Elabbas Benmamoun
Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Abbas Benmamoun is the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Linguistics. In his role at Duke as Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, he provides leadership, guidance, and oversight of University-wide strategies and programs to support faculty excellence. The office oversees faculty and leadership development programs and partners with Duke schools, departments, and other academic programs to advance faculty careers and enhance faculty success at Duke.

Benmamoun earned his BA from the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, master’s degree from University College London, and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. He served on the faculty and administration of the University of Illinois and the faculty of the University of Wisconsin and the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies. Benmamoun’s research focuses on the comparative syntax and morphology of natural language and heritage languages, particularly on issues of language maintenance and loss within immigrant communities. His publications include The Feature Structure of Functional Categories: A Comparative Study of Arabic Dialects (Oxford University Press), Arabic Syntax (Cambridge University Press), and The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics (Routledge).

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.

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