Negation and the subject position
in San’ani Arabic
In this paper, we discuss a topic that has not received extensive attention within the lively debate about the syntax of sentential negation in Arabic varieties. The topic concerns the interaction between the subject of the sentence, particularly the pronominal subject, and the sentential negative. In most Arabic varieties, the pronominal subject precedes the sentential negative on a par with its lexical subject counterpart. San’ani Arabic, however, allows for the pronominal subject to follow the sentential negative. Assuming that the structure of sentential negation, and of the clause in general, is to a large extent uniform across dialects, we will provide an account that derives the somewhat peculiar pattern in San’ani Arabic and contrast it with a different pattern in Moroccan Arabic that illustrates a different manifestation of the interaction between negation and the pronominal subject. San’ani relies on cliticization (without movement) while Moroccan Arabic relies on head movement. In the course of the paper, we introduce data that have not figured prominently in the debate about sentential negation in Arabic varieties and also draw diachronic parallels between San’ani Arabic and Classical Arabic, where cliticization may have been the process that gave rise to the negative <i>laysa</i>.