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Title: Case, agreement and movement in Arabic :a minimalist approach
Authors: Musabhien, Mamdouh
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis proposes a minimalist analysis that accounts for a number of word-orderrelated issues in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Jordanian Arabic (JA). Assuming Chomsky's (2005) feature inheritance model, the thesis investigates the issues of Case, the interaction between subject positions and verbal agreement in addition to object movement. In verb-subject-object word orders, subjects are invariably nominative; the Case value on the postverbal subject is an outcome of an Agree relation between these subjects and T, the head of Tense Phrase (TP), which inherits its feature from the complementiser. Chapter four argues that the Case variability on the preverbal subject in subject-verb-object structures is dependent on the type of the complementiser. The complementiser which introduces subject-verb-object clauses has a lexical Case feature that is not interpretable on T, hence T does not inherit this feature. Consequently, the lexical Case feature of the complementiser in subjectverb- object structures is discharged under a local Agree relation between the complementiser and the preverbal noun phrase which is raised from a lower position. It is also claimed in chapter four that the structure of zero copula sentences contains a light Noun Phrase (nP) functional projection that compares to the light Verb Phrase (vP) functional projection in verbal sentences. Case on the nominal complements in zero copula sentences is valued under an Agree relation with the features of n, the head of nP. Chapter five deals with verbal agreement and subject positions; it claims that the supposed number marker, which appears as a clitic on the verb in subject-verbobject word orders, is in fact a spell out of the copy that is left behind the fronted subject. In MSA, the fronted subject undergoes topic movement to the specifier position of Topic Phrase (TopP). By contrast, in JA, the fronted subject is located in the specifier position of TP. JA differs from MSA in that it allows the verb to undergo topic movement to the specifier position of TopP across the subject in the specifier position of TP. Finally, the phenomenon of object displacement and pronominal object cliticisation in MSA is investigated in chapter six. It is argued that verb-object-subject word orders are derived by focus movement of the object from its base position across the subject to an outer specifier position of vP. It is claimed that focus movement affects nominal objects as well as pronominal object clitics. In particular, it is claimed that pronominal object cliticisation onto the verb does not take place in Verb Phrase (VP). Rather, object cliticisation takes place after the spell out of vP phase.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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