Verbal Ellipsis without Linguistic Antecedent: Iḍmār, from Taqdīr to Indirect Licensing

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Candidate, Linguistics , Alzahra University

2 Professor, Linguistics Alzahra University


This article investigates the verbal ellipsis (iḍmār al-fi’l) in Sībawayhi’s (c. 760–796) Kitāb. First, the terminology of this research domain has been explicated and it is stated that the term “ḥaḏf” (deletion) in the medieval Arabic (Sībawayhi era) is often dedicated to the phonological level of the language whereas the term of “iḍmār” (suppression) belongs to the syntactic (and pragmatic or even cognitive level). For this reason, the term “iḍmār al-fi’l” is used in this article to refer to the (verbal) ellipsis. Thereafter Sībawayhi’s data are introduced and a new classification of them has been proposed (based on the ellipsis ground). The presence of the speaker and the hearer in a common situational or cultural context and the presence of a grammatical reason can be accordingly enumerated as the grounds for ellipsis. Moreover, the data are investigated differently, i.e. in the framework of the Parallel Architecture of the Grammar (PA) which is a formal model to analyze the natural language. Although the data are historical, each modern language includes similar ones that can be compared with our data and therefore the proposal which is made here, can also be used to analyze them. For the analysis of these data which don’t have linguistic antecedents, it has been proposed to consider an intermediate cognitive tier which binds the elliptical utterance with its non-linguistic antecedent so that its minimal syntax will be licensed. This mechanism of licensing which is known as “indirect licensing” makes this binding possible. It looks similar to an interpretive process in medieval Arabic grammar which is called taqdīr (suppletive insertion). Our proposal is also compatible with a more general model, the structure of the mind, proposed by Jackendoff (1997, 2002, 2010) and can clarify some aspects of contextual ellipsis in the medieval Arabic which is imparted by the term “ḥāl” (discourse equivalence).


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Volume 10, Issue 2
March 2020
Pages 193-217
  • Receive Date: 20 November 2018
  • Revise Date: 11 January 2020
  • Accept Date: 16 February 2020
  • First Publish Date: 20 February 2020