Marwan Jarrah Mustafa Harb Mutasim Al-Deaibes

Object dropping in Arabic at the syntax-pragmatics interface

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This article offers evidence that object dropping in Arabic, and particularly in Jordanian Arabic, is pragmatically marked, i.e., it manifestscertain pragmatic meanings. Based on the interpretation of utterances with dropped objects, extracted from a naturally occurring corpus, we argue that speakers who drop their objects normally express emotive attitudes towards the hearer. This argument is supported by the fact that utterances with a dropped object are distinguished by unique utterance-final intonational contour that does not normally accompany utterances with an overt object. Additional support comes from the remarkable use of endearment expressions (such as èabibi: ‘darling’, galbi: ‘my heart’, etc.) in utterances with dropped objects. Endearment expressions are proposed to downgrade the pragmatic blow of the speaker’s negative attitudes which are normally associated with object dropping. This article also shows that object dropping in Jordanian Arabic can be explained on syntactic grounds, usingWiltschko & Heim (2016) proposal of the grounding structure whose presence in sentence derivation relates the speaker’s attitude to the proposition expressed by the host sentence.


  • Arabic
  • endearment expressions
  • object dropping
  • syntax-pragmatics interface


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