Request Constructions in Classical Arabic versus Modern Arabic: A Corpus-based Study

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classical Arabic, corpus studies, modern Arabic, requests


The present study aims to investigate the various request constructions used in Classical Arabic and Modern Arabic language by identifying the differences in their usage in these two different genres. Also, the study attempts to trace the cases of felicitous and infelicitous requests in the Arabic language. Methodologically, the current study employs a web-based corpus tool (Sketch Engine) to analyze different corpora: the first one is Classical Arabic, represented by King Saud University Corpus of Classical Arabic, while the second is The Arabic Web Corpus “arTenTen” representing Modern Arabic. To do so, the study relies on felicity conditions to qualitatively interpret the quantitative data, i.e., following a mixed mode method. The findings of the present study show that request constructions vary in terms of occurrence between Classical Arabic and Modern Arabic. In Classical Arabic, (/laa/ لا) of prohibition is the most frequent construction, which is rarely used in the Web corpus where the command in the form of (/lam/لام + verb) is the most commonly emerging one, which is, in turn, seldom employed in the former corpus. The vocative (/ya/ يا) is the second most frequent construction in Classical Arabic, whilst the interrogative (/hel/ هل) emerged in the other genre. The third most common request construction is the interrogative (/hel/ هل) in Classical Arabic, but the vocative (/ya/ يا) is used in Modern Arabic. Nonetheless, some of these constructions fail to accomplish two or more conditions and hence are regarded as infelicitous requests. Such infelicitous constructions serve other functions than requests, such as negation, exclamation, and sarcasm.


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Author Biographies

Nawal Fadhil Abbas, University of Baghdad

Nawal Fadhil Abbas is a professor at the Department of English Language, College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad. She got her Ph.D. in English Language and Linguistics from the Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2014. Her major is Pragmatics and Semantics. Her research interests include but not limited to (Critical) Discourse Analysis, (Critical) Stylistics, and Corpus Linguistics.

Tabarek Ali Qasim

Tabarek Ali Qasim is an instructor at the College of Law, University of Baghdad. She got her MA degree in English language and Linguistics in 2021 from the Department of English Language, College of Education for Women/ University of Baghdad. Her major is Pragmatics and Sociolinguistics. She is also interested in several other fields within Linguistics including Applied Linguistics, Corpus linguistics, and (Critical) Discourse Analysis.

Haya Abdul-Salam Jasim

Haya Abdul-Salam Jasim is a lecturer at Ibn Sina University of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She got her MA degree in English Language and Linguistics from the Department of English Language, College of Education for Women/ University of Baghdad. Her research interests include but not limited to Stylistic, Corpus and Applied Linguistics, and Forensic Linguistics.


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How to Cite

Abbas, N. F., Ali Qasim, T., & Jasim, H. A.-S. . (2023). Request Constructions in Classical Arabic versus Modern Arabic: A Corpus-based Study. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 10(5), 1–15.
Received 2023-02-25
Accepted 2023-08-24
Published 2023-12-19