1st Edition

Thematic Structure and Para-Syntax: Arabic as a Case Study

By James Dickins Copyright 2020
    176 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    176 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Thematic Structure and Para-Syntax: Arabic as a Case Study presents a structural analysis of Arabic, providing an alternative to the traditional notions of theme and rheme.

    Taking Arabic as a case study, this book claims that approaches to thematic structure propounded in universalist linguistic theories, of which Hallidayan systemic functional linguistics is taken as an illustrative example, are profoundly wrong. It argues that in order to produce an analysis of thematic structure and similar phenomena which is not undermined by its own theoretical presuppositions, it is necessary to remove such notions from the domain of linguistic and semiotic theory. The book initially focuses on Sudanese Arabic, because this allows for a beautifully clear exposition of general principles, before applying these principles to Modern Standard Arabic, and some other Arabic varieties.

    This book will be of interest to scholars in Arabic linguistics, linguistic theory, and information structure.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Signs, syntax, para-syntax, theme and rheme

    2.1 Introduction

    2.2 Signs

    2.3 Grammar (morphology and syntax) as sign-level analysis

    2.4 Syntax and para-syntax

    Chapter 3: Issues in defining ‘theme’

    3.1 Introduction

    3.2 Theme as starting point of the utterance

    Chapter 4: Recursion

    4.1 Introduction

    4.2 Recursion

    Chapter 5: Summary of arguments so far

    Chapter 6: Traditional Arabic grammar analysis of Arabic clause structure

    6.1 Introduction

    6.2 Traditional Arabic grammar analysis of Arabic clause structure

    Chapter 7: Peri/Thema-Nuc/Rhema analysis of Standard Arabic

    7.1 Introduction

    7.2 Application of Peri/Thema-Nuc/Rhema analysis to Standard Arabic

    7.3 Comparison with Baker’s (2011) analysis of Standard Arabic

    7.4 Nuc/Rhema-markers and Peri/Thema-markers in Standard Arabic

    7.5 A comparison with Arabic dialects and other languages

    Chapter 8: Phrase-structural para-syntax in Arabic: beyond theme and rheme

    8.1 Introduction

    8.2 Initiality as non-thematic discourse marker in Arabic

    8.3 Initiality as non-thematic discourse marker: Standard Arabic compared to other languages

    Chapter 9: Phrase-structural para-syntactic notions vs. (real) semantic notions

    9.1 Introduction

    9.2 The necessity of separating phrase-structural para-syntactic from (real) semantic notions

    Chapter 10: Distinguishing syntax from para-syntax

    10.1 Introduction

    10.2 The necessity of distinguishing syntax from para-syntax in Standard Arabic

    Chapter 11: Conclusions

    Technical Appendix: Endnotes




    James Dickins is Professor of Arabic at the University of Leeds.