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Introduction

Welcome to my webpage and to Middlebury in the green state of Vermont

Usama Soltan
Associate Professor of Arabic
Arabic Program
Middlebury College
Farrell House, 006
Middlebury, VT 05753
Office phone: 802-443-5869
E-mail: usoltan (at) middlebury (dot) edu

I came to Middlebury in 2006 from the University of Maryland, College Park, where I did my Ph.D at the Department of Linguistics. At Middelbury, I offer courses in Arabic language, Arabic linguistics, as well as general linguistics, which contribute to the Arabic major/minor, the MES major, and the Linguistics minor at Middlebury. My research focuses on Arabic syntax, particularly in the Egyptian dialect. I also serve as an elected member on the current board of the Arabic Linguistics Society.

TEACHING

2014-2015

ARBC0435/LNGT0435: Seminar on Arabic Diglossia
LNGT0101: Introduction to Linguisitcs

2013-2014

ARBC0225/LNGT0225: Arabic Linguistics (Spring 2014)
ARBC0103: Beginning Arabic III (Spring 2014)

ARBC101A: Beginning Arabic I (Fall 2013)
ARBC421: Seminar on Arabic Linguistic Variation (Fall 2013)

2012-2013
LNGT0101: Introduction to Linguistics (Fall 2012)
ARBC0102: Intermediate Arabic (Fall 2012)

ARBC0227/LNGT0227: Arabic Sociolinguistics (Spring 2013)
ARBC0103: Beginning Arabic III (Spring 2013)

2011-2012
ARBC0225/LNGT0225: Arabic Linguistics (Spring 2012)
ARBC202: Intermediate Arabic (Spring 2012)
ARBC101B: Beginning Arabic I (Fall 2011)
LNGT0101: Introduction to Linguistics (Fall 2011)
ARBC102A: Beginning Arabic II (Winter 2012)

2010-2011
On academic leave

2009-2010
INTD0112A: Introduction to Linguistics (Fall 2009)
ARBC0301: Advanced Arabic I (Fall 2009)
ARBC0402: Media Arabic (Spring 2010)
ARBC0103: Beginning Arabic III (Spring 2010)

2008-2009

INTD0111A: The Unity and Diversity of Human Language (Spring 2009)
ARBC0302: Advanced Arabic II (Spring 2009)
ARBC0201: Intermediate Arabic I (Fall 2008)

2007-2008

ARBC103b: Beginning Arabic III (Spring 2008)
ARBC102a: Beginning Arabic II (Winter 2008)

ARBC0201a: Intermediate Arabic I (Fall 2007)

ARBC0201b: Intermediate Arabic I (Fall 2007)

ARBC0301a: Advanced Arabic I (Fall 2007)

2006-2007
INTD0112A: Introduction to Linguistics (Spring 2007)
ARBC0103B: Beginning Arabic III (Spring 2007)

ARBC0102A: Beginning Arabic II (Winter 2007)

ARBC0401A: Advanced Arabic III (Fall 2006)
INTD0111A: The Unity and Diversity of Human Language (Fall 2006)

Courses I taught at University of Maryland (the websites for these courses are not accessible any more)

LING419: Topics in Comparative Syntax (Spring 2005). An advanced undergraduate seminar.
LING200: Introduction to Linguistics (Fall 2004), (Spring 2003), (Fall 2002), and (Fall 2001).

RESEARCH

The main goal on my research agenda has been to bring data from Standard Arabic (SA), Egyptian Arabic, as well as other modern Arabic dialects to bear on issues of linguistic analysis, particularly within the principles and parameters framework.

Some research topics I’ve been interested in in recent years:
- The syntax of fragment answers in Egyptian Arabic
- The syntax of exceptive constructions in Egyptian Arabic
- The landscape of negative polarity in Egyptian Arabic.
- Negative concord in Arabic dialects (with Hamid Ouali).
- The syntax of wh-questions in Egyptian Arabic, and other dialects in the near future.

