Underlying Negative Stems: Load shifted Evidence from negatives in nominal clauses


  • Al Zahrani Mohammad Associate Professor, Foreign Languages Department, College of Arts, Taif University, Saudi Arabia


Arabic Varieties, Hijazi Arabic, Negation, Negative Stems, Load Shift


Languages undergo changes and developments. Jespersen's Cycle, which is coined by Dahl (1979) after Jespersen's (1917) work, describes the changes and developments negatives undergo in different languages. To clarify, Arabic varieties use different negative particles that have been developed via morphological and phonological processes; these particles share two underlying stems. Adopting the theory of Walker's (1895) common negative stem, this paper argues that Hijazi Arabic (HA) has the common negative stem [m] as opposed to the common negative stem [l] found in both Classical Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. A common negative stem is the stem found in almost all the negative forms in a variety, which means that the negative forms have been developed from that stem and their number outweighs the other negative forms that have been developed from another negative stem. If this is the case, the paper also argues that the load in negative stems must have shifted from [l] to [m], given that HA is a Classic Arabic descendant variety. The paper uses morphological and syntactic analyses of the negatives in support of its arguments.