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Classical Arabic Clause Types Revisited: Discourse Continuity via Verb-Initial and Verb-Subsequent Clauses

Michal Marmorstein

Pages 87 - 112


Summary: The article explores two types of clauses in Classical Arabic: verb-initial and verb-subsequent. Undifferentiated in traditional grammar, the study analyzes the distinct yet complementary properties of verbs heading an overt subject and initiating a sequence, and verbs that follow their overt subject and continue a sequence. Based on a corpus of prose texts, it is shown that verb initial clauses are formally and lexically more constrained than verb-subsequent clauses. Moreover, initial verbs co-occur more with introductive or non-sequential connectives while verb-subsequent clauses are more frequent with sequential connectives. While referential (dis)continuity correlates most strongly with the alternation of clause types, deviant cases and the existence of other lexical and syntactic correlations suggest that it is the broader domain of discourse continuity that underlies the distribution and use of verb-initial and verb-subsequent clauses.


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