, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 111–138 | Cite as

The functions and the developments of the dual form in Maltese

  • Maris CamilleriEmail author


This paper investigates the functions associated with the dual form in Maltese. This is established by the positing of (morpho)syntactic tests which help identify what NUM value is realized by specific dual forms within different noun categories. These tests show that while specific dual forms still realize a DU value, other dual forms have developed as PL or SG exponents. It is specifically by analysing the synchronic behaviour of the body part class of dual form-taking nouns that reconstructions of how the function of the dual form has developed are proposed. Moreover, the dual form’s realization of a specific value is also highly dependant on the paradigmatic context it occurs in. Considering the distinct dual form–function (mis)matches present within distinct paradigmatic contexts challenges binary-based overdifferentiated vs. non-overdifferentiated labels and highlights a correlation between canonicity and markedness. For the first time, Maltese dual data will be compared with data from different Arabic vernaculars.


Dual Overdifferentiation Distinct paradigmatic contexts Maltese Arabic varieties 



I wish to thank my Tunisian informant Hāchim Bannāni from the Wilayat al-Qasrain region, my Palestinian informant Salima abu-Ğbāra from the Tulkarem region, and Louisa Sadler and Andrew Spencer for their helpful comments. The ERC-2008-AdG-230268 MORPHOLOGY grant, which allowed this research to be possible, is hereby acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and LinguisticsUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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