SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Kenawy, Salah El-din Mohamed (1982) A syntactic and semantic study of modification in the noun phrase in Classical Arabic. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (20MB)


This is a study of modification in CA nominal phrases at the levels of syntax and semantics. It examines the semantic and syntactic basis on which modification is made, its types and features, and the function of focus by word order change. Modification is considered here as an operation performed on the NPs, based on a structural relationship of two linguistic concepts (Head and Modifier). The study makes use of the ideas and concepts put forward by other linguists dealing with modification as a linguistic concept. Apart from the Introduction, the thesis consists of seven chapters. Chapter I deals with Deictics as represented by demonstratives, the definite article and possessive pronouns. Their function as a modifier, their cataphoric, anaphoric and exophoric references are outlined, marking the identity between two units involved in the context. Other functions like generic, specific and aggregate are discussed. Chapter II discusses modification in the NP within relational sentences where it plays an important role in producing this type of sentence. Attention is drawn to the main divisions of relational sentences such as ascriptive, equative, possessive and circumstantial which are the virtual representation of the relationship between attribuand and attributive elements or rather subject and predicate. Again the sentences are analyzed along the axes in which they are predominantly marked by modification as to whether it is obligatory or optional. Chapter III consists of a discussion of the relationships holding between the relative clauses as a subordinate clause and the preceding noun as a subordinating element so that they have different syntactic status. Various semantic and syntactic criteria are given to distinguish their modificatory function. To this end restrictive and non-restrietive types are discussed, and also semantic sub-types where the relative clauses have different contextual functions. Also characteristics distinguishing restrictive and non-restrictive representations are pointed out on the basis of grammatical status and semantic choices. Other features are portrayed; specific and non-specific, attributive and non-attributive and causative relations. Syntactic features are dealt with regarding the forms and the choices which are related to semantic options. In Chapter IV, quantifiers are discussed on three fundamental axes: word class, semantic function and syntactic function. This discussion is devoted to establishing the grounds on which the term quantifier is distinguished from the counterpart numeral. The distinctive features set up in this chapter delineate the structural function of the quantifiers as a class of quantifying modifiers in nominal phrases. This involves four main features; premodifier, postmodifier, variable and invariable. Word order change is a mechanism operated for focus considerations on the transposed element. These structural characteristics are associable with semantic types as in this chapter. Chapter V treats various word classes which function within one syntactic area, the semantic implications are examined so as to show sub-semantic functions of these classes which include centre adjectives, common nouns, relative adjectives and participial adjectives which denote aspectually stative, dynamic, physical, habitual, inceptive etc. The discussion in Chapter VI is centred around the appositive structure where the modificatory relationship is between two equal elements in such a way that the omission of one of them does not affect the grammaticality of the structure. The effect lies only in the structural and semantic representations which will be affected by reducing the members of the structure by one element which represents a structural function and a piece of information. In this chapter, we deal with three types of structures appositives, genitives and fractions since they are structurally and functionally similar. That is to say, they function as determinative with two elements. In Chapter VII, a full treatment is given of the system of cardinals and ordinals. The cardinals can function structurally as premodifiers or as postmodifiers. Structurally, the ordinals are prefixed by the article al and function as postmodifier, except that when the ordinals from (3-10) occur without al- preceding the head noun, they function as premodifiers. For this purpose, tables and structural analysis as well as structural types of relationships are illustrated.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:03

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item