On Syntactic Functions of Circumstantial Clauses in Arabic
Keywords:circumstantial clause, subordination, verb phrase modifier, noun phrase modifier
The circumstantial clause (al-ǧumla al-ḥāliyya) is one of the syntactic structures in Arabic that received due attention in Arabic grammatical description throughout the time span from the era of classical Arabic until the present day. Various forms of the circumstantial clause were therein described, including its syndetic and asyndetic, nominal and verbal form, the form it takes depending on the time of events in the main clause and the circumstantial clause, as well as the relationship between the circumstantial clause and the circumstantial accusative as its non-finite equivalent. Still, in the extensive and widespread description of the circumstantial clause, fully justified by its frequent use in Arabic, the syntactic functions of this clause are mentioned only rarely and sporadically, lacking a systematic analysis. Therefore, the main goal of this paper is the analysis of various syntactic functions that circumstantial clauses can take in the Arabic complex sentence. Such an analysis shows that this syntactic category, special in so many ways, whose subordinating conjunction is at the same time the most frequent coordinating conjunction in Arabic, covers a wide spectrum of syntactic functions in Arabic clauses, from verb phrase modifiers to noun phrase modifiers and, although less frequently and with limited distribution, to verb phrase complements. Such a wealth of syntactic functions certainly deserves to be a subject of a systematic description.