Marwan Jarrah Sharif Alghazo Mohd Nour Al Salem

Discourse functions of the wh-word Su: in Jordanian Arabic

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This research paper investigates the discourse functions of the wh-word ʃuː ‘what’ in Jordanian Arabic (JA). Based on the analysis of a naturally occurring corpus, it was found that ʃuː has developed a discourse function alongside its lexical uses as an interrogative operator, an exclamative particle, and a relativizer. Upon analyzing all tokens of ʃuː in the corpus, it is postulated that ʃuː functions as a D(ISCOURSE)-LINKER that essentially links questions to the previous discourse. This paper also provides a syntactic account of D-LINKER ʃuː, arguing that this marker is syntactically external to the accompanying utterance, as it is positioned in a projection that does not belong to the left periphery of the accompanying utterance. The paper provides evidence from JA that the syntactic position occupied by a given word is a key factor in deciding whether or not this word can be grammaticalized. It also shows that words which, syntactically speaking, move to the left periphery are normally subject to the grammaticalization process where discourse functions are syntactized.


  • D-Linking
  • Grammaticalization
  • Wh-Words
  • Left Periphery
  • Jordanian Arabic


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