailed analysis is conducted of the functional forms with which bi- competes in the discourse situations where it appears or fails to do so. Such an endeavor, though crucial to our understanding of the functional distribution of bi­-, is currently difficult to undertake in the absence of


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tagged texts and the tools enabling searches of this type, along with the other limitations of ACT that were addressed in chapter 1. Perhaps future research might be possible, when such tools become available. As for the overall diachronic rise in textual occurrences for bi-, it would appear that its function as a particle (i.e., adprep) with prepositional verbs accounts for the largest frequency count. Data from the three periods considered in this study shows that the highest frequency for bi- is in the form of bi-hi ‘in him/it’ (327 instances in the Quran, 1,707 in Thousand and One Nights, and 1,476 in the modern literature corpus). Closer examination of these occurrences reveals its use as a sub-constituent of prepositional verbs like ʾāmana bi-hi ‘believed in Him’, ʾamara bi-hi ‘ordered it’, jāʾa bi-hi ‘brought it’. As noted earlier, the adprep function indicates increased specialization of prepositional forms and, in such a function, a tight semantic unit is created that permits substitution by single stem verbs. Collocations of bi- with non-nominals account for a substantial number of its textual occurrences. In seven of the top twenty of its textual frequencies in the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and the modern literature corpus, the form bi- took non-nominals as a complement. Of these non-nominal categories, it recurred commonly with the indefinite relative pronoun bi-mā ‘with what’, with deixis such as bi-d̠ālika ‘with that’ and bi-hād̠ā ‘with this’, with the negation particle bi-lā ‘without’, and with the complementizers bi-ʾan (na) ‘with that’. In most, if not all, of these collocations, bi- serves highly specialized functions. The dramatic increase in the discourse frequency of bi- in modern literature deserves additional comment. It has been noted in table 7.4 above that a significant rise in the use of bi + abstract nouns occurs when compared with the same constructions in Thousand and One Nights. Increases in the usage of bi- as a specialized adverbializing particle may account for some of the rise in its occurrence in modern literature data vis-à-vis earlier periods, however, its non-prepositional function may also shed some light on the rise in textual occurrence. As mentioned earlier in the section on formal grammaticalization of bi­-, it entered the verb inflection paradigm as a marker of the progressive and of the functions related to it, such as continuous and habitual aspects in Egyptian and Levantine dialects as well as modal functions. In those usages within the context of verbs, it expresses the speaker’s

bound-stem prepositional forms


intention.5 This usage evidences an even more grammaticalized function. In the Arabic grammatical tradition, the imperfect in Arabic shows no formal means for marking aspect or mood on the verb for progressive, continuous or habitual events. These fine aspectual distinctions are only detectable through discourse pragmatics, or in Tyler and Evans’s (2003, 55) “on-line” meanings generation. In these highly abstract and generalized functions, bi- can no longer be substituted for with other prepositions. It forms a binary contrast with markers of inflection for the past as it becomes in complementary distribution with other markers of the non-past (e.g., ḥ a for future) within the inflectional paradigm. This observation is significant in the case of grammaticalization, not only because it highlights the non-discreteness of the categoriality of prepositions like bi-, but also because it illustrates its integration into a functional paradigm or what Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 123) labels “paradigmaticity,” which evidences a very mature stage of grammaticalization. Considering other functions for bi- outside the preposition proper, it serves subordinating functions in its collocations with complementizers (that is, the verbal particle ʾan ‘to’ and nominal particle ʾanna). In terms of the data from ACT considered in this study, of the most frequent twenty occurrences of bi- in the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and modern literature, bi- appears 44 times in the Quran as a subordinator vis-à-vis 80 times in Thousand and One Nights and 732 times in modern literature. From the grammaticalization perspective that concerns us here, the evolutionary pathway for bi- follows the predictions of Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 157–158), Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991b, 160), and Kortmann (1997, 27) that prepositions synchronically and diachronically evolve from the adverbial stage to the prepositional stage, a process that if continued would lead to their serving subordinating functions. Finally, bi- has been shown in Omani dialects to lexicalize to bimhū/ bimu ‘with what’ as a result of frequent collocation with the morphologically complex interrogative māhū ‘what’ or its variants mhū or 5   Brustad (2000, 242) has also noted the use of bi- in marking futurity in the Kuwaiti dialect. That b(i-) in Kuwaiti Arabic must be distinguished from the one discussed here, as the two forms do not share a common historical source. The Kuwaiti bi-future has its source in the verb ʾabγī ‘I desire, want’ as its source. See Al-Najjar (1991, 665–775) for more detail on the development of bi- from its verbal origin in Kuwaiti Arabic.


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mhušši in Singer’s (1958, 173) Omani example mhūšši d̠aha ‘what is that?’ (where mhū is reinforced with ši < šay?un ‘thing’ as frequently appears in South Arabian dialects of Yemen and Oman, whose origins according to Singer [1958, 171] are the bi-morphemic interrogative mā and the third person masculine singular independent pronoun huwa ‘he’). In bimu the individual elements contributing to the formation of this interrogative are synchronically morphologically opaque, given the phonetic erosion of mā > m- and huwa > -u-. Conclusion In this chapter, the semantic and formal grammaticalization of two of the most phonetically reduced and textually frequent prepositions in Arabic, li- ‘to, for’ and bi- ‘with, at’, have been analyzed. On the basis of this analysis, their synchronic semantic polysemy has been discussed from the perspective of grammaticalization, whereby conceptually more basic semantic senses (e.g., spatial) have been shown to give rise to non-basic (temporal, instrument), more abstract ones through various motivating cognitive and contextual factors. In the course of the discussion, the possible gradual change in semantic functions has been highlighted with actual examples or hypothesized ones wherever unavailable in ACT, which is consulted in this study. However, for lack of historical evidence linking the two grams to their possible lexical origins, I was only able to trace their evolutionary track to the spatial domain. Lack of such evidence should not be construed as a break in the evolutionary track, but rather as a lack of documented history. It is crucial to note that despite the fact that these two grams may share semantic space in their spatial domain with other prepositions (e.g., li- and ʾilā ‘to, toward’; bi and fī ‘in’) as they continued to grammaticalize semantically over time, they gradually ceased to have semantic cognates or contrasts. Instead, their semantic function has become more abstract and specialized. Multiplicity of semantic senses within a complex polysemy network has been shown in the analysis of li- and bi- to correlate positively with an increase in their range of morpho-syntactic distribution. The two grams discussed in this chapter have been shown to occur most frequently in prepositional verb phrases. In that function, they commonly modify the verb meaning to the extent that one of them, namely

bound-stem prepositional forms


Table 7.5 Major Stages in the Diachronic Evolution of biStage


Older/new functions




Proto Semitic/ Pre Classical


ʾib/bi (Lipiński Preposition 2001:470)



Sub-constituent of prepositional verbs

ʾāmana bi ‘believe in’





bi- + abstract noun






Subordinating conjunction


Modern Arabic dialects

Submorpheme of interrogative constructions

bimhū/bimu ‘with what’

Lexicalized interrogative


Modern Arabic dialects

Aspect/mood marker

bi-yiʿmil ‘he does/is doing’ something

Inflectional marker




jāʾa bi ‘came with’ > jāb ‘brought’

Phonetic phoneme



Formative of complex prepositions

bi-n-nisbati li‘with respect to’, bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’

Preposition introducer (PNP formative)

bi­-, owing to its overwhelming frequency with verbs from the motion schema, assumed a specialized transitivizing function. Within the context of verbs, the two grams perform certain distinct functions. For instance, li- marks purpose on subordinating clauses, and thus, instead of taking a nominal object as Arabic prepositions typically do, it now operates at the clause level. Furthermore, through its merger with the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’, it formed li-ʾanna ‘because’ and helped in the creation of the standard causal particle in Arabic. As for bi-, it too assumes subordinating functions, particularly through its participation in the formation of bulky syntactic units such as complex prepositions (e.g., bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’) and serves


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highly specific and conceptually complex functions such as concession. Furthermore, bi-, through its increased grammaticalization, unlike any other gram discussed in this study, has become an obligatory element to mark aspect and mood on verbs in certain Arabic dialects such as Egyptian and Levantine. Finally, the two grams, while already appearing in a phonetically reduced “non-root” form, have undergone further reduction due to increasing frequency and dependency on their host. For example, lihas been shown to decategorialize as it fuses with the multipurpose particle mā in the formation of the lexical form māl ‘asset, wealth’, and bi-, owing to its collocation with jāʾa ‘come’, resulted not only in fusion with the verb stem, but also in creation of a new stem where it is rendered a phoneme and thus it has decategorialized. From the grammaticalization perspective, li- and bi- highlight the inverse relationship between the phonetic and morphemic size on the one hand and meaning and function on the other hand. Given the reduced size of these two forms and their multipurpose in Arabic and Semitic, they give credence to Tobin’s (1990a) concept of “synergy” underlying the relationship between language and its users’ behavior. Tobin’s (1990a) synergetic principle may be used profitably with some modification to account for the relationship between reduced size of li- and bi- and their polysemic nature. According to Tobin: the smaller and less distinct the signal is in a sign, the more vague its invariant meaning, and, therefore, the greater its ‘polysemy potential’: i.e., the vaguer the invariant meaning the more potential discourse messages and possible syntactic and pragmatic functions the sign may have (Ibid., 60)

In this study, there is agreement with Tobin on the regular systematicity of meaning extensions for a given language form (or sign in his terms), however, contra Tobin, polysemy as a principle underlies this study, whereas in Tobin (1990a and 2008), invariance of meaning of the linguistic signal is presupposed. While Tobin suggests that the various meanings associated with a given language form are merely representative of increasing vagueness of the invariant meaning, in the current study and similar to Tyler and Evans (2003) and several grammaticalizationists (e.g., Hopper and Traugott and Heine and his colleagues in various of their publications), meaning extensions of Arabic prepositional forms are considered distinct, but related directly or indirectly to the primary sense within a given polysemy network.


From Preposition to Clause Subordination 8.1  Prepositional Subordinators and Non-Prepositional Equivalents The primary focus of chapters 3 through 7 is on that part of the grammaticalization process where markers of grammatical relations evolve from major lexical sources (e.g., the noun fū ‘mouth’> fī ‘in, at’) or larger units like PNP (e.g., bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in reference to’) or PN collocations (e.g., bi ‘with’ + sababi ‘reason’ > bi-sababi ‘because of ’) to assume prepositional functions. In keeping with Kuryłowicz’s principle that grammaticalization proceeds from the less grammatical to the more grammatical, this chapter concentrates on the subsequent evolution of prepositions to serve clause linking functions that result in the formation of complex sentences. As an indication of an increased degree of grammaticalization for prepositions, I trace semantic and formal changes associated with this part of the grammaticalization process and the mechanisms giving rise to them for a selected number of prepositional forms serving as subordinating conjunctions1 coding causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations between two explicitly linked clauses. Other types of interclausal relations between binary clauses—such as coordination, complementation, and relativization—are also of major importance for the study of grammaticalization, since clear-cut boundaries between them are not always easily drawn, as shown in Kortmann (1997, 58–69); Fabricius-Hansen and Ramm (2008, 7); and Holler (2008, 188). By way of illustration, examples (1a) and (2a) below contain subordinators derived from Arabic prepositions yielding semantic relations with readings similar to the ones in examples (2a) and (2b) that are marked by the coordinating particle wa- ‘and’.

1  In this study, several additional terms are used interchangeably: interclausal linkers, subordinating connectives/connectors, subordinators, and connectives.

258 (1a) lan NEG

chapter eight ʾatazawwaja-hu 1SG.marry.SBJV-him

ḥ attā even

law if

kāna was.3MSG

γaniyyan rich ‘I would not marry him, even if he were rich’ (1b) lan ʾatazawwaja-hu wa-law kāna NEG 1SG.marry.SBJV-him and-if was.3MSG γaniyyan rich ‘I would not marry him, even if he were rich’ (2a) mariḍa baynamā kāna fī became ill.3MSG while was.3MSG in ‘He fell ill while he was abroad’ (2b) mariḍa wa-huwa fī l-xārij became ill.3MSG and-he in the-outside ‘He fell ill while he was abroad’

l-xāriji the-outside

Cases like the ones in (1b) and (2b) involving the coordinate particle wa- ‘and’ that substitutes for the prepositions in examples (1a) and (2a), despite their importance in illustrating fuzziness in categorization, will not be pursued any further. This study also excludes other markers (e.g., fa- ‘so’, ʾaw ‘or’, ʾan ‘to’, ʾanna ‘that’, ʾallaḏī ‘who’—and its entire inflectional paradigm), which are not of prepositional stock. Yet, as we shall find out, it is not infrequent that the clause linkers under consideration in this chapter either optionally or obligatorily collocate with deixis and complementizers (i.e., case-assigners ʾanna ‘that’ and non case-assigners ʾan ‘that’), resulting in P + COMP- constructions. Of this type are munḏu ʾan ‘since (that)’ and li-ʾanna, lit. ‘for that= because’, which form what Kortmann (1997, 3) calls “phrasal subordinators.” In such cases, these augmenting elements are considered enablers or supporters of the prepositions under consideration. Nevertheless, in certain cases, augmenting elements may enable prepositions to code additional relations of increasing semantic complexity. To illustrate, the preposition li ‘to, for’ marks purpose relations when used alone, but marks the more semantically complex cause/reason relation when the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’ is added. Justification for judging cause/reason to be more semantically complex than purposive relation is founded in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 157) assumption that a purposive relation “presupposes some human agent

from preposition to clause subordination


or activity,” whereas a cause/reason typically does not have such a presupposition. 8.2  Prepositions and Subordinators: Formal Distinctions The semantic functions associated with the extension from prepositional into subordinating status implies unidirectionality, which, despite a few cross-linguistically attested counterexamples cited in Newmeyer (1998) and Campbell (2001a and b), is still among the major diagnostics of grammaticalization. Focusing on prepositions is neither intended to privilege them over other sources for subordination— although a strong case could be made for their being one of the major donors of subordinating conjunctions—nor to offer a comprehensive and exhaustive treatment of all clause linkers emerging from prepositional sources. The major aim of this chapter is to follow the gradational and continuous evolutionary process of Arabic prepositions that have come to mark causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations. In so doing, major patterns of their non-arbitrary evolution towards serving text and discourse organizing functions such as subordinating conjunctions in bi-clausal sentences requiring relatively more cognitive and semantic complexity than those found when performing their earlier prepositional functions will be highlighted. Nonetheless, it is instructive from the outset to schematize the prototypical formal (i.e., morpho-syntactic) distinctions between prepositions (the source) and adverbial subordinators (the target). This schematization is presented in table 8.1: Table 8.1 Basic Morpho-Syntactic Differences between Prepositional and Subordinating Conjunctions Criteria Take NP complement Dependent marking Take finite clause as complement Collocate with complementizers/ conditional morphemes


Adverbial subordinator

+ + – –

– –/+ + +


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The summary of the major morpho-syntactic features distinguishing prepositions from adverbial subordinators suggests prima facie discreteness of each category. This is far from being the case since in many instances the same linguistic form performs both functions as shown in examples (3) and (4). (3) ṣabara ḥ attā māta/l-mawti persevered.3MSG until died.3MSG/the-death ‘He persevered until he died/his death’ (4) ṣāra ḥ azīnan munḏu mawti became.3MSG sad since death ʾabī-hi / māta ʾabū-hu father-his died.3MSG father-his ‘He has became sad since the death of his father/his father has died’

The criteria in table 8.1 above, while holding well for most cases, overlook the functional overlap as highlighted in (3) and (4) above where the same individual preposition may permit an NP (with a case-marked dependent) as well as a clause (containing a finite verb) without any ensuing ungrammaticality. A less obvious case for a blurred distinction between a prepositional and subordinating function appears in: (5) qutila maʿa šajāʿati-hi killed.PASS.3MSG with bravery-his ‘He was killed in spite of /despite his bravery’ (Wright [1874] 1974, 2: 164; transcription, mine)

The preposition maʿa ‘with’ most commonly signals the comitative or possessive sense when followed by an NP (i.e., an LM) not denoting time, yet in (5) it has a concessive meaning, which is typical of subordinating conjunction functions, particularly when augmented by the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’ and preceded by the coordinate particle wa- ‘and’ or a proximal deictic hāḏā ‘this’ or distal ḏālika ‘that’. In such cases, it frequently marks only concessive relations rendered as ‘although’ or ‘in spite of’. Surprisingly, in (5) it signals concessiveness even when it doesn’t take a (finite) clausal complement, which is not expected to be the case when in the prepositional function. Delving deeper into the reasons for the interpretation of concessivity, there appear to be some limitations on the types of nominal that occupy the complement slot when the reading involves concessivity as in

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the example cited above. First, substituting the verbal noun complement šajāʿati-hi ‘his courage’ with a proto-typical noun—one denoting a physical entity (e.g., a human participant such as ʾaxū-hu ‘his brother’)—the comitative interpretation (‘he was killed [together] with his brother’) becomes possible and concessivity disappears. The key to resolving this esoteric behavior of maʿa lies in the syntactic properties of Arabic verbal nouns. Abboud et al. (2002, 67) emphasize that verbal nouns in Arabic “have verbal force,” as is demonstrated by Abboud’s example in (6): (6) ṭabxu zawjati-hi l-laḥ ma cooking wife-his the-meat ‘His wife’s cooking (of) the meat’ (Abboud et al. 2002, 67; transcription, mine)

The verbal noun ṭabxu, while marking its nominal dependent in the genitive, according to the rules of nominal status constructus in Arabic, still takes a direct object in the accusative case; it exhibits both nominal and verbal properties simultaneously. Therefore, the concessive relation that maʿa ‘with’ marks is motivated by the absence of direct reference to a human referent, and some verbal force is retained through the presence of a noun complement from the verbal noun class. The nominalized complement in this case has some quasi-clausal properties, although, strictly speaking, it is an NP. In short, concessivity of maʿa as a single, unaugmented preposition is limited to a localized context of usage with certain verbal nouns, and therefore is not analogically amenable to transfer to other contexts of usage with other complements. There is ample cross-linguistic evidence for the development of subordinating connectives from adpositions. Heine, Claudi, and Hünnemeyer (1991a, 157–8) and Heine and Kuteva (2002, 4) have shown that some subordinate conjunctions have prepositions as their sources (e.g., for in English), and this observation has been corroborated further in Kortmann (1997, 108–110) who, in his typological studies of adverbial subordinators of European languages, has identified prepositions as one of the most important sources of the five categories that include complementizers, adverbs, relatives, and/or interrogative markers, giving rise to the class of adverbial subordinators. Other scholars, such as Genetti (1986 and 1991), further present evidence of the “syncretism” between case postpositions and adverbial


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subordinators in the Bodic bifurcate of the Tibeto-Burman and Newari language families; Craig (1991) demonstrated the pattern of evolution from postpositions to subordinating markers in Rama, a Chibchan language of Nicaragua. In Semitic languages, evolution of prepositional forms to serve conjunction and adverbial subordinating functions has also been quite common. In Aramaic, Kaufman (1997, 129) observes duality in the functions of prepositions, as he remarked that prepositions can serve as conjunctions by adding de—(e.g., qudam ‘before’ [prep.], qudam de—‘before [conj.]). In Modern Hebrew, Berman (1997, 328) notes that subordinators like biglal ‘owing to’ is prepositional and is typically accompanied by še when functioning as an adverbial subordinator. In modern South Arabian languages, Simeone-Senelle (1997, 410) found that prepositions may serve as subordinators, as she remarks, “the same element can either be a preposition, a conjunction or an adverb: hes ‘up to’ and ‘then, when’ in Jibbālī and hīs/hәs/әs in Ḥ arsūsī ‘when, since’.” Finally, Kogan (1997, 443) cites ʾәnkab zә- ‘since’, which comprises the preposition ʾәnkab ‘from, than’ among the temporal conjunctions used in marking subordination. In spite of the observable general evolution of prepositional forms into adverbial subordinating functions in Semitic languages, this author is unaware of any linguistic investigation in ancient or modern times aimed at analyzing those prepositional sources, evolutionary patterns, and resulting subordinators that has taken as its primary focus these important processes. Aside from brief remarks regarding the general relatedness of prepositions to subordinators in Arabic and Semitic languages such as are found in various chapters of Cantarino (1975, 3:77), Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 598) and various chapters in Hetzron (1997), detailed examination of the evolution from prepositional to subordination functions has escaped scholarly attention. Furthermore, despite the ubiquity of prepositional forms serving as sources of “connectives” in Al-Batal’s (1990, 1994) examination of Lebanese and MSA connective, his investigation did not allude to connections between these explicit interclausal markers and their sources. Similarly, in the studies that focus on the evolution of prepositional forms in Arabic and/or Semitic (e.g., Voigt 1999; Rubba 1994; and Rubin 2005), none has referenced evolution from prepositional to subordinating functions.

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8.3  Interclausal Linkage Strategies Prepositional forms serving as a source for clausal linkage functions exhibit considerable variations in their morpho-semantic, pragmatic, and syntactic properties. These properties will be subjected to further linguistic scrutiny since the types of changes in them are inextricably connected to their degree of grammaticalization and, consequently, their use as clause linkers. Hence, continua extending from prepositional usages to those coding more cognitively complex and semantically more abstract functions akin to subordination (specifically the range of subordinate relations included here are concessive-conditional and concessive clauses respectively) will be postulated and explicated in this and the following chapter. The selected subordinating connectives in this study constitute a subtype of adverbial subordination. The notion of subordination that is adopted here is understood within the realm of a cognitive relation, which has been aptly explained and applied to diverse subordinate clauses in eighty languages in Cristofaro’s (2003, 2) terms as “a particular way to construe the cognitive relation between two events, such that one of them (which will be called the dependent event) lacks an autonomous profile, and is construed in the perspective of the other event (which will be called the main event).” The inherent generality in Cristofaro’s definition of subordination has the unique advantage of accommodating semantically diverse interclausal relations. Moreover, while morpho-syntactic properties of the linking devices and their linked clauses exhibit considerable variation, this definition is sufficiently broad to accommodate them without limitations. Several strategies for linking clauses, in addition to those involving the presence of an explicit linker, have been envisaged in linguistic analysis of subordination. Among these are clauses linked asyndetically, that is, without an explicit conjunctive or subordinating element. Examples (7a) and (7b) from Halliday and Hasan (1976, 229) are semantically near-equivalent, and they elucidate this point. (7a) [H]e fell asleep, in spite of his great discomfort (7b) [B]eing very uncomfortable, he still fell asleep

Also (8) below, from König (1988, 150), suggests a concessive reading without the presence of an overt marker:


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(8) Fred was already drunk, early as it was in the night

In (7b) and (8) it is most important to note that, strictly speaking, concessivity is context-driven and results from pragmatic implicatures (i.e., online contextually conditioned), therefore, it forms no part of the stable, conventionalized coded meaning of linked clauses themselves. To exemplify, the concessivity in (8) can be cancelled as illustrated in (9) from König (1988): (9) Fred was already drunk, early as it was in the night, but it was not unusual for someone celebrating his 21st birthday!

When complex sentences comprising a pair of clauses linked asyndetically are compared to those linked through an explicit device, the number of possible inferences becomes severely limited in the ones linked through an explicit device; conversely, the number of interpretive readings increases exponentially with asyndetic linkage (Levinson 2000, 125), as shown in table 8.2: Table 8.2  Examples of Levels of Utterance Meaning Utterance

Possible interpretations

Because you called, I felt much ++> Your call is the reason for my feeling better better. *Because you called, I felt much better (#as a result of taking two aspirins) a

Closing the window, Harry squeezed his thumb


(1)  ++> Closing the window was the reason that Harry squeezed his thumb. (2)  ++> Closing the window is when Harry squeezed his thumb.

NOTES: a  Schwenter (1999, 25) b   Kortmann (1991a, 2) c   ++> communicates (both what is said and implicated)

The because-clause does not allow for continuation (marked by #) since the type of subordinator of that clause is not subject to defeasibility (i.e., cancellation) by the addition of a new premise as was noted in Schwenter (1999); in other words, there is only one possible interpretation for the reason relation, namely the one that because encodes. The asyndetic clause in table 8.2, on the other hand, permits at least two interpretive readings (1 and 2), which are causal and temporal

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respectively. Such “semantic indeterminacy” is typical of clauses linked through what Kortmann (1991a) labels “free adjuncts” and “absolutes,” stemming from their excessive dependence on contexts. This situation does not always materialize for clauses containing an explicit linker. Explicit connectives, depending on the degree of their semantic conventionalization, constrain or have the effect of “narrowing the search domain” or the range of possible interpretations of the relations holding between two or more propositions (Kortmann 1991a). Additional interclausal linking strategies occur through other means, including “paralinguistic” strategies such as intonation (Chafe 1988), manner of articulation, non-verbal means like eye contact or absence thereof, stance, and gestures (R. Lakoff 1984, 484); parataxis, formulacity, and repetition have also been suggested (see Johnstone 1990, “orality”). However, these clause-linking strategies will be excluded from treatment here. Subordinating conjunctions as tools of textual connectivity have been demonstrated in Thompson and Longacre (1985, 207) by means of an authentic text (i.e., a travel book on Mexico from 1939) to be operational at levels higher than the clause and sentence levels. Their role in generating textual cohesion within and between successive paragraphs was demonstrated convincingly by these two authors in their study of primarily English linking devices. That said, I restrict the discussion in this chapter to binary clauses where one is subordinate to the main (matrix) clause. One way of tracing the development of prepositions into markers of clausal and interclausal relations is to explore the directionality of their evolution in syntactic terms—that is, elucidating the change prepositional forms undergo from serving as a sub-constituent of a simple single clause or sentence (e.g., heading a prepositional phrase or being specified within the subcategorization frame of prepositional verbs) and typically case-marking nominal dependents to assuming roles as clause-linking devices in order to mark morpho-syntactic boundaries between clauses and to decategorialize from a preposition to a particle (e.g., ḥ attā ‘until’ > ḥ attā ‘even’; munḏu ‘ago’ > munḏu ‘since’). Although, this approach is useful in capturing changes in the formal properties of these items, it falls short of accounting for the full scope of changes associated with grammaticalization into subordinators. Certainly, explicit coding of subordination allows one to catalogue the interclausal changes typical of grammaticalization in a manner similar to Lehmann (1988) where “explicitness of linking” constitutes one of the six parallel parameters of clause linking continua. Within


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the parameter in question, he dissociates the degree of connectivity of clauses from the nature of the linkage. Namely, parataxis is not synonymous with asyndesis, and, likewise, hypotaxis does not trigger the use of an overt connector (Lehmann 1988, 210). The following continuum of “explicitness of linking” from Lehmann (1988, 213) illustrates the position of prepositional phrases and connective adverbs relative to other strategies for interclausal connectives. Syndesis


Anaphoric subordinate clause    Gerundial verb        Prepositional phrase           Connective adverb             Specific conjunction                Universal subordinator                     Nonfinite verb form Figure 8.1 Lehmann’s continuum of “explicitness of linking” Acknowledgement: From “Toward a Typology of Clause Linkage”. In John Haiman and Sandra Thompson (eds.) Clause Combining in Grammar and Discourse, 1988, 181–225. With kind permission by John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

8.4  Layering of Prepositional Subordinators It should be noted that some of the linkers in figure 8.1, such as gerundial verbs and nonfinite verb forms, have no corresponding interclausal linkage function in Arabic, so the above continuum is only partially relevant here. This remark notwithstanding, two additional important points can be made about the continuum regarding the nature of the linking device and the two clauses that they link syntactically and semantically. First, a correlation exists between the degree of interclausal integration and the morphological make-up of the linking gram such that the more integrated the two clauses, the smaller the size of the gram. Lehmann (1988, 211) implies this correlation when he states, “The explicitness of the linking device is adjusted to the size of the entities linked.” Second, although useful in ranking prepositional phrases relative to other explicit clause-linkage strategies, the designation “prepositional phrase” in the context of the continuum above masks the diversity in morphological structures for prepositions serving interclausal linkage functions. To exhibit, some of the connectors included in this study have relatively more complex phrasal

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structure of the PNP-type, which has been discussed in chapter 3 (e.g., ʿalā/ bi-r-raγmi min, lit. ‘with aversion from = although, in spite of ’), whereas others are bare bound-stem prepositions (e.g., li- ‘to, for’) that are morpho-phonologically reduced and must be attached to a host. In light of this observation, this continuum for prepositional layers in subordinating functions is presented in figure 8.2.2 Complex prepositions Simple prepositions Complex Prepositions ʿalā bi/r-raγmi min ‘in spite of, despite’ maʿa ʾanna ‘although’ maʿa ḏālika ‘although’ ḥ attā law ‘even if’ min ṯamma ‘therefore, hence’ min hunā ‘therefore, hence’ Fused Compounds2 munḏu ‘ago, since’ Monomorphemic (free) ḥ attā ‘until, up to, even’; maʿa ‘with, although’ Monomorphemic (bound) li ‘to, for, in order to’ Figure 8.2  A continuum of layers of prepositional complexity

At first glance, diversity in the morphological structure of subordinators suggests they should be ordered on a continuum as in figure 8.2, since reduction in the morpho-syntactic complexity and phonetic substance conforms to a tendency in advanced stages of grammaticalization. A prime example of an advanced degree of grammaticalization is the (opaque) bound morpheme li ‘to, towards’, located at the lower right end of the gradient, which has been linked diachronically in chapter 7 to the autonomous bi-syllabic preposition ʾilā ‘to, towards’ (also see etymology in Wright ([1874] 1974, 2: 147f ).3 Supporting evidence for an increased degree of grammaticalization is found when the functions of li- are compared to those of ʾilā. The bound 2   This term is adopted here from Brinton and Traugott (2005, 50), which they define as “those in which one root is recognizable, but the other is obscure.” One such case given in Brinton and Traugott is gospel < god ‘good’ + spell ‘tidings’ (50). 3   Also, see Procházka (1995, 419) in footnote 2 in chapter 7 on the functional relatedness between ʾilā and li-.


