The syntax of Quranic Classical Arabic: A Principles and Parameters approach
This is a qualitative study of the syntax of Quranic Classical Arabic (QCA). It answers two main questions. First, considering its complex and unique syntactic behavior, how can QCA most accurately and comprehensively be described? Second, to what extent can the theory of Principles and Parameters (P&P) account for this complex and unique behavior?
To answer these questions four modules of P&P were selected: Theta Theory, Case Theory, X-bar Theory and Binding Theory. The initial proposal of this study was that QCA manifests a canonical SVO word order, and starting from that position, QCA was treated under theta theory and the results were compared to those of transitivity theory. Using case theory, all possible case markings in QCA were described including those of copula sentences. Using X-bar theory, all possible word orders of QCA were described. Finally, using binding theory, the distribution of NPs in the sentences of QCA was discussed.
In conclusion, we were led to the conclusion that transitivity theory predicts the wrong number of arguments required by certain predicates. The case theory module revealed that the word order in QCA very much depends on case assignment. There are more assigners in QCA than have been assumed before. In X-bar theory, it was found that all word orders are possible in QCA except SOV. This finding contradicts previous claims that Arabic allows scrambling in word order. It was also found that the claim that VSO is the canonical word order of Arabic is not supported by the data of QCA. SVO and VSO are syntactically equal in status while SVO is morphologically preferred over VSO. In binding theory, QCA proved a special language variety manifesting 'iltifat' attracting the attention. Binding theory concludes that this technique results in ungrammatical sentences. The claim that was made in this study is that feature matching in QCA is not adhered to and that it is violated in order to satisfy pragmatic imperatives.