Revisiting the Morphosyntactic Categorization of Modals in Jordanian Arabic

Mohammed Ali Malahmeh



This paper is mainly concerned with delineating the categorical status of Jordanian Arabic  modals. In this regard, the paper defends an alternative perspective of the conventional ‘verbal, pseudo-verb and particle’ view of the morphosyntactic categorization of modals in Arabic in general and in JA in particular. It is proposed therefore that JA modals laazim’must’, mumkin/yemkin ‘may/might’ and the modal bigdar ‘can/could’ belong to an ‘open/null category’ and not to any of these conventional categories. Furthermore, the paper shows that JA modals exhibit inconsistent and non-coherent morphosyntactic behavior. Based on this fact, it is concluded that JA modals form quite a heterogeneous rather than homogenous group. Crosslinguistically, the heterogeneity and the proposed open/null category of JA modals lend further evidence to the difficulty to universally define the category of modals on formal grounds (Machova, 2013).






قراءة نحوية وصرفية مغايرة في التصنيف الفعلي وشبه الفعلي والجزيئي للتراكيب الدالة على الاحتمال والضرورة في اللهجة الأردنية



هدف هذه الدراسة إلى تقديم قراءة نحوية وصرفية للافعال الدالة على الضرورة والاحتمال والاستطاعة مثل "لازم" و"ممكن" و "بقدر" في اللهجة الأردنية. وتتطرق هذه الدراسة بالأخص إلى الإجابة عن السؤال "تحت أي قسم من أقسام الكلام يمكن تصنيف هذه التراكيب؟". وأشارت الدراسة لكافة التصنيفات النحوية والصرفية التي قُدِّمت حول هذه التراكيب في الدرس اللغوي العربي المعاصر، والذي يصنِّف هذه التراكيب تحت تصنيفات مثل: الأفعال، أشباه الأفعال وروابط الكلام. وأوضحت الدراسة أن هذه التراكيب تتصف بخصائص نحوية وصرفية غير متجانسة الامر الذي  يميزها عن باقي التصنيفات النحوية والصرفية الشائعة كالأفعال وأشباه الأفعال وروابط الكلام.وعليه فقد ذهبت الدراسة إلى أنه يجب تصنيف هذه التراكيب تحت تصنيف نحوي وصرفي "خاص". وتعد نتائج هذه الدراسة بمثابة دليل آخر يضاف إلى نتائج دراسات عالمية أخرى أكدت تعذر تصنيف مثل هذه التراكيب تحت أيٍّ من أقسام الكلام المعروفة.




Modals, verbal- Pseudo and Particle Analysis, Jordanian Arabic, Categorization, Heterogeneity.الأفعال الموقفية، التصنيفات النحوية والصرفية، اللاتجانس والتغاير النحوي والصرفي.

Full Text:




Agius, D. & Harrak, A. (1987). Auxiliary particles preceding the imperfective aspect in Arabic dialects.Arabica, 2, 164-180.

Aijmer. K. (2013). Analyzing modal adverbs as modal particles and discourse markers. In L.

Alexander, L. (1988). Longman English grammar. London: Longman.

Al-Harbi, A. (2011). Verbal modal.Majalah Humanities, 14(9), 58-87.

Al-Horais, N. (2012). On the universality of auxiliary verbs.Journal of Universal Language, 13(1), 7-30.

Al-Wer, E. (2007). The formation of the dialect of Amman.In C. Miller, E. Al-Wer, D. Caubet & J. Watson (Eds.), Arabic in the City(pp. 55-76). Routledge Curzon.

Ali, M. (1994). The expression of modality in modern standard Arabic (Doctoral dissertation), University of London, UK.

Alnadery, M. (2009). naħw al-luʁati l-ʔarabiyya (The syntax of Arabic). Beirut: almktabah al-ʕas̟riyyah.Althawab, A. S. (2014). Modality in English and Arabic: Description and analysis (Doctoral mdissertation). University of Essex, UK.

Autenrieth, T. (2002). Grammaticalization of modal particles.Tubingen: Niemeyer.

Bahloul, M. (1993). The copula in modern standard Arabic (SA). In M. Eid & C. Holes (Eds.), Perspectives in Arabic linguistics (pp. 209-231).Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bahloul, M. (2016). The particle Qad in Arabic.Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics, 8(2), 261-285.

Brustad, K. (2000). The syntax of spoken Arabic. Washington, Georgetown University Press.

Benmamoun, E. (2000). The feature structure of functional categories: A comparative study of Arabic dialects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brenann, V. (1993). Root and epistemic modal auxiliary verbs (Doctoral dissertation). University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Bybee, J., Perkins, R. & Pagluica, W. (1994). The evolution of grammar: Tense, aspect and modality in the languages of the world. The University of Chicago Press.

Chafe, W. & Nichols, J. (1986). Evidentiality: The linguistic coding of epistemology. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Chomsky, N. (1995). The minimalist program. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Chomsky, N. (2000). Minimalist inquiries. In R.

Degand, L., Cornillie, B. & Pietrandrea, P. (2013). Modal particles and discourse markers: Two sides of the same coin? In L.

De Haan, F. (2004). Typological approaches to modality. In W. Frawley (Ed.), Modality (pp. 27-70). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Diewald, G. (2007). Discourse particles and modal particles as grammatical elements. In K.

Diewald, G. (2013). Modal particles, discourse markers and the art (and purpose) of categorization. In L. Degand, B. Cornillie & P. Pietrandrea (Eds.), Discourse markers and modal particles: Categorization and description (pp.19-47). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Downing, A. & Locke, P. (1992).A university English grammar.London: Routledge.