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morpheme li- in (10a) and (10b) designates more grammaticalized case functions—benefactive/dative and purpose respectively (see Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s [1991a, 156–161] “discovery procedure” for determining degrees of grammaticalization)—which are precluded for the erstwhile more concrete ʾilā in (11a) and (11b): (10a) ʾaʿṭaytu l-māla li-ʾax-ī gave.1SG the-money to-brother-my’ ‘I gave the money to my brother’ (10b) ištaraytu sitāran li-n-nāfiḏati bought.1SG curtain for-the-window ‘I bought a curtain for the window’ (11a) *ʾaʿṭaytu l-kitāba ʾilā ʾax-ī gave.1SG the-book toward brother-my *‘I gave the book toward my brother’ (11b) *ištaraytu sitāran ʾilā n-nāfiḏati bought.1SG curtain toward the-window *‘I bought the curtain toward the window’

Finally, it is li- in (12a) that functions as a subordinator marking purpose relations, whereas ʾilā in (12b) never does, hence the ungrammaticality of (12b): (12a) maddat yada-hā li-tuṣāfiḥ a-nī extended.3FSG hand-her to-3FSG.greet.SBJV-me ‘She stretched out her hand to greet me’ (Cantarino 1975, 3:80; transcription, mine) (12b) *maddat yada-hā ʾilā tuṣāfiḥ u-nī extended.3FSG hand-her to 3FSG.greet.IPFV-me ‘*She stretched out her hand to(wards) greet me’

What is immediately deducible from (10a–12b) is the reduction in substitutability of li- and grams in general with their increased grammaticalization and functional specialization. Considering the multi-word subordinators on the opposite end of the continuum, while the prepositions (i.e., ʿalā ‘on’ and bi- ‘in, at, with’) are also in an advanced stage of grammaticalization as shown in chapters 6 and 7 respectively, their phrasal structures contain obligatory lexical elements (e.g., the noun raγmi ‘aversion, reluctance’) evidencing historically later grammaticalization of the construction. As will be clear in the section on concessive relations below and in chapter 9, subordinators serving these semantically complex functions are

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typically morphologically complex, and evolve late in language according to König’s (1985) predictions. Other subordinators, based on the relative complexity of their semantic substance and morpho-syntactic structures, may be located in intermediate positions between the two grammaticalization poles, the older li- ‘to, in order to’ and the newer/historically later bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’ respectively. That is to say, monomorphemically (or simpler) subordinators are ordered closer to li-, while more morphologically complex ones are located near ʿalā r-raγmi min. Kortmann (1997), using morphological structure as criteria for judging the degree of grammaticalization of subordinators in European languages, concludes that one-word subordinators are more grammaticalized than multi-word ones, and by extension, monomorphemic and unanalyzable ones (e.g., German weil) are the most grammaticalized of all subordinators (Ibid., 106–107). While this conclusion seems to account for diversity in morphological structures of subordinators in a straightforward way, it says very little about the prepositions from which these subordinators are derived. All prepositions recruited for subordinate functions in this study come from among the relatively more grammaticalized layers of Arabic prepositions (i.e., single-stem ones discussed in chapter 6 and bound-stem ones in chapter 7), and none is derived from prepositional forms (e.g., wasṭa ‘midst’, taḥ ta ‘below, under’). Therefore, it stands to reason that morphological properties of prepositions alone are of limited significance in the analysis of these subordinating connectives for two reasons. First, recalling Lehmann’s (1988) continuum of clause linking typology (figure 8.1), prepositions, regardless of their morphological structures, occupy approximately a mid-point position on the explicitness of linkage continuum. Thus, their clause-linkage force is constrained and operates within certain parameters that do not culminate in their eventual loss as a sign of their increased grammaticalization and as a sign of total interclausal integration where the adverbial clause becomes a mere constituent embedded within the matrix clause. Second, despite the reduced phonetic size of li- ‘to, for’ on the rightmost end of the continuum, most, if not all, the prepositions in subordinating conjunctions here maintain a morpho-phonetic structure and are therefore indistinguishable from their variants, whose primary functions fall within the prepositional domain; it is, hence, doubtful that their subordinating function alone triggers change leading to


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reduction in form. The bound morpheme li- is a case in point where it also appears as such in its prepositional functions. Third, as illustrated in (13b) below, complementizers (e.g., ʾanna ‘that’ and ʾan ‘to’) seem to have a stronger role in extending the range of semantic functions the preposition can code as subordinators. Consider the following examples contrasting li- ‘to’ marking purpose in (13a) and li-ʾanna ‘because’ marking reason/cause in (13b). (13a) yaʾtūna 3MPL.come.IPFV

ʾilā to

l-maṭʿami the-restaurant

wa-yajtamiʿū baʿīdan ʿan and-3MPL.convene.SBJV away from

li-yaʾkulū ʾaʿyūni eye.PL

ṣ-ṣaḥ āfati the-press ‘They come to the restaurant in order to eat and convene away from the eyes of the press’ (Yaqub 2, 2:1) (13b) ʾinna-hum yaḥ kumūna ʿalay-ki li-ʾanna-hum verily-they.M 3MPL.judge.IPFV on-you.FSG for-that-they.M lā yaʿrifūna-ki not 3MPL.know.IPFV-you.FSG ‘They judge you because they do not know you’ (KanafaniBab 4, 141)

From the foregoing, it appears that the morpho-phonological form of the preposition remains unchanged (i.e., no reduction in syntagmatic size) with further grammaticalization into subordination as reflected in the semantic and functional change associated with serving those functions. Moreover, semantic and functional extensions for preposition-based subordinators are conditioned by diachronic morphological augmentation/accretion. A noticeable tendency associated with emergence from prepositional into subordinator function is enlargement or expansion of constituent structure4 (e.g., bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of’ + ʾanna ‘that’ > bi-r-raγmi min ʾanna ‘although’), even in those whose morphological make-up is already reduced (e.g., li- ‘to, in order to’ + ʾanna ‘that’ > li-ʾanna ‘because’) and which are

4  It has been noted in Fischer (2007), particularly in chapter 5, that “clause elaboration” rather than “reduction” has been found in combined clauses. However, she also observes that in cases where clause reduction is detected, it may not necessarily be due to a unidirectional tendency as expected in change by grammaticalization, as other factors affecting construction-types in a given period need to be taken into consideration (Ibid., 248). She treats clause elaboration as “coincidence” (273) to grammaticalization rather than a case of grammaticalization per se.

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augmented by the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’. Emerging from this assumption about the morphological make-up of the subordinators is that on the continuum in figure 8.2—that is, from polymorphemic to bound monomorphemic subordinators—none exclusively functions as a subordinator. They are polyfunctional in the sense that each of them individually has other additional non-subordination functions. By contrast, all multiword subordinators function solely as such, as displayed in figure 8.3. Incipient subordinators More grammatical CONCESSIVE ʿalā/bi- r-raγmi min (ʾanna) ‘in spite of, although’ maʿa ʾanna ‘in spite of, although’ maʿa ḏālika ‘in spite of, although’ maʿa hāḏā ‘in spite of, although’ CONCESSIVE-CONDITIONAL ḥ attā law ‘even if’ CAUSE/REASON min ṯamma ‘therefore, hence’ min hunā ‘therefore, hence’ li-ʾanna ‘because’ REASON/TEMPORAL munḏu ‘since’ FOCUS/PURPOSE/TEMPORAL ḥ attā ‘to, in order to, even’ PURPOSE/BENEFACTIVE/ DATIVE li- ‘to’ Figure 8.3  Continuum of semantic functions for subordinators derived from prepositions

Judging by the morpho-syntactic make-up of the subordinators and the types of semantic relations that they typically encode between two linked clauses, a strong iconic correlation appears such that the degree of conceptual complexity of the semantic relations is reflected in the morphological complexity of the linguistic form. This correlation is not novel, as it has been confirmed in general in Croft (2003) and for Semitic in Tobin (2008), and somewhat earlier in Givón’s (1995, 49) “quantity principle.” According to Croft, “prototypically simple


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concepts are universally expressed as single morphemes, prototypically complex concepts are universally expressed as complex linguistic structures, and intermediate concepts vary cross-linguistically” (Ibid., 204). The iconic relation holding between the conceptual and linguistic complexity of these prepositional complexes has broad implications for the type of subordinating function a given linker assumes, and it will become clearer in the ensuing discussion that these implications are relevant for assessing the degree of their grammaticalization. The suggested iconicity corresponds neatly with the Zipfian Law (principle of least effort) when addressing the linguistic “economy” of high frequency forms (Zipf 1949, 29, and related refinements in Menzerath 1954, and Haiman 1985a, 150). The two notions figure jointly in the discussion of form-meaning relations to which I now turn. 8.5  Layers of Meanings 8.5.1  Gricean Utterance Meaning Before proceeding to form-meaning relations, it is important to discuss the semantic and pragmatic nature of the meanings associated with subordinate connectives in neo-Gricean terms, primarily using Levinson’s extensive analysis of Grice’s maxims, particularly generalized conversational implicatures (GCI) and the informative principle (I-principle) as developed in several of Levinson’s works (1983, 1995a, and 2000). In this way, the connectives under investigation can be situated within the semiotic function, particularly discourse-pragmatics. This placement, in turn, helps account for the conspicuously diverse morpho-semantics of the connectives examined in this study. Grice divides utterance, meaning that is generated within an act of communication into truth-conditional, decontextualized, coded, literal, non-textual (or “What is said”) and (conversationally) implicated. This division is useful in highlighting the crucial role of discourse as an indispensable factor in enriching, and possibly modifying, coded meaning. Effective communication between a speaker and a listener is presumed to be guided by the observance of communication rules embodied in the cooperative principle along with a set of four basic maxims, dubbed heuristics in Levinson (1995a and 2000): (1) quality; (2) quantity; (3) relevance; and (4) manner.

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Further division based on two parameters—frequency of use and the relative degree of contextual dependency amongst conversational implicatures—engenders an important distinction between particularized conversational implicature (nonce, once-off meaning; also known as PCI), GCI, and conventional conversational implicature (CCI). These three distinct implicatures differ from each other in significant ways (for example, the first two implicatures, PCI and GCI, are defeasible [cancelable], when additional premises are added to propositions); conventional implicatures, by contrast, by their very nature are resistant to defeasibility (see Levinson 1983, particularly chapter 3, for extensive details). These three types of implicatures should not be construed as discrete or mutually exclusive. In fact, Grice implies the existence of a continuum extending from PCI to CCI, with GCI as its intermediate stage, and gives the oft-cited diachronic dimension to their function “though it may not be impossible for what starts life, so to speak, as a conversational implicature to become conventionalized” (Grice 1989, 39). This statement evokes an implicature continuum in the form shown below: Particularized Implicatures > Generalized Implicatures > Conventionalized Implicatures

Generalized and conventionalized conversational types are the most important and relevant of these three types to the grammaticalization process since the semantic and pragmatic functions of the connectors under examination here are affected by these discourse implicatures. GCI is contrasted to PCI, which triggers meanings recoverable only from contexts such as “nonce” or “once-off,” and thus, they are reserved for cases such as irony, which typically require “background assumptions” in order to arrive at the correct inference (Levinson 1983, 126). Change in implicatures should be construed as change in meaning such that the most preferred or stereotypical interpretation eventually becomes conventionalized, and, by extension, is attached to the coded meaning of the utterance regardless of context (i.e., it becomes part and parcel of the stable, coded meaning of an utterance). Thus, semanticization or enrichment of its meaning takes place (see Lassau 1994, 2: 773 for semanticization and semantic enrichment; also Schwenter and Traugott 1995; and Schwenter 1999).


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8.5.2  Principle of Informativeness and Implicatures To illustrate the change from GCI—those cancelable implicatures found across contexts, augmenting coded meaning, and forming part of what is communicated (Atlas 2005, 83)—to non-cancelable conventionalized implicatures, i.e., those with “relatively determinate content or meaning” (Levinson 1983, 128), the semantic change for ḥ attā ‘until’ is sketched, and the role of conversational implicatures is highlighted. The analysis is further complicated by including other mechanisms responsible for semantic change—metaphor and metonymy—together with coterminous pragmatic strategies such as conversational implicata appearing in complementary distribution, at least in the continuum extending between prepositions and the subordinating connectives derived from them. Nevertheless, metaphor and metonymy, most likely operating in tandem, are primarily responsible for semantic change from lexical to grammatical (i.e., an erstwhile lexical source assumes prepositional functions and meanings), and metonymy together with conversational implicatures continues enriching more grammaticalized semantic functions (i.e., a preposition assuming subordinating conjunctions) when linking propositions through an explicit device, which simultaneously specifies and invites implicatures and inferences from what is said. Therefore, Traugott and König’s (1991, 210) suggestion that “strengthening of informativeness” is metonymic in nature is valid. Metaphor, metonymy, and inferencing generated through conversational implicatures are thought of here as complementarities; they have a similar cognitive basis in that just as conversational implicatures depend on the observance of the cooperative principle, so too metaphor (and metonymy to some extent) depend on what Levinson (1983, 161) considers “the capacity to reason analogically” in the case of metaphor and “indexing” of relations within the same domain in the sense described in Antilla (1989, 141– 142) and refined in Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003, 88). The following examples will clarify this conclusion. (15a) salāmun hiya ḥ attā maṭlaʿi l-fajri Peace she until arrival dawn ‘Peace it is until the arrival of dawn’ (Quran 97, 5) (15b) ʾakltu s-samakata ḥ attā raʾsi-hā ate.1SG the-fish until head-her ‘I ate the fish up to/even its head’ (Ibn Hišām, Muγnī 1, 115) ++ > I ate the fish (excluding the head)/I ate the fish (head included)

from preposition to clause subordination

(15c) ʾakltu ate.1SG

s-samakata the-fish

ḥ attā until/even

raʾsi-hā head-her


wa-lākinn-ī and-but-I

mā ʾakaltu raʾsahā not ate.1SG head-her ‘I ate the fish up to its head, but I did not eat its [the] head’ (15d) *lan ʾatazawwaja-hā ḥ attā law kānat NEG 1SG.marry.SBJV-her even if was.3FSG ʾaγnā rich.SUP

ʾimraʾatin woman

fī in

l-ʿālami the-world

wa-lākinn-ī and-but-I

s-ʾatazawwaju-hā liʾann-ī ʾuḥ ibbu-hā FUT-1SG.marry-her because-I *‘I will not marry her even if she was the richest woman in the world, but I will marry her because I love her’

Owing to the nature of the relations between the strategies for semantic change, metaphor, metonymy, and conversational implicatures can be captured in (15a–d). In (15a), ḥ attā ‘until’ functions as a preposition, which in Haspelmath’s (1997, 32) terminology, should signal “anterior-durative” meaning. That temporal sense results from an oftcited space-to-time metaphor (Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer 1991b, 165). This temporal meaning, nevertheless, is conventionalized, and as such, is not defeasible. In (15b), ḥ attā is ambiguous semantically and functionally since two distinct meanings and syntactic functions are possible: spatial preposition ‘until’ and focus particle ‘even’. On the one hand, the spatial meaning is easily explained since it is metaphorically linked to the erstwhile lexical meaning describing a process ‘rub, peel’, whose image schema retains an activity resulting in reaching a goal in spite of its semantic extension via metaphor, the durative aspect of ḥ atta ‘until’ thus remains in the extended sense. On the other hand, it is also quite possible to envisage the involvement of the metonymic process in the change from spatial to focus particle, interpreted as ‘even’, as an expansion into a region contiguous with the earlier limit (spatial region located below the head of the fish). Specifically, in the case of (15b), the head of the fish marks the terminal point, which was not eaten. Through metonymic extension, the head, the contiguous region, is included in the interpretation of ḥ attā as a focus particle. Metonymic extension has given rise to the inclusion of the head region in the eating. The semantic shift via implicatures for ḥ attā from spatial ‘until’ to focus ‘even’ has several functional and formal consequences. First, ḥ attā acquired a newer semantic sense and thus


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has become increasingly polysemic. Second, as a focus particle, ḥ attā involves what König (1991, 68) labels “scalar conventional implicature” in that it presupposes a scale of values from which the most extreme or surprising one is selected as the focus. Accurate interpretation of the ordered values on that scale depends to some extent on the context where ḥ attā appears. Hence, in its focus function, there is an observable increase in contextual dependency for the specification of the subjective evaluative scale of pragmatic nature triggered by the use of ḥ attā greater than in its use as a spatial particle. Third, change into a focus particle through metonymic extension opened the way to further inferences expressing the speaker’s subjective belief towards the content of the proposition. Having eaten the fish, inclusive of its head, does not simply have referential meaning describing a situation occurring in the physical world. Rather, a pragmatic feature of meaning overlay is added in this localized context that even its head connotes the unlikely and rather surprising act of eating this portion of the fish, which is typically inedible. The pragmatic function of eating this part of the fish is to convey an extraordinary or unusual event, possibly owing to the speaker’s extreme hunger. The analysis presented here of ḥ attā where it signals the meaning ‘even’ conforms to König’s (1991) general framework on properties of focus particles. Given the analysis just presented, increased informativeness, in Gricean terms, is achieved when ḥ attā functions as a scalar focus particle in that it expresses a subjective attitude or evaluation of the speaker/listener towards the situation rather than the more cognitively basic spatial meaning. This position can be justified on the grounds that when invoking defeasibility, the focus or scalar meaning is cancelable as shown in (15c). However, in (15d) when used as a focus particle together with the conditional morpheme, law was sufficiently conventionalized, and the propositional content of its (concessiveconditional) clause becomes non-defeasible, leading to the ungrammaticality of (15d). The latter use of ḥ attā in conditional clauses deserves further attention. In its collocations with law ‘if’ and other conditional particles, ḥ attā signals stronger commitment to the conditional clause. This overriding commitment on the part of the speaker in the result clause is strengthened pragmatically through the scalar particle that is followed by the focus alternative and unlikely scenario in the proposition of the conditional clause. The following example illustrates this function:


from preposition to clause subordination lākin but

wājib-ī duty-my

ʾan to


ḥ attā even

277 law if

intahat ʿilāqatu-nā ended.3FSG relationship-our ‘But my duty is to help you, even if our relationship were to end’ (Yaqub 3, 44:16)

The formal changes associated with the shift from a preposition into a scalar particle correspond syntactically with its neutralization to mark case on its complement. In (15b), the focus particle reading triggers the absence of the genitive marking on raʾsu-hā ‘its head’, which I conclude is an indication of the widening of scope of ḥ attā beyond the phrase in which it figures. Also, its frequent collocation with conditional particles marks its operation at the clause-level, and in that syntactic slot ḥ attā occupies a fixed preceding position with respect to the collocated conditional particle. This discussion highlights several important aspects of meaning change that are schematically represented in figure 8.4 below. Metaphoric transfer across conceptual domains coupled with metonymic strategies within the same domain is primarily involved in the meaning change in semantic functions of prepositions, including case functions. Subordinating conjunctions, on the one hand, seem to arise primarily from conversational implicatures. Specialization in the operation of these pragmatic strategies is justified theoretically—at least within the common view held by its proponents (e.g., Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer 1991a; and Sweetser 1988)—on the grounds that metaphoric inferences suggest “image-schema transfer” from the concrete (physical, less abstract) domain of conception to the more abstract, which is difficult to reconcile with the semantic distance between the spatial or temporal sense of ḥ attā ‘until’ and its scalar or focus sense. Semantic change for an already-grammaticalized class of prepositions that have come to serve as subordinators presupposes a change where the source elements already have reduced lexical content, and therefore cannot serve as a “metaphoric template” for more abstract targets. The dubious nature of the assumed metaphoric transfer in cases involving already grammaticalized elements serving as a vehicle for more grammaticalized functions led Traugott and König (1991) to question the validity of Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s (1991b) claim of metaphoric transfer, and to propose that conversational


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implicatures instead are the likely strategy in this case. Given the readings of ḥ attā ‘until, even’ in (15b) and (15c), it is quite plausible for already-grammaticalized elements, metonymy along with conversational implicatures, to function in tandem as strategies for meaning and functional change, and for metaphor and metonymy to operate predominantly on incipient forms in the initial stages of their grammaticalization. Given the semantic and syntactic ambiguity involving ḥ attā as a preposition and focus particle, this stage in its development predates its use in collocation with conditional morphemes such as law ‘if’, since in the latter case it is non-cancelable when additional premises are added. From a morpho-semantic perspective, a focus particle drawing attention to some aspect or scalar value of a given proposition in a simple sentence is relatively more basic than a focus particle used in complex sentences marking conditional or concessive meanings involving two linked states of affairs. This network of semantic functions illustrating a multi-dimensional semantic space, inspired by Heine’s model for a conceptual network for a case function (Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer 1991a), is developed for ḥ attā and linked to the strategies motivating change in functions. To summarize, if strategies motivating semantic change induced through inference vary in their order, one is most likely to find metaphoric processes preceding metonymic processes, and conversational inferences preceding metonymic ones. Hence, metonymy should be Metonymic extensions Metaphor


Figure 8.4 Network of some semantic functions for ḥ attā

from preposition to clause subordination


Table 8.3 Grammaticalization Channel of ḥ attā from Preposition to Subordinator Meaning Spatial > temporal ḥ attā ‘until’

Allative > scalar/focus ḥ attā ‘even’

Focus (concessiveconditional) ḥ attā law ‘even if’

Function Prepositional Particle Subordinator Strategy Metaphor/metonymy Metonymy/(conversational Conversational implicata/ implicata) metonymy

recognized as a continuous strategy throughout the process of grammaticalization that works in tandem with other inferencing, resulting in semantic change. Moreover, more than one strategy involved in semantic change is associated with grammaticalization. Applied to prepositions and subordinators arising from them, metaphoric, and to some extent metonymic processes, are involved in meaning extension of prepositions, whereas conversational inferences and metonymy are primarily involved in meaning change for subordinating connectives. Given the possibly ubiquitous and continuous role metonymy plays in meaning change associated with grammaticalization, it deserves primacy over the two other strategies. Inferences are essential to human communication. Levinson (2000, 28) justifies this conclusion on biological grounds as he remarks, “It is this mismatch between articulation rates on the one hand, and the rates of mental preparation for speech production or the speed of speech comprehension on the other hand, which points to a single fundamental bottleneck in the efficiency of human communication.” Three heuristics conspicuously related to quality, quantity, and manner in the Gricean maxims are (1) “what isn’t said, isn’t; (2) what is simply described is stereotypically exemplified; (3) what’s said in an abnormal way, isn’t normal” (Ibid., 31–33); these regulate and guide “recovery of speaker’s intentions” and enrich what is said through constraining possible states of affairs, consequently giving rise to efficiency in communication. While implicatures guided by the first and third maxims and their corresponding Levinson’s heuristics are similar in their reliance on ordered sets of scalar and contrasting informational strength,5   (e.g., quantity, quantifiers of contrasting values ; manner, set holding similar meaning but contrast in markedness < marked, unmarked> where marked expressions are said to implicate complexity, that is, non-stereotypicality or unmarkedness of the state of affairs). 5


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implicatures generated in accordance with the second heuristic “what is simply described is stereotypically and specifically exemplified” (Levinson 1995, 97) differ from the preceding two in that among all possible interpretations the one fitting the stereotype is selected. This selection has an effect of enriching what is said by narrowing the underdetermined relations between states of affairs allowable by what is said. This heuristic is labeled the principle of informativeness in Atlas and Levinson (1981), and was elaborated on subsequently in Levinson (1983) and (2000). Although ranked third in primacy to quality and manner (quality> manner > informativeness), whenever inconsistencies arise among the three classes of GCI, I-heuristic (also known as I-implicatures and I-inference) is the most important of the three in specifying subordinate relations. Independent of the Levinsonian scale of implicational priority, the relative importance of the informativeness implicature to subordinating connectives from the perspective of grammaticalization has been crucially noted in Traugott and König (1991) and Kortmann (1997). The principle of informativeness in Levinson (1983, 146–7) states, “read as much into an utterance as is consistent with what you know about the world,” a rule allowing the inference to “exceed” the informational content of the coded meaning in the statement to which we now turn. Levinson’s (2000, 125) formula—“minimal forms invite maximally rich interpretations, maximal forms defeat them”—is a statement about the speaker’s preference for linguistic economy. However, despite acknowledging the role familiarity plays in motivating reduction in linguistic signals, as advocated in Haiman (1985a), Levinson refuses to grant it exclusivity. Instead, sharing an understanding of the speaker’s tendency towards minimization, Levinson remarks that the listener’s response, in the absence of elaborate content in the speaker’s utterance, is to amplify the content of what is said, and thus to “assume the richest temporal, causal, and referential connections between described situations or events, consistent with what is taken for granted” (Levinson 2000, 114) among other listener-based assumptions. With that premise in mind, there are several conceptual consequences for this characterization. Informativeness correlates positively with specificity such that greater informativeness entails greater specificity of the type of semantic relations beyond what is said, thereby functioning as a filtering principle selecting the most preferred reading

from preposition to clause subordination


conforming to the stereotype. In so doing, the resulting I-implicatures enrich the semantic content of what is uttered and will adapt socioculturally as necessary (Ibid., 370). Summarizing, whenever inconsistencies among inferences arise, quality and manner implicatures take precedence over informativeness implicatures and supercede them. Quality and manner implicatures, in observance of the cooperative principle, evidence the extent of the speaker’s knowledge of the state of affairs, and hence, the choice of the value on the so-called Horn scale or clausal implicature scale. The markedness scale reflects the extent of that knowledge. Differing from quantity and manner implicatures, I-implicatures—based on Atlas and Levinson (1981) and Atlas (2005)—are the most logical interpretations fitting the stereotype in a given context and in accordance with the shared knowledge of interlocutors (Atlas 2005, 95)—. Thus, using munḏu ‘ago, since’ in (17a), according to elucidation and temporal precedence (i.e., return to Egypt), through I-implicatures generates a possible causal relationship with the negative feelings that the person in question has experienced, and possibly such a more informative interpretation is selected as the intended meaning (that is, the logically strongest of the two possible temporal/causal readings). However, in (17b), a causal reading between the two month disappearance of the man in question and the (figurative) spreading of landmines that the speaker mentions are unrelated events, due to the fact that munḏu ‘ago’ refers exclusively to a time period. (17a) munḏu since

ʿāda returned.3MSG

ʾilā to

miṣra Egypt

lam not

yašʿur 3MSG.feel.JSV

siwā bi-l-ʾasā wa-l-ʾalami wa-l-yaʾsi except with-the-sorrow and-the-pain and-the-despair ‘Since he returned to Egypt, he only felt sorrow, pain, and despair’ (Smell 3, 3:4) (17b) kāna ḏālika r-rajulu llāḏī xtafā was.3MSG that.MSG the-man who.MSG disappeared.3MSG munḏu šahrayni qad faraša l-ī ago month.DU ASP spread.3MSG for-me

ḥ uqūlan field.PL

mina l-ʾalγāmi of the-mine.PL ‘That man who disappeared two months ago had spread mine fields for me’


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Semantic relations holding between prepositions, particularly those in subordinate relations, are assigned to varying degrees on a scale of informativeness (Kortmann 1991a and 1997). A distinction between more informative and less informative semantic relations, albeit in free adjuncts and absolute types of constructions, is made along a knowledge-based scale, or more specifically with “background/world knowledge” as a basis, as proposed in Kortmann (1991a); clauses whose state of affairs are semantically integrated and which “refer to the same event” are said to be more informative than those linked conceptually through additive or “side-by-side information” (120). In simple terms, according to Kortmann’s scale of informativeness, clauses denoting temporal simultaneity or overlap are less informative than those denoting contrast or concession. While this scale was devised for present-participial free adjuncts/absolutes, it holds well for clauses with explicit subordinating conjunctions: (18a) fa-baynamā so-while

huwa sāʾirun he walking

fī ṭarīqi-hi in road-his

raʾā saw.3MSG

šābban ʿalā dāri-hi young man on house-his ‘While he was walking on his way, he saw a young man at his door’ (1001N149, 43) (18b) ittajahat lamīs naḥ wa dirāsati ṭ-ṭibbi oriented.3FSG Lamīs towards study the-medicine baynamā xtārat mišīl ʿulūma l-ḥ āsūbi whereas chose.3FSG Michelle science.PL the-computer ‘Lamīs directed herself to study medicine, whereas Michelle chose computer science’ (RiyadGirls 1, 4)

As shown in (18a), temporal simultaneity of the two events merely describes the situation as it occurs in the real world. The relationship between the two events delineated in the two clauses is iconically reflective of synchronized acts, but without further subjective evaluation of the significance of such temporal co-occurrences between these two events; consequently, it receives a lower informativeness ranking since in this context it refers to a temporal event without any possible additional reading into the utterance that is consistent with knowledge of or presupposition about the situation as described. In (18b) by contrast, the two states are linked conceptually through epistemic knowledge, not mere chance, as in the case of the tempo-

from preposition to clause subordination


ral co-occurrence. In (18b), Michelle’s choice of computer science as her field of study suggests a contrastive relation between her choice and Lamīs’s. The selection of a contrastive relation as the best interpretation in this instance is motivated by an additional inference and strengthening of informativeness in the sense described in Hopper and Traugott ([1993] 2003) and Traugott and König (1991) of the coded meaning of the two clauses. Contrastive relations of this type can serve recursively as a source for invited and more informative inferences, including incompatibility, eventually leading to inferring concessivity in some languages (see König and Van Der Auwera 1988; Traugott and König 1991; and Traugott 1995a for a detailed analysis of the emergence of while from temporal reference in Old English to serve as a source of concessive relations in Middle English). Not designed initially to measure grammaticalization, Kortmann’s (1991a) scale of informativeness suggests clear-cut boundaries between less informative and more informative semantic meanings, when in fact the two can be equally marked by the same linguistic form. Kortmann, while ordering semantic relations on a continuum extending from less to more informative, misses an opportunity for identifying less and more informative semantic relations as source and target, yet this situation was partially rectified in Kortmann (1997) under the rubric of polyfunctionality of adverbial subordinators. The import of Kortmann’s scale of informativeness for this study lies in ranking causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive semantic relations among the most informative when compared to other relations (addition and temporal simultaneity are conversely among the least informative). Furthermore, given the relative degree of specificity they exhibit, the prediction the scale makes that causal is the least informative among the three functions and that concessives are the most informative—in König’s (1986, 243) terms, “the most determinate construction type”—holds well for Arabic connectives in constructions where such readings or interpretations are permitted. Taken together, these two revelations benefit this study by establishing a possible continuum of functionality based on the type of semantic relations for subordinators that can be diachronically informing. Within each semantic relation (i.e., causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive) discussed, the increased abstraction and cognitive complexity that betoken grammaticalization are explored, and in so doing, for each of these relations, three types of meaning (i.e., content,


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Table 8.4  Kortmann’s Comparative Domains of Meaning for Semantic Relations Coded by Subordinators Haegeman Schiffrin (1985) (1987)

Sweetser (1990)

Hengeveld (1993; Lyons 1977)



2nd order adverbials (state of affairs)


knowledge-based epistemic epistemic


3rd order adverbials (proposit. content)

speech-act 4th order adverbials (speech act)

Source: Bernd Kortmann, Adverbial Subordination: A Typology and History of Adverbial Subordinators Based on European Languages (Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1997), 31. Reprinted by permission from de Gruyter.

epistemic, and speech act), whenever possible, will be distinguished and ordered on a continuum of increased semantic and pragmatic complexity. I-implicatures continuously enrich the specificity of subordinating connectives, even at several levels of meaning within the same semantic function. Several theorists—(Haegeman 1985; Schiffrin 1987; Sweetser 1990; Hengeveld 1993; and Lyons 1977)—have argued convincingly in favor of distinguishing between three levels of pragmatic meanings for adverbial clauses, irrespective of the semantic function holding between them. These are summarized in the following table from Kortmann (1997, 31). The increasing level of abstractedness within each domain of semantic relations strongly suggests this continuum of semantic change for increased subjectivity: Content > Epistemic > Speech Act

This continuum is not a novel idea. Givón’s (1989) “scale of evidentiary strength of source” roughly offers corresponding rankings of increasing subjectivity: “direct sensory experience,” “inference from direct sensory experience,” and “indirect inference” (138). Other scholars, namely Traugott and König (1991, 189), also hypothesize that meaning shifts proceed “from meanings grounded in more or less objectively identifiable extralinguistic situations to meanings in text-making (e.g., connectives, anaphoric markers, etc.) to meanings grounded in the speaker’s attitude toward or belief about what is said.” I render “objectively identifiable extralinguistic situations” equivalent to “content,” and “meanings grounded in the speaker’s attitude” roughly equal to “epistemic.” Sweetser (1990) has recognized this partial cor-

from preposition to clause subordination


respondence that conflates epistemic and speech act domains of pragmatic meaning. What is of interest here is this tripartite division of pragmatic meaning overlaying coded meanings of prepositions; when applied to semantic functions of connectives, it gives the added benefit of unmasking the subtle change in meaning within the respective function without which nuanced meanings cannot be easily captured. Thus, for each subordinating connective included here, examples covering each of the three meanings will be presented, thereby effectively highlighting the subtle difference between each of the submeanings. 8.6  Scales of Grammaticalization for Subordinators Before proceeding with the discussion of select interclausal relations marked by prepositions either individually or in phrasal complexes, I outline specific parameters for measuring the degrees of grammaticalization for the types of subordinate relation in light of the foregoing theoretical discussion of morpho-semantic and pragmatic factors facilitating the functional shift. These semantic parameters, including formality and frequency of occurrence, are interrelated and are proposed to measure the relative degree of functional and formal grammaticalization with respect to the domain of interclausal subordination: 1. Semantic criteria: a. Type and nature of the semantic relation. Semantic relations, causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive will be ordered on a functional continuum ranging from least cognitively complex to more complex and specific. b. Degree of semantic bonding. Within each of the semantic relations coded by a given subordinate connective, the degree of semantic tightness between the two linked clauses, following Sweetser (1990) and Traugott (1982, 1989, 1991, 1995), is measured at the content, epistemic, and speech act levels of meaning overlays. c. Subjectification. Based on Traugott’s coupling of subjectivity and grammaticalization in several of her individual and joint writings (e.g., Traugott 1995a; Traugott and König 1991; Traugott 1995a; Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003) meaning changes from factual description of states of affairs and events towards increased subjectivity; “informativeness” in the construal and interpretations of these states of affairs is a reflex of increased


