Article published in:Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics: Papers from the annual symposia on Arabic Linguistics. Volume XXII–XXIII: College Park, Maryland, 2008 and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2009
Edited by Ellen Broselow and Hamid Ouali
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 317] 2011
► pp. 167–186
The verb kan ‘be’ in Moroccan Arabic
The unit kan ‘be’ in Moroccan Arabic (MA) is traditionally identified as a copula in the context of a non verbal unit and as an auxiliary in the context of a verbal unit. We argue here that the notion of copula, borrowed from the Indo-European languages, is not relevant for kan in MA. Kan is not a copula but a connective verb. Although it is semantically weak, kan is syntactically a full verb, particularly a bivalent verb requiring two essential arguments: a subject and an attribute. Therefore, in the connective structures, kan is the syntactic nucleus (syntactic predicate). Moreover we show that kan, in the context of a verbal unit, even though it exhibits some auxiliarity’s features – is not an auxiliary inasmuch as it doesn’t form a “structure of auxiliarity” (Simeone-Senelle & Vanhove 1997: 86) – i.e. a morphological, semantic and syntactic unit – with a second verb. Kan is a bivalent existence-verb governing two arguments; the second argument can be a verbal phrase.
Published online: 21 December 2011