Comparative constructions in Syrian Arabic

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Peter Hallman Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence Austria Vienna

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In this article, I describe the internal structure, surface distribution, and scope possibilities for comparative phrases in Syrian Arabic. Comparative phrases may show surface displacement from their scalar associate in this language, subject to certain restrictions. The restrictions on surface displacement match those on scope construal, suggesting that scope construal involves covert displacement. Further, the restrictions on displacement are shown to be at work in ‘Comparative Deletion’, an ellipsis process operative in clausal comparatives. Comparative Deletion is shown to suspend barriers to movement involved in the semantic derivation of clausal comparative constructions, as reported previously for English. However, I show that attempts in the literature to reduce the barrier-suspending effect of Comparative Deletion to ellipsis in general do not extend to Syrian Arabic. Rather, the Arabic facts suggest that the suspension of constraints on movement under Comparative Deletion is unique to comparative constructions.

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