Arabic Nonconcatenative Morphology in Construction Morphology

  • Stuart Davis
  • Natsuko Tsujimura
Part of the Studies in Morphology book series (SUMO, volume 4)


This chapter examines nonconcatenative morphology of Arabic with a particular focus on its templatic nature. While much of the past research on Arabic templatic morphology has centered on the verbal system, our discussion largely takes up the nonverbal templatic morphology of Arabic including the comparative, nouns of profession, and the diminutive. In developing formal analyses of these constructions we specifically address the question of how the prosodic templates that characterize Arabic morphology are incorporated into the schema of CxM. We also briefly touch upon the implication that the construction analysis might have on two (opposing) approaches to Arabic morphology, root-based vs. word-based, given that some templatic constructions in Arabic seem to require the consonantal root as its base. The goal of this chapter, then, is not only to make known the fuller extent of Arabic templatic morphology (i.e. beyond the verbal system), but also to show advantages of approaching these prosodic issues in construction terms.


Root-based morphology Root-and-pattern morphology Stem modification Templatic morphology Word-based morphology 



We would like to thank Adam Albright, William Croft, and Sara Sowers-Wills for valuable discussion on various aspects of this chapter. We also thank the editor Geert Booij and an anonymous reviewer for their input.


  1. Badawi, E.-S., and M. Hinds. 1986. A dictionary of Egyptian Arabic. Beirut: Librairie Du Liban.Google Scholar
  2. Benmamoun, E. 1999. Arabic morphology: The central role of the imperfective. Lingua 108: 175–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. ———. 2016. Verbal and nominal plurals and the syntax-morphology interface. In Perspectives on Arabic linguistics XXVII, ed. S. Davis and U. Soltan, 59–74. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Booij, G. 2005. Compounding and derivation: Evidence for construction morphology. In Morphology and its demarcations, ed. W.U. Dressler, D. Kastovsky, O. Pfeiffer, and F. Rainer, 109–132. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. ———. 2007. Construction morphology and the lexicon. In Selected proceedings of the 5th décembrettes: Morphology in Toulouse, ed. F. Montermini, G. Boyé, and N. Hathout, 34–44. Somerville: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2009a. Constructions and lexical units: An analysis of Dutch numerals. Linguistische Berichte Sonderheft 19: 1–14.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2009b. Compounding and construction morphology. In The Oxford handbook of compounding, ed. R. Lieber and P. Štekauer, 201–216. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2010a. Construction morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2010b. Construction morphology. Language and Linguistic Compass 3 (1): 1–13.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2013. Morphology in CxG. In The Oxford handbook of construction grammar, ed. Th. Hoffmann and G. Trousdale, 255–273. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Boudelaaa, S., and W. Marslen-Wilson. 2001. Morphological units in the Arabic mental lexicon. Cognition 81: 65–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boudelaa, S., and W. Marslen-Wilson. 2005. Discontinuous morphology in time: Incremental masked priming in Arabic. Language and Cognitive Processes 20: 207–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Broselow, E. 1976. The phonology of Egyptian Arabic. PhD dissertation. University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  14. Bybee, J. 2001. Phonology and language use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Carstairs-McCarthy, A. 1998. Phonological constraints on morphological rules. In The handbook of morphology, ed. A. Spencer and A. Zwicky, 144–148. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Croft, W. 2001. Radical construction grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis, S. 2016. The Arabic comparative and the nature of templatic mapping in Arabic. In Word-formation across languages, ed. L. Körtvélyessy, P. Štekauer, and S. Valera, 73–90. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2017. Some issues for an analysis of the templatic comparative in Arabic with a focus on the Egyptian dialect. In Perspectives on Arabic linguistics XXIX, ed. H. Ouali. 129–150. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  19. Davis, S., and N. Tsujimura. 2014. Non-concatenative derivation: Other processes. In The Oxford handbook of derivational morphology, ed. R. Lieber and P. Štekauer, 190–218. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Davis, S., and B. Zawaydeh. 1999. A descriptive analysis of hypocoristics in colloquial Arabic. Language and Linguistics 3: 83–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. ———. 2001. Arabic hypocoristics and the status of the consonantal root. Linguistic Inquiry 32: 512–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Doron, E. 2003. Agency and voice: The semantics of the Semitic templates. Natural Language Semantics 11: 1–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ferguson, Ch., and M. Ali. 1961. Damascus Arabic. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.Google Scholar
  24. Grano, Th., and S. Davis 2018. Universal markedness in gradable adjectives revisited: The morpho-semantics of the positive form in Arabic. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory (36):131–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haspelmath, M., and A. Sims. 2013. Understanding morphology. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Heath, J. 1987. Ablaut and ambiguity: Phonology of a Moroccan Arabic dialect. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  27. Idrissi, A., J.-F. Prunet, and R. Béland. 2008. On the mental representation of Arabic roots. Linguistic Inquiry 39: 221–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Inkelas, S., and Ch. Zoll. 2005. Reduplication: Doubling in morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kamel, M., and A. Hassanein. 1980. Yalla ndardish sawa. Cairo: Arabic Language Unit, American University in Cairo.Google Scholar
  30. Lahrouchi, M. 2010. On the internal structure of Tashlhiyt Berber triconsonantal roots. Linguistic Inquiry 41: 255–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McCarthy, J. 1979. Formal problems in Semitic phonology and morphology. PhD dissertation. MIT.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 1981. A prosodic theory of nonconcatenative morphology. Linguistic Inquiry 12: 373–418.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 1986. OCP effects: Gemination and antigemination. Linguistic Inquiry 17: 207–263.Google Scholar
  34. ———. 1993. Templatic form in prosodic morphology. Proceedings of the Formal Linguistics Society of Mid-America 3: 187–218.Google Scholar
  35. McCarthy, J., and A. Prince. 1990. Foot and word in prosodic morphology: The Arabic broken plurals. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 8: 209–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Michaelis, L., and K. Lambrecht. 1996. Toward a construction-based theory of language functions: The case of nominal extraposition. Language 72: 215–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ratcliffe, R. 1997. Prosodic templates in a word based morphological analysis of Arabic. In Perspectives on Arabic linguistics X, ed. M. Eid and R. Ratcliffe, 147–171. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ———. 1998. The “broken” plural problem in Arabic and comparative Semitic: Allomorphy and analogy in non-concatenative morphology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. ———. 2004. Sonority-based parsing at the margins of Arabic morphology. Al-Arabiyya 37: 53–75.Google Scholar
  40. ———. 2013. Morphology. In The Oxford handbook of Arabic linguistics, ed. J. Owens, 71–91. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Ryding, K. 2005. A reference grammar of Modern Standard Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ussishkin, A. 2000. The emergence of fixed prosody. PhD dissertation. University of California Santa Cruz.Google Scholar
  43. Watson, J. 2002. The phonology and morphology of Arabic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. ———. 2006. Arabic morphology: Diminutive verbs and diminutive nouns in San’ani Arabic. Morphology 16: 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wehr, H. 1976. In Arabic-English dictionary, ed. J.M. Cowan. Ithaca, NY: Spoken Language Services.Google Scholar
  46. Youssef, I. 2013. Place assimilation in Arabic: Contrasts, features, and constraints. Ph.D dissertation. University of Tromsø.Google Scholar
  47. Zawaydeh, B., and S. Davis. 1999. Hypocoristic formation in Ammani-Jordanian Arabic. In Perspectives on Arabic linguistics XII, ed. E. Benmamoun, 113–139. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of East Asian Languages and CulturesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations