Sentence initial pre-verbal constituents in Arabic : a text-based approach
Word order is a textual means available to text producers to arrange their messages in order to convey different communicative functions, the choice of sentence initial position being one of the strategies commonly used to relay pragmatic or textual functions such as emphasis or topic continuity. In Arabic, the use of an initial pre-verbal constituent determines the difference between two types of sentences: the verbal sentence and the nominal sentence. Adopting the Prague School functional approach to grammar as a framework, this study argues that the position of the initial pre-verbal constituent is decided by textual and extra- textual factors. It examines the mechanism of this interaction and its consequences on word order. Arabic word order however, has generally been studied within the transformational-generative framework using sentence-based grammar; even the few cases of functional studies favour this same type of decontextualized data. Very little work of any real significance has been undertaken that attempts to relate sentence type to context and/or text type. In response to this, the data used in this study is text-based and taken from a variety of sources, and the sentences are analyzed in context. Chapter one outlines the aim of the study and reviews current trends in word order research with special regard to Arabic word order, and attempts to highlight the theoretical and empirical limitations of these approaches. Chapter two gives a detailed presentation of the theoretical framework chosen for the analysis. it introduces the corpus used for the analysis, and explains the general method and principles which govern this analysis. Chapter three is the text analysis proper. After a brief presentation of the source text, its general background and organization, each nominal sentence is analyzed textually, contextually, syntactically and functionally. Chapter four discusses the results of the data analysis. The principles at work in word order organization in Arabic are determined, particularly of initial position, and therefore the difference between nominal and verbal sentences. The textual and contextual behaviour of the sentence initial pre-verbal constituent is examined allowing conclusions about the information structure of the Arabic sentence to be drawn.