The Word gid in Najdi Arabic: An Evidentiality Head


  • Ahmad Alshammari University of Hail
  • Wafi Fhaid Alshammari University of Ha’il, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Evidentiality, the EPP feature, agree operation, TP, probing


This research paper investigates the word gid which is used in Najdi Arabic, a dialect spoken in Najd region in Arabic peninsula. This particle is analyzed syntactically using the recent assumptions of the minimalist program (Chomsky 1993, 1995, and subsequent work). As for the findings, it turns out that gid functions as a head that instantiates its maximal projection above TP and under CP. So, this word is not a property of TP domain nor a CP domain. Due to the fact that this word is only used when a speaker is certain of the propositional content of his/her utterance, we argue that gid is an evidential head that scopes over the tense layer. Furthermore, we argue that gid has an EPP feature, hence the specifier position of the functional phases headed by it must be filled by some element which is the subject. This accounts for the fact that subject must precede gid in declarative sentences. Additionally, gid has [PAST] feature which is uninterpretable and hence must be deleted before the derivation is handed over to the LF following the general lines of feature deletion of Chomsky (1995 and 2005). We argue that the deletion of [PAST] feature is conducted through an Agree operation that is established between gid and the verb. This is why gid comes exclusively with past tense. Otherwise [PAST] feature on gid remains active, leading to the ungrammaticality of the given sentence


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Ahmad Alshammari, University of Hail

Ahmad Alshammari is an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Ha’il. He obtained his PhD in linguistics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. His main interests are syntactic theory in general, especially the syntax of the left periphery of clauses in Arabic.

Wafi Fhaid Alshammari, University of Ha’il, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wafi Alshammari is an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Ha’il. He obtained his PhD in linguistics from Indiana University-Bloomington, USA. His main interests are sociolinguistics, language contact, and Arabic pidgins and creoles.


Aikhenvald, A. I. (2003). Evidentiality in typological perspective. In A. Aikhenvald & R. M. Dixon (Eds.), Studies in Evidentiality, (pp. 1-32). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Aikhenvald, A. (2004). Evidentiality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Alhaisoni, E., Jarrah, M. A., & Shehadeh, M. S. (2012). An investigation of evidentiality in the Arabic language. International Journal of Linguistics, 4(2), 260-273.

Al-Aqarbeh, R. N. (2011). Finiteness in Jordanian Arabic: A semantic and morphosyntactic approach (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Kansas). USA.

Alshamari, M. R., & Jarrah, M. (2016). A minimalist-based approach to phrasal verb movement in North Hail Arabic. International Journal of English Linguistics, 6(1), 24-37.

Alshammari, A. R. (2016). The negative polarity item umur in Najdi Arabic. Studies in Literature and Language, 11(4), 1-8.

Alshammari, A. R. H. (2018). The syntax of temporal and conditional adverbial clauses in Najdi Arabic (Doctoral Dissertation). Newcastle University).‏ Newcastle upon Tyne. UK.

Al-Sweel, A. (1981). The verbal system of Najdi Arabic: a morphological and phonological study. (Unpublished master’s dissertation). University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Al-Tamimi, M. (2015). Arabic pro-drop (Master Thesis). Eastern Michigan University. USA.

Aoun, J. E., Benmamoun, E., & Choueiri, L. (2009). The syntax of Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. UK.

Benmamoun, E. (2000). The feature structure of functional categories: A comparative study of Arabic dialects (Vol. 16). Oxford : Oxford University Press on Demand.

Brinton, L. J. (1996). Pragmatic markers in English: Grammaticalization and discourse functions (Vol. 19). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Chafe, W. (1986). Evidentiality in English conversation and academic writing. In Walance L. Chafe & Johanna Nichols (Eds.), Evidentiality: The linguistic coding of epistemology (pp. 261-272). Norwood: Ablex.

Chomsky, N. (1993). A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In Kenneth Hale & Samuel Keyser (Eds.), The view from Building 20 (pp. 1–52). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

Chomsky, N. (1995). The minimalist program (Vol. 28). Cambridge: MIT press.

Chomsky, N. (2000). Minimalist Inquiries: The framework. In H. Lasnik, R. Martin, D. Michaels & J. Uriagereka (Eds.) Step by Step.' Essays on Minimalist Syntax in Honor of Howard Lasnik (pp.89-115). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Chomsky, N. (2001). Derivation by phase. In M. Kenstowicz (Ed.), Ken Hale. A Life in Language (pp. 1-52). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Chomsky, N. (2005). Three factors in language design. Linguistic Inquiry, 36(1), 1-22.

