This paper deals with a class of non-canonical construct state nominals, whose annex is non-nominal. More specifically, it examines the properties these non-canonical constructs share with canonical construct state nominals, including the absence of overt definiteness marking on the head noun. Non-canonical construct state nominals also differ from canonical construct states in imposing a restriction on the categorial nature of the annex. I argue that a predication structure (Den Dikken 2006, Ouhalla 2011) underlies non-canonical constructs, where the annex is the subject of predication and the head, a ‘minimal NP’, is the predicate, which raises over its subject. This analysis, which seems to invert the expected subject-predicate relation within construct states, is shown to account for a number of new observations related to the structural properties of non-canonical constructs. Non-canonical construct states alternate with constructions where the head noun does not appear in construct form and can take the definite marker. I argue that those alternate constructions are in fact derived from a different initial predication structure, where the head noun is in fact the subject of predication. Being a ‘minimal NP’, the head of non-canonical constructs cannot bear definiteness marking, under the assumption that the definite article is the overt expression of D[Def]. Therefore, the account for the distribution of overt definite marking is reduced to whether the outer D dominating the whole construct state is overtly expressed. I argue that a definite outer D is not expressed in non-canonical construct states due to the Doubly-filled Comp Filter (DFCF) generalized to specifier-head configurations, as in Koopman (2000).
The literature on the syntax of verbless predication in Arabic is rich, but little attention has been given to the ‘pronominal copula’, PRON. Its main characteristics are well-known: it only takes the form of third person independent pronouns; it is limited to equational sentences, in which the predicate is a definite noun phrase; and it must always occur between the subject and the predicate nominal. A standard view (e.g. Eid 1991, and more recently, Ouhalla 2013) has been to assume that PRON, like its verbal counterpart KN, realizes subject agreement in T. In this paper, I examine the syntax of PRON and review its characteristics in contrast with those of KN. I show that the complex distribution of PRON challenges the standard view and supports an alternative analysis. I propose that equational sentences are underlyingly more complex than predicational verbless sentences: they project an extra functional head F between T and the small clause structure, PredP, in which the non-verbal predicate and its subject are generated. PRON is in FP, while KN is in T. I argue that, because equational sentences involve two elements of the same category, i.e. DP, they are subject to the Distinctness Condition of Richards (2010). FP provides the Spell-Out domain boundary necessary to avoid a Distinctness violation. Finally, I suggest that FP is always headed by a pronominal element that functions as a linker (Philip 2012, Franco et al. 2015), a syntactic head which marks an existing grammatical relation, namely predication, between two DPs. More broadly, my account is in line with the view that the identity/predicational divide in copular sentences corresponds to a difference in syntactic structure.
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