My doctoral research primarily focused on the role of “formal” morphological features (e.g., Case, agreement, and mood-marking) in the investigation of linguistic phenomena, and how licensing of such features have empirical consequences for syntactic structures. In this regard, I worked on the familiar subject-verb agreement asymmetry in SA, first conjunct agreement, obligatory default agreement with seem-type predicates, accusative case-marking for ECM subjects of want-type and believe-type verbs, nullness or overtness of subjects of embedded “control-like” subjunctive clauses, and the interesting phenomena of inflecting negatives, complementizer alternation, and person-less imperatives in SA. You can download my dissertation HERE.

I have also done some work on possessive nominals in Egyptian Arabic at the syntax-semantics interface.

Publications

Books
Aspects of the Syntax of Egyptian Arabic. In progress. (With John Benjamins Publishing)

Arabic Demystified (an introductory book to Arabic). In progress. (With McGraw Hill)

Editing:

Volume XXVII of Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics. Co-editor with Prof. Stuart Davis. (With John Benjamins Publishing)

Volume 11 of University of Maryland Working Papers in Linguistics. Co-editor with Pritha Chandra, Tomohiro Fujii, and Masaya Yoshida. 2004.

Translation: Word by Word Picture Dictionary: English-Arabic second edition (Arabic translation). Prentice Hall Regents, Pearson Education, Inc. 2008.

Papers and articles (most are availalbe in pre-final .pdf format below)

‘Morphosyntactic Variation in Negation across Arabic Dialects.’ In preparation for The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics.

‘The syntax of  fragment answers: Evidence from Egyptian Arabic.’ In preparation.

“Remarks on heritage language grammars and their implications for linguistic theory.” In Theoretical Linguistics 2013; 39(3–4): 241–250. Commentary on Benmamoun, Montrul, and Polinsky’s Heritage Languages and Their Speakers: Opportunities and Challenges for Linguistics. See also authors’ reply to peer commentaries here: Defining an “ideal” heritage speaker (Reply to peer commentaries in TL).

‘On the syntax of exceptive constructions in Egyptian Arabic.’ Revised Feb 2014. To appear in Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics 27.

‘The Morphosyntax of Sentential Negation in Cairene Egyptian Arabic.’ To appear in Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics 26..

On the Distribution and Licensing of Polarity-Sensitive Items in Egyptian Arabic: The Cases of ʔayy and walaa.’ In Farawaneh, Samira and Hamid Ouali (eds.) Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics Volume 24-25. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2014.

‘On Negative Concord in Egyptian and Moroccan Arabic.’ Co-authored with Hamid Ouali. In Farawaneh, Samira and Hamid Ouali (eds.) Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics Volume 24-25. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2014.

‘The Fine Structure of the Neg-Domain: Evidence from Cairene Egyptian Arabic Sentential Negation.’ In Huber, Stefan, and Sonia Ramírez Wohlmuth (eds.) Tampa Papers in Linguistics Vol. 3. 2012, pp. 115-127.

‘Morphosyntactic effects of NPI-licensing in Cairene Egyptian Arabic: The puzzle of -š disappearance resolved.’ In Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics , ed. Jaehoon Choi et al., 241-249. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project, 2012. www.lingref.com, document #2708.

‘On Licensing Wh-Scope: Wh-Questions in Egyptian Arabic Revisited.’ In Arabic Language and Linguistics, ed. R. Bassiouney and G. Katz. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. [Draft in .pdf]

‘On issues of Arabic syntax: An essay in syntactic argumentation.’ In Brill’s Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics Vol. 3, 2011.

‘Licensing of the NPI ʕumr and its implications for sentential negation in Cairene Egyptian Arabic.’ In the 2011 Linguistic Society of America Extended Abstracts. LINK: http://www.elanguage.net/journals/index.php/lsameeting/article/view/1457

‘On Strategies of Question-Formation and the Grammatical Status of the Q-particle huwwa in Egyptian Arabic Wh-Questions,’ In Lauren Friedman (ed.) University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 17: Iss. 1, Article 24. Available at: http://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol17/iss1/24 (Please notice the following typo in all the examples in (24) and (26): the word ‘siʕaT’ (which is glossed ‘failed’), should be ‘siʕiT’)

‘Transitivity: Objects.’ 2009. A lemma in Versteegh, Kees et al (ed.) Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Vol. 4.

‘Agree in the functional domain: Evidence from the morphosyntax of positive and negative imperatives in Standard Arabic.’ In Ojo, Akinloye (ed.) for Selected Proceedings of ACAL 39 (Annual Conference on African Linguistics). Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA. 2009.

