Relative clauses and genitive constructions in Semitic

Watson, JCE and Retsö, J, (eds.) 2009, Relative clauses and genitive constructions in Semitic , Journal of Semitic Studies. Supplement series, 25 , Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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This volume is the outcome of two workshops held at the University of Salford, April 18th 2007 and April 7th and 8th 2008. The first of these, Relative clauses and attribution in Semitic, coincided with Jan Retsö’s tenure as University Campus Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Salford February–April 2007. During this period, Jan pursued research on typological and diachronic aspects of relative clause marking in the Semitic languages. From discussions held at this time, it became increasingly clear that it would be fruitful to compare relative clause marking with two other noun phrase syntagms – genitive construction and adjectival attribution. Within the Semitic domain, these three syntagms exhibit both common and divergent syntactic, morphological and semantic properties. This raises interesting questions about typology and diachrony, on the one hand, and how to account for these syntagms within various linguistic models, on the other. In order to stimulate new thinking on these research questions, we decided to invite several internationally renowned scholars on extant and extinct Semitic languages to a one-day workshop at the University of Salford. At this first workshop, eight speakers addressed issues relating to relative clauses and adjectival attribution in eight languages and dialect groups, viz. Neo-Aramaic, Standard Arabic, the modern Arabic dialects of Sudan and south-western Saudi Arabia, Akkadian, Geez, Biblical Hebrew, Sabaean and Syriac. In discussions following this workshop, it was agreed that a second workshop be held on comparative and diachronic aspects of genitive constructions in Semitic; it was proposed that this workshop, entitled Genitive constructions in Semitic: Comparative and diachronic perspectives, be held over two days and be extended to include twelve speakers in order to cover a greater range of the modern Semitic languages, particularly Ethio-Semitic, Modern Hebrew and Modern South Arabian. The papers in this volume represent different descriptive and theoretical ways of linguistic thinking – generativist (Fassi-Fehri, Glinert, Yri), typology and diachrony (Eksell, Ouhalla, Retsö), and data-oriented descriptive analyses with different theoretical presuppositions (Arnold, Dickins, Edzard, Khan, Kuty, Naïm, Watson). The relative dominance of the descriptivist approach reflects both a solid tradition in Semitic studies, which has been strongly data-oriented, and the necessity of pres-enting a rich store of data in order to prepare the ground for sound linguistic analysis. The papers have been arranged according to the geographical distribution of the Semitic languages examined. The volume begins with three papers having a general and comparative Semitic perspective; these are followed by papers dealing with North Semitic (Western and Eastern Neo-Aramaic, Classical Aramaic and Modern Hebrew), then Arabic (Standard Arabic, various extant and extinct Arabic dialects), and finally South Semitic (Amharic and Mehri). This is not the end of the story. In discussions during the workshops which gave rise to these papers, it became clear that there is a need to further investigate the third noun phrase category, adjectival attribution, and in the case of all three noun phrase categories to examine the role of definiteness and the animacy hierarchy, notions raised in some of the papers in this volume. Further research will examine the various ways in which these noun phrase categories interact with one another. Jan Retsö Janet C.E. Watson

Item Type: Book
Editors: Watson, JCE and Retsö, J
Contributors: Arnold, W (Author), Dickins, J (Author), Edzard, L (Author), Eksell, K (Author), Fassi Fehri, A (Author), Glinert, L (Author), Khan, G (Author), Kuty, R (Author), Naïm, S (Author), Ouhalla, J (Author), Retso, J (Author), Watson, JCE (Author) and Yri, KM (Author)
Themes: Subjects / Themes > P Language and Literature > PJ Semitic
Subjects / Themes > P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Refereed: Yes
Series Name: Journal of Semitic Studies. Supplement series
ISBN: 9780199575497
Funders: British Academy (for the humanities and social sciences)
Depositing User: JCE Watson
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2010 10:38
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 22:21

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