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grammaticalization. Gradational change towards greater subjectivity proceeds from factual descriptions of events and state of affairs (objective reality) and is gradually replaced with subjective stance, assessments, and conclusions—i.e., “speaker-based” epistemic knowledge—of the speaker towards propositions. Additionally, meanings unidirectionally shift from epistemic modality towards more involvement in the speech situations (e.g., speech act). Viewed from this perspective, greater subjectification leads to pragmatic strengthening of grammaticalized meanings. d. Functional specialization. Range of semantic relations generated on subordinate clause. The more polysemous the subordinate marker is, the more likely that it has a longer functional history. By contrast, the more determined and specialized the subordinate marker, the more likely that it has been formed historically late, and the more complex and specific the semantic relation it codes. 2.  Formal grammaticalization: a. Size and structures of subordinators. Interclausal connectives vary in morpho-phonetic size and syntactic complexity, and therefore may be arranged on a continuum of increasing or decreasing complexity. Smallness of syntagmatic size, in general, correlates positively with increased degree of grammaticalization. For example, the bound form li- as a marker of purpose is more grammaticalized than the autonomous ḥ attā in marking purpose on a subordinate clause. However, age of the gram and its size must also be evaluated from the perspective of grammaticalization. For newer, (i.e., historically late) subordinators like the concessive ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ʾanna, while larger in syntagmatic size, are more grammaticalized than li- on the grounds that concessiveness is more cognitively complex (hence, their generally late emergence in language, according to König in several of his writings on this topic) than purposive or causal relations. Nevertheless, when comparing ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ʾanna with its later derivative raγma ʾanna, which is syntagmatically shorter, the latter is placed ahead on the grammaticalization scale/continuum. b. Degree of bonding with complements. As subordinators that link clauses, prepositional sources collocate with other elements (e.g., deixis, complementizers, etc.). Complements forming syntactic and semantic units and functioning as units of grammar with

from preposition to clause subordination


prepositional forms and constructions will be viewed as more grammaticalized than those forming looser syntactic relations (i.e., owing to possible substitution with variants, for example). 3.  Textual frequency criteria: a. Frequency of occurrence. Frequency count of retrieved data from the ACT corpora will seek to establish empirical links between changes in textual frequencies as a result of serving subordinating functions for prepositional forms such that increases in frequency will evidence increases in the degree of grammaticalization. Frequency counts of prepositional-based subordinators will also be traced to their localized contexts where they are likely to have their earliest appearances. Conclusion In this chapter, the theoretical underpinnings underlying the interface between grammar and discourse have been examined in light of the evolution processes of prepositional forms and constructions into interclausal connectives. Based on the discussions and review of relevant literature on this evolutionary process, in the next chapter, analysis of selected prepositional forms and constructions coding causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations on subordinate clauses aimed at assessing their degree of grammaticalization will proceed in accordance with the operational criteria that have been developed here.

chapter nine

Causal, Concessive-Conditional, and Concessive Subordinators 9.1  Introduction In this chapter, I examine semantic and formal grammaticalization of explicit subordinate conjunctions marking causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations between two linked clauses. The theoretical framework and operational scalar criteria for measuring grammaticalization of preposition-based subordinators developed in chapter 8 inform and guide the analysis of these interclausal relations. The three interclausal relations under consideration in this chapter have been subject to scholarly investigation in a number of studies utilizing a grammaticalization framework. Most notable among these studies is Kortmann’s (1997) detailed typological study of adverbial subordinators in forty-nine European languages, showing the many benefits of grammaticalization in identifying sources, patterns, and continua in the diachronic evolution of subordinators based on empirical data. A number of scholarly articles exploring the three subordinate relations mentioned above (plus contrast), from the cognitive and discourse perspectives that appear in Couper-Kuhlen and Kortman’s (2000) edited volume suggest that boundaries between cause, concessive-conditional, concessive, and contrast (labeled C-relations in that volume) are fluid as, from a pragmatic discourse perspective, these semantic relations may be “conceptualized in terms of one another” (2). This premise is adopted here; in section 9.3 below more will be said about the cognitive and pragmatic connections between cause and condition in subordinate clauses. 9.2  Causal Relations Within semantic relations, cause and causal relations frequently have been termed “basic” in philosophical treatises such as those written by Kant (cited in Wierzbicka 1996, 70) and “fundamental” in Podlesskaya (1993, 165) to human cognition under the assumption that causality


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is neither derived from another concept nor is reducible to a more basic cognitive concept. Three corroborating pieces of evidence for the rudimentary nature of causality are found in (1) the universality of the concept as shown in the omnipresence of asyndetic and syndetic markings of causal relations in world languages by Wierzbicka (1994b); (2) empirical evidence from first language acquisition confirmed causality in the linguistic output of (American) infants (see Bloom 1991, cited in Wierzbicka 1996); and (3) ease of its conception reflected in iconic expression through simple linguistic or extralinguistic means. Similar views on causality have been found in Noordman and Blijzer (2000, 36), who also postulate that causality is a “central category to human cognition.” This notion of categorical basicness for causals was called into question by Dirven (1995) in his small-scale corpus study of the concepts of cause as they figure in English with comparisons to German and Dutch prepositions. Causality, as Dirven sees it, is “a fuzzy and many-faceted concept” (Ibid., 95), which led him to identify several subtypes of cause, induced by a number of prepositions in English, Dutch, and German, which he labels inherent, immediate, simultaneous, and internal (Ibid., 117). While I recognize that these types of causal relations are important in showing the broad range of semantic roles that prepositions assume in coding causal relations, I shall limit the scope of my analysis of Arabic prepositions marking cause to purpose and cause/reason relations without reference to Dirven’s subtypes of cause. The main reason for this exclusion is that Dirven’s study focuses on causal relations within phrases and simple sentences, which differs markedly from the subordinate causal functions that are the central focus of this inquiry. However, Dirven’s definition of what constitutes causal relations as “[a] situation (S1) which triggers another situation (S2), where the term situation covers states, events, processes and activities,” is adapted here. The relation between S1 and S2 is such that S2 is the result of S1” (Ibid.). Dirven’s characterization and definition of causal relation permits a broad rendition of conceptually varied causal relations; similar to Halliday and Hasan’s (1976, 256) analysis, it also encompasses other relations—such as purpose, reason, and cause—which can be ordered on a continuum of an increased degree of grammaticalization.

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 291 9.2.1  Purpose Prepositional sources pressed into service as subordinators coding purpose relations include two allative case functions, li- ‘to> in order to’ and ḥ attā ‘until> in order to’.1 Sharing this conceptual source, these two prepositions in their process of grammaticalization conform to this pattern recognized in Heine and Kuteva (2002, 39): ALLATIVE > PURPOSE

The two prepositional subordinators differ slightly in their semantic denotation in that ḥ attā is inherently durative-terminative, whereas li- has a general, more abstract, opaque semantic content. Nonetheless, the two case functions belong to the same semantic domain—motion towards the realization of a goal: (1) γādara li-bayrūta left.3MSG to-Beirut ‘He left for Beirut by train’

bi-l-qiṭāri with-the-train

(2) tasallaqa l-jabala ḥ attā l-qimmati climbed.3MSG the-mountain until the-summit ‘He climbed the mountain until the summit’

The two prepositions imply reaching a destination due to the intention of a willful human agent. Through metaphorized spatial meaning, which belongs to the more concrete domain of objective reference, a temporal relation emerges, which is shown to recur frequently in Sweetser (1988, 1990); Givón (1989); Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a); Heine and Kuteva (2002); and Traugott (1995a). Cristofaro (2003, 157) suggested that the manipulation of sources belonging to the domain of motion serves purposive relations by linking two clauses where purpose of motion is for the intention of realization of a goal. This semantic shift from motion to intention has been expressed most clearly in Traugott’s (1995a) diachronic study of the English 1   The prepositon ḥattā has its origin in the noun al-ḥattu ‘rubbing, peeling soiling’ (e.g., elements off of a garment) (Ibn Manẓūr n.d., 2, 767). The activity of rubbing until reaching the peeling stage likely gave rise to its semantic function as marker of a goal or spatial allative notion inherent in this preposition. See more details on the erstwhile lexical source of this gram in section 2.2.2 and table 2.6.


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construction be going to where going to X ‘motion’ > temporal ‘intention’ to do something in the future > prediction. In the latter semantic shift, prediction, Traugott notes the incompatibility between, for example, an inanimate subject and motion as in it seems as if it were going to rain (Ibid., 35), which she cites from Old English. It is the frequency of this intimate relation between unrealized future goals/purposes and human intention to pursue them that explains the invariable use of the subjunctive in the subordinate purpose-clause. In Arabic, as well as in many other languages, the subjunctive mood is usually used in propositions expressing intentions, desires, and wishes that may or may not materialize. Use of the subjunctive, from a formal perspective, is motivated by it being “a mood typical of subordinate clauses” that was encountered most frequently, for example, in Old English (Fischer 2007, 222). From a semantic viewpoint, its widespread use in unrealized purpose relations is evidenced cross-linguistically in Ngizim, a Chadic language, and Kanuri, a Nilo-Saharan language of Africa (Thompson and Longacre 1985). Its occurrence with the purpose-clause in Arabic is exemplified in (3a) and (3b): (3a) sahartu li-ʾukmila wājibāt-ī stayed up.1SG to-1SG.complete.SBJV homework.PL-my ‘I stayed up late in order to complete my homework’ (3b) sahartu ḥ attā ʾukmila wājibāt-ī stayed up.1SG until 1SG.complete.SBJV homework.PL-my ‘I stayed up late until I completed my homework’

In their use as prepositions, li ‘to’ and ḥ attā mark destinations expressed through motion within the spatio-temporal domains towards an intended goal as in (1) and (2) above. In purpose clauses, however, motion is reinterpreted in terms of action taken by the participant as an intention or motive towards achieving a desirable outcome that falls somewhat within the realm of achievement as in (3a) and (3b). The two subordinators li- ‘to, in order to’ and ḥ attā ‘in order to’, despite similarity in their coding of subordinating relations, vary considerably, particularly when the primacy of the purpose sense is further assessed. The purpose relation that li- marks in interclausal relations is not exclusive to subordination; the same semantic relations exist when li- functions as a preposition as elucidated in (4a) and (4b).

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 293 (4a) sāfartu traveled.1SG

li-ʾamrīka to-America

li-ruʾyati to-see

nāṭiḥ āti scraper.PL

s-saḥ ābi the-cloud.PL ‘I traveled to America in order to see the skyscrapers’ (4b) sāfartu li-ʾamrīka li-ʾarā nāṭiḥ āti traveled.1SG to-America to-1SG.see.SBJV scraper.PL s-saḥ ābi cloud.PL ‘I traveled to America in order to see the skyscrapers’

In (4a), li- is prefixed to the verbal noun ruʾyati ‘to see, seeing’ and assigns it a genitive marking (dependent marking), whereas in (4b), it heads the subordinate clause beginning with the verb ʾarā ‘I see’ (head marking). Following Nichols’s (1986) classification of case-markings as dependent marking when they appear on the nominal and as head marking when they are incorporated into the verb, there is clearly a shift widening the scope of li- to include an entire subordinate clause expressing purpose. Still, the two sentences expressing purpose are semantically identical, although differing from each other structurally since (4a) is a simple sentence and (4b), by contrast, is a complex sentence comprised of two linked clauses. Given these characteristics of li-subordinator, ḥ attā-subordinator would rank higher on the scale of grammaticalization of purpose than li- since in its usage as a preposition, no purpose relations or purpose readings are detectable; thus, the purpose relation is semanticized in ḥ attā in this case. Alongside purpose relation, li- ‘to’ marks non-causal relations when expressing unintended and counter-expectation relations outside the control of the human participant, as in (5a): (5a) fī in

ḏāti ṣabāḥ in one morning

istayqaḏ̣a n-nāsu awakened.3MSG the-people

li-yajidū nabaʾan xaṭīran to-3MPL.find.SBJV news serious ‘One morning, people woke up to find important news in the news­ paper . . .’ Cantarino (1975, 3: 81; transcription, mine)

In (5a), li-yajidū ‘to find’ has a hint of surprise contrary to the expectation of the people in question; alternatively, it may code an unanticipated event or consequence to something that has taken place.


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A similar subordinate relation coded by li- has been identified in Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 617), where purpose or intention of the agent ceased, as li- comes to denote what they call “consequence.” Also important to note is that whereas in (5a) the subordinate clause introduced by li- still involves a human participant, in (5b) from Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 617), the two linked clauses lack such a participant as both refer to an inanimate object. (5b) insakabat poured.3FSG

ʾašiʿʿatu ray.PL

š-šamsi the-sun

l-mušriqati the-rising

bi-hudūʾin li-tuγaṭtị̄ l-ʾarḍa l-mumtaddata with-calm to-cover the-land the-extended ‘The rays of the rising sun poured down gently to cover the earth spread out [beneath]’

Badawī and his colleagues attribute this semantic shift from purpose to consequence to contact with English as being a calque translation on the grounds that it “conveys the idea of an infinitive construction in English” (Ibid.). While this remark might be true of this development, recalling (4a–b), there also seems to be a more recent development in Arabic from li- PP to li-VP complement that has an earlier parallel in English. Los (2005, 201; cited in Fischer 2007, 221) has indicated that to-PP was diachronically replaced with to- infinitive after the latter acquired verbal properties and that the mood marked on the complement of this construction was the subjunctive. Perhaps contact with English has something to do with this development, but it is also possible that Arabic followed an evolutionary pattern that already existed. Returning to the use of li- in marking subordinate relations on clauses that lack reference to human participants as in (5b), in the general cline of increased grammaticalization in Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 160) cognitive structure involving three conceptual domains, they judged the domain of usage of grams with inanimate concepts to be the more abstract and grammaticalized, ahead of the spatial and anthropocentric concepts (e.g., case functions implying a human agent like benefactive, dative, and purpose) respectively. Increases in the degree of grammaticalization, as just hypothesized, point more to an increase in the grammaticalization of li- than to its use in the purpose relation. In spite of that, given the informativeness principle, li- exhibits a lower degree of specificity and special-

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 295 ization than ḥ attā in the expression of purpose relations, particularly since li- in its unaugmented form is used to mark other non-purposive prepositional relations, thereby rendering it exceedingly polysemous, contextually dependent, and less informative. Now the two clines of grammaticalization for li- and ḥ attā, having as their source a directional morpheme, can be compared as shown below: The grammaticalization pathway for li- ‘to > in order that’: Allative > Purpose Preposition > Purpose Subordinator The grammaticalization pathway for ḥ attā ‘to > in order that’: Allative > ‘Until’ Preposition> Purpose Subordinator

9.2.2  Cause/Reason Within the domain of causal relations, semantic and conceptual boundaries between purpose and reason are not always easily drawn. However, Thompson (1985) shows that +/– realization of the event described in the subordinate clause with respect to the event described by the main clause is the dividing criterion that holds well between two types of causal relations within complex sentences. Specifically, a purpose clause is never asserted, but the reason relation typically is. The syntactic reflex for this dichotomy is that reason clause (6b) takes a verb inflected for past, whereas purpose clause (6a) does not, as elucidated in these repeated examples: (6a) sahartu ḥ attā ʾukmila wājibāt-ī stayed up.1SG until 1SG.complete.SBJV duty.PL-my’ ‘I stayed up late in order to [PURPOSE] complete my homework’ (6b) sahartu ḥ attā ʾakmaltu wājibāt-ī stayed up.1SG until completed.1SG duty.PL-my’ ‘I stayed up late so that I [REASON] completed my homework’

The proposition expressed by the subordinate connective ḥ attā in (6a) is not entailed and is nonfactual; it rather expresses the speaker’s motivation for having stayed up late, regardless of attainment of the intended, desirable goal. In (6b), by contrast, the subordinate clause asserts the realization of the intended goal expressed by the main verb. This reason is non-cancellable when a converse proposition is added to the premise in the sentence; as evidenced in (7):

296 (7)

chapter nine *sahartu stayed up.1SG

ḥ attā ʾakmaltu until completed.1SG

wājibātī duty.PL-my

wa-lākin-nī mā ʾakmaltu-hā and-but-I not completed.1SG-it *‘I stayed up late until/so that I could complete my homework, but I did not complete it’

Nonetheless, in (7) the result relation expressed in the subordinate clause is not a function of ḥ attā alone; instead, the resulting interpretation gathers strength from co-constituents such as the past tense verb itself giving the sense of completion or fulfillment of the goal that would not have been completed (the homework), if it were not for staying up late. In this regard, the use of ḥ attā as a marker of result is structurally and functionally dependent on the construction in which it figures. The result sense is pragmatically motivated and is not part of its coded meaning. Therefore, in (8a–c) below, ḥ attā cannot possibly substitute for the conventionalized cause/result marker liʾanna ‘because’. Considering Sweetser’s (1990) semantic-pragmatic distinctions between meaning overlays spanning several cognitively linked domains—the socio-physical or content domain, the epistemic or logical domain, and the speech act domain—there appears to be a correlation with a cline of increased subjectivity. As explained earlier under subjectification, an increased degree of subjectification correlates positively with a higher degree of grammaticalization, thereby suggesting this graded continuum: Content > Epistemic > Speech Act.2 Subordinating connectives coding semantic-pragmatic relations on propositions at the content level of semantics rank lower on the grammaticalization scale than those expressing (increasingly subjective) knowledge-based conclusions or speech act illocutions respectively. Considering Sweetser’s trichotomy in the levels of meaning for a given subordinator, the use of li- ‘to’ and the factual complementizer ʾanna ‘that’—forming liʾanna, lit. ‘for that = because’—which is conventionalized as the standard for coding reason/cause par excellence is fully functional at all three levels. The semantic scope of liʾanna in its coding of reason/causal relation is exemplified in (8a–c):

2  Crevels (2000, 320) employed this continuum but in a form of semantic hierarchy in his analysis of concessive relations.

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 297 (8a) yaʿūdūna ʾilay-hi 3MPL.return.IPFV to-him

liʾanna ṣawta-hu qawiyyun because voice-his strong

wāḍiḥ un wa-huwa yaxṭubu clear and-he 3MSG.speak.IPFV ‘They return to him because his voice is strong when he presents/ speaks’ (UrsZayn: 1, 113) (8b) yabdū ʾanna-nī xalaʿtu ṯiyāb-ī fī 3.MSG.seem.IPFV that-I took off.1SG clothes.PL-my in ṣ-ṣālati the-hallway

liʾann-ī because-I

wajadtu-hā found.1SG-it

mukawwamatan piled

ʿalā l-ʾarḍi bi-jiwāri l-māʾidati on the-floor with-next the-table ‘It seems that I took off my clothes in the hallway because I found them piled on the floor next to the table’ (Chi 2, 151) (8c) intabih ʾilay-hi liʾanna-hu ʿunṣurun pay attention.IMP.2MSG to-him because-he breed mušāγibun troublemaker ‘Pay attention to him, because he is of a troublemaking breed’ (Chi 8, 69)

Following Sweetser’s (1990) tripartite division of semantic layers, the subordinate clause headed by liʾanna ‘because’ expresses a reason pertaining to knowledge at the socio-physical level in (8a); namely, the stated reason for their return in the declarative because-clause is the strong voice of the speaker. In this context, both the event of their return and the reason for it are linked through causality obtained in the real world. In (8b), by contrast, the conclusion reached concerning finding clothes on the floor next to the table was not the cause for taking off the clothes. Causality in (8b) arises from the speaker’s own epistemic conclusion regarding the premise, which is finding his clothes in the specified location. In (8c), the because-clause is the basis and reason for the speech act (the imperative) in the main clause. The speech act presented in the imperative in the main clause has the illocutionary force of advice to heed in dealing with the intended person, thus rendering the liʾanna-clause relevant as the premise or reason for posing the request to the addressee. This type of pragmatic relation is “relevance-based” in Meyer’s (2000) terms and corresponds to what Sweetser (1990, 81) refers to as “relevance or irrelevance of a state of affairs as causing or impeding the speaker’s action” [italics in original].


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Two additional observations are significant to the grammaticalization history of liʾanna. First, it contains the sub-morpheme li- that is shown to code purpose relations; hence a conceptual connection between purpose and cause can be firmly established such that purpose is prior to cause on the cline of grammaticalization. This conclusion is based on the assumption that the simpler form li- predates the compound li-ʾanna diachronically. Second, since li- alone falls short of expressing the reason/cause sense, it follows that li- is diachronically augmented by the explicitly factual complementizer ʾanna ‘that’ in order to extend its denotation further within the causal domain toward the more abstract relation—such as reason/cause—that was unavailable before receiving the augmenting complementizer. The importance of factuality to subordinate clauses in reason relations is recognized already by Cristofaro (2003) who remarks, “if two SoA [states of affairs] are both factual and contiguous in time, as is often the case with ‘when’ and ‘after’ relations, they can be inferred to be causally linked” (Ibid., 161). Therefore, it is not surprising that li- is augmented morphologically by ʾanna, the factual complementizer, rather than by ʾan the nonfactual complementizer. Factuality enriches the speaker’s assertion and contributes to the informativeness of the proposition. 9.2.3  Textual Frequency of liʾanna ‘because’ Considering the textual frequency for liʾanna in ACT, the following table illustrates its diachronic textual distribution in the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, modern literature, and Ahrām 1999 newspaper corpora. From table 9.1, it appears that liʾanna, while having a historical beginning going far back to CA, has gained wider textual distribution in the Classical/Pre-modern periods. In the modern literature and Ahrām 19993 corpora, the distribution of liʾanna has continued to widen at a much faster pace. What can be gleaned from these distribution figures is that, recalling table 7.1, li- by itself has a much wider  It would have been more desirable to search all ACT newspaper corpora for the frequency of li- in order to maintain consistency in the usage of that corpus. However the choice of the Ahrām 1999 corpus alone was involuntary, given the limitations on the retrieval capacity of ACT of extremely high frequency untagged words from raw texts. In spite of this limitation, the total frequency of li- in this single data source is sufficient to suggest a strong tendency towards further dramatic increases of its textual frequency in the newspaper corpus in comparison with bi-mā ʾanna (in table 9.3). 3

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 299 Table 9.1 Diachronic Textual Distribution of liʾanna in Four ACT Corpora Corpus Frequency


Thousand and One Nights


Ahrām 1999 corpus

Modern literature




Table 9.2 Comparative Diachronic Distribution of li- and liʾanna Quran li- (preposition) liʾanna (subordinator)

Thousand and Modern One Nights literature

3,235 1

18,080 773

Ahrām 1999 corpus

33,151   1,950

502,784   17,205

NOTE: Distribution figures for li- are lower in table 9.2 when compared with those found in table 7.1 as the figures for its usage as a subordinator have been subtracted from the totals. Ahrām 1999 frequency figures are the best available manual count at present.

distribution in the same three corpora, which is shown in table 9.2 in comparison to liʾanna. What the figures in table 9.2 confirm is (1) the pre-theoretical intuition that li- predates liʾanna; (2) corollary to (1), the distribution of li- as a multifunctional preposition far exceeds its usage as a subpart of the subordinate connective liʾanna; and (3) increases in diachronic textual distribution for liʾanna parallel that of li-, albeit at a much slower pace. Having covered li- and its complement the complementizer ʾanna, I now turn to its collocations with spatial deixis. Other complements enabling li- to express reason/causal relations are derived from spatial deictic sources. The distal deictic ḏālika ‘that’ and the proximal hāḏā ‘this’ (discussed in chapter 8) to a lesser extent form compounds with li-, resulting in li-ḏālika, lit. ‘for that = therefore’ and li-hāḏā, lit. ‘for this = therefore’. Like the complementizer ʾanna, they too encode causal relations at the same three levels: content level (9a); epistemic level (9b); and speech act level (9c): (9a) lam not ḥ ujrati room

takun hunāka there

ḥ ājatun need

ʾilā to

mā what

fī in

l-bahiy li-ḏālika bīʿat kullu-hā the-parlor for-that.MSG sold.PASS.3FSG all-it

li-bāʾiʿi r-rūbābīkyā to-seller the-second hand ‘There was no need for what was in the parlor room, therefore, all of it has been sold to the second-hand seller’ (Sleeps 8, 19)


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(9b) ʾinna verily

dāʾa malaise

ḥ ārati-nā alley-our

l-jubni the-cowardice

wa-li-ḏālika and-for-that.MSG

fa-hum yunāfiqūna fituwāti-him so-them.MPL hypocrite.IPFV bully.PL-their.MPL ‘Verily, the malaise of our alley is cowardice, therefore, they play hypocrite to their bullies’ (MahfouzChildren 4, 79:53) (9c) fa-ʾantum sādatu l-ḥ ārati dūna munāziʿin so-you.MPL master.PL the-alley without contender wa-li-ḏālika and-for-that.MSG

yanbaγī 3MSG.ought.IPFV

ʾan yasūda to 3MSG.prevail.SBJV

bayna-kum al-ḥ ubbu wa-l-ʿadlu wa-l-iḥ tirāmu between-you.PL the-love and-the-justice and-the-respect ‘You are the undisputed masters of the alley, therefore, love, justice, and respect must prevail amongst you’ (MahfouzChildren 2, 42:16)

In (9a), the lack of need for the parlor room is the cause for the selling of its contents to the second-hand seller, which describes an actual situation as it unfolds. In (9b), the knowledge of the speaker of what he/she characterizes as malaise based on his/her subjective observation of widespread negative behavior, i.e., cowardice in the alley, leads to the conclusion of that speaker that its inhabitants have turned hypocrites with respect to the bullies. In (9c), being uncontested masters of the alley causes the hortative speech act of the subjective advice of calling for love, justice, and respect to be shared amongst the inhabitants of the alley. Distilling the foregoing analysis of li-, an evolutionary pathway for the grammaticalization of li- as a subordinator for marking causal relations can be represented in the following continuum: Allative > Purpose Preposition > Purposive Subordinator > Reason Subordinator

Not all markers of causal relations in Arabic are derived from allative sources or only from li- and ḥ attā; there are several others besides: ʿalā ‘on’ in tarabbaytu ʿalā ḥ usni l-ʾaxlāqi ‘I was raised on the best of morals’ (El-Ayoubi, Fischer, Langer 2003, 511); ʿan ‘about’ in ʿan qanāʿatin wijdāniyyatin ‘out of absolute inner conviction’ (Hans Wehr Dictionary 1994, 758). Neither of these two prepositions, ʿalā or ʿan, has been generalized as a marker of causal relations beyond those contextually localized usages, indicating that their causal senses are still context-dependent and pragmatically motivated, and, more importantly, neither

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 301 of the two forms marks cause on subordinate clauses in linked clauses. There is however evidence that the ablative prepositions also participate in marking causal relations. The conjunctive connector munḏu ‘ago, since’ is one such form that is analyzable as a fused compound structure containing the mutated and opaque ablative form min < mun- ‘from’ and the deictic element ḏū. The prepositional form min, which was discussed at length in chapter 6, has source as one of its senses, which upon pragmatic strengthening marks cause by itself as shown in example (10): (10) hal Q

qulta said.2MSG

la-hu to-him

ʾinna that

bna-nā son-our

sa-yamūtu FUT-3MSG.die

min al-jūʿi from the-hunger ‘Have you told him that our son will die from hunger?’ (1001N 835, 6)

In (10) sa-yamūtu min al-jūʿi ‘die from hunger’, min ‘from, of ’ points to the origin as cause, whereas in English, Dirven (1995, 108) observes that die from alcohol, from drugs, from jogging denotes “concrete phenomena [. . .] which are remote causes, almost incidental to the main clause,” which he then contrasts with afraid of, apprehensive of, which he claims to be typically used for denoting “illness or extreme physical or psychological hardship” and even “idiomaticity,” as in the case of afraid of just cited. Arabic min nevertheless denotes both types of cause (of-cause and from-cause) since māta min al-muxaddirāt/xawfi ‘died from/of drugs/fear’ are both acceptable. Returning to the preposition munḏu, it is used primarily for marking temporal relations, and it typically takes an NP complement denoting time, as illustrated in (11): (11) ʾanā sākinun fī I reside in

hāḏā this

l-makāni the-place

munḏu since

miʾatay ʿāmin hundred.DU year ‘I have been living in this place for two hundred years’ (WannousJabir 1, 752)

The coding of temporal relations also continues when munḏu ‘since’ serves as a subordinate conjunction; however, instead of exclusively referring to a time period (as it usually does in its prepositional function),


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temporal overlap or sequencing of events through increased informativeness gives rise to pragmatically motivated causal interpretations in limited cases. Traugott and König (1991, 197), documenting the functional histories of the English conjunction since, proposed a unidirectional process of change diagrammed below: temporal > causal

This type of change has an intermediate stage where both causal and temporal meanings overlap; with a historically later conventionalization of implicature, since in English came to mark cause only in some contexts, as exemplified in these two contrastive examples from Traugott and König (1991, 194–195): (12a) Since Susan left him, John has been miserable. (temporal/causal) (12b) Since you are so angry, there is no point in talking with you. (causal)

Using this evolutionary track as background for analyzing Arabic munḏu ‘since’, it is worth noting that its function as a preposition (even in its CA variant form muḏ) that mainly codes temporal relation does not preclude the more informative causal reading in MSA: (13a) fa-munḏu mawti bumadyan wa-naḥ nu so-since death Boumedienne and-we nuʿānī ʾiflāsan 1PL.suffer.IPFV bankruptcy

ʿāṭifiyyan emotional

yatāmā orphan.PL

yafūqu 3MSG.surpass.IPFV

ʾiflāsa qtiṣādi-nā bankruptcy economy-our ‘So since Boumedienne’s death, we have been orphans suffering emotional bankruptcy surpassing our economic bankruptcy’ (AhlamFouda 5, 44)

The causal sense of munḏu is pragmatically motivated as it arises out of conversational implicature based on the temporal relevance of a past event, i.e., the death of Boumedienne (the late president of Algeria), to the current state of affairs, which is marked by deterioration of both the emotional and economic situation as communicated by the speaker/author in the linked clause. Thus munḏu in this context appears to have extended its scope over the two linked propositions.

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 303 Through this usage, the speaker’s personal stance or conclusion, rather than an objective reality, has been communicated in the linked clauses, which, as indicated in Traugott (1995a, 31) and Traugott and Dasher (2002, 6), are evidence of increased subjectivity. The two clauses are linked causally by munḏu through the inference that the temporally preceding event is the cause for the unfortunate emotional and economic state as described in (13a). The pathway leading from the temporal meaning of since-grams like munḏu ‘since’ to cause conforms to a frequently encountered pattern that has been identified in Heine and Kuteva (2002, 291), for example, in Latin posteaquam ‘after, ever since’ > French puis sque ‘since’, among several other languages. As stated above, the causal meaning of munḏu as a subordinating conjunction is a conversational implicature rather than a conventionalized (i.e., semanticized) meaning. As such, it is subject to defeasibility (i.e., cancellation), without ensuing ungrammaticality when additional information is presented that seems to contradict the premise of (13a). Example (13b) illustrates such a situation: (13b) fa-munḏu mawti bumadyan wa-naḥ nu so-since death Boumedienne and-we nuʿānī 1PL.suffer.IPFV ʾiflāsa bankruptcy l-ḥ aqīqiyyi the-fact

ʾiflāsan bankruptcy

qtiṣādi-nā economy-our li-hāḏa for-this-MSG

ʿāṭifiyyan emotional

yatāmā orphan.PL

yafūqu 3MSG.surpass.IPFV

wa-lākin as-sababu and-but reason l-ʾiflāsi huwa the-bankruptcy he

ʿadamu lack

ṯ-ṯiqati fī ḏ-ḏāti the-trust in the-self ‘So since Boumedienne’s death, we have been orphans suffering emotional bankruptcy surpassing our economic bankruptcy, however, the real reason for that bankruptcy is a lack of self trust/confidence’

What the additional premise in (13b) has done to the preceding proposition is cancel the inferred causation from munḏu and turn it into a marker of the temporal boundary of the background event instead. What (13b) demonstrates is significant limitations on the cause interpretation of munḏu. One additional piece of evidence for this limitation is the impossibility of its usage for marking cause at the epistemic or speech act levels when compared to its English equivalent since, which is fully functional in these domains:


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(14a) Since John isn’t here, he has (evidently) gone home. (Sweetser 1990, 78) (14b) *munḏu bābi l-maktabi muγlaqun fa-qad since door the-office closed so-ASP dahaba sāmī li-l-maktabati gone.3MSG Sāmī to-the-library ‘Since the office door is closed, Sāmī has (evidently) gone to the library’ (14c) Since you’re so smart, when was George Washington born? (Ibid.) (14d) *munḏu ʾanna-ka xabīrun fī šuʾūni since that-you.MSG expert in matter.PL l-hijrati the-immigration

kayfa how

ʾaḥ su ̣ lu 1SG.obtain.IPFV

ʿalā on

taṣrīḥ in permit

li-l-ʾiqāmati for-the-residence ‘Since you are an expert on immigration matters, how can I obtain a residence permit?’

