A prosodic account of wh-formation in Jordanian Arabic

Ekab Al-Shawashreh, Marwan Jarrah, Moh'd Al-Omari, Mutasim Al-Deaibes

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    5 Scopus citations


    This paper shows that wh-formation in Jordanian Arabic (JA) is prosodically ruled. Wh-words should move either to the left or to the right periphery of the phonological phrase that contains the relevant wh-word. What appears as an in-situ instance of a wh-question in JA, as reported by several studies, is in fact a true instance of a moved wh-word but to the right periphery of the phonological phrase that contains the wh-word. Movement to either peripheral position is forced by prosodic facts of JA where elements that express or stand for the most prominent information of the question should bear prosodic prominence which falls on either peripheral positions of the phonological phrase containing the wh-word. A grammaticality judgment task was carried out to check the frequency of left and right peripheral questions in JA. Fifteen participants (all native speakers of JA) were asked to respond to nine contexts. The results show that the left peripheral option is far more frequent than its right peripheral counterpart (93.8% and 6.2%, respectively). The findings of this study make available empirical evidence in favor of Mathieu's (2016) theory of wh-formation where prosody is the main factor for wh-patterns in natural languages.

    Original languageBritish English
    Article number102741
    StatePublished - Nov 2019


    • Jordanian Arabic
    • Left periphery
    • Prosody
    • Right periphery
    • Wh-questions


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