The Accusative Case Suffixes in Standard Arabic: Where From?

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Sound plural feminine nouns in Standard Arabic (SA) receive the same case suffix for their genitive and accusative cases. It has been shown (Al-Balushi 2013) that this is because all sound non-singular nouns have no independent accusative case morphology, which results in them ‘borrowing’ the genitive case suffixes of the nouns that bear the same number and gender features. This paper addresses the question of why these nouns (non-singular sound ones) do not have independent case morphology for the accusative case. It argues, in descriptive terms, that the accusative case morphology seems to have joined the Arabic nominal system late (after those of the nominative and genitive paradigms). Consequently, and as a result of language change and the desire for disambiguation (as well as standardization because of the Holy Quran), NPs in Acc-marked positions gained new case morphology. The singular NPs ‘borrowed’ their accusative case suffixes from the subjunctive (verbal) paradigm, and the non-singular ones ‘borrowed’ their accusative case suffixes from the genitive (nominal) paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-66
Number of pages39
JournalInternational Journal of Arabic Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Sound plural feminine nouns; accusative case suffixes; genitive case suffixes; subjunctive suffixes; syncretism


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