The Arabic examples, which have been modeled, with necessary modification, after Sweetser’s examples in English, clearly illustrate the restrictions on the range of meaning domains in which causal inferencing can be found for munḏu ‘since’ and by extension confirm the marking of temporal relations to be the primary function of munḏu, both as preposition and subordinator. That munḏu fails to function as a cause-inducing connective at more subjective and grammaticalized levels is not a unique case. Using Sweetser’s tri-domain hypothesis of meaning change, limitations within the class of causal marking devices in Dutch have been also found in Maat and Sanders’s (2000, 57) study of three Dutch causal connectives daardoor ‘as a result’, daarom ‘that’s why’, and dus ‘thus’. Their study has revealed that the first connective primarily expresses “cause-consequence” at the content level, the second codes “volitional relation” in which the first proposition “contains the reason for the intentional action” (Ibid., 59) in the second proposition; the third, dus, operates at the epistemic level, that is it marks cause as a subjective conclusion. Although Maat and Sanders’s study did not focus on prepositional forms coding cause on linked clauses, their analysis still highlights the functional limitations on certain cause coding grammaticalized devices. Returning to munḏu, its channel of grammaticalization from a prepositional form to a subordinator can be schematized such: Ablative > Temporal/Causal Preposition > Temporal/Causal Subordinator

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 305 Considering the English form since, Traugott and König (1991, 194) point out the possibility that it might code causal meanings, particularly when used in contexts where at least one of the two linked propositions is a non-past event. By contrast, munḏu, despite its occurrence in non-past events (e.g., munḏu l-ʾāna, lit. ‘since now = from now on’) as a preposition, does not appear with non-past events when serving as a subordinating conjunction, hence the ungrammaticality of *munḏu yarā ‘since he sees’/yaʿūdu ‘since he returns’. This peculiarity partially explains the lack of conventionalized causal implicature in complex sentences where munḏu is used. Furthermore, as stated earlier, a strong connection between causal/reason inferencing and the factuality of the linked propositions has been suggested (Cristofaro 2003). When munḏu is augmented by complementizers, it collocates with the non-factual complementizer ʾan (hence munḏu ʾan ‘since that’) and is followed by events in the past, which further constrain its potential for coding causal relations as one of its primary subordinating functions. However, collocation of munḏu with the subordinating particle ʾan (i.e., munḏu ‘since’ + ʾan ‘that’ > munḏu ʾan ‘ever since’) seems to have given an impetus to the causal meaning of munḏu. From a diachronic perspective, this combination has no traces in either the Quran or Thousand and One Nights corpora. However, in the modern literature corpus there are thirty occurrences, one half (i.e., fifteen instances) in which overlapping of temporal/causal are discernable, but none is unambiguously causal. In the newspaper corpus, munḏu ʾan has a frequency of 2,429 instances, many of which are semantically ambiguous between temporal and causal readings. One such example is the following from the newspaper corpus: (15) munḏu ʾan daxalat l-qiṣsạ tu since that entered.3FSG the-story takwīni composition

l-ʿāṭiffiyyatu fī the-romantic in

l-ʾuγniyati najaḥ at bi-hā the-song succeeded.3FSG with-it

l-ʾaṣwātu the-voice.PL

r-rūmānsiyyatu the-sentimental ‘Ever since the romantic story has been part of the composition of the song, sentimental voices have succeeded’

Most important to note in (15) is the causal inference linking two propositions that do not directly involve a human agent. That is the two linked propositions through munḏu ʾan contain references to inanimate, more abstract entities. It would appear however that the


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collocation of munḏu with ʾan has not only strengthened its casual implicature since 50% of occurrences in that combination pragmatically signaled causal as well as temporal readings, and perhaps to a higher percentage in the newspaper corpus, but also has contributed to increases in the textual frequency of munḏu, most especially in the newspaper corpus. The above remarks aim at explaining the boundaries of the inferred causation that is triggered by munḏu ‘since’, which have not yet been conventionalized. However, another prepositional collocation, bi-mā ʾanna, lit. ‘in-what that = inasmuch as, since’—which includes the polysemous preposition bi- ‘in, at’, the polysemous prepositional complement mā, which has conditional, interrogative, adverbial, and relative (pronoun) functions, and the factual complementizer ʾanna—was seized upon for marking cause instead of munḏu. The bi-morphemic combination bi-mā is found in CA with the typical meaning of ‘in lieu of, in recompense’, as in the Quranic example (16): (16) udxulū 2MPL.enter.IMP

l-jannata bi-mā kuntum the-paradise in-what were.2MPL

taʿmalūna ‘Enter paradise in lieu of what thou art have done’

(Quran 16, 32)

9.2.4  Textual Frequency of bi-mā ʾanna ‘since, because’ As far as I can ascertain, there is no trace of ʾan ‘to’, the factual complementizer, in the major treatises of medieval Arabic grammarians, including that of Ibn Hišām al-Anṣārī in his discussion of bi-mā ‘with what’, nor does al-Anṣārī reference the use of ʾanna in that case. Additionally, the only available Arabic thesaurus, Lisān al-ʿArab of Ibn Manẓūr, authored in the fourteenth century AD, lacks mention of this collocation. The absence of this construction from older Arabic data leads to the possible conclusion that either it did not evolve during that time, or if it did, it was of such marginal distribution or importance that it did not warrant mention in the major grammar and lexical references. Based on the diachronic distribution of bi-mā ʾanna in the following table, it would seem that it only occurs in modern Arabic.

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 307 Table 9.3 Textual Distribution of bi-mā ʾanna in Four Corpora Corpus Construction


Thousand and Modern Ahrām 1999 One Nights literature corpus

bi-mā ʾanna ‘since, 0/only bi-mā 0/only bi-mā because’ occurred occurred 20 times 7 times



The frequency of occurrence figures in table 9.3 are quite revealing of the stages of the historical evolution of bi-mā ʾanna. In the earliest stages of its evolution, it had a very low textual frequency, while its morpho-syntactic structure was somewhat simpler than in later times in modern Arabic. Considering the trajectory of its evolution, in CA and pre-modern Arabic, bi-mā was on the verge of disappearing as its frequency declined in Thousand and One Nights to seven occurrences, after having reached twenty earlier in the Quran. However, in modern literature its modest rebound in textual frequency is still insignificant. In the newspaper corpus, however, there is an unprecedented upsurge in its textual frequency. Although all of the lexical sources used in the formation of this construction are native forms, its usage and wider frequency in newspaper Arabic seems to be motivated by frequent calque translations. One piece of evidence for this tentative hypothesis is the frequency of its usage in topics related to international politics and finance/business, areas dominated by Euro-American news outlets as a source of news for Arabic news outlets. This tentative conclusion, nevertheless, requires further substantiation in a more detailed inquiry. For the present purpose, suffice it to say that bi-mā ʾanna differs somewhat from the standard causal liʾanna in that the earlier is multi-word, and as such it exhibits more morphosyntactic complexity than the bi-morphemic li-ʾanna. Although bi-mā ʾanna appears historically late, it occupies a rather fixed syntactic position within the subordinate clause that it heads. The subordinate clause governed by bi-mā ʾanna is typically placed before the matrix clause, as noted in al-Warraki and Hassanein (1994, 90). When compared with liʾanna, bi-mā ʾanna exhibits semantic awkwardness when heading subordinate clauses in second place after the matrix clause. This feature becomes apparent when the two linkers are placed in the same contexts as illustrated in (17a) and (17b):


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(17a) iḥ taris 2MSG.beware.IMP

min-hā of-her

bi-mā ʾanna-hā in-what that-her

naṣsạ̄ batun maʿrūfatun swindler known ‘Be wary of her inasmuch as she is a known swindler’ (17b) iḥ taris min-hā li-ʾanna-hā naṣsạ̄ batun 2MSG.beware.IMP of-her for-that-her swindler maʿrūfatun known ‘Be wary of her because she is a known swindler’

The relative determinacy of its semantic denotation and the syntactic invariability of bi-mā ʾanna coupled with its frequent use at the illocutionary and epistemic levels (e.g., it can perform functions for which munḏu is precluded, such as the epistemic and illocutionary ones) can be construed as evidence of more grammaticality and specificity in the coding of the causal relations than the standard causal liʾanna, which is of much wider textual distribution (see table 9.2 for a distribution comparison). Moreover, based on this author’s native speaker intuition, bi-mā ʾanna associates more frequently with the logical conclusion reached by the speaker (i.e., speaker modality, as is understood in Traugott 1995a and 2002) rather than coding reason solely based on the content of propositions describing events in the socio-physical world. Furthermore, bi-mā ʾanna in some contexts may hint at conditional meaning, a more informative and abstract relation than is assumed about causals. Examples (18a) and (18b), which are modeled after König’s (1986, 230) example in English, demonstrate the tacit conditional sense: (18a) Speaker A: qāla said.3MSG

ʾinna-hu qad that-he ASP

darasa studied.3MSG

Speaker B:

fī ʾamrīkā li-xamsi sanawātin in America for-five year.PL ‘He said that he had studied in America for five years’ bi-mā ʾanna-hu qad darasa at-what that-he ASP studied.3MSG

fī ʾamrīkā li-xamsa sanawātin in America for-five year.PL

fa-huwa mutqinun li-l-luγati l-inglīziyyati so-he proficient for-the-language the-English ‘Inasmuch as he has studied in America for five years, he is proficient in the English language’

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 309 (18b) Speaker B: ʾin If

darasa studied.3mSG

fī in

ʾamrīkā li-xamsa sanawātin fa-yajibu America for-five year.PL so-3MSG.must.IPFV

ʾan yakūna mutqinan li-l-inglīziyyati to proficient for-the-English ‘If he studied in America for five years, then he must be proficient in English’

As shown in (18a) and (18b), featuring the bi-mā ʾanna clause in its causal/conditional function, mutatis mutandis, such a clause substitutes for the if-conditional. It should not go unnoticed that if bi-mā ʾanna were replaced with li-ʾanna, the conditional reading would be lost, and only the causal/reason reading would be permitted. Now that a number of major causal relations coded by prepositional forms have been discussed, it is possible to summarize the major patterns of functional change from prepositions to subordinating conjunctions. Table 9.4 summarizes the change in semantic functions by which the prepositions discussed thus far come to serve as subordinators within complex sentences as a result of further grammaticalization. 9.2.5  Diachronic Frequency of li-ḏālika ‘therefore’ In this section, by using comparative data counts from historical corpora in ACT, I shall examine diachronic textual frequency for the causal subordinators li-ḏālika ‘therefore’ and munḏu ‘since’ with the aim of presenting empirical evidence in support of the unidirectional functional change Content > Epistemic > Speech Act.4 Table 9.4 includes distribution of the causal subordinators in question in their deictic (referential), content, epistemic, and speech act functions in the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and modern literature:

4  Textual frequency for li- and li-ʾanna as subordinators could not be established with an acceptable degree of accuracy through manual combing of the retrieved data owing both to its extremely high frequency and limited search possibilities in ACT, which lacks tools for tagging only subordinating functions for that gram from various corpora.


chapter nine Table 9.4 Diachronic Frequency for li-ḏālika in ACT corpora Quran

Total occurrences Deictic Content Epistemic Speech Act


Thousand and One Nights Modern literature 47 41  4  1  1

284   62 142   78    2

NOTE: The two instances are too semantically ambiguous to be classed with certainty under any of the four domains.

Considering the frequency data of li-ḏālika in the three ACT corpora, it appears that the overall textual frequency for li-ḏālika expanded diachronically, even with due allowance for variation in corpora sizes. The two attested CA instances of li-ḏālika are semantically ambiguous, owing to reanalysis, and therefore are open to two interpretations. One of the two, ʾillā man raḥ ima rabbu-ka wa-li-ḏalika xalaqa-hum ‘except [those] whom your Lord has granted mercy and for that/and therefore He has created them’ (Quran 11,119), is ambiguous between content and epistemic. In the Thousand and One Nights corpus, li-ḏālika appeared 87.2%, or (41 times) in a concrete deictic, referential function (e.g., fa-lammā ḥ alaqa li-ḏālika r-rajuli ʾaʿṭāhu niṣfa fiḍḍatin ‘so when he cut the hair of that man, he gave him one half silver’ [1001N 787, 13]). That is, it functions primarily within the spatial domain. The ratio of its causal subordination function (e.g., hāḏā mā jarā lahumā ʾayyuhā l-maliku fa-li-ḏālika lā yanbaγī li-ʾaḥ adin ʾan yanquḍa ʿahda man istaʾmanahu ‘that is what has happened to both of them, O king, therefore, it ought not be the case that anyone may violate the trust of the one who trusted him’ [1001N 754, 6]) to its deictic use was extremely low, constituting only 12% (6 occurrences). Of those causal functions, its usage in the content domain was the most common. Textual frequency of li-ḏālika in the modern literature corpus, however, reveals significant expansion in all three semantic functional domains. The most dramatic increase, however, is observed in its usage as a causal subordinator, in particular in the content and epistemic domains. The significance of this diachronic increase in textual frequency is its indication of an increase in the grammaticalization of li-ḏālika, as it generalizes as a subordinating conjunction marking causal relations. Furthermore, within the three functional domains identified in table 9.4, the overall rise in textual frequency in the con-

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 311 tent domain surpasses that of the deictic domain, which clearly points towards a shift from the spatial to the causal domain. As predicted in grammaticalization theory, within the tripartite domains (content, epistemic, and speech act) a gradual increase towards abstraction is observed in the relative increase in the epistemic domain and a lesser increase in the occurrence of li-ḏālika in the speech act domain, the most abstract of the three. However, from the data in the table, it is clear that the direction of change is towards usages involving more abstract concepts, including discourse organizing functions. The data in table 9.4 also confirms the co-existence of the earlier, less grammaticalized function (e.g., the deictic/referential) of li-ḏālika side-by-side with the newer, more grammaticalized and abstract ones in each text. 9.2.6  Textual Frequency of munḏu ‘since’ I now turn attention to the diachronic textual frequency of munḏu as one of the subordinate conjunctions that marks temporal relations as well as cause. Table 9.5 summarizes the data frequency in the three ACT corpora. Corpus data in table 9.5 strongly reveal the diachronic emergence of munḏu as a subordinate conjunction whose earliest function was marking temporal relations between linked clauses. Over time, however, a gradual shift towards marking causal relations on subordinate clauses is evidenced, where 34.4% of its total usage as a subordinator in the Modern Arabic corpus has been ambiguous in function, and besides marking temporal relations on the subordinate clause, it also marks causal relation through pragmatic strengthening and increased informativeness. Finally, table 9.6 below summarizes the major functions that prepositional sources discussed in this chapter come to serve as subordinators. Table 9.5 Diachronic Increase in Textual Frequency and Functional Shift of munḏu

Total occurrences Subordinator Temporal Temporal/Causal


Thousand and One Nights

Modern literature

0 – – –

28  5  5 –

1,047 122 80 42


chapter nine Table 9.6 Continua for Evolution of Causal Subordinators from Prepositional Sources

Case function

Prepositional source

Augmenting elements

Target subordinator


li ‘to’

purpose reason/cause reason/cause

Allative Ablative Locative

ḥ attā ‘until’ min ‘from’ bi ‘in, with’

— complementizer ʾanna ‘that’ deictic: ḏālika ‘that — deictic: ḏū ‘that’, ʾan particle mā ‘what’ + complementizer ʾanna ‘that’

purpose temporal/causal reason, cause

These conclusions can be drawn from table 9.6: (1) the main source from which prepositions eventually serving as subordinators are drawn is the spatial domain; (2) within the spatial domain, allative sources (e.g., li- ‘to’, ḥ attā ‘until’) predominate over others and encode various types of causal relations ranging from purpose to reason/cause; and (3) at least two interclausal subordinators derived from ablative sources can be added to munḏu ‘ago, since’: min hunā, lit. ‘from here = hence, therefore, for this reason’ and min ṯamma, lit. ‘from there = therefore, hence’. The latter two cases illustrate explicit augmentation of the preposition min ‘from’ with a locative deictic, the proximal hunā ‘here’, and distal ṯamma, which originated in a noun denoting location (see Ibn Manẓūr Lisān al-ʿArab 1, 507). Although the latter two causal subordinators are encountered with some frequency in MSA (min hunā 119 and min ṯamma 17, respectively), particularly in the modern literature corpus, their textual distributions are far less than li-ʾanna ‘because’, which has 1,950 occurrences in the same corpus and li-ḏālika ‘therefore’, which has 224 confirmed instances as a subordinator function. Neither min hunā nor min ṯamma has a long documented history beginning with one subordinating function in that collocation and gradually continuing to the next, as for example li-ḏālika does. More specifically, they do not show coding of less-grammaticalized relations (such as purpose) prior to their coding for reason or cause. Furthermore, in the Arabic thesaurus of Ibn Manẓūr and the grammatical treatise of Ibn Hišām

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 313 (the latter provides a thorough presentation of Arabic prepositions and particles), neither author cites the min ṯamma ‘hence, therefore’ nor the min hunā ‘hence, therefore’ collocation in current usage as subordinators. Therefore, the subordinators from ablative sources do not participate in the coding of purpose relations, which seem to arise exclusively from the allative domain. While allative and ablative seem conceptually equal in that one introduces movement towards a goal and the other movement away from the source respectively, the two concepts do not figure in causal relations with equal distribution—a characteristic that is not required nor is necessary in any language. Dirven (1995, 106) observes crosslinguistic differences in recruitment of prepositions to serve causal functions in English and Dutch; whereas Dutch favors source prepositions (which include ablatives) as “a major means” for causal relations, English favors “proximity prepositions” (to which at, with, and by belong) for those functions. Prepositions arising from allative sources show much wider distribution in Arabic in marking cause relations between linked clauses. Purposive markers like li- ‘for’ can be manipulated to not only serve a semantic purpose but also as a sub-morpheme of liʾanna ‘because’. Nevertheless, one ablative preposition, min ‘from’, figures in several collocations (i.e., fused compound munḏu ‘since, ago’; transparent compounds min hunā, lit. ‘from here = hence’ and min ṯamma, lit. ‘from there = hence, therefore’) used for coding temporal, causal, and reason relations. There appears to be a limited distribution of ablative prepositions in coding purpose relations in linked clauses. Nevertheless, ablative prepositions outnumber allatives in coding cause and reason relations, but with one caveat: the standard marker of cause and reason liʾanna stems from the allative li-. It would be interesting to determine through typological studies in Semitic languages whether this asymmetry in the recruitment of both allative and ablative sources is widespread within other branches of the Semitic language family, and, more importantly, what factors, cognitive or metalinguistic, motivate such asymmetry from the prepositional sources recruited. Another immediate observation from table 9.6 is the coding of purpose relation without the need for augmentation of prepositions. Given that the interclausal purpose relation is shown to correspond to prepositional purpose relations, purpose is not a novel relation within


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the domain of interclausal linkage; rather, it is a prepositional relation extended to interclausals. If this proposal is accepted, then purpose relations may also be viewed as transitional relations between the prepositional function and relations more akin to subordination (such as reason and cause), particularly since the latter relations do not figure among the prepositional functions. Augmentation of prepositions by means of complementizers, polysemous particles, and deictic elements have the exclusive effect of allowing the preposition to move farther from prepositional functions since in most cases, as a result of the merger with the additional element, it ceases to mark case on its dependent; now it can have an entire clause as its scope rather than the phrase headed by a preposition alone. From a semantic perspective, deixis and complementizers add to the factuality of the proposition and increase the likelihood that one or more of the linked propositions is asserted. Augmentation of prepositions by subordinating particles and deixis when serving reason/cause functions may be motivated by an increase in cognitive complexity associated with conceptual relations of reason and cause. A polysemous reduced morpheme like li- ‘to’ is sufficient for coding purpose, but it is not specialized enough to be the marker of that relation exclusively. Context still plays an important role in disambiguating its multi-functions and polysemy (e.g., li-yaʿmal/li-yaʿmala ‘let him work/in order that he work’). With augmented prepositions, this is not the case. Their coding of reason and cause is conventionalized, and thus interpretations carrying these meanings are not defeasible. Conventionalization of meaning implicature, as hypothesized here and in chapter 8, happens late in the historical evolution of grams. This conclusion may help explain the late addition of min hunā ‘hence, therefore’ and min ṯamma ‘hence, therefore’ discussed earlier as linkers for causal and reason relations between clauses. Their transparent morphology and specialized meaning may further attest to their recent inclusion as markers of cause and reason relations. 9.3  Concessive-Conditional Relations It has been shown in earlier studies (e.g., Harris 1988; König 1986, 1988; König and Siemund 2000) that in some instances of conditionals, more basic logical relations—such as causal relations—are presupposed in the linked state of affairs expressed in protasis and apodosis

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 315 clauses.5 Comrie (1986, 80), while acknowledging differences between causals and conditionals, summarizes causal implication in some conditionals by remarking, “the content of the protasis must be interpretable as a cause of the content of the apodosis.” Absence of an explicit linker, according to König (1986, 229), points to the indeterminacy of the type of semantic relations connecting two paratactic clauses in (19), where both causal and conditional interpretations seem possible: (19) Lacking that, the movement is dead.

Additionally, Ter Meulen (1986, 137) notes that in the presence of temporal adverbs in conditional clauses, these morphemes further contribute to the presupposed causal relation between the cause (protasis) and consequent (apodosis), as her example illustrates: (20) When rain comes, we put an umbrella on top of us.

There are notable distinctions between causal relations and conditionals; to explicate, factuality of cause and effect clauses are required in causal relations but not in most conditional relations. Similar distinctions have been made cogently in Comrie (1986). However it is most important to notice that what (19) and (20) show is the deducible implicature of less-abstract logical relations (causal ) through the more abstract logical relations (conditional). More crucial from a cognitive perspective is the implicit evidence of a lack of a discrete conceptual demarcation line dividing causals and conditionals. Given these remarks, it is not surprising to find markers of interclausal causal relations identical to the ones participating in marking conditional relations. One such case in Arabic is ḥ attā ‘until, even’, which, as seen in the discussion of causal relations, is one of the markers of purpose and reason that comes to mark conditional relations, as exhibited in (21):

5   Kortmann (1997, 197ff.) represents this presupposed relation most succinctly as follows “causal constructions presuppose conditionals.”


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(21) ʾarjū 1SG.wish.IPFV

ʾan to


ḥ attā until/so that

ʾusāʿida-ka ‘I wish that you would help me so that I (can) help you’ (Chi 9, 71)

The construction in (21) is open to both semantic and pragmatic interpretations where causal and conditional relations intersect: (1) conditional or contingent reciprocity—the speaker will help (only) if the hearer will help the speaker first; and (2) causal implicature—agreeing to help the speaker will be the reason the listener receives help in return. Before proceeding with the discussion of ḥ attā in conditional constructions, a few notable distinctions between conditionals, concessiveconditionals, and concessives need highlighting. Table 9.7—based on several writings of König (1985a, 1985b, 1986, 1988), König and Van der Auwera (1988), Traugott and König (1991), and Harris (1988)— summarizes the main semantic properties of each type: Table 9.7 Entailment Comparisons of Linked Clauses in Conditional, Concessive-Conditional, and Concessive Relations Clause type Conditional Concessive-conditional Concessive



– – +

– + +

NOTE: (+) indicates entailment; (–) absence of entailment.

Examples (22a–c) additionally illustrate the semantic and pragmatic differences between the three types of constructions: (22a) law faʿala ḏālika la-qatala-hu n-nāsu if did.3MSG that.MSG EMPH-killed.3MSG-him the-people ‘If he were to do that, people would kill him’ (KanafaniUmSaad 6, 54) (22b) ḥ attā law manaʿū-nā min ad-duxūli sawfa even if prevented.3MPL-us from the-entering FUT nataḏạ̄ haru fī l-xāriji 1MPL.demonstrate.IPFV in the-outside ‘Even if they were to prevent us from entering, we will demonstrate outside’ (Chi 34, 102)

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 317 (22c) wa-maʿa and-with

ʾanna that

l-mubārata the-match

kānat was.3FSG

wuddiyyatan friendly

fa-ʾinna natījata-hā tabqā musajjalatan so-that result-it 3FSG.remain.IPFV recorded ‘Although it was a friendly match, the results remain recorded’ (Ahrām 1999, 012499AMOD08)

In (22a), since the antecedent and consequent are both hypothetical (i.e., counterfactual propositions triggered by the use of the particle law), neither one is entailed. In (22c), the two propositions comprising the concessive clause are entailed (more will be said about concessives in the relative section below). Between these two entailment extremes lies the concessive-conditional in (22b) in indeterminate position. In that example, ḥ attā ‘even’ takes as its complement the conditional morpheme law ‘if’, typically marking counterfactual conditionals, hence the formation of ḥ attā law ‘even if’. The antecedent clause in which ḥ attā appears is the hypothetical component of the concessiveconditional construction, which also includes a consequent asserted as factual. This degree of factuality is further strengthened when the matrix clause is preposed as in (23): (23)

wa-qarrara ʾallā taʿūda xuḍra ʾilā and-decided.3MSG to not 3FSG.return.SBJV Khuḍra to l-bayti ḥ attā law tanāzalat ʿan šakwā-hā the-house even if gave up.3FSG about complaint-her ‘And he decided that Khuḍra would not return even if she were to withdraw her complaint’ (Sleeps 7, 44)

The assertion of the speaker, as expressed in the matrix clause alone, is unconstrained by the subordinate clause semantically or syntactically. Taken at face-value, it draws attention to the strength of the speaker’s commitment to the fulfillment of the proposition expressed in the matrix clause. The ḥ attā law-clause—while presenting a hypothetical alternative to whatever real course of action Khuḍra may or may not take—serves as an addition to the commitment made to the content of the matrix clause should an improbable scenario (such as Khuḍra’s withdrawal of her complaint) materialize. From my native speaker intuition, the favored linear clause order for concessive-conditionals in Arabic is that the matrix clause precedes the ḥ attā lawclause or similar clauses headed by concessive-conditional markers.


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This q-p order is the reverse of the typical order p-q found in simple conditional clauses—such as those marked by law ‘if ’ used in “counterfactual conditionals,” ʾin ‘if’ used in hypothetical conditionals, and ʾiḏā ‘if’ used in temporal or “realis” conditionals. This unmarked linear order for Arabic simple conditionals conforms to Greenberg’s WordOrder Universal 14 (cited in Comrie 1986, 83): In conditional statements, the conditional clause [=protasis, BC] precedes the conclusion [-apodosis, BC] as the normal order in all languages.

One possible explanation for the reversal of linear order is the unconditional commitment to the proposition expressed in the matrix clause, which seems unaffected either semantically or syntactically by the ḥ attā law-clause. In the concessive-conditional example (22b), where the concessive-conditional containing ḥ attā law precedes the consequent clause (i.e., preposed), the commitment of the speaker will hold regardless of the hypothesized and unlikely consequent. Finally, Comrie’s (1986, 86) prediction—“where the protasis is focus (and, like focus, in general cross-linguistically), [conditional protasis] tends to occur sentence-finally”—is consistent with this proposal regarding the ḥ attā law-clause containing the focus particle ḥ attā, which very likely motivated this clause order reversal. Having dealt with syntactic changes that ḥ attā engenders in concessive-conditional clauses, attention is now turned to semantic and pragmatic changes also caused by the same gram. To begin, the semantic contribution of ḥ attā to the conditional clause must be further examined in some detail. Traugott’s (1986, 1989, 1995a) and Traugott and Dasher’s (2002) notion of subjectivity, namely the increased degree of expression of the speaker’s meaning in discourse, provides the key to understanding the role of the scalar particle ḥ attā in the context of conditionals. If an attempt is made to reconstruct the meaning shift for ḥ attā beyond describing relations within the spatial domain—such as reaching a goal, end point, or a destination—it becomes clear that reaching a goal in the spatial domain is further extended metaphorically to the temporal domain where it functions as an anterior-durative, having a terminal end with overlapping spatial and temporal denotations; both senses are based on a notion that prototypically involves a human agent, and, more importantly, both refer to the external world or objective reality since in both domains ḥ attā invariably means

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 319 ‘until’. Hence ḥ attā here grammaticalizes along the cline indicating the pathway for semantic change for ḥ attā predicted by Heine and Kuteva (2002, 41): ALLATIVE > UNTIL

Metonymically, however, ḥ attā has come to designate not only the named goal or end point, but also the contiguous region or outer limits as well, as explained earlier in the discussion of purpose relations in the previous section. Owing to metonymic extensions, the initial goal or end point was reinterpreted or re-construed as an extreme value on some subjective scale; therefore, one finds in the following CA examples (24a–b), both extreme or unlikely values represented by ḥ attā: (24a) māta n-nāsu ḥ attā l-ʾanbiyāʾu wa-l-mulūku died.3MSG the-people even the-prophet.PL and-the-king.PL ‘People perish, even kings and prophets’ (ar-Rummānī, 119) (24b) waṣala l-ḥ ājju ḥ attā l-mušātu arrived.3MSG the-pilgrim.PL even the-pedestrian.PL wa-ṣ-ṣibiyānu wa-n-nisāʾu and-the-boy.PL and-the-woman.PL ‘The pilgrims have arrived, even those (who are) walking, boys, and women’ (Ibid.)

