The Wandering Subjects of the Levant

“Verbal Complexes” in Lebanese Arabic as Phrasal Movement

in Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
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Lebanese Arabic (LA) presents a puzzling word order in non-finite subordination contexts where the subject of the matrix clause comes sandwiched between the embedded verb and its complement (Hallman 2011). We present new facts concerning this puzzle, and argue in favor of phrasal movement of TP, which transports both verbs and intervening material above the subject, along the lines of Kayne (2005:42). Importantly, while the surface position of the subject may appear to involve rightward movement, we propose the subject itself only undergoes one simple movement leftwards (as a topic), and that the puzzling order follows from the movement of phrases containing it.

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