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Volume :15 Issue : 58 1997      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Alhamza is not the Head of all Interrogative Items (in Arabic)

Auther : Talal Wihba, Hasan Al- Abyad

Traditional Arab grammarians consider that alhamza is the head of all interrogative items. They argue that alhamza can be used for two types of questions:
1. 'a jâ'a zaydun? (Did Zayd come?)
2. 'a zaydun jâ'a 'am mâzinun? (Did Zayd come, or Mazin?)
In question 1, the listener can only answer with "yes" or "no", while question 2 is not a yes/no question.
They consider that each of the other interrogative items can be introduced only in one type of question:
"hal" can be introduced only in a type 1 sentence:
"hal" jâ'a zaydun? (Did Zayd come?)
The remaining interrogative items can be introduced only in a type 2 sentence:
"man jâ'a?" (Who came?)
"matâ jâ'a?" (When did he come?)
"ayna zaydun?" (Where is Zayd?), etc.
We demonstrate in our research that questions using "man", "matâ", "ayna" ... are not constructed according to type 2, since we cannot substitute them with alhamza. For "a zaydun jâ'a 'am mâzinun?", one cannot say:
"man zaydun jâ'a 'am mâzinun?"
nor    "matâ zaydun jâ'a 'am mâzinun?
nor    "ayna zaydun jâ'a 'am mâzinun?", etc.
It follows that questions using interrogative items other than alhamza and "hal", are constructed according to a specific type: type 3.
Type 1 is a yes/no question.
Type 2 is a disjunctive question.
Type 3 is an open question.
Accordingly, "hal" and alhamza form a sub-category. The head of that sub-category is alhamza, because questions using alhamza can be constructed according to type one or two, while questions using "hal" can be constructed only according to type one.
The items that can be constructed according to type three form another sub-category. The head of that sub-category is "man", because only questions using "man" change their basic meaning when the explicit noun that follows "man" is moved to the beginning of the sentence.
Compare "man" sayyidu zaydin?" (Who is Zayd's master?)
with         "sayyidu man zaydun?" (Who is Zayd's servant?)
 

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