The concept of mark and its morpho-syntactic realization: the example of the subject of Arabic
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The concept of mark, borrowed from phonology and formulated by N. S. Troubetzkoy and R. Jakobson in the nineteen-thirties, is significant in the definition of the syntactic functions of terms having a sequential syntagmatic relation. The application of this concept (cf. G.H. Greenberg (1966), N. Chomsky and M. Halle (1968), and H. Van Riemsdijk (1978)) makes it possible to analyze the interwoven structures of an argument-structure, not according to a linear organisation, but according to differential features whose morphological marking has a quite different function from that of simple indicator. The structural markers therefore determine the limits of the specific intonations of lexical units and their morphological occurrences, and thus give information about the functions they take on in an argument- structure. In this article we shall try to illustrate the syntactic realisation of this concept in Arabic, proceeding through the following stages: we shall first begin with an outline of the concept of mark in order to understand how it works syntactically. Then we shall examine how the Arab grammatical tradition has approached case marking and the function of subject. This will then lead us to redefine the subject in terms of mark and to identify it as an archi-function marked compulsorily in the nominative whatever the structure of the argument-structure in which it occurs.