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LINGUIST List 20.177

Tue Jan 20 2009

Diss: Syntax: Musabhien: 'Case, Agreement and Movement in Arabic: ...'

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        1.    Mamdouh Musabhien, Case, Agreement and Movement in Arabic: A minimalist approach

Message 1: Case, Agreement and Movement in Arabic: A minimalist approach
Date: 20-Jan-2009
From: Mamdouh Musabhien <mamdouh_2johotmail.com>
Subject: Case, Agreement and Movement in Arabic: A minimalist approach
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Institution: Newcastle University
Program: School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics (SELLL)
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Mamdouh Musabhien

Dissertation Title: Case, Agreement and Movement in Arabic: A minimalist approach

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard (arb)
                            Arabic, South Levantine Spoken (ajp)

Dissertation Director:
Dr. Geoffrey Poole
Prof. Maggie Tallerman

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis proposes a minimalist analysis that accounts for a number of
word-order-related 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
subject-verb-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-verb-object word orders, is in fact a spellout 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 spellout of vP phase.

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