Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Laura Michaelis-Cummings

Second Advisor

Martha Palmer

Third Advisor

David Rood

Fourth Advisor

Mona Diab

Fifth Advisor

John Willis


This dissertation uses a corpus of tokens retrieved from broadcast news stories and print news articles to examine the array of constructions used to encode stative predications in Modern Standard Arabic. A state is defined as a situation that includes its reference time, whether that time is encoding time or another time of orientation. A range of stativity diagnostics are implemented. The constructions analyzed include both those that select for the class of states and those that yield various stative construals of otherwise dynamic predications. The constructions examined range from inflectional constructions to verb-headed phrasal patterns to verbless predicates; a lexicalist implementation of Construction Grammar, Sign Based Construction Grammar, provides a uniform format for representing the constructions as feature-structure descriptions. The constructions include: the p(refix)-stem verb, an inflectional construction exhibiting considerable semantic and syntactic flexibility; participles, including both the Active Participle, which typically yields a progressive reading and sometimes a perfect reading, and the Passive Participle, which yields a perfect reading; non-verbal predicates, which denote various stative relations, including existence, property attribution, possession and deontic modality; and phrasal constructions headed by the auxiliary kāna, which are used to convey past states, irrealis states and resultant states, while serving as a copula in syntactic contexts requiring a copula. A final case study underlines the formal and semantic heterogeneity of the class of Arabic stativizers by examining an emergent idiomatic pattern, the yatimmu construction, which has either a progressive function or a perfect function, depending primarily on subordination. The dissertation shows that in Arabic news narratives, users deploy distinct stative constructions in distinct contexts to convey whatever state is relevant in the context. It demonstrates that constructions convey both tense-based notions (like state ongoing at encoding time) and aspectual notions (state ongoing at the time of another event invoked by the text). In addition, it demonstrates that aspectual constructions are not ‘merely’ aspectual, but instead have constraints relating to argument structure, valency and subordination. !