Context Sensitivity and Language Specificity of Arabic Verb-Preposition Structure: The Case of English Learners of Arabic

Ali Yunis Aldahesh


Prepositions, in any given language, are context sensitive, i.e. their meaning cannot be determined from their lexical individual and decontextualised meanings. It is rather determined by taking into account the surrounding textual and contextual factors. Prepositions are language-specific items as well. That is, each language has its distinct and special manner of using them which may or may not overlap with their usage in other language(s). This study sheds some light on the two crucial issues of context sensitivity and language specificity by analysing and contrasting the collocational and colligational phenomena of verb-preposition structure in English and Arabic languages. The purpose is to perceive the extent to which the dissimilarities can affect the process of understanding the overall message of Arabic press texts, and to propose a number of theoretically and empirically-based recommendations for English learners of Arabic. A Multiple-choice test and a translation test were conducted by twenty five English learners of Arabic. The results revealed that there were many difficulties encountered by English learners of Arabic when dealing with the Arabic verb-preposition structure. Yet, the issues of context sensitivity and language specificity were the main two reasons behind these difficulties.

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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