A Syntactic Analysis of Arabic Tense and Aspect

Abdullah S. Al-Dobaian

Abstract


I discuss the morphological analysis of tense and aspect proposed by early Arab grammarians and illustrate some of its problems. In order to account for these problems, the Arab grammarians had to relegate the effects of tense and aspect to the morphological forms of faÀal and yafÀal. I show that these forms marked different tense specifications other than the default past tense for faÀal and present or future tense for yafÀal. As for aspect it has only received a sporadic and inconsistent analysis by early Arab grammarians. I agree with Fassi Fehri (1993) and Juhfah (2006) that a comprehensive theory of tense and aspect is essential for Arabic. I propose a syntactic analysis of tense and aspect in Arabic based on MacDonald’s (2008) analysis with some modifications needed to account for the Arabic data. Unlike Fassi Fehri and Juhfah’s analyses, this analysis is based on the verb interaction with its arguments and modifiers in which the verb checks tense and aspect syntactically by moving to functional projections: aspect phrase and tense phrase. I argue that such syntactic analysis consistently explains the interaction of tense and aspect in Arabic and their relevant specifications.

Keywords


Arabic Tense, Arabic Aspect, Telicity, Syntax, Morphology, FaÀal, YafÀal

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References


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