For example in (24a), death is conceived of as a normal conclusion to the life of ordinary people. What ḥ attā does in that example is bring focus to a subset of humans who are the distinguished nobility in society (i.e., God sent prophets and royalty), occupying the highest, and most extreme status on the social scale, but they too would meet death, the inevitable, similar to all (ordinary) living beings. The pragmatic presupposition here is the inevitability of death for all living beings, not just those mentioned in the example. By contrast, ḥ attā in (24b) draws attention to values subjectively ranked on the extreme lower (opposite) end of the scale of social status as regards physical strength, where human referents are presupposed to rank on the lower end just as pedestrians, women, and young boys are ranked in the example from CA. Worthy of note in this usage of ḥ attā as a scalar particle is its expansion in marking the extreme high and low ends of the subjective scale


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and, therefore, no longer focusing on one direction or single destination exclusively as it did in the spatial or temporal domains. It has become bidirectional in denotation, where an extreme value is only understood with respect to a value on the extreme opposite end of a putatively subjective scale. Moreover, ḥ attā, by referring to extreme values on the scales mentioned, presupposes that subjective knowledge is indirectly evident from the situation described. In so doing, it expresses an evaluative and attitudinal stance toward the situation at hand. If this analysis is accepted, then the semantic change for ḥ attā takes the following form: Until > Scalar/Focus Particle

Additionally, the semantic change from anterior-durative to scalar has a reflex in the syntax of ḥ attā and its categoriality. As a preposition bearing the primary meaning ‘until’, it marks its NP dependents in the genitive, as any Arabic preposition does when heading an NP containing a dependent noun. However, as a scalar or focus particle, it ceases to do so; indeed ar-Rummānī (tenth century AD) and Ibn Hišām (fourteenth century AD) among several others have recognized the difference in its syntactic behavior ensuing from this meaning change. Change in syntactic and semantic properties, if anything, should be construed as an indication of the decategorialization of ḥ attā as a preposition and its recategorialization as a particle. Having become a scalar/focus particle, the syntagmatic scope of ḥ attā is no longer confined to the phrase level, although that was still the case in the initial stage of its development into a particle. Later, the semantic scope of ḥ attā̆ expanded to include an entire clause, most especially when preceding the conditional protasis in concessive conditional constructions. There is good reason to believe that the co-occurrence of ḥ attā with conditional particles in CA did not trigger concessive readings and that such readings developed much later, perhaps in MSA. Unfortunately, an exact date is not possible to determine at this point of the investigation, but further research into this issue may yield more definitive results. For illustrative purposes, example (25) drawn from CA (the Quran) shows that when ḥ attā is collocated with conditional morphemes, it still denotes temporal relations and can neutralize the conditionality of the conditional particle:

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 321 (25) fa-lammā nasū so-when forgot.3MPL ʿalay-him ʾabwāba on-them.MPL door.PL

mā what

ḏukkirū bi-hi reminded.PASS.3MPL with-it

kulli šayʾin ḥ attā ʾiḏā all thing even when

fariḥ ū bi-mā ʾūtū rejoiced.3MPL with-what given.PASS.3MPL ʾaxaḏnā-hum baγtatan fa-ʾiḏā hum took.1MPL.them.MP suddenly so-when they.MPL mulbisūna despair.MPL ‘And when they had forgotten their warnings, we set open to them the gates of all things, until, when they were rejoicing over what they had got, we laid hold on them suddenly, and lo, they were in despair’ (Wright [1874] 1974, 2:14; transcription, mine)

The clause beginning with ʾaxaḏnā-hum, lit. ‘we took them’ should be interpreted as the consequent or, in keeping with the Arabic grammatical tradition, as the “result” clause of the conditional ʾiḏā ‘if, when’. This clause follows the ḥ attā ʾiḏā clause iconically because it occurs in temporal sequence to it, and the entire construction is a narrative about some consequential facts of an event as recalled in the Quranic style of narration. The concessive sense that ḥ attā denotes in concessive-conditionals evolved independently in localized contexts, which, through analogical transfer, was generalized to usage in conditionals, and much later the scalar sense of ḥ attā began to appear in concessive conditionals after conventionalization in non-conditional contexts. This hypothesis requires further validation from historical Arabic data; it is supported by Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer’s (1991a, 157) “discovery procedure” for assessing the relative degree of grammaticalization—“if a given morpheme governs both noun phrases and clauses, then the latter use is more grammaticalized than the former.” Given the subjectification notion invoked earlier, the use of ḥ attā as a scalar particle conforms to König’s (1991, 83) proposal on the role of focus particles in concessive-conditional constructions as to “specify a series of antecedents for a conditional schema and to rank them along a scale of likelihood, strength, etc. The conditional relationship is asserted to hold for an extreme (i.e., most unlikely) case and thus for less extreme cases.” I should add to this statement that given the


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semantic contribution of focus particles in conditional clauses, one notes an increase in subjectification of meaning expressed in the component propositions of the concessive-conditional as is illustrated in (26): (26) sa-ʾatazawwaju-hu ḥ attā law kāna faqīran FUT-1SG.marry-him even if was.3MSG poor ‘I will marry him, even if he were poor’

In (26), the speaker’s epistemic knowledge of social norms and expectations regarding marriage and the desirability of financial well-being of the would-be groom makes the assertion defy normal social expectations. The speaker’s knowledge of the possible values on the scale of wealth and of which degree of wealth would satisfy the social norms to make marriage possible are all pragmatic presuppositions required for an utterance of this kind to be informative. More importantly, the choice of an extreme value, faqīrun ‘poor’ in (26) is not arbitrarily chosen. Instead, it serves two possible roles: (1) it signals the speaker’s strong stance in defiance/commitment to challenge the existing social norms and expectations and thus renders wealth irrelevant to her decision to marry the person in question; and (2) the consequent portion of the conditional is entailed should the scenario in the alternative extreme case materialize. These two characteristics of the focus particle ḥ attā align well with what König (1991, 82–83; 1985, 270) describes as properties of “irrelevance” conditionals, specifically the existence of a conflict between one of the values expressed in the antecedent and the consequent. In summary, this section explains the evolution of only one prepositional source modifying the semantic relations and syntax of simple conditionals and resulting in their alteration into concessive-conditionals. The focus on one source should by no means be viewed as the exclusive domain for ḥ attā, given its scope of altering the propositional meaning of conditional clauses and its ability to bring a reduction in the hypotheticality of their component clauses by restricting it to the protasis. Other markers for concessive-conditionals include source coordinate particles such as the additive wa- ‘and’ as in the collocation wa-law, lit. ‘and if = even if ’ as well as mahmā ‘no matter how, whatever’. Even the disjunct sawāʾun ‘whether’ also figures frequently in concessive-conditional constructions; however, being of non-prepositional stock, these markers are excluded from this study.

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 323 As shown earlier in this chapter and repeating the example below from Sweetser (1990, 136), under certain circumstances if-clauses can trigger concessive readings similar to even-if clauses: (27) I’ll climb that mountain, if it kills me.

Despite the distinct possibility that conditionals may fulfill concessive functions, these are nonetheless pragmatic implicatures and are not part of the meaning of conditionals in general; that is, contextual dependency for meaning generation is necessary to override conditional readings in these cases. In the ḥ attā law ‘even if ’ case, this collocation is certainly semantically conventionalized, and while contextual factors are still relevant, they do not determine the concessivity of the reading. Consider two additional examples from Sweetser (1990, 137) where background information and knowledge of the speaker’s intention determine whether a concessive or a normal conditional reading is intended: (28a) I wouldn’t marry you if you were a monster from Mars. (28b) I would marry you if you were a monster from Mars.

Given Traugott’s (1995a, 2002) remark that inferences are speakerinitiated/invited, if the speaker in (28a) has been known to seek only monsters from Mars and utters this statement, it has a clear concessive interpretation. Otherwise, this statement is a straightforward conditional with a normal hypothetical meaning. The reverse interpretation surfaces in (27b). In other words, as far as that same speaker is concerned, this is a hypothetical conditional, with the prior knowledge that he/she favors Martians. These variations are not permissible in Arabic even-if clauses. The collocation itself suggests a concessive interpretation independent of contextual factors, although the scale or focus in the conditional clause is context-dependent and is conditioned by norms in the real world. One can chart the evolution of ḥ attā as a focus/scalar particle heading concessive-conditional clauses as follows: Allative > Until > Focus Particle > Concessive-Conditional

Finally, the synchronic and diachronic analysis of ḥ attā reveals a channel for grammaticalization not yet recognized in studies of the


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development of focus or scalar markers. To illustrate, even in its modern concessive-conditional sense in English is reconstructed in Traugott (1986; Traugott and Dasher 2002) as having among its earlier meanings ‘horizontal, regular, equal’, which are still functional to date in non-concessive contexts such as in even surface and we’re even now. The adjectival use of even pertains to static properties of the qualified NP it precedes. This static denotation contrasts with the lexical origin of ḥ attā, which, as a lexical noun, refers to a dynamic process (e.g., rubbing, peeling, etc.) having as its goal removal of an undesirable foreign object (e.g., soil from a garment), hence, the metaphoric mapping to the allative and movement towards a certain directional goal. The metaphoric mapping between these two domains is uncontroversial. However, change from goal or limit (i.e., the sense until ) to scale (in the sense of even) is more complex cognitively and arises from metonymic inferencing and conversational implicatures. It appears, however, that conceptual extension from the terminal limit (i.e., UP-to-Sense) towards inclusion of an excessive/extreme value on a scale is the only possible explanation for the direct semantic link between the two functions. In this regard, ḥ attā shares this type of semantic extension from the until-sense to even-sense with the Spanish incuso and French jusqu’a cited in König (1991, 165). Now I shall turn my attention to the multiple meanings of the concessive-conditionals containing ḥ attā at the content, epistemic, and speech act levels. Examples (29a–c) will illustrate distinctions in these meanings. (29a) ʾurīdu min-ka ʾan tuṭʿima-nī 1SG.want.IPFV from-you.MSG to 2MSG.feed.SBJV-me mahmā kāna fī whatever was.3MSG in

l-bayti ḥ attā ʾiḏā kāna the-house even if was.3MSG

kisrata qarqūšatin wa-baṣalatin fragment crispy bread and-onion ‘I would like you to feed me whatever you have in your house, even if it is a piece of crispy bread and an onion’ (1001N296, 7) (29b) ʾusratu-hu hiya mā yuhimmu-hu ḥ attā ʾiḏā family-his she what 3MSG.interest.IPFV-him even if kāna l-intiḥ āru huwa l-ḥ allu was.3MSG the-suiside he the-solution ‘His family is what interests him, even if suicide is the (only) solution’ (MahfouzSiira 1, 194)

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 325 (29c) ḥ attā law xaraja even if discharged.3MSG

barāʾatan innocent

māḏā what

sa-yaḥ duṯu li-sumʿati-hi li-karāmati-hi FUT-3MSG.happen to-reputation-his to-dignity-his ‘Even if he were to be exonerated, what will happen to his reputation, to his dignity?’

In (29a), the concessive meaning of the clause headed by ḥ attā ʾiḏā pertains to the content level domain, according to Sweetser’s (1990) classification of layers of pragmatic meanings. The situation described in (29a) is where the speaker, in this instance under an actual dire need for food, suggests his acceptance of a very modest meal comprised of as little as a piece of hard bread and an onion. In (29b), concessivity of the clause headed by ḥ attā ʾiḏā is linked to the preceding main clause through the speaker’s conclusion that the family of the person in question is so important that in case it is the only solution remaining in order to take care of the family, the person in question would harm himself (i.e., an extreme action; unlikely scenario). In (29c), the speech act raises questions regarding the potentially negative consequences (i.e., damage that would emanate to the intended person’s reputation and personal dignity) as obstacles to the extremely favorable situation of the exonerated person. In light of the three examples just explicated, an increase in informativeness and subjectivication is observed in the changes from one domain to the next, with the speech act domain (as in 29c) being the most informative, since it invites more inferences beyond what is being said in the proposition. 9.3.1  Diachronic Frequency Textual frequency data strongly confirms the foregoing analysis regarding the diachronic evolution of ḥ attā into a subordinating particle, the scope of which serves to modify simple conditional clauses into concessive-conditionals. Table 9.8 contains frequency distributions for ḥ attā from the three principle historical corpora: the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and modern literature. Before analyzing the frequency data in table 9.8, some clarification is necessary regarding the distribution of the numbers in the rows and cells for each corpus. Beginning with the top row, the numbers in each of the three cells are the total frequency for ḥ attā regardless of its function as a preposition or subordinator in the text. In the three lower


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Table 9.8 Textual Frequency Distributions for ḥ attā in ACT Corpora Token frequency ḥ attā ‘until, even’ ḥ attā ʾiḏā ‘until when, even if’ ḥ attā ʾin/ḥ attā wa- ʾin ‘even if’ ḥ attā law/ḥ attā wa-law ‘even if’


Thousand and One Nights

Modern literature

142 42 0  0 0  0 0

2,702 15 1  0 0  2 2

3,659 29  7 19 19 91 91

rows, the numbers on the left in each row indicate the total frequency of ḥ attā in collocations with conditional particles; the numbers on the right in each row are the total instances of ḥ attā where it modifies the conditional clause to a concessive-conditional. From the Quranic frequency count, it appears that ḥ attā collocated fairly frequently only with ʾiḏā ‘when, if ’, given the overall textual frequency of ḥ attā in the Quranic text. However, in these instances ḥ attā did not induce concessive readings in a single occurrence. Instead, its denotation recurred in the temporal domain with the meaning until when. In Thousand and One Nights, however, collocations of ḥ attā with conditional particles expanded to included law ‘if ’. The total number of instances of concessive conditional clauses in which ḥ attā appeared was only 3 (that is 2 with law and 1 with ʾiḏā), in spite of the dramatic increase in its overall textual frequency, which reached 2,702. The greatest textual frequency for ḥ attā, both as a preposition/ particle and subordinator marking concessive relations on conditional clauses, occurred in the modern literature corpus, where its total frequency soared to 3,659 and its marking of concessivity on all simple conditional clauses (comprising the conditional particles law, ʾiḏā, and ʾin ‘if’) rose to a total of 107 instances. Considering the diachronic data from the three corpora in table 9.8, it is patently clear that the more conceptually complex notion of concessivity marked by ḥ attā appeared late in the history of that linguistic form, and that in light of its overall textual distribution, ḥ attā as a subordinator marking concessivity on simple conditional clauses remains extremely limited. What is also crucially important to note in this small but revealing sample, from the perspective of grammaticalization, is the unidirectionality of change from conditional to concessive-conditional, which ḥ attā enabled in the linked clauses. Furthermore, beyond marking concessivity on those clauses, ḥ attā ceased to be open to additional inferencing for the production of more informative and more complex

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 327 conceptual and semantic relations. That is, as a marker of concessivity, ḥ attā has reached what König (1985, 2) aptly describes as “a dead-end street for interpretive augmentation.” 9.3.2  Concessive Relation Judging by the meager number of studies that center on concessivity in Arabic, one concludes that this semantic notion has not yet received its fair share of scholarly attention. Aside from brief but valuable examinations of concessive relations in MSA and spoken Arabic dialects in Holes (2004, 290–292), Badawī, Carter, and Gully (2004, 669–670), and Cantarino (1975, 3:330–334), there is a virtual absence of reference to this semantic notion. It has been shown cross-linguistically in König (1991, 83–87) that focus particles (like even in English; na ‘even’ + uma ‘if ’ in Zulu; -enkil-um ‘even if’ in Malayalam, wenn . . . auch, wenngleich, obschon, ob-gleich in German) appear in concessive-conditional constructions upon further grammaticalization and come to mark “true” concessive relations (e.g., even though). Such a channel for continued grammaticalization of the scalar or focus particle ḥ atta has not yet materialized in Arabic. Instead, real concessive relations between binary clauses in Arabic are marked by several means unrelated to ḥ attā, the focus particle just discussed in the previous section; most have prepositional sources within their phrasal constituents, however. Before examining concessives and the prepositional sources giving rise to them in Arabic, some brief remarks on concessive functions in general are presented below based on background theoretical assumptions, particularly those found in several writings by König (1985a, 1985b, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1994), König and Van Der Auwera (1988), König and Siemund (2000), Harris (1988), Traugott and König (1991), Kortmann (1991a and 1997), Leuschner (1998), Chen (2000), and Crevels (2000). The properties of concessive relations and the linguistic markers coding them as found in the studies cited will guide the inquiry into the nature of the grammaticalization process for markers of concessive relations arising from prepositional sources in Arabic. In particular: (a) Concessive relations are the targets or destinations of semantic change for those sources that have semanticized or coded basic or less complex semantic relations (e.g., concomitance, contrast); thus, a concessive meaning is “derived” in nature and “concessive


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relations are a dead-end street for any kind of interpretive enrichment,” according to König (1988, 157). (b) König (1988) and elsewhere in several of his writings on concessivity has frequently suggested “[c]orrelations can certainly be established between the composite nature of concessive connectives, their relatively transparent etymology, their late development in the history of a language, and their late acquisition” (157). Given this and the assumption in (a), Givón’s (1989) “code-quantity and mental effort” apply to marking of concessive relations since “the more mental effort is used in processing information, the more coding material will be used in representing the information in language” (106). (c) Compared to other subordinating connectors (e.g., causal connectors), concessive relations are encoded by a much larger class in MSA, whose conceptual domains of their sources also vary widely (e.g., maʿa ʾanna, lit. ‘with that = although’; maʿa ḏālika, lit. ‘with that = although’; ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min, lit. ‘coercion from = although, in spite of’; bayda ʾanna, lit. ‘eradicating that = although, whereas’; γayra ʾanna, lit. ‘other than that = though, although, however’). In spoken Arabic dialects, Holes (2004, 291) remarks that exceptive combinations like ʾilla ʾanno (Syrian dialect) and γēr lamma ‘unless’ (Cairene), and the inter-dialectal ʾilla ʾiza ‘unless’ are typically used by educated speakers vis-à-vis the simple adversative particle lākin ‘but’, which is likely to be found in the speech of the less educated (Ibid., 291). (d) Concessive relations are “the most determinate construction type” with meanings irreducible to cognitively less complex domains. While allowing delicate semantic distinctions (i.e., content, epistemic, and speech act levels) within the domain of concessive meaning, they generally exhibit mono-functionality intended to “express no more than one interclausal relation” (Kortmann 1997, 114). (e) As a corollary to (a) and (d), concessive relations are the most informative (Kortmann 1991a, 119–120; 1997, 154) since they do not rely on or receive enrichment from context, and unlike other less informative meanings (e.g., temporal, causal ) the concessive meaning is typically conventionalized, specialized, and non-cancelable. Moreover, concessive subordinators code the most specific meanings that cannot be enriched to mark relations belonging to a more abstract or conceptually complex domain, which partly

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 329 explains the frequent presence of lexical sources in coding concessive meanings and their fairly transparent morpho-syntactic structure that mirrors the inherent complexity in their processing and infrequent textual occurrences. Concessive meanings are among the most subjective since they inherently express the speaker’s own assumptions, knowledge, and attitudes toward the situations described in the concessive clauses. (f ) Given the historical lateness of their diachronic development as suggested in (b) and evidenced in the diachronic data in table 9.9, a number of concessive constructions derived from diverse sources—prepositional and non-prepositional—converge in their marking of concessive relations, but without a single marker emerging as the standard for coding of concessive relations. Furthermore, an important characteristic of the semantics of concessive sentences should be stated here: (g) In concessive clauses, both the antecedent and consequent are entailed (see summary of differences in entailments among the different types of conditional relations in table 9.7). It has been demonstrated in several of König’s works on concessives that there is a presupposed incompatibility or conflict between the content of the antecedent and consequent such that, under normal conditions, they are not typically expected to be congruent or reconcilable in the real world. That is, there is an inherent sense of contradiction to known and shared conventions in concessive relations. This contradiction can be best expressed formally as demonstrated in König’s implication of conflict between protasis and apodosis in concessive relations (1985, 265) and in several of his writings: Normally (if p, then not-q)

Of the prepositions feeding into the process as sources for the development of markers of concessive relations, only these phrasal subordinators mark interclausal concessive relations: concomitance, maʿa ʾanna, lit. ‘with that = although’, and aversive, bi-r-raγmi (min) ʾanna, lit. ‘with aversion of (that)’, ‘in spite of that’. These concessive linkers have several variants; the first has two variants maʿa ḏālika/hāḏā containing the deictic elements ḏālika ‘that’ and hāḏā ‘this’, whereas the second


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has several more variants (e.g., bi-r-raγmi, lit. ‘with aversion = in spite of’, ʿalā r-raγmi min, lit. ‘in aversion of ’) including one adverbial (e.g., raγma ʾanna ‘although’). Chen (2000) discovered that in Early Modern English, concessives were not distinguished clearly from conditionals since it was possible for the latter to carry concessive force without an overt marker for concessivity per se (Ibid., 89). This lateness in their development may in part explain why true concessives exemplified in Arabic by maʿa ʾan, maʿa ḏālika/hāḏā and those derived from PNP-constructions like ʿalā/ bi- r-raγmi min are not attested in the major medieval grammatical treatises of Sībawayhi and his contemporaries nor were such collocations present in the Quran corpus, despite, for example, the occurrence of maʿa 166 times throughout that text. Another factor is the diachronic gradualness observed in the change of semantic sense that markers of concessive relations undergo prior to assuming concessive functions. One such case is particularly clear when considering the semantic diachronic change of the lexical (verbal ) noun raγmun, which initially signified ‘placing the nose into dust’ and later changed into ‘aversion, humiliation, or reluctance’ (see chapter 3 for further etymological analysis). Among the sources for markers of concessives relevant to this study are two arising from semantic domains involving prepositions within their compounds: (a) concomitance reinforced by subordinators, demonstratives, nominalizers: maʿa ʾanna, lit. ‘with that = although’, maʿa hāḏa/ḏālika, lit. ‘with this/that = although’. (b) nominals denoting aversion, loathing, humiliation: raγma, bi-raγmi, bi-r-raγmi min, lit. ‘loathing, with aversion, with aversion to = in spite of, despite’. Since ʿala/bi-r-aγmi min ‘although’ has been discussed in detail in chapter 3, I shall limit focus here to concessives evolving from the first source, (a). Concessives of this type have been well documented in König (1985) and in Traugott and König (1991). As concessive markers, these prepositions gave up their relatively concrete, referential meaning and became specialized in serving as such. Hopper’s (1991, 25) notion of specialization and Lehmann’s (1985; [1982] 1995, 137) reduction or loss of paradigmatic variability are applicable here since these prepositions are not substitutable by others without loss of concessive meaning. Just as these prepositions are specialized, so too are

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 331 the other elements with which they collocate to form a compound. For example, in the case of maʿa ḏālika/hāḏā (lit. ‘with that/this’) the masculine singular deictic element ḏālika may be used interchangeably with hāḏa ‘this’ on the grounds that the proximal or distal relations, although not used in denoting deictic reference to precise location of objects in space, relate concepts in terms of their relevance to the speaker’s intentions, yet, they cannot be substituted for with the feminine singular tilka ‘that’ [feminine] or plural hāʾulāʾ ‘those’ without loss of concessive function and grammaticality (e.g., *maʿa tilka, *maʿa hāʾulāʾ). Variation in gender or number inflection would indicate actual usage in reference to objects indexed by syntactic agreement, as is usually required when the intention of the speaker is to locate objects or entities in space. As a sign of increased grammaticalization, both the preposition and the deictic element no longer form associative or referential semantic contrasts with members of their original prepositional and deictic paradigms, and they are substitutable only with markers from the domain of concessives, if they are to maintain their marking of concessive relations. Examples (30a–f ) illustrate the functional change of maʿa from marking the comitative relation to marking the concessive: (30a) ʾinna maʿa l-ʿusri yusrā verily with the-hardship relief’ ‘Verily, with every hardship, there is relief ’ (Quran 94, 6) (30b) lā yaṣaḥ ḥ u z-zuhda maʿa l-jahli not sound.IPFV the asceticism with the-ignorance ‘Devotion cannot be real along with (is incompatible with) ignorance’ (Wright 1874 [1974], 2: 164; transcription, mine) (30c) fa-ʾaxbara-hu t-tājiru bi-mā jarā so-informed.3MSG-him the-merchant with-what happened.3MSG la-hu maʿa ḏālika l-ʿifrīti to-him with that the-demon ‘So the merchant informed him of what happened to him with that (cunning) demon’ (1001N 1, 3) (30d) fa-ramū-hu bi-l-ḥ ijārati ḥ attā raḍḍū so-threw.3MPL-him with-the-stone.PL until crushed.3MPL ʾaḍlāʿa-hu rib.PL-his

wa-šajjū raʾsa-hu wa-huwa and-fractured.3MPL head-his and-he

maʿa ḏālika lā yanṣarifu with that not 3MSG.leave.IPFV ‘So they threw stones at him until they crushed his ribs and fractured his head and in spite of that he did not leave’ (1001N356, 3)


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(30e) wa-taxšā-hu l-jabābiratu wa-taxḍaʿu and-3FSG.fear.IPFV-him the-tyrant.PL and-3FSG.submit.IPFV la-hu l-ʾakāsiratu wa-maʿa ḏālika kāna kāfiran to-him the-Khorsau.PL and-with that was.3MSG infidel mušrikan bi-l-lāhi yaʿbudu ṣ-ṣanam polytheist with-the-God 3MSG.worship.IPFV the-idol ‘And tyrants fear him, Khosrow Kings (Persian kings) submit to him, and in spite of that, he was a polytheist infidel who worships idols’ (1001N 830, 2) (30f ) kayfa yastaṭīʿu ʾinsānun ʾan yuhīna how human to 3MSG.humiliate.SBJV bilāda-hu ʿalā l-malaʾi bi-hāḏihi l-basāṭati country.PL-his on the-public with-this.MSG the-simplicity maʿa ḏālika with this.MSG

fa-qad so-ASP

ʾaxṭaʾtu erred.1SG

liʾann-ī because.I

lam not

ʾusayṭir ʿalā nafs-ī 1SG. control.JSV on self-I ‘How could a human being simply humiliate his country publicly? Nevertheless, I erred because I did not control myself’ (Chi 12, 151)

Even though classified in traditional Arabic grammar as ism ḏ̣arf (roughly) adverb, maʿa assumes more functions than this traditional classification suggests. In (30a) the Quranic verse, as understood according to exegesis (see Lisān al-ʿArab 6, 4234), the two mutually adverse states of affairs, ʿusri ‘difficulty, hardship, trying times’ and yusri ‘ease, relief’, are sequential not simultaneous. Nonetheless, based on my native speaker intuition, a hint of pragmatically induced simultaneity of the two states is detectable. Also of significance to this study is the use of maʿa ‘with’ in this instance to mark presupposed adversity in the two linked states (i.e., hardship and relief ) opening the possibility for emerging concessiveness in the Quranic verse. In (30b), maʿa marks semantic contrast and incompatibility between asceticism and ignorance as a universal truth, where asceticism entails knowledge, not ignorance. Again, a sense of conflict, even contradiction, is communicated between the two diametrically opposed states as the speaker seeks to characterize what true devotion requires. In (30c–f), maʿa appears in collocation with the distal deictic form ḏālika to signal several meanings ranging from referential to concessiveness at increasingly more abstract levels. In (30c), maʿa together

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 333 with the deictic element has the compositional, literal, lexical meaning ‘with that’, which could be substituted for with the feminine tilka ‘that’ for a feminine referent parallel. In this instance, maʿa operates at the phrase level semantically and syntactically in that its scope is limited to the phrase that it governs. It is highly doubtful that maʿa ḏālika in cases like (30c) has developed a unit-like construction with recognizable grammatical status. However, in (30d) maʿa dālika has unequivocally emerged as a semantic and syntactic unit marking concessivity on the subordinate clause that it heads. In this sentence, concessivity pertains to what Sweetser refers to as content-level meaning describing the situation in the real world. In (30e), maʿa ḏālika, while still marking concessivity on the subordinate clause, does so at the epistemic level where the speaker’s knowledge of the status of the ruler in question as a fearsome figure on the world scene leads him to conclude that this status is in conflict or at odds with the leader’s religious belief as a worshipper of idols. Finally, in (30f), maʿa ḏālika marks meaning belonging to the speech act layer. It represents a contradiction in the behavior of the speaker who, through the rhetorical question in the protasis, presupposes the factuality that it is objectionable and regrettable to despise one’s country in public. Yet, in the apodosis, the speaker concedes the situation when the speaker states that he/she erred in judgment, and therefore confesses to personal indiscretion for having committed an act that he believes to be objectionable. The pragmatic meaning conveyed through the concessive clause appears to be remorse for the error in judgment he committed. The speech act in (30f) is in the form of an interrogative clause whose pragmatic function seems to be self-chiding and forms the background against which concession is marked by the maʿa ḏālika clause for behavior and construed to be contradictory to the presupposed norm. From the preceding analysis of selected semantic relations that maʿa ‘with’ signals, comments on its likely evolutionary path can be offered. First, it appears that among the various senses of the polysemous preposition maʿa, the concomitance/simultaneity sense was the likely source for its use in coding contrast relations, which was also the precursor for development of concessive relations in linked clauses. It should also be emphasized that along the pathway of this gradual shift in meaning there were stages where old and new meanings overlapped;


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however, the concessive sense, being semantically derived, does not invite further inferencing to more informative or cognitively complex relations. Thus, the likely channel for grammaticalization leading to its use as a marker of concessivity is displayed in the continuum of increased semantic grammaticalization for maʿa below: Concomitance > Contrast > Concession

Second, the use of maʿa in coding concessive relations is possible typically when augmented by a factual complementizer (that is, ʾanna ‘that’) or deictics (the proximal hāḏā and distal ḏālika ‘that’). Finally, although maʿa has sometimes been shown in Wright ([1874] 1974, 2:164) to mark concessive relations without augmentation—as in qutila maʿa šajāʿatihi ‘despite his bravery he was killed’—it has already been concluded from examples in chapter 8 that such relations appear in single clauses and contain restrictions on the type of nominal complement for the preposition maʿa. Namely, they must be verbal nouns inflected for the singular. The appearance of maʿa alone as a marker of concessive relations within single clauses without a supporting subordinator or deictic element may point to what Lehmann (1988) proposes as an adjustment in the size of the linking device to the size of its syntagmatic scope as a sub-constituent within a single clause. 9.4  Diachronic Textual Frequency In what follows, I shall present textual evidence on the use of concessives in the three ACT sources, the Quran, Thousand and One Nights, and the modern literature corpus, in support of the panchronic analyses presented in this section. Table 9.9 contains textual frequency of data retrieved from the three corpora for maʿa ʾanna ‘although’, maʿa ḏālika, lit. ‘with that = in spite of that’, and maʿa hāḏā, lit. ‘with this = in spite of this’. Table 9.9 offers an overview of the frequency data for the functional range of the preposition maʿa ‘with’, including its usage as a marker of concessiveness. The top row of table 9.9 presents the total count for maʿa in all three corpora. Based on that count, maʿa exhibits an exponential diachronic increase of its overall textual frequency while incidences where it served as a marker of concessivity did not increase substantially. Of that total, none of the instances occurred in colloca-

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 335 Table 9.9 Textual Frequency Distribution for Three Concessives in ACT Corpora Token frequency

Quran Thousand and Modern One Nights literature

maʿa maʿa ʾanna lit. ‘with that = although’ maʿa ḏālika ‘with that = in spite of that’ maʿa hāḏā ‘with that—in spite of that’

166 0 0 0 0 0 0

49 21 30

2,805 49  6  7

4,628   54 54 101 89   47 35

tions with the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’, the distal deictic ḏālika ‘that’, or the proximal hāḏā ‘this’ in the Quran. Based on the absence of such collocations in the Quranic text, its usage as a concessive is therefore ruled out in that corpus. However, lack of attestation in the Quranic text is not conclusive evidence that concessivity involving maʿa did not exist in CA. Rather, it is suggestive that such is the case, given the size of the Quranic text and its literary style, which occasionally made use of subtypes of concessions (e.g., adversative particles, exceptives, etc.) via other linguistic means. In the Thousand and One Nights corpus, maʿa ʾanna emerged as the primary marker of concessive relations. It was followed in order of frequency by maʿa hāḏā ‘with that = in spite of’ and by maʿa ḏālika ‘with that = in spite of’ respectively. However, of the total 51 occurrences with those deixis, only 13 instances (shown on the rightmost columns), representing 25.4% of all occurrences, marked concessivity in clauses. In the modern literature corpus, maʿa ḏālika appears to lead the two other collocations in marking concessive relations, despite an overall observable increase in the row frequency of all three concessive markers when compared to those in Thousand and One Nights. It is also important to point out the sharp decline in the usage of maʿa ḏālika/hāḏā in the literal deictic sense in modern literature when compared with that in Thousand and One Nights. As stated above, concessive marking represented approximately 25.4% of all the attested instances, however in modern literature that total rose to 83.3%, with instances of concessive maʿa ḏālika representing 81.1%, and maʿa hāḏā representing 74.4% respectively. From the grammaticalization perspective, decline in the literal referential sense of those deixis coupled with increases in their replacement with concessive markings through collocations involving maʿa evidences the unidirectionality of change in the semantic and formal properties of these constructions.


