Spatial prepositions min and ʕan in Traditional Negev Arabic

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The Arabic prepositions min and ʕan in their prototypical spatial use relate to the Source domain, translating as ‘(away) from’. In many contemporary dialects ʕan is absent or limited to secondary, non-spatial meanings. In Traditional Negev Arabic, however, both prepositions are used complementarily. The proto-scene of ablative min is a Figure (F) exiting from a 3-dimensional Ground (G)-source, with ‘containment’ and ‘boundary-crossing’ typical components of the scene. The preposition ʕan prototypically fulfils a separative function, denoting separation from a Source with no relevance to dimensions, and has developed secondary modal functions. Both also have perlative functions and may appear in static scenes. Only min heads prepositional complexes, where it typically restores the nominal origin of the following element as a bounded region. So ‘min behind the house’ may denote ‘in the back zone of the house’; these complexes characterize multiple axes, when F crosses G’s path.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)243-290
Number of pages48
JournalStudies in Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - 9 May 2023


  • Classical Arabic
  • Figure-Ground relations
  • Source domain
  • Traditional Negev Arabic
  • ablative
  • allative
  • boundary-crossing
  • multiple axis scenes
  • partitive
  • perlative
  • proto-scene
  • relexification
  • semantic maps
  • separative
  • spatial prepositions

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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