The Genitive in Moroccan Arabic

Ahmed Ech-Charfi


The genitive relation in Moroccan Arabic (MA) can be expressed in two ways: (1) by the use of a genitive preposition relating the 'possessed' and the 'possessor' nouns (viz. the analytic genitive), or (2) by the juxtaposition of the 'possessed' and the 'possessor' nouns (viz. the synthetic genitive/construct state). In most contexts, the analytic and the synthetic types of the genitive are in free variation in MA, a fact which provides sociolinguists with a good opportunity to study the social and the stylistic distribution of the two syntactic structures. However, there are some constraints on both types of the genitive that a sociolinguist must take into consideration.
In this paper, both formal and semantic constraints on the analytic and the synthetic genitive are brought to light. The paper is divided into four sections. The first section provides a brief discussion of the form of genitive constructions. The second and the third sections introduce numeral and partitive constructions, respectively. It is shown that, in both constructions, there are cases in which either the analytic or the synthetic genitive is possible, depending on the head of the construction, and cases where the numeral or the quantifier behaves more like a determiner than like a head of a genitive phrase. Finally, the fourth section brings forth some of the constraints on contexts where both the analytic and the synthetic genitive seem to be in free variation. These constraints are of semantic, lexical, syntactic and/or phonological nature.

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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