Grammatical construction of function words between old and modern written Arabic: A corpus-based analysis

Journal Article
Almujaiwel, Sultan . 2017
Publication Work Type: 
Magazine \ Newspaper: 
Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory
Issue Number: 
Volume Number: 
Publication Abstract: 

This paper argues that Arabic function words (FWs) vary in usage between old and modern Arabic, thus prompting an experimental investigation into their changeability. This investigation is carried out by testing classical Arabic (CA) in Arabic heritage language (AHL) texts—those labelled as archistratum—and the modern standard Arabic (MSA) of Arabic newspaper texts (ANT), each group of which contains randomly collected 5 million (M) word texts. The linguistic theory of the grammar of Arabic FWs is explained through the differences between CA and MSA, despite Arabic FW changes and the unlearnability and/or unusability of some FW constructions between in these two eras of Arabic usage. The dispersion/distribution of the construction grammar (CxG) of FWs and the number (n) of word attractions/repulsions between the two distinct eras is explored using the very latest and most sophisticated Arabic corpus processing tools, and Sketch Engine’s SkeEn gramrels operators. The analysis of a 5M word corpus from each era of Arabic serves to prove the non-existence of rigorous Arabic CxG. The approach in this study adopts a technique which, by contrasting AHL with ANT, relies on analyzing the frequency distributions of FWs, the co-occurrences of FWs in a span of 2n-grams collocational patterning, and some cases of FW usage changes in terms of lexical cognition (FW grammatical relationships). The results show that the frequencies of FWs, in addition to the case studies, are not the same, and this implies that FWs and their associations with the main part of speech class in a fusion language like Arabic have grammatically changed in MSA. Their constructional changes are neglected in Arabic grammar