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A corpus study of basic motion verbs in Modern Standard Arabic Open Access


Other title
Cognitive linguistics
Corpus linguistics
GO and COME verbs
Modern Standard Arabic
Motion verbs
Basic verbs
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Abdulrahim, Dana
Supervisor and department
Rice, Sally (Linguistics)
Newman, John (Linguistics)
Examining committee member and department
Arppe, Antti (Linguistics)
Atwell, Eric (School of Computing, Faculty of Engineering, University of Leeds)
Colston, Herbert (Linguistics)
Department of Linguistics

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In this dissertation, I present a corpus-based, constructionist account of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) GO verbs (ḏahaba, maḍā, and rāḥa) and COME verbs (atā, ḥaḍara, ǧā’a, and qadima). These seven deictic motion verbs count among the most frequent lexical items in MSA, nevertheless, they are poorly described in contemporary dictionaries, which renders the task of differentiating the use of each verb rather daunting for the learner and the linguist alike. This study offers a comprehensive and empirically grounded treatment of these verbs in that it closely examines the contextual features that typically associate with each verb in actual usage as compiled in a corpus. Such contextual features include inflectional marking on the verb, syntactic frames hosting each verb, semantic properties of collocating lexical items, as well as the overall properties of the motion event construal. The quantitative and qualitative analyses I offer in this study rely on annotating a large amount of corpus returns per each verb for a wide range of morphosyntactic and semantic features. These data frames are subjected to selected monovariate and multivariate analyses as a means of identifying exemplary uses per motion verb. A subsequent set of qualitative analyses elaborates on the general statistical findings by scrutinizing individual instances of verb use and examining collocational patterns and less frequent verb uses. The results obtained from both the quantitative and qualitative analyses highlight the idiosyncratic constructional properties that characterize the use of each verb in various physical and figurarive motion event construals. As such, I argue that the availability of multiple GO and COME verbs in MSA is not a reflection of extravagance in the lexical system of MSA. Rather, each verb appears to highlight a particular aspect of the conceptually complex deictic motion event. Finally, I propose a sample of a corpus-based dictionary entry that is more representative of contemporary language usage than entries currently available. I also discuss different directions for future research. This standardized treatment of the lexical and grammatical patterns pertaining to MSA GO and COME verbs highlights the contributions of Arabic to cross-linguistic research on the phenomenon of motion verbs.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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