Eide, K. (2011). Norwegian modals (Doctoral dissertation).Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim.

Eid, M. (1991). Verbless sentences in Arabic and Hebrew. In B. Comrie & M. Eid (Eds.), Perspective in Arabic linguistics (pp. 31-63). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Emonds, J. (1985). A unified theory of syntactic categories. Foris, Dordrecht.

Fehri, F. (1993). Issues in the structure of Arabic clauses and words. Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Fischer, K. (2007). Grounding and common ground: Modal particles and their translation equivalents. In A. Fetzer & K. Fischer (Eds.), Lexical Markers of Common Grounds (pp.47–65). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Frawley, W. (1992). Linguistic semantics.Hillsdale, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hansen, M. (1998). The semantic status of discourse markers. Lingua, 104 (3–4), 235–260.

Hartmann, D. (1986). Context analysis or analysis of sentence meaning?On modal particles in German.Journal of Pragmatics, 10 (5), 543-557.

Haselow, A. (2011). Discourse marker and modal particle: The functions of utterance- final then in spoken English. Journal of Pragmatics, 43 (14), 3603-3623.

Hassan, Q. (2016). The grammaticalization of the modal particles in south Iraqi Arabic. In G. Grigori & L. Sitaru (Eds.), Modalities in Arabic (pp. 45-55). Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti.

Holes, C. (2004). Modern Arabic: structures, functions, and variations. London: Longman Linguistic Library.

Homeidi, M. (1986). Modality in government and binding: Evidence from Arabic and English (Doctoral dissertation). University of Essex, Colchester, UK. Hopper, P. & Traugott, E. (1993). Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huddleston, R. & Pullum, G. (2002).The Cambridge grammar 0f the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ingham, B. (1994). Najdi Arabic: Central Arabian. London: John Benjamins.

Jelinek, E. (1984). On defining categories: AUX and predicate in Egyptian colloquial Arabic (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Arizona.

Kearns, K. (2000). Semantics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kim, J. & Sells, P. (2008). English syntax: An introduction. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

Klinge, A. & Muller, H. (2005). Introduction. In A. Klinge & H. H. Muller (Eds.), Modality: Studies in form and function (pp. 1-5). London, Equinox.

Kratzer, A. (1981). The notional category of modality. In H. J. Eikmeyer and H. Rieser (Eds.), Words, Worlds, and Contexts: New Approaches in word semantics (pp. 38-74). Berlin, de Gruyter.

Kratzer, A. (1991). Modality. In A. von Stechow and D. Wunderlich (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research (pp. 639-650). Berlin, De Gruyter.

Leech, G. (2004). Meaning and the English verb. Harlow, Pearson Education.

Lewis, D. (1988). Counterfactuals.Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Lyons, J. (1977). Semantics.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Machova, D. (2015). Modal verbs from a cross linguistic perspective. In T. Roman, B. J. Gregory & N. Katarina (Eds.), ZlIn Proceedings in Humanities (pp. 79-89). Tomas Bata University, Zln, Czech Republic.

Ma’ruf, A. (2011). The role of Arabic languag

e in cultural construction process. Arabic Language Teachers’ Union in Indonesia, Ugi Arta: Fikr Publication.

Mitchell, T. & El-Hassan, S. (1994). Modality, mood, and aspect in spoken Arabic with special reference to Egypt and the levant. London: Kegan Paul International.

Nuyts, J. (2005). Epistemic modality, language, and conceptualization: a cognitive-pragmatic perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Palmer, F. (1990). Modality and the English modals, 2nd edition. London: Longmans.

Palmer, F. (1986). Mood and Modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Palmer, F. (2001). Mood and modality, second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Papafragou, A. (2000). Modality: Issues in the semantics-pragmatics interface. Tubingen: Elsevier.

Peterson, J. (2009). Pseudo-verbs: An analysis of non-verbal (co-) predication in Maltese. In B. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Portner, P. (2007). Imperatives and modals. Natural Language Semantics, 15, 351-383.

Portner, P. (2009). Modality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. & Svartvik, J. (1985).A comprehensive grammar of the English language.New York: Longman.

Radford, A. (1997). Syntax: A minimalist introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ryding, K. (2005). A reference grammar of Modern Standard Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Saeed, J. (2004). Semantics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Schiffrin, D. (2001). Discourse markers, meaning, and context. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, & H. E. Hamilton (Eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis (pp. 54-75). London: Blackwell.

Schoonjans, S. (2013). Modal particles: Problems in defining a category. In L. Degand, B. Cornillie & P. Pietrandrea (Eds.), Discourse markers and modal particles: Categorization and description (pp.133-163). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Taylor, J. (2003). Linguistic categorization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Traugott, E. & Dasher, R. (2002). Regularity in semantic change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Traugott, E. (2007). Discourse markers, modal particles, and contrastive analysis, synchronic and diachronic. Catalan Journal of Linguistics, 6, 139-157.

Vander A. & Plungian, V. (1998). Modality’s semantic map.Linguistic typology 2, 79-124.

Vanhove, M., Miller, C. & Caubet, D. (2009).The grammaticalisation of modal auxiliaries in Maltese and Arabic vernaculars of the Mediterranean area.Empirical Approaches to Language Typology, 44, 325-362.

Wilmsen, D. (2013). Grammaticalization of the Arabic demonstrative Iyyā- as a pronominal object marker in ditransitive verbs.Journal of Semitic Studies, 58(1), 149-167.


Published by