‘Heads of a feather ‘Agree’ together: On the morphosyntax of negation in Standard Arabic.’ In في اللغة والأدب والحضارة: كتاب تذكاري تكريماً للدكتور عوني عبد الرؤوف [On Language, Literature, and Culture: A Festschrift in Honor of Prof. Awni Abdel Ra’ouf], Galal, Iman, and Magid Mustafa, (eds.). Al-Karaz Publication House, Cairo, Egypt. [Pre-final version in .pdf]

‘On the individual-property contrast in Egyptian Arabic possessive nominals.’ In Mughazi, Mustafa (ed.) Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics Volume 20. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. [Pre-final version in .pdf]

‘On postcyclic Merge and Agree in syntactic derivations: First conjunct agreement in Standard Arabic revisited.’ In Benmamoun, Elabbas (ed.) Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics Volume 19. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. [Pre-final version in .pdf]

‘Standard Arabic subject-verb agreement asymmetry revisited in an Agree-based minimalist syntax.’ In Boeckx, Cedric (ed.) Agreement Systems. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006. [Pre-final version in .pdf]

Talks and Invited Talks
‘The Landscape of Polarity-Sensitive Items in Egyptian Arabic.’ Keynote speech at the Illinois Semitic Linguistics Symposium at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Nov 1-4, 2012.

‘On issues of teaching Arabic as a foreign language.’ A two-day summer workshop at Alexandria University, Egypt, July 26-27, 2009.

‘On linguistic diversity, child language, and the notion ‘possible human language’‘. Talk given at Middlebury College, Feb 18, 2009.

‘On issues of teaching Arabic as a second language.’ Presentation given at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, Feb 9, 2007.

‘On the syntactic asymmetries of the individual-property distinction in Egyptian Arabic free state nominals.’ A Research Colloquium talk at Williams College, Dec 4, 2006.

‘How much of Universal Grammar is accessible in second language acquisition?’ Talk given at Middlebury College, Nov 29, 2006

‘Implications of linguistic typology for the study of second language acquisition.’ Talk given at Middlebury College, Middlebury, April 17, 2006.

‘The individual-property contrast at the syntax-semantics interface: Evidence from Egyptian Arabic possessive nominals.’ Talk given at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 13, 2006.

‘Morphosyntactic aspects of cross-linguistic variation and implications for L2A/L3A.’ Talk given at the Workshop on Linguistic Typology and Language Transfer in L2A and L3A, University of Maryland, College Park, August 22, 2005.

‘Typology of relative clauses, the Accessibility Hierarchy, and implications for SLA.’ Talk given (with Ilhan Cagri) at the Workshop on Linguistic Typology and Language Transfer in L2A and L3A, University of Maryland, College Park, August 23, 2005.

Conference Presentations

‘The syntax of fragment answers: Evidence from Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 28th Arabic Linguistics Symposium,  University of Florida, Gainesville, March 13-15, 2014.

‘Negative concord as syntactic agreement: The case of Egyptian and Moroccan Arabic.’ (With Hamid Ouali). Paper presented at the 6th International Arabic Linguistics Symposium, Al-Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco, June 26-28, 2013.

‘On the syntax of ʔillaa in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 27th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, Indiana University, Bloomington, Feb 28-March 2, 2013.

‘On the syntax of exceptive constructions in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 87th Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Jan 3-6, 2013, Boston, MA.

‘A Split-Neg analysis of the morphosyntax of negation in Cairene Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 3rd Annual Tampa Workshop on Syntax, Semantics, and Phonology, held at University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, March 9-10, 2012.

‘Splitting Neg: Sentential Negation Patterns in Cairene Egyptian Arabic Revisited.’ Paper presented at the 26th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at Adelphi University and Columbia University, New York, March 1-3, 2012.

‘Morphosyntactic effects of NPI-licensing in Cairene Egyptian Arabic: The puzzle of -š disappearance resolved.’ Paper presented at the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics 29, University of Arizona, Tucson, April 22-24, 2011.

‘On Licensing of Negative Polarity Items in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 25th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at University of Arizona, March 4-6, 2011.

