Experimental data and Arabic morphology

Authored by: Ali Idrissi

The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics

Print publication date:  January  2018
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138783331
eBook ISBN: 9781315147062
Adobe ISBN:


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Arabic (and Semitic) Root-and-Pattern morphology, also called nonconcatenative or non-linear morphology, raises complex issues in modern linguistics. A variety of formal analyses have been proposed to account for it, but there has been no consensus among the scholarly community, and none of the proposed approaches is fully supported by standard distributional data or fully satisfies the criteria of explanatory power and theoretical and formal simplicity (Idrissi 2001). The last two decades have seen extensive deployment of experimental data aimed at bringing insight into the questions raised by this type of morphology, namely the morphemic status of consonantal roots and word patterns, and the nature of word formation processes. Assuming that linguistic theory can benefit from experimental research (Marantz 2005), I review some of the data obtained from this type of research and assess its contribution to the current theoretical debate and discuss possible limitations of the common interpretation made of this data, before I conclude with a few recommendations for future research directions.

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