Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Abbas Benmamoun

Professor, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs of Linguistics
Professor of LAS Global Studies
Professor of French and Italian
Center for Global Studies
Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Center for African Studies

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  • Address:
    University of Illinois
    Dept. of Linguistics, MC-168
    707 South Mathews Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • Email:
CV: Download my C.V.

Research Interests

Comparative Syntax

Arabic Syntax and Morphology

Arabic as a Heritage Language

Syntax, Morphology, Arabic, Semitic, Arabic as a Heritage Language, Acquisition of Arabic as First and second Language.


  • BA. Mohammed V University. Morocco.
  • MA. University College London. UK.
  • Ph.D. University of Southern California

Current Projects

  • Comparative Syntax of Arabic Varieties. Funded by NSF (2009-2012).
  • Arabic as a Heritage Language (with Abdulkafi Albirini, Utah State University)
  • Acquisition of Kuwaiti Arabic Syntax (with Khawla Aljenai, Kuwait University).
  • Co-PI: Multi-dialect phrase-based speech recognition and machine translation for Qatari broadcast TV. Qatar National Research Fund grant. CoPI with Mark Hasegawa-Johnson (PI, UIUC) and Roxana Girju (UIUC), Eiman Mustafawi (Qatar University) and Rehab Duwairi (Qatar University)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging of Arabic pharyngeals. Ryan Shosted (PI), Abbas Benmamoun (co-PI), and Brad Sutton (co-PI). University of Illinois Campus Research Board Award
  • Publications


    • Aoun, Joseph , Elabbas Benmamoun, and Lina Choueiri. Arabic Syntax. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. The Feature Structure of Functional Categories. Oxford University Press, 2000.

    Books Edited

    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XIX. John Benjamins, 2007.
    • Al-Hawary, Mohammad , and Elabbas Benmamoun. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XVII-XVIII. John Benjamins, 2005.
    • Parkinson, Dilworth, and Elabbas Benmamoun. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XIII-XIV. John Benjamins, 2002.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XII. John Benjamins, 1999.
    • Lappin, Shalom, and Elabbas Benmamoun. Fragments: Studies In Ellipsis and Gapping. Oxford University Press, 1999.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, and Mushira Eid. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics Vol. XI. John Benjamins, 1998.

    Journal Articles

    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Abdulkafi Albirini, Silvina Montrul, and Eman Saadah. "Arabic Plurals and Root and Pattern Morphology in Egyptian and Palestinian Heritage Speakers." Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 4.1 (2014): 89-123.
    • Albirini, Abdulkafi , Brahim Chakrani, and Elabbas Benmamoun. "Gender and Number Agreement in the Oral Production of Arabic ." Language and Cognition 16.1 (2013): 1-18.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Silvina Montrul, and Maria Polinsky. "Heritage Languages and Their Speakers: Opportunities and Challenges for Linguistics." Theoretical Linguistics 39 39 (2013): 129-181.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas , Silvina Montrul, and Maria Polinsky. "Defining an “Ideal” Heritage Speaker: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges." Theoretical Linguistics 39 39 (2013): 259-294.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "Agreement and Cliticization in Arabic Varieties from Diachronic and Synchronic Perspectives." Al-`Arabiyya 44-45 (2012): 137-150.
    • Albirini, Abdulkafi, and Elabbas Benmamoun. "Aspects of second language transfer in the oral production of Egyptian and Palestinian heritage speakers." International Journal of Bilingualism (2012):
    • Albirini, Abdulkafi, Elabbas Benmamoun, and Eman Saadah. "Grammatical features of Egyptian and Palestinian Arabic Heritage Speakers’ Oral Production." Studies in Second Language Acquisition 33 (2011): 273-303..
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Archna Bhatia, and Maria Polinsky. "Closest Conjunct Agreement in Head-Final Languages." Linguistic Variation Yearbook 9 (2010): 67-88.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "The Syntax of Arabic Tense." Linguistique Arabe (2007): 9-25.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, and Heidi Lorimor. "Featureless Expressions: When Morpho-phonological Markers are absent." Linguistic Inquiry 37.1 (2006): 1-23.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "Licensing Options: The Puzzle of Head NPIs." Linguistic Inquiry (2006): 141-149.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas , and Rajesh Kumar. "The Overt Licensing of NPIs in Hindi." The Yearbook of South Asian (2006): 31-48.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "Agreement parallelism between sentences and noun phrases." Lingua 113 (2003): 747-764.

    Book Contributions

    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Mahmoud Abunasser, Rania Al-Sabbagh, Abdelaadim Bidaoui, and Dana Shalash. "Variations On the Same Theme: Sentential Negation and the Negative Copula in Arabic." Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XXIV-XXV. Ed. Samira Farwaneh and Hamid Ouali. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2014. 121-138.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas, and Lina Choueiri. "The Syntax of Arabic from a Generative Perspective." Handbook of Arabic Linguistics. Ed. Jonathan Owens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 115-164.
    • Hasegawa-Johnson, Hasegawa-Johnson, Elabbas , Benmamoun, Eiman Mustafawi, and Mohamed Elmahdy . ". On The Definition of the Word `Segmental'." Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Speech Prosody. 2012.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. " Clause Structure and Tense of Verbless Sentences." Foundational Issues In Linguistics Theory. Ed. Maria-Luisa Zubizaretta, Robert Freidin, and Carlos Otero. MIT Press, 2008. 105-131.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "Reciprocals as Plurals." Research in Afroasiatic Grammar II. Ed. Jacqueline Lecarme. John Benjamins, 2003. 53-62.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "The Role of the Imperfective Template in Arabic Morphology." Language Processing and Acquisition in Languages of Semitic, Root-based, Morphology. Ed. Joseph Shimron. John Benjamins, 2003. 99-114.

    Encyclopedia Entries

    • Benmamoun, Elabbas . "Arabic Syntax." Encyclopedia of Arabic Linguistics IV. Brill Academic Publishers, 2009.
    • Benmamoun, Elabbas. "The Construct State." Encyclopedia of Arabic Linguistics. Brill Academic Publishers, 2006.