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  • Thu
    15
    Jun
    2017

    Multiple subjects across categories: Evidence from Modern Standard Arabic

    1:00 pmGrote vergaderzaal, 3de verdieping Blandijn

    Dialing talk: Fayssal Tayalati en Lieven Danckaert (Université de Lille 3), "Multiple subjects across categories: Evidence from Modern Standard Arabic"

    In this talk we focus on a particular type of tough-construction in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), illustrated in (1)-(2). In these examples we see a DP (bracketed), followed by an adjective (underscored) and a deverbal noun. Attached to this last element is a resumptive pronoun (glossed as ‘RP’) which corefers with the bracketed DP.
    (1) [hāḏā l-kitābu]i mumtiʿun qirāʾatu-hui
    this the-book.ᴍ.sɢ.ɴᴏᴍ pleasant.ᴍ.sɢ.ɴᴏᴍ read.f.sɢ.ɴᴏᴍ-ʀᴘ.ᴍ.sɢ
    ‘This book is pleasant to read.’ (= predicative reading, root clause)
    (2) [[al-ʿimāratu]i [ṣ-ṣaʿbu bayʿu-hāi]] bīʿat ʾaẖīran
    the-building.f.sɢ.ɴᴏᴍ the-difficult.ᴍ.sɢ.ɴᴏᴍ sell.ᴍ.sɢ.ɴᴏᴍ-ʀᴘ.f.sɢ was.sold finally
    ‘[The building which is difficult to sell] was finally sold.’ (= attributive reading, DP)
    A key property of these structures concerns the agreement morphology on the adjective. In MSA, attributive and predicative adjectives canonically agree with their head noun or subject. However, as can be deduced from (2), the adjective in tough-constructions does not agree in number, gender or case with the lefthand DP, but rather it appears with ‘default’ nominative masculine singular morphology.
    We will propose a unified analysis of (1)-(2), which crucially incorporates the idea that the relevant structures contain two distinct subject positions. First, to account for the observed lack of agreement between the DP and the adjective, we adopt Mohammad’s (1990, 2000) suggestion that the ‘default’ agreement which can be observed in a number of (impersonal) constructions in MSA is due to the presence of a (phonologically null) expletive subject. We take this expletive pronoun to be located in SpecTP, where it agrees with the adjectival predicate. Next, having discarded the hypothesis that the initial DP sits in an A-bar position, we propose that it occurs in Cardinaletti’s (2004) SubjP, i.e. a high subject position which is associated with an ‘aboutness’ reading. Interestingly, there is independent evidence that in MSA (as well as in many other languages) two clause-mate subject positions can be filled simultaneously by non-coreferring XPs: this is the case in the ‘broad subject’ pattern discussed in e.g. Alexopoulou et al. (2004).

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