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Furthermore, that the two functions, the (older) referential one and the (newer) concessive one, exist side-by-side in the same corpus clearly demonstrates both the gradualness of change and that the emergence of newer functions need not eliminate older ones. Hence, synchronic polysemy and polyfunctionality of grammaticalized elements and constructions may be conceived of in diachronic layers and in synchronic gradable continua. Conclusion In this chapter, I have examined semantic and formal grammaticalizations of a limited number of linguistic items and their use as markers of causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations on subordinate clauses. Within the domain of causal relations, it has been shown that markers of allative, durative, and ablative relations, li- ‘to’, ḥ attā ‘until’, and min ‘from’ are among the most important sources for subordinators in bi-clausal relations. Usage of li- in marking causality has been shown to be limited to purposive relations; further it has been demonstrated that augmentations with the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’ or with deictics like hāḏā ‘this’ or ḏālika enabled li- to mark cause/reason relations, which, according to the grammaticalization approach, belong to a more abstract domain than purposive relations. Seen from another perspective, li-ʾanna, ‘because’, containing the polysemous preposition li- through its collocation with ʾanna ‘that’, has become specialized in marking cause/result on subordinate clauses. Using Sweetser’s (1990) tri-domain model, I have illustrated subtleties in the meaning distinctions between content, epistemic, and speech-act causal functions. Through this model, a gradual shift towards greater abstraction in causality has been demonstrated, where causality holding between the two linked clauses becomes increasingly less direct and more reflective of the speaker’s subjectivity. Within the domain of concessiveness, two distinct relations have been identified: concessive-conditional and “true” concessive. The prepositional form ḥ attā in its scalar/focus function has been shown to modify simple conditional clauses into concessive–conditionals at Sweetser’s three distinct meaning levels: content, epistemic, and speech act. Early attestations of ḥ attā in collocations with the three most frequent conditional if-particles law, ʾiḏā, and ʾin did not trigger concessive readings. Instead, in the pre-concessive stage, the composi-

causal/concessive-conditional/concessive subordinators 337 tional meaning of the lexical components of ḥ attā and of the if-particle was found. Over time, however, the concessive-conditional meaning emerged in greater frequency, particularly in the modern literature corpus. The concessive markers considered in this chapter have been shown to emerge from two distinct prepositional sources: single-stem maʿa and PNP-constructions like ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min. Since the latter type has been examined in chapter 3, the central focus in this chapter has been on maʿa. The diachronic development of maʿa ‘with’ from comitative to concessive marker exhibited predictable gradualness. Early collocations of maʿa with the complementizer ʾanna ‘that’ and with the deictics hāḏā ‘this’ and ḏālika ‘that’ did not yield concessive readings. Rather, in this initial stage of their grammaticalization, meanings pertaining to the relatively less abstract spatial domain have been found. Documented concessive denotations have been shown to emerge sideby-side with the earlier referential meanings for maʿa ḏālika and maʿa hāḏā collocations in Thousand and One Nights; subsequently concessiveness rapidly increased in the modern literature corpus, while the referential meanings for those constructions have diminished. The marking of causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations by prepositional sources serving subordinating conjunction functions has confirmed, from a textual frequency perspective, the diachronic rise that is expected with an increase in the grammaticalization of those items. It appears, however, that there is a general tendency for prepositional generated subordinators to occur much less textually than prepositional forms performing their historically earlier prepositional functions. The discrepancies in textual frequency between prepositional and subordinator functions appear most vividly in the case of maʿa, whose textual frequency as a preposition runs in the thousands in the corpora from Pre-Modern and Modern Arabic, while its frequency of occurrence as a subordinator expressing concessivity remains very low. It is unclear whether this diminished frequency is due to the general infrequency of concessive relations in texts, to its infrequency as a subordinate conjunction linking clauses, or both. One possible explanation for the low frequency of concessive relations involving maʿa is the existence of a multitude of competing non-prepositional forms like bayda ʾanna ‘nevertheless, however’; γayra ʾanna ‘although, however’ and of exceptives like ʾillā ʾanna ‘except that, however’ (see Holes 2004, 290–292).


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Based on these observations, a layered continuum of new and old grammmaticalized constructions may be envisaged, where older markers coding less semantically complex relations (e.g., causal ) are marked by morphemes that are simpler than those marking the newly grammaticalized relations (e.g., concession), which have been shown to be semantically and lexically transparent. However, it appears that mature prepositions (e.g., bi- ‘in, at, with’; min ‘of, from’), from the grammaticalization perspective, are highly recursive in that they participate as a source and target in the process of formation of newer subordinating connectives while retaining their older, prepositional functions. Increase in grammaticalization leading to use of prepositions in subordinate relations between two clauses did not follow the expected or assumed pattern involving reduction in morphological complexity and loss of phonological substance. In fact, in most cases, an increase in degree of grammaticalization was evidenced by augmentation of prepositional sources to serve more cognitively complex semantic relations. The primacy of unidirectionality in functional change is the true indicator for increased grammaticalization. Genetti (1991) arrived at a similar conclusion regarding the grammaticalization of postpositions into subordinators in Newari. Moreover, mechanisms effecting functional change have been shown to include several strategies, including metaphor, metonymy, and pragmatic inferencing. As regards complementarities, it has been shown that, whereas metaphor is responsible for analogical transfer between concrete and abstract domains in the development from the lexical to the prepositional function, conversational implicatures play the primary role in the change from less grammaticalized to more grammaticalized. Metonymic extension has been shown to be of utility throughout the entire grammaticalization process. Finally, this chapter has demonstrated that access to the structure of human cognition is only possible, for example, when examination of linguistic facts pertaining to several disparate conceptual domains can be related effectively in such a way as to unmask how humans structure experiences gathered from accumulated experiences in the real world and how those experiences are stored within the cognitive system and utilized to describe phenomena of a more abstract nature, such as those found in the domain of text structuring at the content, epistemic, and speech act levels.

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Summary and Conclusion The focus of this study has been the emergence and evolution of linguistic forms and constructions into prepositions and interclausal subordinators in Arabic within the standard theoretical grammaticalization framework. In this pursuit, selected prepositional forms and constructions and the subordinating connectives arising from them have been subjected to analysis of their lexical or less grammatical sources and motivating strategies that facilitate semantic, formal, and frequency of occurrence changes by grammaticalization within a usage-based approach utilizing authentic electronic corpus data from ACT. Major stages of the evolution into prepositional and subordinator functions have been identified in patterned diachronic and synchronic continua. In stark contrast to most previous studies of Arabic prepositions, which have typically reserved membership in the prepositional class to a discrete and closed set of autonomous, single-stem or phonetically reduced, bound monosyllabic forms (e.g., min ‘from, of ’; fī ‘in, at’; bi- ‘at, with’; li- ‘to, for’), the present investigation has advocated an expansion of membership of the prepositional class, based on shared functional similarities with other forms and constructions that have been previously excluded from the preposition category to include (1) members of the class traditionally labeled “locative adverbs” (e.g., xalfa ‘back, behind’), as well as other prepositional constructions of varying morpho-syntactic complexity, like (2) PN (e.g., bi-sababi ‘because of ’) and (3) PNP (e.g., ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’), which have been included in this study as subsets of the prepositional class. With this inclusion of additional members, an ensemble of layered prepositional and subordinating connectives has been evaluated and ranked based on operational, semantic, and formal criteria for measuring their relative degree of grammaticalization and their correlation with changes in frequency statistics. Within the preposition category, four layers have been distinguished and examined: PNP-constructions, compound-like, morphologically autonomous, single-stem forms, and


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bound-stem forms. Within the subordinating connectives, three interclausal relations coded by prepositional forms and constructions have been examined: cause, concessive-conditional, and concessive. Grammaticalization analysis of the PNP-units, with diagnostic tests from Hoffmann (2005) and Quirk et al. (1985, 1964), has revealed that they function as semantic and syntactic units of varying degrees of internal cohesion, despite their uniformly bulky syntagmatic size. That this category has escaped the scholarly attention of Arabic grammarians and linguists could be attributed to the relative lateness of their emergence in Arabic grammar and fairly low textual frequency, at least in the consulted ACT corpora. It is also possible that recognition of multi-word constructions as prepositions in Arabic is somewhat problematic, given the strong emphasis on mono-morphemic prepositions in the Arabic grammatical tradition since the earliest grammar treatise of Sībawayhi. From the analysis of the limited number of PNP-units in this study, it appears that this prepositional class has emerged analogically as calque phrases modeled after those found in genetically unrelated European languages, mainly from English, but perhaps also from French (cf. a lègarde de and bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in regards to, in reference to’). Insights from Heine and Kuteva’s (2005) study of “contact-induced grammaticalization” helped in drawing the plausible conclusion that those constructions in Arabic are recent “grammatical replica” arising through language contact. Despite the lateness of their emergence in Arabic grammar, PNPunits have shown observable increases in semantic and formal grammaticalization coupled with increases in frequency of occurrence in various corpora of ACT. The lexical sources within those prepositional complexes have undergone noticeable semantic change, resulting not only in bleaching of their original lexical content (e.g., nisbatun ‘blood relative/relation’ > comparison/reference in bi-n-nisbati li- ‘in reference to’), but also in usage in situations that reveal semantic incongruence with their erstwhile senses. One such case is the switching of the presupposed negativity that has typically been associated with the notion of humiliation in the denotation of the lexical source raγmun of the PNP ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min ‘in spite of ’ to the positive denotation of humility. When this change happens, the erstwhile semantic denotation of the source becomes incompatible with the acquired senses/ function of the target. Similar semantic evolution has been encountered in Hoffmann’s (2005, 75) study of the English PNP in spite of. It

summary and conclusion


seems that Traugott and Dasher’s (2002, 44) explanation of semantic change for grammaticalizing constructions where “the appearance of an item in a ‘new’ context in which the earlier meaning(s) of the item would not make sense” could be profitably applied to Arabic PNPconstructions. The transparent and composite morpho-syntactic structures of Arabic PNP and their fairly late appearance in Arabic have facilitated the tracing of their semantic change to their early (perhaps first or original) emergence in collocations in limited, localized, specific contexts. In the pre-grammaticalization of the lexical item raγmun ‘dust’, for instance, it frequently co-occurred in CA, and is still present in a few extant cases in MSA, with the body part ʾanf ‘nose’ to mark the literal meaning of placing a person’s nose in the dust. Later, the associative meaning of humiliation/aversion from such a socially demeaning situation as is described evolved metonymically as a source for the conceptual concessivity to which this construction gives access. The strengthened associative meaning of humiliation in such situations within the Arab socio-cultural context has given rise to the presupposition of negativity (e.g., spite), which has been manipulated for use in marking concessive relations. The history of concessive constructions containing raγmun thus further validates Lehmann’s (1991, 501) and Hopper’s (1998, 149) emphasis on “cultural sources” and the context of their use in the process of grammaticalization. Furthermore, that the form raγmun ‘dust’ in the course of its diachronic development has been dissociated from its original context of use when marking concessivity is illustrative of Bybee’s (2001, 9) notion of “emancipation,” where the constraints on the original context of use loosen and the communicative value of the emancipated form generalizes and is pragmatically strengthened. Formal grammaticalization of PNP-units has uncovered the decategorialization of their lexical sources—in the sense of losses in prototypical lexical trappings identified in Hopper and Thompson (1984)—as evidenced by the verifiable losses in nounhood trappings like definiteness (bi-*l/ḥ ājatin/ li- ‘in need of ’), and modification by an adjective (*bi-n-nisbati l-kabīrati li *‘in great reference to’). Further evidence of decategorialization of PNP-units appears in the considerable internal cohesion resulting from reduction in internal variation of morpho-syntactic structures of those units. However, their formal properties did not keep pace with their semantic changes. A notable piece of evidence of this lag in formal change is that none of the


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PNP-constructions examined in this study has evolved into a condensed single word through the process of “univerbation,” which is defined in Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 151) as “the unification of a syntagm in one word” as in the case of on top > atop. Lateness in the emergence of PNP-constructions in Arabic has not hampered their participation in text organizing functions. Perhaps contributing to this accelerated grammaticalized function, in light of their relatively recent emergence under the influence of European languages, is the availability of the model of evolution for Arabic replication. As has been observed in the discussion of their grammaticalization, several PNP units in Arabic have acquired specialized textual functions: topic introducing functions (e.g., bi-n-nisbati li- ‘as for’) and concessivity marking on linked subordinate clauses (e.g., ʿalā/bir-raγmi min ʾanna ‘although’), among several others. While essentially a native concept, the influence of Western topicalization on Arabic is unmistakable (see Badawī, Carter, and Gully 2004, 326). Diachronic frequency statistics of the PNP-units in the ACT corpora confirm their recent emergence in Arabic grammar and the fact that their textual distribution seems to correlate strongly with the saliency of the cognitive concepts and semantic relations they have come to code, particularly in the Arabic newspaper corpus. Nevertheless, compared with prepositional forms and constructions from other layers in this study, their overall frequency counts remain relatively low. Like PNP-units, compound-like prepositional units (PN-units such as bi-sababi ‘because of’) have also been largely overlooked in previous Arabic linguistic research. Their diachronic textual frequency reveals that some of their early collocations go as far back as early Islamic or medieval times in the corpora consulted. Modest increases in the usage of those units have been observed in the modern literature corpus, however a dramatic increase in their textual distribution was observed in the newspaper corpus, which, as in the case of the PNPunits, has been attributed largely to language contact, specifically with European languages. Analysis of semantic and formal characteristics of PN-units has revealed significant bleaching of the meanings of the lexical sources (e.g., sababun ‘rope’ in CA > ‘reason’ in MSA and spoken dialects). Other diachronic shifts in the semantics of PN-units include a change from a relatively concrete spatial domain (e.g., ʿan ṭarīqi ‘by way of ’) to an abstract one such as the marking of manner or quality (e.g., ʿan ṭarīqi l-xaṭaʾ ‘erroneously’).

summary and conclusion


Overall, their formal properties exhibit much tighter cohesion between the P element and its N complement than is the case in most PNP-constructions in this study. In most cases, neither of the two morphemes is open to morphological variations or substitutions in modern Arabic in contradistinction to some of their earlier collocations in their usages in pre-modern times. Single-stem prepositional forms have been divided into morphologically autonomous and bound groups. The layer comprising the autonomous stem group in the Arabic grammatical tradition has been labeled d̠̣urūf ‘locative adverbs’ since the time of Sībawayhi in the late eighth century until the present.1 Contrary to this classification, owing to attested overlapping functionality with true prepositions, it has been argued in this investigation that no clear-cut categorical distinction should exist between them and other members of the preposition class. It has been demonstrated that their evolutionary track included an incipient pre-prepositional stage where they were initially introduced and governed by primary prepositions that later, with further grammaticalization, changed as they became able to assume prepositional functions on their own as they also became case invariant in a- inflection (e.g., fī wasaṭi ‘in the middle of’ > wasṭa ‘midst’. Most members (e.g., ʾamāma ‘in front of’, xalfa ‘back, behind’) of this layer form semantic contrasts with other members of the same class or have semantic near synonyms (e.g., warāʾa ‘behind’ and xalfa ‘back, behind’) when marking spatial relations. However, as they continue to undergo semantic change by grammaticalization, such contrasts have been shown to diminish and are eventually lost as they code non-spatial relations and become functionally specialized (e.g., the ‘on demand/available sense’ of taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi does not have a semantic synonym *ʾasfala ṭ-ṭalabi ‘under demand’ or contrast with fawqa ṭ-ṭalabi ‘above demand’). Similar consequences of semantic changes beyond the spatial sense have been observed in Tyler and Evans (2003, 232) in the semantics of the English forms above, under, and in, out, etc., where the spatially contrasting elements do not mirror those acquired senses. The conclusion drawn from analyzing the semantics of these

1   Badawī, Carter, and Gully’s (2004, 174) reference grammar refers to them in terms of “space and time qualifiers” and as such they were still treated separately from true prepositions.


chapter ten

forms is that the difference between d̠̣urūf and ḥ urūf al-jarr should not be considered categorical, but rather gradational in the ability to fulfill prepositional functions in a given discourse context. Hence, a gradational synchronic continuum of functionality is the better alternative to the traditional modular distinctions. Considering the formal characteristics of members of the autonomous stem group, their diachronic analysis has uncovered an evolutionary pattern where the erstwhile lexical (e.g., the fully inflected noun al-/fawq/-un/-an/-in ‘primary pathway’)2 item collocations in limited contexts becomes a more mature prepositional along the following route: Mature Preposition (A) + Lexical Form (B1) > Adverbial Form (B2) > Prepositional Form (B3) > Clitic (B4)

which is exemplified by fawqa ‘above, over’: al-/fawq/-un/-an/-in ‘primary pathway’: min/ʾilā fawqi ‘from/to above’/fawqa ‘above, over’ > fawqa ‘above, over’ > faw- ‘ultra-’

The more mature members of the autonomous stem group (i.e., fī ‘in, at’; ʿalā ‘on, above’; min ‘of, from’) have been shown to have deep Semitic roots and a widespread presence in other Semitic languages (e.g., see Tobin’s 2002 analysis of min in Hebrew). Synchronically, they have developed complex polysemies spanning several distinct domains of conception. Their synchronic polysemies have been examined from the perspective of grammaticalization and hence relative order of the major semantic functions beginning with the spatio-temporal relations has been postulated in accordance with the hypothesized unidirectionality principle towards increased generalization and abstraction. Although versatile units of grammar, they have become specialized grammatical devices (e.g., min ‘from, of ’ > comparative particle than, similar to the Hebrew cognate min in Tobin’s 2002 study). As elements closer to the grammatical pole of their evolutionary cline, the array of complements they permit has grown wider in range: deixis

2  Cited in Ibn Manẓūr in Lisān al-ʿArab (5, 3488) as one of its possible meanings. Given that this sense belongs to the spatial domain of conceptualization and that it has the inherent sense of importance and superiority, it is a likely semantic source of the form fawqun/fūqun, which later underwent semantic change to ‘above, over’.

summary and conclusion


(i.e., demonstratives), incipient prepositional forms (e.g., ʿalā šarṭi ‘on the condition [that]’ > šarṭa ‘on the condition [that]’), and various particles have been included. Furthermore, like the members of the following layers, they also co-occurred as obligatory constituents within the context of verbs, in a continuum extending between the purely grammatical functions (e.g., ḥ aṣala ʿalā ‘obtained’) and purely semantic (e.g., ʾintahā min l-filmi ‘he ended the [making of ] the film’ cf. intahā l-filmu ‘the film ended’ [Mitchell and El-Ḥ assan 1994, 92]). In that function, this study uncovered their status as adpreps, as defined in Bolinger (1971, 27) and O’Dowd (1998, 23), i.e., elements that have “dual constituency” with the verb, which subcategorizes for them and the dependent nominal element they govern. Textual frequencies for members of the fī, ʿalā, and min layer have been shown to be amongst the most widespread in ACT and beyond (e.g.,, when compared to other prepositional layers that have been discussed thus far, owing most notably to semantic bleaching, generalization of their meanings, extensive polysemies and multifunctionality, and functional specialization. Bound-stem forms (e.g., li- ‘to, for’; bi- ‘with, at’) have been shown to belong to Proto-Semitic stock; hence, they appear in reduced morphological structures comparable to Arabic in other Semitic languages. Synchronically, they developed complex conceptual polysemy networks and polyfunctionality as well. Their expanded polysemy networks pose a challenge to any attempt aimed at determining their precise semantic function without the discourse situation in which they appear. Put differently, they have become what Lehmann ([1982] 1995, 155) labels “synsemantic” in that they derive their meaning mainly from their interface with discourse units. The extended polysemy network that li- and bi- have developed diachronically matches their extensive polyfunctionality. The functions these two mature grams mark are not only inclusive of all those performed by the prepositions included in this study, but they also mark case functions. The form li- has been shown to mark benefactive, dative, and purpose; bi- marks instrument and manner, among several other case functions. Within the context of verbs, it has been shown that li- functions as an adprep with verbs (e.g., samaḥ a li- ‘permit’). It also functions as a subordinator marking purpose without augmentation, much like other purposive markers (e.g., kay ‘in order that’, and ḥ attā ‘in order that’). However, for marking more abstract relations, like cause, li- is augmented by the complementizer ʾanna. In its fused form, li- has played


chapter ten

a part in the formation of the lexical māl ‘wealth, asset’ < mā ‘what’ + li- ‘to, for’, which has come to serve as an exponent in analytic genitive in certain spoken Arabic dialects. Additional fusional evidence of li- has been found in the Egyptian dialect (e.g., li- ‘to, for’ + hu ‘him’ > lo[h] ‘to/for him’). The form bi- has also reached a very advanced stage of grammaticalization. It has become fusional with some of its hosts and has shown evidence of decategorialization into merely a phoneme. Owing to its obligatorification with jāʾa ‘he came’ as jāʾa bi- ‘he came with/ brought’, it took part in the formation of a newer verb stem, which turned the older intransitive verb into a transitive verb stem. However, in its function within prepositional verb constructions, it serves as an adprep (e.g., wat̠aqa bi ‘trust’), but unlike all other prepositions in this study, in certain spoken Arabic dialects (e.g., Egyptian, Levantine, etc.) it has entered tighter verb inflectional paradigms as a specialized non-past marker of tense/mood/aspect. This extensional pattern of bi- into the verb inflectional domain has been shown to conform to Bybee’s (1994) and Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer (1991a) assumptions regarding the evolution of prepositions to serve as markers of verb inflections, particularly on verbs inflected for non-past. As forms and constructions whose grammatical functions extend to interclausal subordinate relations, prepositional-based subordinators marking causal, concessive-conditional, and concessive relations have also been traced and analyzed. For each form or construction included in this inquiry, a continuum of increasing semantic and formal grammaticalization along with the motivating conceptual or context-triggered change responsible for their evolution has been presented and addressed. Pathways for semantic grammaticalization of constructions and of individual forms have revealed gradual change along functional continua progressing from the relatively concrete (e.g., objective), typically locative in its referential domains, to text-organizing and increasingly subjective domains. It has been observed that grammaticalization pathways from prepositional to subordinating functions do not follow the projected clines of grammaticalization that result in reductions in morpho-phonetic structures of linking devices. On the contrary, in carrying out subordinating functions, subordinators derived from prepositional forms have shown diverse augmentation by complementizers or deixis (e.g., li-ʾanna, lit. ‘for that’ [li- + complementizer] = ‘because’ and li-d̠ ālika, lit. ‘for that’ [li- + demonstrative] = ‘therefore’). Through the formation of collocations of these types, more abstract interclausal

summary and conclusion


relations have been coded (e.g., li- purpose + ʾanna complementizer > li-ʾanna-cause/reason). Traugott (1995a) and Traugott and Dasher’s (2002) notion of increased subjectification in semantic-pragmatic change has been applied to Sweetser’s (1990) tri-domain model for meaning change, through which this study has profited in tracing the subtleties of contextualized meaning change towards more expression of increased speaker subjectivity along the pathway: Content > Epistemic > Speech Act

In ranking the subordinating functions of each gram code according to increasing conceptual complexity, those marking causal relations are ranked the lowest (i.e., most basic) while those marking concessiveness are ranked the highest (i.e., relatively complex). Following several writings of König, another distinction between causal and concessive relations has been made where causal relations may serve as the input to grammaticalization of more complex relations (e.g., conditional relations), whereas concessivity, given its conceptual complexity, is typically the target of grammaticalization. Form-meaning iconicity has been suggested in cases where conceptual complexity strongly correlates with morpho-syntactic complexity and vice versa. In accounting for the mechanisms of grammaticalization, change, metaphor, metonymy, reanalysis, and other pragmatic strategies like Traugott and König’s (1991) “pragmatic strengthening of informativeness,” which is based on Levinson’s (1983, 146) principle of informativeness, have been shown to motivate change in grammaticalization. This study has demonstrated that oftentimes more than one mechanism is involved in grammatical change for a given gram and that context is of paramount importance in inducing new readings, interpretations, and speaker-induced inferences (i.e., Traugott’s “invited inference”) that eventually may lead to further extensions of the existing, semanticized meanings. Analysis of semantic and formal grammaticalization for the prepositional forms included in this investigation uncovered important aspects of Arabic prepositions that have gone unnoticed in previous studies. In layers containing the most mature prepositions (e.g., li- ‘to, for’; bi- ‘with, at’, ka- ‘as’), there are no shared semantic properties that relate those forms to one another. However, their correlating formal properties, such as reduced phonetic content, dependency on their


chapter ten

host as clitics, and bound-stem status are what indeed motivate their inclusion within a single layer. It would appear then that in the latter phase of the grammaticalization cycle, aging grams undergo reductive change that results in the common appearance of similar morphophonetic shapes. What the foregoing observation suggests is that at the lower end of the grammaticalization continuum semantic characteristics are shared or otherwise divided among a relatively large and open class of incipient grams, and that, at the opposite pole where mature grams are located, formal properties are shared among a relatively small set, with the end result of a small class of formally similar members. The overarching principle at work in the domain of preposition development is that semantic change precedes formal change and that semantic change brings about elimination of semantic contrasts between forms and, by contrast, formal properties of aging grams form the basis for commonalities among them. That only a very few forms show these signs of fuller grammaticalization points to the possibility that full grammaticalization may not be open to all grammaticalizing forms for a host of reasons that warrant future exploration. Given the polyfunctionality of linguistic forms performing prepositional and subordinate functions, these forms defy strict categorialization. It makes little sense, therefore, to assign them to a single syntactic category since such a practice would lead to arbitrarily drawing discrete functional boundaries that may not accurately reflect either their broad range of functionality or the context of their use. As some forms have reached mature stages of grammaticalization, their increased dependency on discourse context for semantic interpretation and functionality is inevitable. If, for example, one should decide that fī ‘in, at’ is strictly a preposition, how could one explain its co-occurrence in a phonetically reduced form denoting an existential or interrogative sense side-by-side with its fuller form in the Egyptian colloquial fī f-rāso ḥ āga ‘there is something on his mind/ is there something on his mind?’ where the first fī does not at all share the semantic sense or syntactic role in the sentence in which the second reduced form appears. Broad-based corpora from ACT provided the data sources for this investigation. ACT includes historical data from the Quran, Thousand and One Nights as well as newspapers, the modern literature corpus and very limited spoken Egyptian colloquial. Although the majority of data is tilted in favor of refined and edited literary texts, several language registers have been represented, including the spoken vernacular of Cairo. This spectrum of language registers afforded this

summary and conclusion


analysis the possibility of making comparisons in the degree of grammaticalization between spoken colloquial and MSA. Data comparison in spoken colloquial and MSA for several forms has revealed that overall spoken colloquial forms appear to be more grammaticalized than their MSA counterparts. With these initial findings, an empirical basis for this existing intuition has been added, but given the limited size of the colloquial corpus, additional data could strengthen or modify this preliminary conclusion. Divergence in degree of grammaticalization has been attributed largely to the excessive grammatical constraints imposed on MSA forms and their usages and to the relative degree of freedom in which spoken vernaculars operate and evolve. In assessing the relative degree of generalization of the grams included in this investigation, empirical quantitative data on textual frequencies for individual grams and constructions within each layer have been tabulated, examined, and compared to each other synchronically and diachronically. Throughout this investigation, textual frequency distributions have overall been shown to correlate positively in a straightforward way with an increase in grammatical functions of the linguistic items examined. That is, as grams assume more grammatical functions, their textual distributions widen. It has been demonstrated that for a given gram or construction, diachronic development involving accretion of additional grammatical coding functions typically results in an increase in textual frequency. Likewise, within each of the prepositional layers, PNP-constructions have been shown to have significantly lower textual attestations than do morphologically autonomous or bound single-stem preposition forms. Other forms between those two layers show gradational increases in textual frequencies. Increases in textual distribution augur increases in actual use and the definite possibility of generalization over multiple discourse situations. As demonstrated in the case of relatively mature prepositional forms like fī ‘in, at’ and min ‘from, of ’, they not only take nominal complements as most prepositional forms do, but they also collocate with deixis and complementizers, participate in the formation of larger prepositional complexes like PNP-constructions, and occur within the context of verbs as adpreps. Given this widening of the range of possible complements and functional generalization, it is hardly surprising that these forms have very high textual distributions. The consequential effect of frequency of use on a given gram or grammaticalized construction is ultimately its conventionalization into units of grammar. Thus Langacker’s (1987, 59) postulation regarding


chapter ten

emerging grammatical units— “[w]ith repeated use, a novel structure becomes progressively entrenched, to the point of becoming a unit; moreover, units are variably entrenched depending on the frequency of their occurrence”—captures the import of statistical frequency as a dominant and reliable factor to consider in the development of grams. Several studies (e.g., Hoffmann 2005; Bybee 2007, 2001; Hopper and Traugott [1993] 2003) have highlighted the importance of textual frequency in language change. As repetition of use increases, grammaticalized forms require less mental processing effort and time, which may trigger a reduction in form. Hence, Bybee’s (2001, 10) statement, “[t]he process of grammaticization depends upon repetition and is characterized by the reduction of both meaning and form,” has been validated when considering the high statistical frequencies of li- ‘to, for’, which is also phonetically reduced and synsemantic (i.e., semantically dependent on context for its interpretation), thus giving further credence to such a theoretical claim. Similar findings and conclusions have been made in Mindt and Weber (1989) and Mindt (1989) (cited in König and Kortmann 1991, 111) for the monomorphemic English prepositions of and in, the most frequent among the thirteen most frequent prepositions in English with these two alone accounting for almost 45% of all occurrences. With these empirical results, König and Kortmann invoke Zipf’s (1949) Law of Abbreviation as the underlying principle for the inverse relationship between form and frequency of a given form. What these empirical findings strongly suggest is that while prepositions as a category remain marginal in Arabic linguistic research, given the meager number of studies dedicated to this subject, prepositions remain central to Arabic language users who utilize them for constructions of phrases, linking clauses into complex sentences, and organizing textual components in general. The grammaticalization theory that forms the basis for this investigation has been proven to be beneficial in advancing understanding of the synchronic distribution and diachronic development of linguistic forms serving prepositional and subordinating functions. It is hoped that this modest contribution will arouse further interest in the fertile, yet broad, field of Arabic prepositions and their subordinator derivatives, which are still to date under-researched. The operational criteria utilized for analyzing semantic and formal grammaticalization of these forms may serve as a basis, or replicable model, perhaps after further future refinements, for other prepositional forms not examined here.

