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The verb <i>kan</i> &#8216;be&#8217; in Moroccan Arabic

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Abstract

The unit <i>kan</i> &#8216;be&#8217; in Moroccan Arabic (MA) is traditionally identified as a copula in the context of a non verbal unit and as an auxiliary in the context of a verbal unit. We argue here that the notion of copula, borrowed from the Indo-European languages, is not relevant for <i>kan</i> in MA. <i>Kan</i> is not a copula but a <i>connective verb</i>. Although it is semantically weak, <i>kan</i> is syntactically a full verb, particularly a bivalent verb requiring two essential arguments: a subject and an attribute. Therefore, in the connective structures, <i>kan</i> is the syntactic nucleus (syntactic predicate). Moreover we show that <i>kan</i>, in the context of a verbal unit, even though it exhibits some auxiliarity&#8217;s features &#8211; is not an auxiliary inasmuch as it doesn&#8217;t form a &#8220;structure of auxiliarity&#8221; (Simeone-Senelle &#38; Vanhove 1997: 86) &#8211; i.e. a morphological, semantic and syntactic unit &#8211; with a second verb. <i>Kan</i> is a bivalent existence-verb governing two arguments; the second argument can be a verbal phrase.

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