Investigates the universal categories 'subject', 'theme', and
'agent' with special reference to their functional status in Modern
Standard Arabic (MSA) and how these three distinct functions may or
may not coincide in Arabic sentences. These functions are
inexplicitly characterised by classical and modern Arab linguists
and Arabists alike.It has been found that the pre- (viz. sentence -
initial) or post-verbal noun phrase (NP) in Arabic can be assigned
the syntactic function 'subject' but may not necessarily assume the
semantic function 'agent', that the pre-verbal NP, which may not
necessarily be the 'subject', has the pragmatic function 'theme',
and that these distinct functions sometimes cluster around a single
NP in certain sentences, depending on genre.It has also been found
that in MSA the order of sentence constituents is relatively free,
subject to a verb-initial preference, especially when needed to
prevent ambiguity.The present study reveals the fact that although
coding features such as word order, case marking, and
cross-referencing (viz. agreement) may provide a clear indication
of which NPs are 'subjects' in MSA, they do not provide a clear-cut
indication of semantic relations such as 'agent'; the 'subject'
position in MSA is not necessarily the canonical 'agent' position.
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