Appendix A Detailed information on texts comprising the Arabic Corpus Tool (ACT) Legend Author’s name: AN Arabic title: AT Author’s country of origin: CO Date of publication: DP English title: ET Unavailable: n/a Number of words: NW Period: PD Reference code in ACT: RC Source: SC Total NW of ACT: 6894347 (as of October 7, 2009)

Classical Arabic AT











7th century AD



Post-classical/Medieval-Pre-modern AT

‫أ�لف ليةل وليةل‬







Thousand and One Nights



~9th–18th century AD




appendix a

Modern Literature: Total NW, 403901 (The following is a partial list that was provided by the administrator of ACT; a complete list is unavailable at present.) Fiction AN



ʿAbdel Magid, Ibrahīm

‫ال أ�حد ينام في‬

al-Aswānī, ʿAlāʾ

‫عمارة يعقوبيان‬

Bassiouney, Rēm

Ḥ ālū, Najat Ḥ aqqī, Yaḥyā

Kanafānī, Ghassān

Khoury, Eliās Maḥfūẓ, Nagīb




No One Sleeps Sleeps in Alexandria




The Yaqubian Building





‫رائحة البحر‬

The Smell of the Sea





‫ابئع الف�ستق‬

The Pistachio Seller

Madbuli (publisher’s name)




‫رس الحياة‬

The Secret of Life





‫قصص قصرية‬ ‫ليحي حقي‬

Short Stories of Yāḥyā Ḥ aqqī





The Door





‫أ�م سعد‬

ʾUmm Saʿd (The Mother of Saʿd)





‫عائد اىل حيفا‬

Returning to Ḥ aifa






1992; reprinted in 1993













‫رسائل غسان‬ ‫كنفاين اىل غادة‬ ‫السمّان‬ Kharrāṭ, Edwar


‫ترابها زعفران‬ ‫مملكة الغرابء‬ ‫أ�والد حارتنا‬

Ghassān KanafaniToKanafānī’s Let- Ghada ters to Ghāda City of Saffron The Kingdom of Strangers

KharratTurabha KhouryKingdom

Children of Gabalawi



appendix a AT

‫مريامار‬ ‫الكرنك‬ ‫صدى الن�سيان‬ Mustaghnāmī, Aḥlām

‫سرية‬ ‫ذاكرة الجسد‬ ‫فوىض الحواس‬ ‫عابر رسير‬

Ṣāʾib, Tamīm

‫ال تفق أ� عينيك اي‬ ‫أ�وديب‬

Sālim, ʿAlī

‫أ�والدان يف لندن‬

Ṣāliḥ, ṭ-Ṭayyib

‫عرس الزين‬

Sammān, Ghāda

‫ختم اذلاكرة‬ ‫ابلشمع أالحمر‬

aṣ-Ṣāniʿ, Rajāʾ Abdallah Wannūs, Saʿdalla

‫بنات الرايض‬

Waṭt ̣ār, Tahir

‫الحوات والقرص‬

al-Zayyāt, Laṭīfa

‫مغامرة ر أ�س‬ ‫اململوك جابر‬ ‫الويل الطاهر‬ ‫يعود اىل مقامه‬ ‫الزيك‬ ‫ال�شيخوخة‬






353 DP









Echo of Forgetfulness






MahfouzSiira Egypt






Chaos of the Senses

AhlamFouda Algeria



Passer by a Bed





Odīb, don’t Ruin Your Eyes! Our Children in London The Wedding of Zayn The Sealing of the Memory with Red Wax Riya Girls










The Sudan







2005/ 2006 1970

56173 17659







Memory of the RememFlesh brance (also Remem)



Saudi Arabia The Adventure WannusJabir Syria of the Head of Slave Jabir The Fisherman FisherCastle Algeria and the Palace Saint Tahir SaintReturns Algeria Returns to His Holy Shrine Old Age ZayatOldAge Egypt


appendix a Non-Fiction (Total NW 579545)

AN Adam, Muḥammad

al-Ḥ akāyma, Muḥammad Khalīl

Haykal, Muḥammad Ḥ asanayn Ḥ usayn, Ṭaha Isbanyūlī, Hāla and Nabīla

Salāma, ʿAbīr

Šūša, Fārūq

Quṭb, Sayyid







‫العوملة واثرها‬ ‫عىل اقتصادايت‬ ‫ادلول‬ ‫الاسالمية‬ ‫اسطورة‬ ‫ كشف‬:‫الوهم‬ ‫القناع عن‬ ‫الا�ستخبارات‬ ‫الامريكية‬ ‫الزمن الامرييك‬ ‫من نيويورك اىل‬ ‫ الكم يف‬:‫اكبول‬ ‫ال�سياسة‬ ‫يف الادب‬ ‫الجاهيل‬ ‫نسري اىل‬ ‫ دليل‬:‫الامام‬ ‫للمربيني‬ ‫واملربيات يف‬ ‫أالتعامل مع‬ ‫الزمات‬ :‫ن ّداهة الكتابة‬ ‫نصوص مجهوةل‬ ‫يف ابداع يوسف‬ ‫ادريس‬ ‫اللغة العربية في‬ ‫الاذاعة والتلفاز‬ ‫والفضائيات في‬ ‫جمهورية مصر‬ ‫ دراسة‬:‫العربية‬ ‫تحليلية ونقد‬

Globalization and its Effect on the Economies of the Islamic States


The Sudan



Legend of Illusion: Unmasking American Intelligence





American Time Americanfrom New York to Time Kabul: Political Talk




Literature of the Jāhili Period





Marching Forward: Guide to Educators in Dealing with Crisis


Nazareth, Israel






The Arabic Language on the Radio, Television, and Satellite in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Analytic Study and Critique





‫معالم في الطريق‬

Signposts on the Road



Caller for Writing: IdrisLitCrit Texts Ignored in the Originality of Yūsuf Idrīs



appendix a


Miscellaneous Non-Fiction SC Apostate Ḍ arūra

AT n/a

‫الرضورة ال�سيا�سية‬ )‫(الجزء الخامس‬

ET n/a Political Necessity (Vol. 5)

RC Apostate Darura




















Fawda Haqiqa




Ḥ imṣī, ʾAnṭun

‫الكتاب الاسود‬ ‫للر أ�سمالية (ترجمة‬ )‫حميص‬ ‫نص مقابةل الرئيس‬ ‫ح�سين مبارك مع قناة‬ ‫العربية‬









Ḥ usnī



‫هذه الكلمات الباقية‬ ‫من أ�لوف ال�سنني‬

‫نص قانون خدمة العمل‬ ‫ القانون رقم‬،‫الجديد‬ ٦٦٥

The Black Book of Capitalism


Hosni Text of the interview of President Mubārak with ʾalʿArabiyya TV These Landed Lingering Words for Thousands of Years Text of the LawKhidma New Serving Science Law

Place Aesthetics




Qad̠d̠āfī Speech




Sanʿāʾ Speech

‫نص خطاب ال�سيد‬ ‫رئيس الجمهورية في‬ ‫قمة تجمّع صنعاء‬ )‫(اديس �آاباب‬




4 February, 2005







SanaSpeech Text of the political speech of the President at the ṣanʿāʾ summit (Adis Ababa)

The Sudan




‫نص مذكرة رشم ال�شيخ‬

Text of the Sharm šārm ʾaššaykh memorandum


4 September,    1852 1999

United Nations

‫نص قرار االمم املتحدة‬ ٦٣٦١ ‫رمق‬

UN Resolution 1636


1 January, 2005




appendix a Newspapers

SC al-Ahrām al-Ḥ ayāt







‫الاهرام‬ ‫الحياة‬

Ahrām Ḥ ayāt

Ahram99 Hayat97

Egypt Saudi, Londonbased/Lebanese Saudi/ Londonbased/Lebanese Morocco Kuwait

1999 1997

16475979 19473315



2002 2002

  2919782   6454411

Hayat96 at-Tajdīd ʾal-Waṭan

‫التجديد‬ ‫الوطن‬

Tajdīd Waṭan

Tajdid02 Watan02

Dialectal Arabic SC Egypt Chat







‫دردشة مصرية‬

Egypt Chat




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AUTHOR INDEX Abboud, Peter  261 Abū ʿAmru  130 Alkalesi, Yasin M.  199 n. 8 Allen, Roger  33 n. 5 Anderson, John  M. 18 Anīs, Ibrāhīm  200 n. 9, 245 n. 4 al-Anṣārī, Ibn Hišām  306 Antilla, Raimo  274 Atlas, Jay David  280, 281 El-Ayoubi, Hashem  76, 105 n. 1, 194, 207

Cristofaro, Sonia  263, 291, 298 Croft, William  62, 64, 225, 271–272 Cruse, Alan  62, 64

Badawī, Elsaid  4, 110, 143, 151, 152–153, 165, 262, 294, 327, 343 n. 1 Al-Batal, Mahmoud  262 Beeston, A. F. L.  2 n. 2 Berman, Ruth  262 Bisang, Walter  57, 68 Blanc, Haim  105 n. 1, 126 Blau, Joshua  16 n. 11, 31–32, 105 n. 1, 126, 152, 215, 216, 235 Blijzer, Femke de  290 Boers, Frank  40 Bolinger, Dwight  119, 181, 345 Brinton, Laurel J.  267 n. 2 Brockelmann, Carl  139, 153, 167, 168, 169, 186 n. 5, 187, 188, 203, 206, 209, 216, 240, 244 Brustad, Kirsten E.  253 n. 5 Bybee, Joan  22, 49, 73, 125, 200, 246, 341, 346, 350

Fabricius-Hansen, Cathrine  257 al-Fīrūzābādī, Majd ad-Dīn Muḥammad Ibn Yaʿqūb  42, 43 n. 6 Fischer, Olga  36, 270 n. 4 Fischer, Wolfdietrich  76, 105 n. 1, 194, 207 Fleisch, Henri  43 n. 7, 137 n. 3 Frajzyngier, Zygmunt  59

Cadiot, Pierre  29 Campbell, Lyle  259 Canon, Rev.  169 Cantarino, Vicente  187, 203, 243, 262, 327 Carter, Michael G.  110, 152–153, 165, 294, 327, 343 n. 1 Chen, Guohua  327, 330 Claudi, Ulrike  29, 40–41, 49, 54, 55, 57, 59, 61, 100, 133, 154, 164, 186 n. 6, 194, 227, 246, 247, 253, 258–259, 261, 277, 291, 294, 321, 346 Comrie, Bernard  315, 318 Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth  289 Craig, Colette  262 Crevels, Mily  296 n. 2, 327

Dasher, Richard B.  303, 318, 341, 347 Dirven, René  290, 301, 313 Esseesy, Mohssen  11, 24, 65 Evans, Vyvyan  42, 129, 134 n. 2, 135, 138 n. 4, 140, 148, 170, 171, 172, 176, 229, 230, 248, 253, 256, 343

Genetti, Carol  261–262, 338 Gibbs, Raymond W.  25 Givón, Talmy  12 n. 6, 102, 271, 284, 291, 328 Goossens, Louis  64 Gore, E. C.  169 Gragg, Gene  222 Gray, H. Louis  187, 203 n. 10, 226, 240 Greenberg, Joseph  201, 318 Grice, Paul  272–273 Gully, Adrian  110, 152–153, 165, 262, 294, 327, 343 n. 1 Haegeman, Liliane  284 Haiman, John  73, 103, 280 Halliday, Michael Alexander Kirkwood  263, 290 Harrell, Richard S.  183 n. 4 Harris, Martin  316, 327 Ḥ asan, ʿAbbās  25 Hasan, Ruqaiya  263, 290 Haspelmath, Martin  37, 69, 204, 228, 275 Hassanein, Ahmed Taher  307 Heine, Bernd  13, 17, 29, 40–41, 49, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 79, 100, 102, 117, 133, 154, 157, 158


author index

n. 10, 164, 183, 186 n. 6, 194, 204, 209, 214–215, 227, 233, 246, 247, 249–250, 253, 258–259, 261, 277, 278, 291, 294, 303, 319, 321, 340, 346 Hengeveld, Kees  284 Herskovits, Annette  62, 170, 243, 244 Hetzron, Robert  262 Hinds, Martin  4, 143, 151 Hiraga, Masako K.  58 Hoffmann, Sebastian  37, 73, 76, 88, 98, 340 Holes, Clive  12 n. 6, 78 n. 1, 111, 184 n. 4, 246, 327, 328 Holler, Anke  257 Hopper, Paul J.  12, 49, 61, 63–64, 68, 101, 102, 138, 183, 184, 185, 200, 237, 240, 251, 274, 283, 341 Hünnemeyer, Frederike  29, 40–41, 49, 54, 55, 57, 59, 61, 100, 133, 154, 164, 186 n. 6, 194, 227, 246, 247, 253, 258–259, 261, 277, 291, 294, 321, 346 Ibn ʿAqīl, Bahāʾ ad-Dīn ʿAbdullāh  19 Ibn Hišām, Jamāl ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdullāh Ibn Yūsuf  19, 27, 169, 187, 227, 242, 312–313, 320 Ibn Jinnī, Abū al-Fatḥ ʿUthmān  54 Ibn Manṣūr, Muḥammad Ibn Mukarram  42, 78, 85, 89, 108, 130, 153 n. 9, 155, 157–158, 306, 312–313, 344 n. 2 Ibn as-Sarrāj, Abī Bakr Muḥammad Ibn Sahl Ibn as-Sarrāj  15, 133 Ibn ʿUṣfūr, Abū al-Ḥ asan ʿAlī Ibn Muʾmin  18–19, 20, 21, 24, 132–133 Ibn Yaʿīš, Muwaffaq ad-Dīn Yaʿīš Ibn ʿAli  132, 195, 196 Idrīs, Yūsuf  199 n. 8 Janda, Richard D.  200 Johnson, Mark  40, 175, 244, 248 Choi-Jonin, Injoo  37 Joseph, Brian D.  200 Kant, Emmanuel  289 Kaufman, Stephen  222, 262 Kogan, Leonid E.  262 König, Ekkehard  53, 61, 66, 86, 87, 88, 89, 159, 163, 190, 193, 248, 263–264, 269, 274, 276, 277, 280, 283, 284, 302, 305, 315, 316, 321, 322, 324, 327, 328, 329, 330, 347, 350

Köpcke, Klaus-Michael  41 Kortmann, Bernd  253, 257, 258, 261, 265, 269, 280, 282, 283, 284, 289, 315 n. 5, 327, 350 Kuryłowicz, Jerzy  36, 37, 257 Kuteva, Tania  13, 17, 79, 102, 204, 209, 249, 261, 291, 303, 319, 340 Lakoff, George  40, 55, 56, 172, 175, 244, 248 Lane, Edward William  108, 130, 134, 135, 147, 198 Langacker, Ronald  W. 17, 60, 73, 172 n. 2, 194 n. 7, 349–350 Langer, Michael  76, 105 n. 1, 194, 207 Lass, Roger  68–69 Lehmann, Christian  13, 44, 58, 66, 68, 69, 70–72, 74, 76, 93, 103, 105, 135, 139, 161, 163, 208, 212, 221, 223, 239, 253, 266, 269, 334, 341, 342, 345 Lentzner, Karin Ryding  25–26, 232, 243 Leuschner, Torsten  327 Levinson, Stephen C.  272, 274, 279, 280, 281, 347 Lindner, Susan  176 Lipiński, Edward  2 n. 2, 48 n. 8, 139, 168, 240 Longacre, Robert E.  265 López-Couso, María José  37 Los, B. 294 Lucas, Christopher  12 n. 6 Lyons, John  284 Maat, Henk Pander  304 McCarus, Ernest  11 n. 5 Mahdī, Muḥsin  33 n. 5 al-Maγribī, Yūsuf  183–184 n. 4 Meillet, Antoine  13–14, 36 Meyer, Paul Georg  122, 297 Mindt, Dieter  73 n. 10, 350 Mubarrad, Abī al-ʿAbbās Muḥammad Ibn Yazīd  18, 170, 203, 240, 242 Mughazy, Mustafa  151 Munim, ʿAbdul  5–6 Al-Najjar, Balkees  253 n. 5 Newmeyer, Frederick J.  259 Nichols, Johanna  293 Noordman, Leo G. M.  290 O’Dowd, Elizabeth  119, 178, 180, 181, 222, 345 O’Leary, De Lacy  139, 203 n. 10

author index

Pagliuca, William  73 Parkinson, Dilworth  31 n. 1 Pennacchietti, Fabrizio A.  27–29 Podlesskaya, Vera I.  289 Procházka, Stephan  2 n. 3, 15 n. 9, 26–27, 226 n. 3 Quirk, Randolph  77, 247, 340 Ramm, Wiebke  257 Rauh, Gisa  28 Reh, Mechtild  183 Rosch, Eleanor  47 Rubba, Jo.  29–30 Rubin, Aaron D.  185, 232–233, 234, 240, 246 ar-Rummānī, Abī al-Ḥ asan Ibn ʿĪsā  320 Ryding, Karin  15 n. 9, 145 n. 7, 151 n. 8 Saʿd, Maḥmūd  169 Saliba, Maurice B.  151 Sanders, Ted  304 Schiffrin, Deborah  284 Schwenter, Scott  264 Seoane, Elena  37 Shihāb, Mufid  6 n. 4 Sībawayhi, Abī Bišr ʿAmr Ibn ʿUthmān  14–15, 18, 53, 195, 196, 240, 242, 330 Siemund, Peter  327 Simeone-Senelle, Marie-Claude  262 Simpson, Andrew  4 Singer, Hans-Rudolf  184 n. 4, 235–236, 254 Stassen, Leon  214 Svorou, Soteria  41, 42, 44, 55, 63, 153–154 Sweetser, Eva E.  284–285, 291, 296, 297, 304, 323, 325, 333, 336, 347


Tabor, Whitney  70–71 Taylor, John R.  55, 61, 62, 64, 68, 170 Ter Meulen, Alice  315 Thompson, Sandra A.  101, 265, 295, 341 Tobin, Yashai  2 n. 1, 203 n. 11, 242, 256, 271 Traugott, Elizabeth Closs  17, 49, 53, 61, 63–64, 66, 68, 70–71, 87, 92, 102, 159, 163, 183, 184, 185, 237, 248, 267 n. 2, 274, 277, 280, 283, 284, 285–286, 291–292, 302, 303, 305, 316, 318, 323, 324, 327, 330, 341, 347 Tyler, Andrea  42, 129, 134 n. 2, 135, 138 n. 4, 140, 148, 170, 171, 172, 176, 229, 230, 248, 253, 256, 343 Ultan, Russell  209, 214 Van der Auwera, John  316, 327 Van Oosten, Jeanne  56 Versteegh, Kees  9, 10, 12 n. 6, 19 n. 13 Voigt, Rainer  29, 30 al-Warraki, Nariman  307 Weber, Christel  73 n. 10, 350 Wehr, Hans  76, 78, 85, 93, 96, 98, 143, 169, 187, 203, 227 Wiemer, Björn  68 Wierzbicka, Anna  290 Wright, William  15 n. 9, 167–168, 187, 209, 226, 334 Zack, Liesbeth  183–184 n. 4 Zamakhsharī, ?  60–61 Zipf, George Kingsley  73, 272, 350 Zubin, David  41

Subject Index aan (at, Dutch locative)  16 ʾabadan (never)  65 abbreviation, Zipfian law of  73, 272, 350 ablative case markers of  209, 301 evolution into subordinators  312, 313 ʿabra (across), grammaticalization of  43, 44 abstract terms evolution of  55, 56, 59–60 into prepositions  45–46 abstraction degrees of  41 in logical relations  315 of prepositions  132, 149–150, 173, 311 of subordinators marking causality  336 ACT see Arabic Corpus Tool (ACT) of Brigham Young University adhortative, prepositions denoting of  237 adpreps/adprep category  119, 181–182, 252, 345, 346 adverbial subordinators  261–262 adverbializers  248–249, 252 adverbs, evolution of  237 agent sense, prepositions denoting of  210, 215–216 agglutination  5 al-Ahrām (newspaper)  5–6 prepositional phrases in  174–175 subordinators in  298–299, 307 ʿalā (on/above) collocations with  190–192, 196, 197–199, 201–202 etymology of  2 n. 2, 48 n. 8, 56, 186–187 functional evolution of  3, 195, 201 grammaticalization of  62–63, 186–202, 223 meaning of  21, 27 relation with bi  188 multi-categorical status of  195–196 phonological changes of  199–200 prepositional verbs with  197–198

reductive changes in Egyptian Arabic  2, 5, 199–200 as subordinator  300–301 textual frequency of  196, 200–201 ʿalā ʾan/ʾanna (so that/provided that/ however/nevertheless)  190–192 textual frequency of  201–202 ʿalā ḥ īni (whereas)  190 ʿalā kulli ḥ ālin (at any rate/anyway/at least)  192–194 ʿalā l-ʿādati (as usual)  196 ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min (in spite of )  50, 75, 212, 249, 329 complexity of  59 diachronic evolution of  85–86, 89 emergence of  78, 80 grammaticalization of  79, 85–89 semantic evolution of  86–88, 340 textual frequency in MSA  80, 101 ʿalašān (because)  5 ʾallāhu (God)  114 allative case markers of  227–228 evolution into subordinators  291, 312, 313, 319 ʾamāma (in front of/before) grammaticalization of  147–153, 162 textual frequency of  147, 149, 150–151 ʾamāmajabhiyy (prefrontal) 153 ambiguity functional  49, 275 semantic  209–210, 230, 275 of subordinators  310 ʾammā (as for)  83 ʾan (to)  300–301, 306 ʿan ṭarīqi (by way of/via) cohesiveness of  106 grammaticalization of  43, 44, 107, 118–122 textual frequency of  107, 121 The Arabian Nights see Thousand and One Nights Arabic Corpus Tool (ACT, Brigham Young University)  31, 32–34, 348, 351–356 Arabicization  9–10

subject index

Aramaic prepositions in  29–30, 222 subordinators in  262 ʾAsās al-Balāγa (Zamakhsharī)  60–61 ʾasfala (below)  139, 140 asyndetical linkages of clauses  263–265 ʾat̠arun (back), grammaticalization of  43 ʾat̠nāʾa (during)  111–112 ʾat̠nāʾun (folds/bends)  108 attrition processes  69–70 augmentation of prepositions  258, 313, 314, 346 authority, prepositions denoting of  141 automatization notion (Haiman)  73, 103 ʾaxad̠a fī (began)  180 ʾayna (where)  183 b- preposition (Arabic)  251 b- preposition (Hebrew)  27–28, 242 back, body parts used for designation of  56 baʿda (after)  159 collocation with bi-  245 al-Baqara (The Cow, chapter of Quran)  169 basicness/basic level categories  40–41 Basran School of Arabic grammarians  23 bayn-/bayna (between)  240 as subordinator  71 benefactive sense, prepositions denoting of  230 bi- (in/at/with/by)  22, 48–49, 223 and bayn/bayna  240 as case marker  345 collocations with  245, 250–255 with interrogatives  253–254 with nouns  248–249, 252 textual frequency of  249, 252 with verbs  246–247, 250, 252–253, 255 etymology of  240, 245 n. 4 and fī  168, 240, 243, 244 grammaticalization of  16–17, 60, 225, 240, 242–254, 255, 346 meaning of  26 in Arabic dialects  27 extensions  242–250 relation with ʿalā  188 multifunctionality of  250, 252–253, 345 in PNP-constructions  103 polysemy of  242, 254, 256


prepositional complexes with  250–251, 255–256 reduction to b-  49, 251, 256 as subordinator  249, 253, 312 synsemantic nature of  242–243 textual frequency of  185, 244, 251–252 bi-faḍli (thanks to/owing to) cohesiveness of  106 grammaticalization of  113–115 textual frequency of  107 bi-fī (in the mouth/rest in place/motion in place)  167–168 bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li- (in need of ) grammaticalization of  79, 90–94 semantic evolution of  91–92, 93 textual frequency in MSA  80, 92–93 bi-hi (in him/it)  252 bi-l-ʾiḍāfati li (in addition to)  75 bi-l-qurbi min (near/close to)  46 bi-mā (in lieu of/in recompense)  306 bi-mā ʾanna (since)  249 as subordinator  306–309 bi-n-nad̠̣ari ʾilā (in view of ) grammaticalization of  79, 94–97 textual frequency in MSA  80 bi-n-nisbati li-/ʾilā (with regard to) grammaticalization of  79, 81–85 textual frequency in MSA  80, 81, 101 bi-n-niyābati ʿan (on behalf of ) grammaticalization of  79, 97–99 textual frequency in MSA  80 bi-r-raγmi min see ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min (in spite of ) bi-sababi (because of )  50, 76, 105 cohesiveness of  106 grammaticalization of  122–125 textual frequency of  107, 124, 126 bi-taḥ rīḍin min/ʿalā (with incitement/ prodding from/of ) grammaticalization of  99–100, 103 textual frequency in MSA  80 biddīš (I don’t want)  11, 12 bimhū/bimu (with what)  253–254 bleaching, semantic  122, 155–156 blending theories  57 body part terms in Arabic, grammaticalization of  42 as basic-level grammatical categories  40 evolution into prepositions  24, 153–154 in Arabic  41–42, 59–60, 153, 167, 168–169


subject index

for spatial relations  41, 42, 56, 154, 169–170 grammaticalization of  158 n. 10 bonding semantic  285 of subordinators with complements  286–287 boundaries between categories/classes, fuzziness of  47–48 virtual, notion  of 172 n. 2 Cairene Arabic  151 calque translations into Arabic from European languages  78, 90, 142, 294, 340 and grammaticalization  165 case invariability, development of  160, 162 case markers  345 absence of  236–237 classifications of  293 loss of ability to  237 networks of, allative  227–228 categories/classes change of  47–48, 52 in Arabic prepositions  51 and semantic extensions  59 see also decategorialization in grammaticalization theory  40 fuzzy boundaries in  47–48 categorizations and classifications of adpreps  119, 181–182, 252, 345, 346 of case markers  293 of particles  14–15 of prepositional verbs  181 of prepositions in Arabic  339, 344 by early Arabic grammarians  18–19, 20, 21, 23–24, 132–133, 195–196 impossibility of  51 noun-class  76 of subordinators  261 category chaining  56 causal relations  289–290 complexity of  285 and conditionals  314–315 informativeness of  283 markers of  126, 205, 206–207, 231–232, 255, 258–259, 281, 301–303, 336, 347 bi-mā ʾanna  306–309 in Dutch  304, 313

in English  302, 305, 313 evolution of  312–313, 314 from locatives  249, 311, 312 from temporal relations markers  204–205, 302, 303, 311 mund̠u  303–306 textual frequency of  309–314 see also purpose relations; reason relations CCI (conventional conversational implicatures)  273, 274 chaining (Heine et al.)  60, 133 Christian Arabic  32 Classical Arabic (CA)  1, 19 mixtures with Middle Arabic  152 prepositional phrases in  235 prepositions in etymology of  26, 47, 130 PN-units  118 PNP constructions  82, 85, 90, 94, 97 primary bound stem  227, 244 primary simple stem  173, 175, 187, 198, 203, 206, 218 semantic extensions of  132, 320–321 simple stem prepositionals  135, 144, 147, 154–155, 156, 157–158, 161 Quran as data source of  31 clause elaboration/reduction  270 n. 4 clause subordinate relations see causal relations; concessive relations; concessive-conditional relations clause-linking devices  190–194, 211, 217, 218, 263–265 continua of  266 evolution of, from prepositions  257, 265–266 see also subordinators clines see grammaticalization, chains/ clines/pathways clitics/cliticized forms  225, 242 clusters  138 n. 4 coalescence processes  72 coded meanings  285 cognitive linguistics/semantics  40, 47 cohesiveness of PN-units  106, 125 of PNP-constructions  84, 91, 96, 99, 100, 101 scales of  77 coincidence, prepositions denoting of  243

subject index

collocations  221 with ʿalā  190–192, 196, 197–199, 201–202 with bi-  245, 250–255 evolution of new prepositions from  222 with fī  180–182 grammaticalization  of 232 with ḥ attā  276–277, 278, 320–321, 336–337 with li-  231–232, 235–237 PNP-constructions  103, 237–238 with verbs  237, 238, 255 with maʿa  332–333, 337 with min  205–206, 210–211, 221–222, 312, 313 prepositional complexes  211–212, 216–217 reduction processes  219 textual frequency of  218–219 verb-preposition constructions  213–216 with mund̠u  305–306 textual frequency of  192, 197, 201–202, 215–216, 232, 249, 252, 326 colloquial Arabic see dialects, Arabic comitative case, markers of  246–248, 260, 261 communal creativity  57 communication rules  272, 279–281 communities, acceptance of semantic extensions by  57–58 comparisons/comparative, prepositions denoting of  135, 208–209, 210, 214–215 complementizers  270 augmenting  298, 314, 346 bonding of prepositions with, degrees of  286–287 of mund̠u  305 complex prepositions see prepositional complexes complex reinforcement (Lehmann)  66 complexity of causal relationships  285 of prepositions  266–267 of subordinators  268–269, 271–272, 286 compound-like prepositions see PN-units concessive relations  327–329 development of  86, 190 informativeness of  283, 328 infrequency of  89


markers of  87, 88–89, 194, 260–261, 286, 316–317, 323, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 333, 336, 347 absence of  263–265 development  of 329–332, 334, 337, 341 mono-functionality of  328 concessive-conditional relations, markers of  316–318, 321–322, 323, 326, 336–337 concrete terms evolution into abstract terms  55, 56, 59–60 see also abstraction condensation processes  70 conditional clauses prepositions used for  190–194, 276, 308–309, 314–325, 326 development into concessiveconditionals  326, 329–332 see also concessive-conditional relations consequence relations, subordinators denoting of  294 containment, prepositions denoting of  169–170 content domain of meaning  284, 296, 299, 309–310, 324 context-induced interpretations  49, 54, 273 continuous sense, prepositions denoting of  142, 246 contradictions, inherent, in concessive relations  329, 332 contrastive relations between clauses, informativeness of  282–283 control, prepositions denoting of  141 conventional conversational implicatures see CCI conventionalization  57, 87, 135, 273, 349–350 conversational implicatures see implicatures covert change  68 creativity, in semantic extensions  57 culture, influences of, in semantic extensions  55–56 Daf ʿ al-ʾIṣr ʿan Kalām Ahl Miṣr (al-Maγribī)  183–184 n. 4 d̠̣ahru (back)  155–156 Dardasha (Mughazy)  151 databases, for Arabic linguistic research  33


subject index

dative case, markers of  232, 233 decategorialization of nouns  24, 101, 117, 121, 124 into simple stem prepositionals  132, 135–136, 139, 144, 150, 154–155, 160, 162 of prepositions  200, 251, 256, 320 PNP-constructions  341 defeasibility of implicatures  273 definite articles fusion of prepositions with  219 in Egyptian Arabic  2, 199–200 prepositions retaining of  161 degrammaticalization  161 deixis  314, 346 demonstratives  201 demorphologization  200 diachronic evolution of negation in North African dialects  11–12 of prepositions in Arabic dialects  26 PN-units  126 PNP-constructions  80 ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min  85–86, 89 bi-n-nad̠̣ari ʾilā  94 bi-nisbati li-  82, 84–85 primary prepositions, ʿalā  201 simple stem prepositionals  135–137, 150 see also etymology; semantic extensions/evolution dialects Arabic  1, 4, 10 chronological development of  4–5 evolution of  3, 6 grammaticalization in  4–5, 7, 219 interrogatives in  183–184 n. 4 and Modern Standard Arabic  1, 3–4, 5, 349 negative attitudes towards  5–6, 10 North African, negation in  10–12 prepositions in  3, 26 reduction of  199–200 European, death of  6 Dictionary (al-Munjid)  85, 93, 143 Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic (Badawī and Hinds)  143, 151 A Dictionary of Modern Arabic (Wehr)  76, 78, 85, 93, 96, 98, 143, 169, 187, 203, 227 diglossia, Arabic  1 directions collocations denoting of  210 see also unidirectionality of change

discourse, role of  272 divergence (Hopper and Traugott)  183 diwān ʿaš ʾār l-hyd̠ayliyyīn  26 ‘Down Cluster’ (Tyler and Evans)  140 d̠̣urūf see locatives Dutch grammaticalization in  16 subordinators in  304, 313 dynamic terms, evolution into prepositions  46–47 economy, linguistic  272, 280 Egyptian Arabic grammaticalization in  17 fusion with interrogatives in  183–184 PN-units  116 reduction processes  2, 5, 199–200 simple stem prepositionals  143–144, 151–152 prepositions in, PNP-constructions  82 study of  34 emancipation notion (Bybee)  341 embodied meanings of terms  42 emotional/mental relations, prepositions denoting of  175–176 empirical research of Arabic prepositions  34–35 of grammaticalization processes  69, 72–73 English influences on Arabic  294 prepositions in PN-units  105–106 PNP-constructions  94, 96, 98 textual frequency of  73 n. 10, 350 subordinators in  302, 305, 313 entailment of prepositions  316–317, 329 environmental landmarks, evolution into prepositions  42–44 epistemic domain of meaning  284–285, 296, 299, 304, 309–310, 324, 333, 336, 347 shifts to speech-act domain  286 erosion  11, 200, 254 etymology Arabic grammarians on  8 of prepositions ʿalā  2 n. 2, 48 n. 8, 56, 186–187 bi-  240, 245 n. 4 in Classical Arabic  26, 47, 130 fawqa  129–130 fī  24, 167–168

subject index

ḥ attā  291 n. 1, 324 li-  226–227 maa  56 min  202–203 taḥ ta  139 xalfa  153 European dialects, death of  6 European influences on Arabic calque translations  78, 90, 142, 294, 340 on passive constructions  215 on PN-units  126, 127 on PNP-constructions  79, 90, 102, 340, 342 on simple stem prepositionals  142, 146 even/even-if clauses  323, 324 evolution, see also semantic evolution excess sense, prepositions denoting of  134 existential pronouns  183 explicitness of linking, Lehmann’s continuum of  266, 269 f-  183, 184 f-aš (what)  183 n. 4 faḍlun (excess/remnant/generosity), textual frequency of  113 fasād al-kalām notion (corruption of speech)  10 fawqa (above/over) etymology of  129–130 grammaticalization of  129–139, 162, 164, 344 textual frequency of  136–137 fawqa d̠ālika (besides that)  134 fēn (where)  183–184 fī (in/at)  22 and bi-  168, 240, 243, 244 collocations with  180–182 etymology of  24, 167–168 grammaticalization of  41, 167–186, 222–223 as interrogative  182 PN-units with  186 PNP-constructions with  178 prepositionals/prepositional verb phrases with  178–182 pronoun function of  182–183 reduction of  183 textual frequency of  171, 173, 176, 183, 184–185 fī ʾat̠nāʾi (during) cohesiveness of  106 grammaticalization of  108–112


textual frequency of  107 fī bidāyati l-ʾamri (in the beginning)  174 fī ḥ ājatin ʾilā (to stand in need)  93 fī l-wāqiʿi (indeed)  182 fī-mā (as regards)  174–175 fixation processes  72 fixedness of constructions, of PN-units  111 focus particles cross-linguistic studies of  327 development of  323–324 ḥ attā  275, 276, 278, 320, 321, 322 formality, scales of, and use of prepositions  152 French, negation in  13 fū (mouth)  167 functional ambiguity  49, 275 functional evolution/change in MSA and dialects  1–4, 5 of prepositions  3, 7, 8, 338 ʿalā  3, 195, 201 see also multifunctionality fusion of prepositions and definitive articles  2, 199–200, 219 and interrogatives  183–184, 219 and personal pronouns  22 futurity, markers of  253 n. 5 GCI (generalized conversational implicatures)  273, 274 generalization of collocations  197 and grammaticalization  157 of PN-units  126 of simple stem primary prepositions, fī  171 and textual frequency  185, 218, 349 generalized conversational implicatures see GCI generativists  36 genitive case, markers of  235, 320 goals of movements prepositions denoting of  229 development into scalar particles  324 see also purpose sense Google, textual frequency of Arabic prepositions in  220–221 grammarians, Arabic classifications by  14 early negative attitudes towards dialects by  10


subject index

on partitive sense  207 on prepositions  17–25, 129 body part terms  168–169 bound-stem  227, 240, 242 categorization  of 18–19, 20, 21, 23–24, 132–133, 195–196 in collocations  190–191 locatives  147, 153 n. 9 meanings of  187, 203 PN-units  108 on semantic extensions  53, 60 on subordinators  306, 312–313 concessives  330 on etymology  8 modern on metonymic semantic extensions  61 on prepositions  25–30 studies by  8–9 grammatical replication notion (Heine and Kuteva)  79 grammaticalization  9, 10, 51–52 in Arabic dialects  4–5, 7, 12 of body part terms  158 n. 10 chains/clines/pathways  17, 60, 133, 138, 154 in Dutch  16 end of  58 full  348 functional overlapping in  13–14 and generalization  157 measuring degrees of  69–72, 74, 93, 135, 321, 338 for subordinators  285–287 in multi-word constructions  49–50 of prepositions  253 in Arabic  38–39, 47 ʿabra  43, 44 ʾat̠arun  43 ḥ addun  44 ḥ attā  46, 47, 279, 319, 323–324 ʾit̠ra  43, 44 maa  333–334 PN-units  106–107, 125–127 ʿan ṭarīqi  43, 44, 107, 118–122 bi-faḍli  113–115 bi-sababi  122–125 fī ʾat̠nāʾi  108–112 min nāḥ iyati  115–118 PNP-constructions  77–79, 100, 340–342

ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min  79, 85–89 bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li-  79, 90–94 bi-n-nad̠̣ari ʾilā  79, 94–97 bi-n-nisbati li/ʾilā  79, 81–85 bi-n-niyābati ʿan  79, 97–99 bi-taḥ rīḍin min  99–100, 103 prepositional complexes  212 prepositionals simple stem  162–166, 343–344 ʾamāma  147–153, 162 fawqa  129–139, 162, 164, 344 taḥ ta  139–146, 162, 165 xalfa  41, 42, 153–162 primary bound stem  225, 254–256, 345–346, 347–348 bi-  16–17, 60, 225, 240, 242–254, 255, 346 li-  225, 226–240, 241, 267–268 collocations with  232 primary simple stem  167, 220–222, 344–345 ʿalā  62–63, 186–202, 223 fī  41, 167–186, 222–223 min  202–220, 221–222, 223 qurba  45–46 ṣawba  46–47 spatial markers  162–164 ṭarīqun  43 tūlun  45–46 warāʾa  44 wasṭa  41, 42 wijhata/tujāha  41 in English  96 in Semitic languages  29 studies of  37 and reduction processes  73–74, 350 replica (Heine and Kuteva)  102 and semantic extension  279, 348 and subjectivication  92, 285–286, 296, 318 of subordinators  269, 279, 283–287, 337–338, 346 in purpose relations  291–295 in reason relations  296–298, 300–302, 310 and syntagmatic size  73–74, 93, 286 and textual frequency  72–74, 166, 185, 287, 349–350 theory  13, 36–38, 40, 59, 350 application in Arabic  16–17, 29, 35

subject index

criticism of  36 on metaphoric transfer  54–55, 56–58, 59, 63–64, 67–68 on metonymic processes  62–64, 67–68 negation in  213 on pragmatic strengthening  66–67 and reanalysis  64–66, 67–68 unidirectionality of  68–69, 161, 338 grams evolution of  57, 60 layering  138 size of  266 habitual sense, prepositions denoting of  246 ḥ addun (until/around)  44 ḥ ājatun (desire/deprivation/want)  90, 92 ḥ aṣala ʿalā (stipulation/obligation)  197–199 ḥ attā (until/even)  236–237 collocations with  276–277, 278, 320–321, 336–337 textual frequency of  326 etymology of  291 n. 1, 324 grammaticalization of  46, 47, 279, 319, 323–324 polysemy of  275–276 semantic evolution of  39, 67, 274–278, 318–322, 323, 324, 326–327 as subordinator (in order to)  279, 291, 292, 293, 295–296, 312, 315–316, 318, 336 textual frequency of  325–326 ḥ attā ʾid̠ā (even when)  321, 324–325 textual frequency of  326 ḥ attā law (even if )  276–277, 317, 318, 323 textual frequency of  326 al-Hayāt (newspaper)  215 Hebrew prepositions in  27–29, 242 reductive changes in  2 n.1 subordinators in  262 host-preposition combinations with bi-  242 with li-  236 morpho-phonological variations  22 humiliation, Arabic expressions denoting of  87 ḥ urūf see particles


I-implicatures  280, 281, 284 iconicity and metaphors  58, 59 of subordinators  272 ʾid̠ā (if/when)  321 if-clauses  323 ʾilā (to/toward)  15, 22 in combination with fawqa  137 and li-  226–227, 267–268 semantic properties of  84 ʾilā l-xalfi (backwards)  161 image schemata  40 in metaphoric transfers  55, 56 imperfect, in Arabic  253 implicatures  273, 279–280 semantic extensions through  274, 277–278, 279, 303, 338 in, textual frequency of  350 in view of  94, 96 inclusiveness of words  40–41 ʿinda (with) and li-  233–234 non-reduction of  15–16 indexing, of relations  274 individual creativity, and semantic extensions  57 inferences  279 inferiority, prepositions denoting of  141 inflection of verbs, markers of  252–253, 346 informativeness of concessive relations  283, 328 principle  280 scales of  282, 283, 325 and specificity  280–281 ingredient sense, relation to instrument sense  247 instrument case, markers of  247–248 intended recipient sense (Tyler and Evans), prepositions denoting of  230 intention see purpose relations interclausal relations, prepositions denoting of see clause-linking devices internal dialogues, prepositions denoting of  176–177 interrogatives collocations/fusion with prepositions  183–184, 219, 253–254 fī  182 inventories of Arabic prepositions, by early Arabic grammarians  18–19 Iraqi Arabic, reductive changes in  199 n. 8


subject index

in, textual frequency of  350 ʾit̠ra (after/following)  43, 44 jāb (brought)  48–49, 346 see also phonogenesis Jewish Arabic  32 ka- (as/like)  22 al-Kitāb (Sībawayhi)  14–15, 240, 242 Kuwaiti Arabic  253 n. 5 l-  239 language change in Arabic  9–10 grammaticalization theory used in explanations of  37 opposition to  6–7 language levels, in Arabic varieties  4 Language Sciences ( journal)  36 layering  138 lexicalization  239 lexicographers, modern Arabic on PNP-constructions  76, 78, 85, 93, 96 on simple stem prepositionals  143 li- (for/to)  22, 59, 76, 223 as case marker  345 collocations with  231–232, 235–237 PNP-constructions  103, 237–238 with verbs  237, 238, 255 etymology of  226–227 grammaticalization of  225, 226–240, 241, 267–268 and ʾilā   226–227, 267–268 and ʿinda  233–234 multifunctionality of  345 in PNP-constructions  103, 237–238 polysemy of  227, 254, 256 prepositional phrases with  235 reduction of  15–16, 239, 256 semantic evolution of  227–236 semantic properties/meaning of  84, 227 as subordinator (in order to)  270, 291, 292–295, 312, 313, 336, 345–346 grammaticalization of  294–295, 300 textual frequency of  238, 309 n. 4, 350 li-ʾanna (for that/because)  5, 232, 255, 258, 270, 313 as subordinator  296–298, 313, 336

textual frequency of  298–299, 309 n. 4, 312 li-d̠ālika (therefore)  299–300 grammaticalization of  310–311 semantic ambiguity of  310 textual frequency of  218, 309–311, 312 li-hād̠ā (for this/thus/therefore)  231–232, 299–300 grammaticalization of  232 textual frequency of  218, 232 linear fusion hypothesis (Bybee)  22 linguistic economy  272, 280 linguistics Arabic  4–5 cognitive  40, 47 Lisān al-ʿArab (Ibn Manẓūr)  42, 78, 89, 90, 108, 130, 153 n. 9, 155, 219, 306, 344 n. 2 loan translations see calque translations locatives  23–25, 165, 339 development of into cause markers  249, 311, 312 into possessive sense markers  249–250 into progressives  245–246 early Arabic grammarians on  147, 153 n. 9 semantic extensions of  133, 142, 148 ʿalā  187–190 bi-  243–244 fī  169–172 min  203–204 towards temporal  228 textual frequency of  246 logical relations, levels of abstraction of  315 ʿly (upper part)  2 n.2, 48 n. 8 mā (not)  10–11, 65–66 maʿa (with)  75, 260–261 categorical changes of  51 collocations with  332–333, 337 etymology of  56 grammaticalization of  333–334 as subordinator  331–333, 334–336, 337 textual frequency of  330, 334–336, 337 maʿa ʾanna (with that/although)  329–330, 337 textual frequency of  335

subject index

maʿa d̠ālika/hād̠a (with that/with this/ although)  329–330, 331, 332–333, 337 textual frequency of  335 māl (why/wealth/asset)  225, 235–236, 239, 256, 346 mā . . . min collocations  212–213 manner implicatures  281 manner sense, prepositions denoting of  248 matrix clauses  307, 317–318 mature prepositions  60, 347–348 meaning, domains/levels of  284–285, 296, 299, 309–310, 311 meaning extensions see semantic extensions/evolution means sense, prepositions denoting of 248 mental states see moods metaphors  25 and iconicity  58, 59 and metonymy  64 semantic extensions through  53–60, 63–64, 140, 154, 194, 274, 275, 277, 279, 338 early Arabic grammarians on  53 grammaticalization theory on  54–55, 56–58, 59, 63–64, 67–68 of prepositions  26, 53–54, 140, 154, 194, 274, 275 of subordinators  277 space-to-time  275 metaphtonymy (Goossens)  64 metonymy  60–64 and grammaticalization  62–64, 67–68 and metaphors  64 semantic extensions through  60–64, 131, 149, 189, 204, 244, 274, 275, 278–279, 319, 338 Middle Arabic  31–32, 152 min (from)  22 categorical changes of  51 collocations with  205–206, 210–211, 221–222, 312, 313 prepositional complexes  211–212, 216–217 reduction processes in  219 textual frequency of  218–219 verb-preposition constructions  213–216 etymology of  202–203 and fawqa  136–137 fusion with interrogatives  219


grammaticalization of  202–220, 221–222, 223 metaphoric use of  53–54 polysemy of  203, 211 reductive changes of  2 semantic extensions of  203–211 as subordinator  301–302, 312, 313 textual frequency of  206, 217–218, 219 min ʾajli (because of/for the sake of )  124–125 min ʿalā  196 min hunā (from here)  216–217, 218, 312–313, 314 min jihatin (from the direction of )  210–211 min nāḥ iyati (from the direction of/with respect to)  210–211 cohesiveness of  106 grammaticalization of  115–118 textual frequency of  107 min qabla (before)  211, 212 min qibali (on the part of )  215–216 min taḥ t (assigning culpability of blame)  143–144 min t̠amma (therefore/hence/for that reason)  205–206, 312–313, 314 textual frequency of  206, 312 minēn (from where)  183 n. 4 modal evaluations, prepositions denoting of  248 modern Arabic literature  127 collocations in of bound stem prepositions  232, 248–249, 252 of simple stem prepositions  192, 193, 196, 205–206, 214, 216 partitive sense in  207–208 PN-units in  107, 109, 116, 119–120, 124, 125, 126 PNP-constructions in  81, 83, 87, 92, 93, 95, 96, 98 prepositionals in simple stem  131–132, 136–137, 138, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 158–159 constructions containing  160–161 semantic extensions of  141–142 primary prepositions in bound stem  238, 248–249, 250, 251, 252 simple stem  172, 173, 175, 176–177, 185, 201, 218


subject index

subordinators in  253, 298–299, 305, 307, 310, 311, 312, 326 concessives  335, 337 Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)  1, 32, 34 collocations in  190, 198, 210–211, 213 of bound stem prepositions  249 and dialects  1, 3–4, 5, 349 grammaticalization in  4, 5 renovation  14 language change in  10 morphologization in  200 PN-units in  114, 119, 123 PNP-constructions in  80–81, 92–93, 94, 95, 98, 114 prepositionals/prepositional phrases in  162, 235 grammaticalization of  145 primary prepositions in bound stem  227 simple stem  174, 217–218 subordinators in  302 moods, prepositions denoting of  175–176, 244–245, 256, 346 Moroccan Arabic, prepositions in 183 n. 4, 234 morphemes, bound  12, 21, 72 morpho-phonological properties increases in  59 of prepositions  21–22 size reduction  101, 102 of subordinators  269, 270 morpho-syntactic features of PNP-constructions  103 of subordinators  259–260, 271, 286 morphological properties and grammaticalization  58 of subordinators  268–269, 271–272 morphologization (Hopper and Traugott)  102, 200 motion prepositions denoting of  292 semantic shift towards intention  291 MSA see Modern Standard Arabic Muγnī al-Labīb (Ibn Hišām)  27, 169, 227, 242 muḥ tājun (needing)  79, 90 multi-word constructions grammaticalization of  49–50 as prepositions  75–76, 340 see also PN-units; PNP-constructions; prepositional complexes

multifunctionality  250, 252–253, 271, 345 of prepositions  60, 345, 348 mund̠u (since/ago)  63 collocations with  305–306 as subordinator  281, 301, 302–305 textual frequency of  306, 311–312 mund̠u ʾan (since that/ever since)  305–306 Muqtaḍab (Mubarrad)  240, 242 naḍa̠ ra fī (to study/review)  179–180 nāḥ iyati (region/aspect/standpoint/side)  115 negation emphasizers  11, 65, 212 in French  13 in grammaticalization theory  213 markers  13, 65–66 in North African dialects  10–12 new prepositions, emergence of  222 newspapers, Arabic collocations in  206, 215, 216 as data source of Modern Arabic  34 PN-units in  107, 109–111, 113–114, 115–116, 117, 121, 123–124, 126, 342 PNP-constructions in  81, 83–84, 85, 87, 92, 93, 95, 97, 98–99 prepositional phrases in  174 simple stem prepositionals in  142 subordinators in  305, 307 nisbati/nisbatun (blood relationship)  82, 84 niyābatun (authority/representation)  97 non-containment  170–171 non-controversial prepositions  20–21 North Africa, negation in Arabic dialects in  10–12 ‘nose in the dust’ expression  80, 87 see also raγma noun-class of prepositions  76 nouns collocations of prepositions with  248–249, 252 transformation into prepositions (decategorization)  24, 101, 117, 121, 124 in multi-word constructions  50 to simple stem prepositionals  132, 135–136, 139, 144, 150, 154–155, 160, 162 verbal  261

subject index collocations of prepositions with  237

obligatorification processes  70, 102–103, 208, 212 of, textual frequency of  350 Omani Arabic  253–254 on behalf of  98 oral transmission of texts  33 Arabic tradition of  152 P + COMP-constructions  258 panchronic analyses  31 paradigmatic variability (Lehmann)  223 paradigmatization processes  70, 102–103 pardigmaticity (Lehmann)  253 partial containment  170 particles  18, 20, 23 categorizations of  14–15 evolution of prepositions into  237 focus  275, 276, 278, 320, 321, 323–324, 327 scalar  276–277, 319–320, 321, 323–324 transitivizing  247 particularized conversational implicatures see PCI partitive sense, prepositions denoting of  207–208 passive constructions, prepositions used for marking agents in  215–216 paths, prepositions used for marking of  206 PCI (particularized conversational implicatures)  273 personal pronouns, fusion with prepositions  22 phonemes  12, 251 phonogenesis  12, 184, 200, 225, 251 examples of  48–49, 346 phonology changes in primary prepositions of  199–200, 219 evidence for diglossia in Arabic from  1 phrasal preposition constructions  161, 174 phrasal subordinators  258 PN-units  76, 105, 339 in English  105–106 European influences on  126, 127 with fī  186 grammaticalization of  106–107, 125–127


ʿan ṭarīqi  43, 44, 107, 118–122 bi-faḍli  113–115 bi-sababi  122–125 fī ʾat̠nāʾi  108–112 min nāḥ iyati  115–118 semantic evolution of  125, 127, 342–343 textual frequency of  107, 112, 113, 117, 121, 123, 124, 125–126, 127, 342 PNP-constructions  76 in Arabic  78, 339 decategorialization of  341 European influences on  79, 90, 102, 340, 342 with fī  178 grammaticalization of  77–79, 100, 340–342 ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min  79, 85–89 bi-ḥ ājatin ʾilā/li-  79, 90–94 bi-n-nad̠̣ari ʾilā  79, 94–97 bi-n-nisbati li/ʾilā  79, 81–85 bi-n-niyābati ʿan  79, 97–99 bi-taḥ rīḍin min  99–100, 103 with li-  103, 237–238 semantic extensions of  100, 101, 103, 341 syntagmatic enlargement  80 textual frequency of  80–81, 83–84, 89, 90–91, 94, 99, 101, 103, 114, 342, 349 in English  94, 96, 98 partial repetitions of  93 polyfunctionality see multifunctionality polysemy of prepositions  53 ʿalā  187 bi-  242, 254, 256 fawqa  132–133 fī  177 ḥ attā  275–276 li-  227, 254, 256 min  203, 211 primary  344, 345 and semantic extensions  66, 256 of subordinators  286 possession sense/possessive relationships, prepositions denoting of  232–234, 239, 249–250 pragmatic meaning, and coded meanings  285 pragmatic strengthening (Traugott and König)  61, 66–67, 159, 190, 204, 230 prediction, prepositions denoting of  292


subject index

Preference Law (Bybee)  200 prepositional complexes with bi  250–251, 255–256 grammaticalization of  212 with min  211–212, 216–217 see also PNP-constructions prepositional layers, continua of  267 prepositional phrases  161, 174–175 with li-  235 as subordinators  266–267 prepositional verbs/verb phrases  178–179, 222 with ʿalā  197–199 with bi-  251 with fī  178–182 with li-  238 prepositionals  165 with fī  178, 179–180 see also simple stem prepositionals primary prepositions bound stem grammaticalization of  225, 254–256, 345–346, 347–348 bi-  16–17, 60, 225, 240, 242– 254, 255, 346 li-  225, 226–240, 241, 267–268 collocations with  232 reduction processes in  49, 239, 251, 256 textual frequency of  238, 244, 251–252, 254–255, 350 polysemy of  344, 345 simple stem grammaticalization of  167, 220–222, 344–345 ʿalā  62–63, 186–202, 223 fī  41, 167–186, 222–223 min  202–220, 221–222, 223 reduction processes in  2, 5, 183, 199–200 semantic extensions of  131–133, 221, 222–223 textual frequency of  171, 173, 176–177, 183, 184–185, 196, 200–201, 206, 217–218, 219, 220–221, 345 progress towards completion sense, prepositions denoting of  142 progressives  245–246 pronouns, evolution of prepositions into  182–183 propagation of change concept (Bisang)  57 prototypical theory (Rosch)  47

proximity, prepositions denoting of  243–244 psycholinguistic factors, in opposition to language change  6–7 purpose relations markers of  230–231, 258–259, 286, 313–314, 336 grammaticalization of  291–295 qabla (before, previously)  212 collocation with bi- (before)  245 al-Qāmūs al-Muḥ īt (al-Fīrūzābādī)  42, 43 n. 6 qaṭt ̣ (never)  65 quality implicatures  281 markers of  133 quddāma (before/in front of )  147, 152 textual frequency of  150–151 Quran collocations in  191, 196, 215, 252, 320–321 as data source for Classical Arabic  31 PN-units in  107, 113, 122 PNP-constructions in  90 prepositional phrases in  174 prepositionals in bound stem  238 simple stem  130–131, 136–137, 144, 146, 150, 155, 156 constructions containing  160 primary prepositions in bound stem  244, 246–247, 251, 252 simple stem  169, 171, 173, 176–177, 184, 187–188, 201, 203–204, 206, 218 subordinators in  253, 298–299, 307, 310, 311, 326 concessives  330, 335 qurba (near/close to), grammaticalization of  45–46 raγma ʾanfi (nose in dust)  80, 87 raγma (despite)  50, 102 constructions with  88–89 raγmun (dust)  50, 85 semantic evolution of  330, 341 reanalysis  64–66, 67–68, 233 reason relations subordinators used for  295–298, 313, 314

subject index

grammaticalization of  300–302, 310 reduction processes and grammaticalization  73–74, 350 in multi-word constructions  50 in prepositions in collocations  219 primary prepositions bound stem  49, 239, 251, 256 simple stem  2, 5, 183, 199–200 simple stem prepositionals  132 in subordinators  269–270 reference points, of body part terms  41 referential functions, in metonymic processes  61 reflexive relations, prepositions denoting of  176–177 relational concepts, prepositions denoting of  150, 235 relational object-parts/relational nouns  44 relations, indexing of  274 renovation, in linguistic evolution  13–14 replica grammaticalization (Heine and Kuteva)  102 Rethinking Grammaticalization: New Perspectives (López-Couso and Seoane)  37 -š (negation marker)  11–12 sababi (tent rope/cord/cause/reason)  50, 122 samaḥ a li- (permit someone to)  238 šāriʿun (street)  107 ṣawba (towards), grammaticalization of  46–47 šayʾ/šayʾun (thing)  11, 65 scalar conventional implicatures  276 scalar particles  276–277 development of  323–324 ḥ attā  319–320, 321 secondary prepositions (Lehmann)  105, 221 semantic ambiguity  209–210, 230, 275 of subordinators  310 semantic bleaching  122, 155–156 semantic bonding, degrees of  285 semantic extensions/evolution  47–48 and categorical change  59 and concessivity  327, 328 creativity in  57 and grammaticalization  279, 348 mechanisms for  54, 67–68, 278–279, 347


conversational implicatures  274, 277–278, 303, 338 metaphors  53–60, 63–64, 140, 154, 194, 274, 275, 277, 279, 338 metonymy  60–64, 131, 149, 189, 204, 244, 274, 275, 278–279, 319, 338 pragmatic strengthening  66–67, 159, 190, 204, 230 reanalysis  64–66, 67–68, 233 of multi-word constructions  50 and polysemy  66, 256 of prepositions  25, 26, 29, 38–39 ʾamāma  147–150 body part terms  41–42 ḥ attā  39, 67, 274–278, 318–322, 323, 324, 326–327 locatives  133, 142, 148 PN-units  125, 127, 342–343 ʿan ṭarīqi  119 bi-faḍli  113–114 fī ʾat̠nāʾi  108–110 min nāḥ iyati  117 PNP-constructions  100, 101, 103, 341 ʿalā/bi-r-raγmi min  86–88, 340 bi-ḥ ājatin li/ʾilā  91–92, 93 bi-n-nad̠̣ari ʾilā  94–96 bi-nisbati li-  82–83, 85 bi-taḥ rīḍin min  100 primary bound stem  254 bi-  242–250 li-  227–236 primary simple stem  131–133, 221, 222–223, 343 ʿalā  187–194, 195–196 ʾamāma  148–150 fawqa  129–135 fī  168–177 min  203–211 taḥ ta  139–144 xalfa  155–159 spatial markers  113, 142, 163, 171–172, 187–189, 194, 275, 291 into temporal domain  194, 228–229, 244–245, 291, 318 of subordinators  277, 284–285, 347 concessives  330 li-  293–294 maa  333–334 min  301 mund̠u  302–304


subject index

semantic properties informativeness of  282–283 networks of  278 of prepositions, in Hebrew  28–29 of subordinators  271–272 semanticization  57, 66, 274 Semitic languages prepositions in  20 n. 14, 187 emergence of  222 li  226 studies of  27–29 subordinators in  262 simple stem prepositionals  343 in Egyptian Arabic  143–144, 151–152 grammaticalization of  162–166, 343–344 ʾamāma  147–153, 162 fawqa  129–139, 162, 164, 344 taḥ ta  139–146, 162, 165 xalfa  41, 42, 153–162 textual frequency of  136–137, 144–146, 147, 150–151, 155, 156, 159, 162, 166 simple stem primary prepositions see primary prepositions, simple stem simultaneity of clauses, informativeness of  282 since causal meanings of  305 cross-linguistical semantic extension from temporal to causal  204–205, 302, 303 source concepts, choice of  55–56 sources, prepositions used for marking of  206 spatial relations and metonymy  63 prepositions denoting of  129, 152, 155, 156, 162–164, 203–204, 254 evolution of  343 from body part terms  41, 42, 56, 154, 169–170 into subordinators  311, 312 semantic extensions of  133, 142, 163, 171–172, 187–189, 194 into temporal domain  194, 228–229, 244–245, 291, 318 vertical relations  133 specialization of prepositions  330–331 specificity, and informativeness  280–281 speech-act domain of meaning  284–285, 296, 299, 309–310, 324, 325

shift from epistemic domain to  286 spite, negative connotations of, loss of  88 split (Heine and Reh)  183 spoken Arabic see dialects, Arabic Spoken Arabic of Cairo (Saliba)  151 storytellers, Arabic  152 subjectivication (Traugott), and grammaticalization  92, 285–286, 296, 318 subjectivity of concessive relations  329 scales of  284 subjunctive prepositions denoting of  237 use in subordinate purpose clauses  292 subordinate categories  40 subordination, notion of  263 subordinators  265, 340 adverbial  261–262 ʿalā  300–301 bayn-/bayna  71 bi-  249, 253, 312 bi-mā ʾanna  306–309 complexity of  268–269, 271–272, 286 of concessive relations  328–329 development of  329–331, 337, 341 distinctions from prepositions  259–262, 348 Dutch  304 English  302, 305, 313 evolution of from prepositions  71, 232, 253, 255–256, 257, 259, 261, 265–266, 269, 309, 310, 312–313, 330–331, 346 marking ablative case  312, 313 marking allative case  291, 312, 313, 319 grammaticalization of  269, 279, 283–287, 337–338, 346 in purpose relations  291–295 in reason relations  296–298, 300–302, 310 ḥ attā  279, 291, 292, 293, 295–296, 312, 315–316, 318, 336 informativeness of  282 li-  270, 291, 292–295, 312, 313, 336, 345–346 grammaticalization of  294–295, 300 li-ʾanna  296–298, 313, 336

subject index

maʿa  331–333, 334–336, 337 min  301–302, 312, 313 morphological properties of  268–269, 271–272 multifunctionality of  271 mund̠u  281, 301, 302–305 phrasal  258 polysemy of  286 prepositional phrases as  266–267 reduction processes in  269–270 semantic expansion/evolution of  277, 284–285, 347 size of  270–271, 286 structure of  286 textual frequency of  287, 330, 337 wa-  257–258, 322 superordinate categories  40 support relations, prepositions denoting of  188, 189 synchronic perspectives  19, 25, 138 synergy concept  256 synsemantic terms (emptied of semantic content)  58, 242–243, 345 syntactic evolution, of prepositions  12, 320 syntactic units, evolution of  208 syntactic variability, of PN-units  125 syntagmatic scope/size condensation/shrinking  70–71, 72 and grammaticalization  73–74, 93 and grammaticalization  286 widening/enlargement of  71, 80 Syntax der Arabischen Schriftsprache der Gegenwart (El-Ayoubi, Fischer and Langer)  76 ta- (oath initiating particle)  22 taḥ rīḍ (incitement)  100 taḥ ta (under/beneath) etymology of  139 fixed position in compounds  146 grammaticalization of  139–146, 162, 165 textual frequency of  144–146 taḥ ta ṭ-ṭalabi (on demand)  142–143 taḥ ta/bi-tahdīdin min (under threat of )  78 grammaticalization of  79 tamakkana min (to strengthen/able/ possess)  213–214 tamma (completed/finished)  14 ṭarīqun (through/via/road)  107, 118 grammaticalization of  43


temporal relations prepositions denoting of  149, 155, 157, 159 ʿalā  189–190 bi-  244–245 evolution of from spatial  194, 228–229, 244–245, 291, 318 to causal relations  204–205, 302, 303, 311 fī  173–175 ḥ attā  275 min  204–205, 301–302 tense markers  17 text organizers demonstratives as  201 evolution of markers of  63 prepositions as  164, 182, 190, 194, 196–197, 202, 205–206, 211 PNP-constructions  342 textual frequency of collocations  326 of bound stem prepositions  232, 249, 252 of singe stem prepositions  192, 197, 201–202, 215–216, 218–219 of English prepositions  73 n. 10, 350 and generalization  185, 218, 349 and grammaticalization  72–74, 166, 185, 287, 349–350 of locatives  246 of PN-units  107, 112, 113, 117, 121, 123, 124, 125–126, 127, 342 of PNP-constructions  80–81, 83–84, 89, 90–91, 94, 99, 101, 103, 114, 342, 349 of prepositional phrases  174–175 of primary prepositions bound stem  238, 244, 251–252, 254–255, 350 simple stem  171, 173, 176–177, 183, 184–185, 196, 200–201, 206, 217–218, 219, 220–221, 345 of simple stem prepositionals  136–137, 144–146, 147, 150–151, 155, 156, 159, 162, 166 of subordinators  218, 232, 253, 287, 298–299, 305–312, 325–326, 330, 334–336, 337 textual linkages, prepositions used for  134 Theoretical and Empirical Issues in Grammaticalization (Seoane and López-Couso)  37


subject index

Thousand and One Nights  152 collocations in of bound stem prepositions  231, 232, 252 of simple stem prepositions  191, 192–193, 196, 197, 213, 214, 215–216 as data source of pre-modern Arabic  31, 33 dating of  33 n. 5 PN-units in  107, 108, 113, 115, 118, 119, 123, 124 PNP-constructions in  81, 85–86, 90–91, 94–95 prepositionals in, simple stem  136–137, 144–145, 146, 147, 150, 152, 155–156, 158, 160 preprositional phrases in  174 primary prepositions in bound stem  233, 238, 248, 250, 251, 252 simple stem  172, 173, 175, 176– 177, 184, 188, 196, 201, 207, 218 subordinators in  253, 298–299, 307, 310, 311, 326 concessives  335, 337 topic introducers  63–64, 85 transfer conceptual  56 from European languages to Arabic  79, 90, 126 metaphoric  54–55, 156, 175, 244, 245, 277 metonymic  244 see also semantic extensions/ evolution, mechanisms for transitivizing particles  247 tujāha (towards), grammaticalization of  41 ṭūlun (throughout/during), grammaticalization of  45–46 unidirectionality of change from conditionals into concessiveconditionals  326 in grammaticalization  68–69, 161, 338 in metaphoric transfer  56–57 from prepositions into subordinators  259 unification processes  239

univerbation (Lehmann)  106, 239, 342 universal creativity  57 Up and Down the Cline—The Nature of Grammaticalization (Fischer et al.)  36 al-ʾUṣūl fī an-Naḥ w (Ibn as-Sarrāj)  15 varieties of Arabic  3, 4, 10, 33 verb-preposition constructions  178–181, 213–216 verb-substitution test (O’Dowd)  180–181 verbal nouns  261 collocations of prepositions with  237 verbs Arabic  58, 59 collocations of prepositions with  181–182, 197–199, 222, 237, 238, 250, 252–253, 255 evolution of prepositions from  186–187 inflections of, markers of  252–253, 346 vernaculars see dialects vertical spatial relations, prepositions used for  133 virtual boundary notion  172 n. 2 wa- (and), subordinators with  257–258, 322 warāʾa (back/behind)  44, 159, 162 wasṭa (middle/center), grammaticalization of  41, 42 wēn (where)  184 n. 4 wijhata (towards), grammaticalization of  41 xalfa (back/behind) categorical changes of  51 etymology of  153 grammaticalization of  41, 42, 153–162 textual frequency of  155, 156, 159 xalfa d̠̣ahrī (behind my back)  156 xalfun (back of the house)  158 al-Xaṣāʾiṣ (Ibn Jinnī)  54 Zipfian Law of abbreviation/principle of least effort  73, 272, 350 Zoomorphic Model (Svorou)  154