‘On Negative Concord in Egyptian and Moroccan Arabic’ (with Hamid Ouali). Paper presented at the 25th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at University of Arizona, March 4-6, 2011.

‘Licensing of the NPI ʕumr and its implications for sentential negation in Cairene Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Jan 6-9, 2011, Pittsburg PA.

‘On the syntax of in-situ and ex-situ wh-questions in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 34th Penn Linguistics Colloquium at University of Pennsylvania, March 19-21, 2010.

‘On the syntax of wh-in-situ and wh-ex-situ in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the Georgetown University Round Table (GURT), at Georgetown University, March 12-14, 2010.

‘On the syntax of wh-in-situ in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 23rd Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 3-5, 2009.

‘On wh-in-situ and wh-clefts in Egyptian Arabic.’ Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Jan 8-11, 2009, San Francisco, CA.

‘On the morphosyntax of negation and imperatives in Standard Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 39th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), held at University of Georgia, Athens, April 17-20, 2008.

‘Free state possessive nominals in Egyptian Arabic at the syntax-semantics interface.’ Paper presented at the 36th North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (NACAL), held in Chicago, March 14-16, 2008.

‘Heads of a feather ‘Agree’ together: On the morphosyntax of imperatives in Standard Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 21st Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at University of Maryland, College Park, March 8-9, 2008.

‘On the individual-property contrast in Egyptian Arabic free state possessive nominals.’ Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Jan 4-7, 2007, Anaheim, CA.

‘On adnominal possession in Egyptian Arabic and implications for the structure of DPs.’ Paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 37), held at University of Oregon, April 6-9, 2006, Eugene, Oregon.

‘Adnominal possession in Egyptian Arabic and the internal structure of DPs.’ Paper presented at the 20th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at University of Western Michigan, March 3-6, 2006, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

‘On first conjunct agreement in Standard Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 19th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, held at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, April 1-3, 2005.

‘A minimalist analysis of first conjunct agreement in Standard Arabic.’ Paper presented at the 29th Penn Linguistics Colloquium, held at University of Pennsylvania, Feb 25-27, 2005.

‘Head movement at the syntax-morphology interface: Negation in Standard Arabic revisited.’ Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Jan 6-9, 2005, Oakland, CA.

‘Morphological fusion as Agree: Inflecting negatives in Standard Arabic revisited.’ Paper presented at the International Conference on the structure of the verb phrase in Afroasiatic: Morphophonological and syntactic approaches, held at Leiden University Center for Linguistics, Jan 14-15, 2005.

‘An argument for Agree and Multiple Spell-out: Standard Arabic agreement asymmetries revisited.’ Paper presented at the Workshop on Minimalist Theorizing, held at Indiana University, Bloomington, June 2004.

‘On agreement asymmetries in some varieties of Arabic.’ Paper presented at the second ECO5 Syntax Workshop held at University of Maryland, College Park, February 2004.
‘A minimalist analysis of locative inversion constructions.’ Paper presented at the 27th Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) Conference held at University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece, April 2004.

‘Locative Inversion: A phase-based analysis.’ Paper presented at the University of Maryland Student Conference of Linguistics, March 2003.

‘A parameter for default agreement.’ Paper presented at the University of Maryland Student Conference in Linguistics, March 2002.

Unpublished manuscripts

‘A minimalist analysis of locative inversion constructions.’ Ms., University of Maryland, College Park, 2003.

‘The EPP and economy considerations in a phase-based syntax.’ Ms., University of Maryland, College Park, 2003.

‘On some Case and agreement puzzles in Standard Arabic.’ Ms., University of Maryland, College Park, 2002.

‘Surfacing and non-surfacing of Glides in Classical Arabic Verb forms: An Optimality Theory Analysis.’ Ms., University of Maryland, College Park, 2001.

‘البرنامج الاختزالي للنظرية اللغوية: مقال فى علم اللغة النظري’ [The Minimalist Program of Linguistic Theory: An Essay in Theoretical Syntax.] A manuscript in Arabic. Faculty of Al-Alsun (Foreign Languages), Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, 1999.

‘A Comparative analysis of Some Deletion Phenomena in English and Standard Arabic.’ A Government-Binding Approach. MA Thesis, Faculty of Al-Alsun, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, 1996.

 

 

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