Monday, March 8, 2010

Tense and Aspect in Arabic / March 26

We are pleased to have Vit Bubenik, John Hewson and Osama Omari present "Tense 
and Aspect in Arabic" on March 26 from 4:00 to 5:00 in SN 3058. All are welcome.

Tense and Aspect in Arabic
Vit Bubenik, John Hewson and Osama Omari

In this presentation we will focus on three major issues surrounding the study of tense and aspect in Semitic languages:

1. We will place the Arabic aspectual system into the larger context of Central Semitic languages (with Aramaic and Hebrew) and show that the Arabic system is strongly innovative in its analytic double finite perfect (of the type kāna qad kataba ‘he had written’) and double finite progressive aspect (of the type kāna yaktubu ‘he was writing’).

2. We will discuss typological differences between aspect-prominent Semitic languages and morphologically richer IE languages possessing temporal categories. We will argue for the appropriateness of the general aspectual terminology (perfect/retrospective versus perfective) in Semitic linguistics; and we will comment on the realization of the performative in Semitic languages.

3. The emergence of the progressive aspect and analytic perfect in Arabic can be most proficiently studied in terms of grammaticalization. The rise of the former category can be explicated as clause union; in the case of the analytic perfect the crucial piece of evidence is the categorical reduction of the lexical verb qaʕada ‘he sat’ to the perfect particle qad. We will demonstrate that Modern Arabic dialects offer a large number of parallel examples of the grammaticalization of other lexical verbs in their serial constructions.

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