Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number2  June 2020                                             Pp.168 -186

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 A Diagnostic Chomskian View to Arabic Asymmetry


Mohammad Awad Al-Dawoody Abdulaal
Department of English, College of Science and Humanities
Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Port Said University



Agreement asymmetry is one of the significant linguistic phenomena that Arab and Western linguists (Ghaly,1995; Parkinson, 1995; Benmamoun,1998; Collins, 2001; Dayf, 1986) and Aoun, 1994) have tried to account for within the framework of the Government and Binding theory. They focused upon the number asymmetry in different varieties in Arabic. Most linguists assert that in different types of Arabic there is always gender agreement between the subject and the verb. This study aims at giving much evidence for the lack of gender agreement in Modern Standard Arabic(MSA), and at accounting this gender asymmetry within the framework of the Minimality Program (Chomsky, 1995). The sample consists of 37 sentences collected from some Arabic textbooks. To analyze the data collected, a qualitative diagnostic research design was adopted. One of the essential findings of this study is that there is no gender agreement in Verb-Subject-Object (VSO) sentences between the postverbal subject and the verb if the subject is (a) an unreal feminine Noun Phrase (NP), (b) a broken plural NP, (c) an inanimate collective NP, (d) a collective NP, (e) a regular sound feminine plural NP, (f) an irregular sound feminine plural NP, (g) an irregular sound masculine plural NP, and (h) a real feminine NP separated from its verb by any category.  This study concludes that the head C in VSO sentences in MSA carries a weak gender feature represented as [-Strong]. Therefore, in VSO sentences, if the verb disagrees with its subject in gender, it will move from V to I and then to C because C is [-Strong]. A final conclusion is that the head I in VSO sentences in MSA carries a strong gender feature, represented as [+Strong]. Therefore, in VSO sentences, if the verb and its subject agree in gender, the verb will move from V to I; it will not move further.
Keywords: gender asymmetry; minimality; head movement; weak and strong features

Cite as: Abdulaal, M.A.A. (2020). A Diagnostic Chomskian View to Arabic Asymmetry. Arab World English Journal11 (2) 168 -186.


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Mohammad Awad Al-Dawoody Abdulaal is an Assistant Professor of linguistics at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, College of Science and Humanities. He finished his PhD in linguistics at Suez Canal University in 2016. His research interests include syntax, psycholinguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, and pragmatics