Elabbas Benmamoun

Elabbas Benmamoun

Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies



Benmamoun’s research has specifically focused on the following broad areas: (i) the syntax of functional categories, particularly tense, agreement, negation, and coordination, (ii) the nature of lexical and morphological relations, particularly the issue of whether lexical relations in Arabic (and Semitic languages) that have been characterized as based on a root and pattern mapping can be better analyzed as stem based derivations, akin to familiar patterns in many languages from various linguistic families,  and (iii) the nature of the interface of the morphology and syntax of natural language.
In the last few years, this research agenda has expanded to include heritage languages with focus on the Arab varieties spoken by second generation Arab Americans. In a series of collaborative projects and publications, Benmamoun and his colleagues explore morphological, morphosyntactic, and syntactic aspects of heritage languages, and contrast heritage speakers with native speakers and second language learners.

Benmamoun is the author of The Feature Structure of Functional Categories (Oxford University Press, 2000), co-author of The Syntax of Arabic (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and co-editor of the forthcoming  Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Southern California 1992

Benmamoun, E, and Bassiouney, R. The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics. Routledge, December 22, 2017.

Aoun, JE, Benmamoun, E, and Choueiri, L. The syntax of Arabic. January 1, 2009. Full Text

Benmamoun, E. The Feature Structure of Functional Categories A Comparative Study of Arabic Dialects. Oxford University Press, February 24, 2000.

Lappin, S, and Benmamoun, E. Fragments Studies in Ellipsis and Gapping. Oxford University Press, January 28, 1999.

Benmamoun, E. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics 12. John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1999.

Benmamoun, E, and Albirini, A. "IS LEARNING A STANDARD VARIETY SIMILAR TO LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE?: Evidence from Heritage Speakers of Arabic (Accepted)." Studies in Second Language Acquisition (December 5, 2016): 1-31. Full Text

ALBIRINI, A, and BENMAMOUN, E. "Factors affecting the retention of sentential negation in heritage Egyptian Arabic." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 18.03 (July 2015): 470-489. Full Text

Albirini, A, and Benmamoun, E. "Concatenative and Nonconcatenative Plural Formation in L1, L2, and Heritage Speakers of Arabic." The Modern Language Journal 98.3 (September 2014): 854-871. Full Text

Albirini, A, and Benmamoun, E. "Aspects of second-language transfer in the oral production of Egyptian and Palestinian heritage speakers." International Journal of Bilingualism 18.3 (June 2014): 244-273. Full Text

Benmamoun, E, Albirini, A, Montrul, SA, and Saadah, E. "Arabic plurals and root and pattern morphology in Palestinian and Egyptian heritage speakers." Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 4.1 (March 6, 2014): 89-123. Full Text

Benmamoun, E, Montrul, S, and Polinsky, M. "Defining an “ideal” heritage speaker: Theoretical and methodological challenges Reply to peer commentaries." Theoretical Linguistics 39.3-4 (January 20, 2013). Full Text

Benmamoun, E, Montrul, S, and Polinsky, M. "Heritage languages and their speakers: Opportunities and challenges for linguistics." Theoretical Linguistics 39.3-4 (January 20, 2013). Full Text

Abunasser, M, Al-Sabbagh, R, Bidaoui, A, Shalash, D, and Benmamoun, E. "The Location of Sentential Negation in Arabic Varieties." Brill's Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics 5.1 (January 1, 2013): 83-116. Full Text

ALBIRINI, A, BENMAMOUN, E, and CHAKRANI, B. "Gender and number agreement in the oral production of Arabic Heritage speakers." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 16.01 (January 2013): 1-18. Full Text

Albirini, A, Benmamoun, E, and Saadah, E. "GRAMMATICAL FEATURES OF EGYPTIAN AND PALESTINIAN ARABIC HERITAGE SPEAKERS’ ORAL PRODUCTION." Studies in Second Language Acquisition 33.02 (June 2011): 273-303. Full Text


Hasegawa-Johnson, M, Benmamoun, E, Mustafawi, E, Elmahdy, M, and Duwairi, R. "On the definition of theword "Segmental"." January 1, 2012.