Non-verbal predicate negation in child Emirati Arabic

Dimitrios Ntelitheos, Marta Szreder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We provide an account of the developmental trajectory of Emirati Arabic negation particles. We treat the non-verbal predicate negator (NVPN) mub as a negative copula, in contrast to the verbal predicate negator (VPN) maa, which encodes sentential negation in verbal and existential contexts. The analysis is supported by evidence from a longitudinal corpus of six Emirati children. Given the high frequency of occurrence of maa in the ambient language, we show that an input-frequency account predicts maa-mub substitutions in early stages of acquisition. However, confirming previous findings by Becker we show that when mub emerges in later stages, its distribution exhibits an asymmetry: mub is used frequently with individual-level nominal/adjectival predicates but it almost never appears with stage level adjectival/prepositional/ adverbial predicates, mirroring the distribution of copular elements in child English (and other languages).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-56
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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