Reviewed by Dimitrios Ntelitheos, United Arab Emirates University
This book is a collection of articles from the 2010 Georgetown University roundtable on languages and linguistics, including grammatical, computational, sociolinguistic, and language pedagogy analyses. The book is divided into two parts; the first focuses on theoretical and computational linguistics, and the second discusses issues in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics.
The book starts with a discussion of negation in Moroccan Arabic by Nizha Chatar-Moumni. The author argues that sentential negation in the dialect results from the association of the negative particle ma- and an undefined quantifier, while the presence of the –S suffix licenses this association. Kamel A. Elsaadany and Salwa Muhammed Shams discuss the syntax and semantics of universal quantification in Arabic, arguing against a transformational analysis of the properties of the universal quantifier kull, proposing a lexical-functional grammar approach.
Ali Farghaly turns the discussion to statistical and symbolic paradigms in the field of Arabic computational linguistics, tracing the historical development of machine translation attempts. Youssef A. Haddad returns to Arabic syntax with a discussion of forward and backward raising, and non-raising structures, which he approaches through the Copy-plus-Merge theory of movement. Sarah Ouwayda explores the nominal domain and, specifically, the treatment of construct state nominals as semantic predicates of the type <e,t>, based on their interaction with adjectives, cardinals, and quantifiers. Usama Soltan investigates wh-questions in Egyptian Arabic and argues against a movement analysis based on empirical evidence form island insensitivity and intervention effects. The first part concludes with a historical discussion of the treatment of ‘incomplete’ verbs in the Arabic grammatical tradition, by Hana Zabarah.
The second part begins with a study on women and politeness on Egyptian talk shows by Reem Bassiouney, focusing on assertiveness techniques such as interruption and floor controlling. Elena Canna examines the use of Arabic and French codes in Casablanca, targeting forms of address and, particularly, salutations and well-wishing formulas, showing that choice of code is controlled by social conditions. Ahmed Fakhri presents a genre analysis perspective on the derivational process of nominalization in Arabic discourse in legal genres such as court judgments. Gunvor Mejdell examines the status of intermediate forms of language emerging in diglossic language communities, in order to dissolve tensions concerning the choice of code.
Catherine Miller investigates the use of Moroccan Arabic in dubbing foreign series in Moroccan television, addressing the debate that this has initiated in Moroccan society. Karin Christina Ryding concentrates on academic Arabic programs and the concept of critical thinking. The author argues for explicit grammar instruction within communicative teaching as a process that enhances the learners’ cognitive development. Yasir Suleiman considers the extralinguistic motives behind the compilation of pre-Islamic period grammars, treating grammar-making as a process that is informed by ideological considerations. Finally, David Wilmsen closes the second part with a discussion of dialectal variation in the expression of ditransitive verb arguments.
This book is a valuable collection of articles for anyone interested in Arabic linguistics from a theoretical point of view, and in the possible computational, social, and educational applications of these theoretical insights.