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STUF - Language Typology and Universals

Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung

Editor-in-Chief: Stolz, Thomas

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Volume 70, Issue 4


Identifying Adj + N compounds in Modern Standard Arabic

Abdel Rahman Mitib Altakhaineh
Published Online: 2017-10-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/stuf-2017-0024


The study aims to identify Adj+N compounds in Modern Standard Arabic by applying the cross-linguistic criteria for compoundhood discussed in the relevant literature. The analysis reveals that the most reliable cross-linguistic criteria to distinguish between phrases and compounds in MSA are adjacency, referentiality, compositionality and the presence of inflection. Another language-specific criterion, i.e. adjacency and the order of elements, which has asserted its validity, has been suggested to distinguish between the two types of construct. I have also shown that all cases of Adj+N compounding in MSA are bahuvrihis, since they denote a person in possession of the entity denoted by the compound. Similar to Fassi Fehri (“Arabic modifying adjectives and DP structures” 1999), I argue that the output of Adj+N compounding behaves more like a noun than an adjective. I propose that Adj+N compounds have a silent N head, i.e. ‘one/person’, which determines the syntactic category of such constructions in Modern Standard Arabic (cf. Günther [“The rich, the poor, the obvious: Arguing for an ellipsis analysis of ‘adjectives used as nouns’”, to appear) for a similar analysis of nominalized adjectives in English).

Keywords: Adj+N compounds; phrases; Modern Standard Arabic; bahuvrihis; exocentric


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-10-20

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: STUF - Language Typology and Universals, Volume 70, Issue 4, Pages 545–578, ISSN (Online) 2196-7148, ISSN (Print) 1867-8319, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/stuf-2017-0024.

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