Why verbless sentences in Standard Arabic are verbless

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This article aims to account for why verbless sentences in Standard Arabic lack a copular verb. In contrast to previous accounts which attribute the absence of the copula to some defect of present tense, I claim that a verbless sentence does not take a copula because its nominals do not need structural Case. The proposed analysis argues that structural Case is licensed by a "Verbal Case" feature on the relevant Case-checking heads, and assumes the Visibility Condition. The present analysis is based on a unique interaction between tense and word order, and on the observation that verbless sentences are finite clauses composed of a topic and a predicate, as well as on the observation that they do not involve licensing of structural Case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalCanadian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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