Congratulations to Professor Alqassas for His Book Grant

Posted in News Story

February 25, 2019

Please join us in congratulating our colleague Ahmad Alqassas upon being bestowed by the Provost’s Office with the Summer Academic Grant in support of his research project on the linguistic phenomenon known as ‘polarity’. This phenomenon is a key component of the linguistic system that intersects with the philosophical notion of nonveridicality, the lack of certainty about the truth conditions of a proposition. His project is a theoretical and comparative study of this phenomenon. The project investigates how nonveridical expressions interact with the syntactic structures in both the informal and formal registers of Arabic.


The human language faculty is equipped with a system for asserting the truth of an utterance and a system whereby the proposition of the sentence does not ensure the truth. The latter system intersects with the philosophical notion of nonveridicality. This system regulates the interaction between Polarity Items (PIs) and the grammatical environments to which they are sensitive, hence the term Polarity Sensitive Items (PSIs). PSIs belong to various types of lexical categories and interact with a wide range of syntactic categories and grammatical environments, such as negation, disjunction, volitional verbs (want, suggest, insist), modal verbs and adverbials, questions, imperatives, habituals, and the subjective. This project aims at characterizing the micro-syntactic variation that different types of PSIs in different varieties of Arabic exhibit with respect to the various grammatical environments. The Arabic varieties discussed in this comparative study are Levantine, Gulf, Egyptian, Moroccan and Standard Arabic.