Time frame as a determinant of accessibility of anaphoric demonstratives in Classical Arabic

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to investigate the determinants for choosing nominal anaphoric demonstratives in Classical Arabic (CA) by examining their usage in a corpus of CA texts. The study makes use of Ariel’s (1990; 2001) concept of ‘unity’ as a theoretical framework from which to study the relationship between an anaphoric demonstrative, its antecedent and their shared referent. This study builds on Jarbou and Migdady’s (2012) findings that ‘anaphoric distance’ (Ariel, 1990; 2001) has not been found to be a primary determinant of cognitive accessibility concerning the use of anaphoric demonstratives in CA. The results of this study show that the choice of proximal/distal anaphoric demonstratives in CA depends primarily on the ‘time frame’ of the referent. Anaphoric demonstratives are temporally anchored in the present time of interaction; if a referent existed within a past time frame or is expected to exist within a future time frame (in relation to the interlocutors’ present time), that referent has low accessibility because of non-sharedness of time frame; if a referent existed or is experienced within a present time frame, it has high accessibility due to sharedness of time frame. Temporal distance replaces physical distance as a determinant of accessibility. In the corpus, proximal anaphoric demonstratives have been used in contexts of high accessibility while distal anaphors have been used in those of low accessibility. Findings of this study contribute to the dynamic view of demonstratives that textual/physical distance is not the primary or sole determinant of accessibility concerning demonstratives.

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