Dahl, O., and Talmoudi, F. ((1979). Qad and laqad: tense/aspect and pragmatics in Arabic. In Aspectology Workshop at the Fifth Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics (pp. 51-68). Stockholm: Almqwist & Wiksell.

Danks, W. (2011). The Arabic verb: Form and meaning in the vowel-lengthening patterns. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

DeLancey, S. (2004). Grammaticalization from Syntax to Morphology. In: Booij, G., Lehmann, Ch., Mugdan, J. (ed.). Morphology. An International Handbook on Inflection and Word-formation. (pp. 1590–1599.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Fehri, A. F. (1993). Temporal, Aspectual, and Modal Categories. In Issues in the Structure of Arabic Clauses and Words (pp. 141-212). Springer, Dordrecht.‏

Fehri, A. F. (2012). Key features and parameters in Arabic grammar (Vol. 182). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Heine, B. (2006). Possession: Cognitive sources, forces, and grammaticalization (Vol. 83). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hopper, P. J., & Traugott, E. C. (2003). Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ingham, B. (1986). Notes on the dialect of the Āl Murra of eastern and southern Arabia. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 49(2), 271-291.

Ingham, B. (1994). Najdi Arabic: Central Arabian (Vol. 1). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Isaksson, B. (2000). Expressions of evidentiality in Hebrew and Arabic. In L. Johanson & B. Utas (Eds.), Evidentials: Turkic, Iranian, and Neighbouring Languages (pp. 383-400). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kehayov, P., Metslang, H., & Pajusalu, K. (2012). Evidentiality in Livonian. Linguistica Uralica 48 (1). 41-54.

Lewis, R. (2013). Complementizer Agreement in Najdi Arabic (Doctoral dissertation, University of Kansas).‏

Matushansky, O. (2006). Head movement in linguistic theory. Linguistic Inquiry, 37(1), 69-109.

Palmer, F. (2001). Mood and modality (2nd Ed). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Plungian, V. (2001). The place of evidentiality within the Universal grammatical space. Journal of Pragmatics 33, 349-357.

Procházka, S. (2002). Die arabischen Dialekte der Cukurova (Südtürkei). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Procházka, S. (2018). The northern fertile crescent. In C. Holes (Ed.), Arabic Historical Dialectology: Linguistic and

Sociolinguistic Approaches, (pp. 257-292). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Procházka, S. (2020). Arabic in Iraq, Syria, and Southern Turkey. In C. Lucas & S. Manfredi (Eds.), Arabic and Contact-Induced Change (pp. 83-114). Berlin: Language Science Press.

Rizzi, L. (1990). Relativized minimality. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.

Rizzi, L. (1997). The fine structure of the left periphery. In L. Haegeman (ed.), Elements of Grammar: A Handbook of Generative Syntax (pp.281–337). Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Rizzi, L. (2013). Locality. Lingua, 130, 169-186.

Söderqvist, E. (2020). Evidential marking in spoken English: Linguistic functions and gender variation (Doctoral Dissertation). Uppsala Universitet, Sweden.

Soltan, U. (2007). On formal feature licensing in minimalism: Aspects of standard Arabic morphosyntax (Doctoral Dissertation). The University of Maryland, College Park.

Thepkanjana, K., & Ruangmanee, S. (2015). Grammaticalization of the verb ‘to acquire’into modality: A case study in Vietnamese. Taiwan Journal of Linguistics, 13(2), 117-150.

Trousdale, G. (2008). Words and constructions in grammaticalization: The end of the English impersonal construction. In S.M. Fitzmaurice, & D. Minkova (Eds.), Studies in the History of the English language IV: Empirical and Analytical Advances in the Study of English Language Change (pp.301-326). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Valenzuela, P. M. (2003). Evidentiality in Shipibo-Konibo, with a comparative overview of the category in Panoan. Typological Studies in Language, 54, 33-62.‏

Versteegh, K. (2014). Arabic language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ‏

Wright, W. (1967). A grammar of the Arabic language (Vol. 2). London: Cambridge University Press.



How to Cite

Alshammari, A., & Alshammari, W. F. . . (2020). The Word gid in Najdi Arabic: An Evidentiality Head . Linguistic Forum - A Journal of Linguistics, 2(4), 36–45.