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Author: Lina Choueiri

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).

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Author: Lina Choueiri

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.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Brill’s Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics is a new peer-reviewed international forum devoted to the descriptive and theoretical study of Afroasiatic languages. The territory of the Afroasiatic family spans a vast area to the South of the Mediterranean, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Middle East and reaching deep into the heart of Africa. Some of the Afroasiatic languages have been studied for centuries, while others still remain partially or entirely undocumented.

In the course of the second half of the 20th century, the constantly increasing qualitative and quantitative contribution of Afroasiatic languages to the elaboration of linguistic theory has met with considerable attention from the linguistic community. The Journal seeks top-level contributions in phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, comparative and historical linguistics. Its target audience comprises specialists in Afroasiatic languages and general linguists.The online edition offers the option to include sound and video files as well as other datafiles.

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