Relative Clauses in Arabic and Persian

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Candidate in Persian language and Literature, Tarbiyat Modares University, Iran.

2 Associate Professor of Linguistics, Tarbiyat Modares University, Iran.

3 Associate Professor of Persian language and Literature, Tarbiyat Modares University, Iran.

4 Professor of Persian language and Literature, Tarbiyat Modares University, Iran.

5 Associate Professor of Arabic language and Literature, Tarbiyat Modares University, Iran.


Typology is a branch of linguistics which studies the structural similarities between languages, regardless of their history. Linguistic studies have proven that different languages in the world have similarities which called Language Universals. Study of Word Order is one of the most important topics in Typology of language, because of languages are more diverse in this respect, and this diversity is a tool for typological studies. One of these diversities is sequence of Relative Clause and Noun. Topologists have identified two types: Relative Clause – Noun (Rel N) and Noun - Relative Clause (N Rel). In their view, these two sequences correlate with the arrangement of the main constituents of language in particular (verb and object).Consequently, according to their predictions, (N Rel) sequence is predominantly in VO languages, and (Rel N) sequence in OV languages. In the present article, we study relative clause in Persian and Arabic languages in order to clarify what are the characteristics of relative clause in both languages and what are the similarities and differences between them. In addition, the research seeks to study the sequence of noun and relative clause in the light of the views of Topologists. The research method is descriptive-analytical and the sentences are collected from different official texts of both Persian and Arabic languages. Over ten thousand sentences were studied .The findings of the study showed that Persian and Arabic languages follow the dominant global pattern in the sequence of relative clause and noun, meaning that both languages have the sequence (N Rel). In this context, however, the Persian language does not follow the predictions made for the ending verbs or OV languages. While the Arabic language is consistent with the predictions presented for VO languages. Also another result of this study is that the phenomenon of relative clause movement in Persian language is possible but not in Arabic.


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Volume 11, Issue 1
October 2020
Pages 95-117
  • Receive Date: 20 July 2019
  • Revise Date: 17 October 2019
  • Accept Date: 15 November 2019
  • First Publish Date: 22 August 2020