I'm basically interested in cognitive approaches to understanding language acquisition and language production such as constructionist and usage-based approaches. I am therefore an advocate of using corpora in language research since we can extract a large number of naturally occurring utterances, containing whatever linguistic element we're interested in, from a corpus as a means of studying their behavior contextually.
I'm also very interested in writing systems. I collaborated with my supervisor, Prof. Sally Rice, in a research project that aims to investigate the influence of writing systems on our conceptualization of events as unfolding in space. More specificially, how directionality of writing systems (left-to-right vs. right-to-left) bias our mental representations of events that may or may not involve physical dislocation in space. We indeed found out that speakers of Arabic (right-to-left orthography) are more inclined to visualize an event as unfolding in space leftwards, and the opposite to be true about speakers of English (left-to-right orthography). Conference presentations about this research project are available to view in the Presentations section.
Currently, I'm collaborating with Nizar Habash (NYU AD) and his team on the creation of a conventional orthography for dialectal Arabic (CODA).
We, at the University of Bahrain, are working toward compiling a corpus of both spoken and written Bahraini Arabic. Our current sources are TV shows and series, as well as folk tales that have been documented.
I have particular interest in the lexicalization of BPTs, as well as the constructionalization of basic terms referring to BPTs in Arabic. These nouns lend themselves to various processes of derivation in the language and the resulting lexical items are both morphologically and conceptually complex. The cognitive motivations for such processes are varied and are worth examining.
My specific field of interest is verbs of motion in Arabic, and my dissertation supervisors are Professors John Newman and Sally Rice. I'm particularly interested in verbs of GOING and COMING in Modern Standard Arabic as well as colloquial Arabic, namely Bahraini Arabic which is the dialect that I speak. I'm interested in studying these verbs in their natural contexts of use in order to understand their behavior in the language, especially that in MSA we seem to have more than one verb that conveys meanings of GOING and COMING. Since dictionaries of Arabic do not seem to provide enough information about the usage of these verbs, I decided to examine the constructions in which these verbs appear. This kind of study involves the following: (1) extracting instances of verb usage from a corpus (for MSA at the moment, until I construct my own Bahraini Arabic corpus), (2) annotating a large number of corpus hits for a wide variety of linguistic features: morphological, syntactic, semantic and lexical, (3) applying a number of mono- and multi-factorial statistical analyses to the dataframe that I have created in order to zero in on the (combinations of) linguistic variables that shape up the constructions in which each verb appears. My conference presentations on MSA GO and COME verbs are available to view on this webpage.