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Query Details


Query Subject:   Persian data and EPP
Author:   Ahmad Lotfi
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Syntax
Subject Language(s):  Persian, Iranian


Query:   Dear Linguists,

The Persian verb 'bayestan' (meaning 'to have to') is deficient in the
sense that contrary to other Persian verbs it cannot be inflected for
person. It may assume one of three morphologically isolated forms: (a)
'bayad' mainly used for present and future events (and even for past
ones if the verb to follow is already inflected for past tense), and
(b) 'bayest/bayesti' for past (but again not necessarily as they can
be used with other verbs inflected for present tense in order to refer
to a present/future tense event). Then when used in a phrase, it is
the verb to follow that must be inflected for person and tense
(although 'bayad' is not atemporal itself as mentioned above):

1. a. (Man) bayad beravam.
I must go-1st-sing-present.
''I must go''
b. (To) bayad beravi.
You must go-2nd-sing-present.
''You must go''
c. ...
2. a. (Man) bayad/bayest miraftam.
I must go-1sr-sing-past
'' I had to go''
b. (To) bayad/bayest mirafti.
You must go-2nd-ding-past
''You had to go''
c. ...

'Bayad' cannot be an auxiliary verb because Persian doesn't use
AUXs. Perhaps 'khastan' is the only verbial element that one may
consider as a future-tense auxiliary in Persian:

3. a. (Man) khaham raft.
I want-1st-sing.-future go-nonfinite
''I will go''
b. (To) khahi raft.
You want-2nd-sing.-future go
''You will go''
c. ...

Anyway, here it is 'khastan' that is inflected for tense and
agreement; the main verb (raft) remains non-finite. 'Bayad' cannot be
an auxiliary because it is the verb to follow and not 'bayad' itself
that is inflected for tense and agreement. Interestingly enough, in
Persian subjectless sentences like (4) below there's no inflection for
agreement and tense on the second verb either:

4. Bayad raft.
must go-nonfinite
roughly meaning ''To go is a must/ one must go''

'Bayad' is not inflected either. Perhaps it is just some temporal
feature of 'bayad' that makes it still a (present-time) sentence.
Although Persian is a prodrop language, one cannot assume that pro is
the subject of such sentences. Actually, the sentence is neutral with
regard to the subject, and whatever personal subject pronoun one
inserts in the subject position will make the sentence ungrammatical:

5. *a. Man bayad raft.
*b. To bayad raft.
*c. ...

The sentence will be still ungrammatical if a universal quantifier
occupies the subject position:

6. * Har kas bayad raft.
every one must go

The grammatical version of (6) is:

7. Har kas bayad beravad.
every one must go-3rd-sing-present

This seems to be a violation of the Extended Projection Principle
because it is grammatically necessary for the predicate 'bayad raft'
NOT to have a subject.

Does anyone know of similar phenomena in other languages? Please send
emails to my address below. If I gather sufficient data, I'll post a
summary. Any idea or comment is welcome.

Ahmad R. Lotfi, Ph. D.
English Dept.
Graduate School
Azad University at Khorasgan
Esfahan, IRAN.
MailTo: lotfi@www.dci.co.ir
- ----------------------------------------------------
LL Issue: 10.1655
Date posted: 01-Nov-1999



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