An RRG Approach to Nominative and Accusative Case Assignment in Arabic
Keywords:Arabic, case assignment, role and reference grammar
Case is an important concept in linguistics. It is an elusive concept that creates a network of relations among morphology, grammar and meaning. The notion of case has attracted the attention of linguists to the extent that some grammatical frameworks consider it a central one.
Case assignment has received considerable attention in generative grammar. Arabic is one of the languages that studied extensively from the generative perspective. However, these studies lack unification and, consequently, arguing for specific treatment to case assignment in Arabic. These treatments have, to certain extent, conflicting results. Thus, the present study aims at viewing case assignment from a different perspective, arguing that the structural- functional of RRG can provide a unified description and explanation than the generative one.
Role and Reference Grammar (RRG) (Van Valin, 1993, 2005, 2008; Van Valin&LaPolla, 1997) is a monostratal and non-derivational theory which posits a direct linking between syntactic and semantic representation of a sentence. RRG has a unique conception of case. Firstly, case assignment is not based on grammatical relations. Secondly, it is not assigned according to phrase structure rules. Thirdly, it may directly reflect the semantic or pragmatic status of an argument.
This study shows that case assignment cannot be handled easily by the mechanisms of generative grammar. Advocates of this approach posed complex relations and abstract systems to explain how case is assigned. On the other hand, the RRG approach accounts for case assignment by adopting an independent relation between NP and case mediated by the actor-undergoer hierarchy.
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