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In: Interactions of Degree and Quantification
Author: Peter Hallman

Abstract

In this chapter, I claim that the English participial suffix -EN (as in written, closed, etc.) is the default inflection for English verbs when no other suffix is selected by the verb’s immediate syntactic environment, explaining the occurrence of -EN in a puzzlingly heterogeneous variety of contexts. Contrary to previous literature, I argue against any role for -EN in passivization. I claim instead that the auxiliary be is critically involved in marking the lack of agentivity in English passives. Even this aspect of the passive construction is a relatively superficial feature of English though, since it does not hold in languages that express passive synthetically as a verbal inflection, rather than analytically.

Open Access
In: Passives Cross-Linguistically
Volume Editor: Peter Hallman
Interactions of Degree and Quantification is a collection of chapters edited by Peter Hallman that deal with superlative, equative and differential constructions cross-linguistically, interactions of the comparative with both individual quantifiers and event structure, the use of the individual quantifier ‘some’ as a numeral, and the question of whether the very notion of ‘degree’ is reducible to a relation between individuals. These issues all represent semantic parallels and interactions between individual quantifiers ( every, some, etc.) and degree quantifiers ( more, most, numerals, etc.) in the expression of quantity and measurement. The contributions presented here advance the analytical depth and cross-linguistic breadth of the state of the art in semantics and its interface with syntax in human language.
Author: Peter Hallman

This paper describes a construction in contemporary Syrian Arabic that matches the semantic features of the ‘universal perfect’ in English. The construction is based on a stative predicate and a duration adverbial and says that the state has held for the specified duration. The primary identifying morphological characteristic of the construction is the fact that the subject is doubled by a dative pronoun. The dative pronoun may surface as an enclitic of the optional auxiliary ṣār ‘become’. The paper identifies the construction’s morphosyntactic and semantic composition and addresses the question of whether ṣār is a pleonastic auxiliary or makes a semantic contribution of its own. I claim that the universal perfect meaning is derived by a hidden operator that assigns dative case to the subject, and whose position is detectable by its interaction with negation. The doubling of the subject in Arabic by a dative pronoun represents a subtle similarity to English, which employs the auxiliary have in the perfect, since both the dative in Arabic and have in English signify possession in other contexts. Similarities in the components and composition of the universal perfect in Arabic and English support the notion that the universal perfect is a uniform element in a cross linguistic taxonomy of aspectual categories.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Author: Peter Hallman

Abstract

This study examines a particular type of optionality in subject placement in Lebanese Arabic that indicates that that language allows restructuring, or derived clause union, mediated by formation of a verbal complex, in which a non-finite subordinate verb raises and adjoins to the finite matrix verb. In addition to the word order VSVX in control constructions, Lebanese Arabic also admits the order VVSX. This study considers rightward subject movement and backward control analyses of the data presented here, but finds that the body of evidence instead supports a derivation in which subordinate T[ense] raises to matrix T, carrying the subordinate verb along with it, analogous to analyses of restructuring in Romance, Slavic and Germanic languages. The study therefore finds restructuring in a language in which it has not previously been observed.

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Author: Peter Hallman

‮This paper argues that the imperfective verb form in Standard Arabic does not express an ‘imperfective’ meaning, but rather marks the default lexical form of the verb, and is therefore analogous to the English infinitive. The progressive and habitual readings cross-linguistically typical of the imperfective are derived in Arabic by applying covert progressive and habitual operators to this infinitival base. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that imperfective verbs receive an eventive interpretation in certain contexts, an interpretation incompatible with the stativity of progressive and habitual readings. Additional scopal evidence indicates that the progressive applies at the verb phrase level, not at the word level at which the imperfective morphology itself is found.‬‎

In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Author: Peter Hallman

Abstract

This paper compares two interrogative terms—ʔaddēʃ and kam—in Syrian Arabic. Both of these form questions about quantity. I argue, though, that ʔaddēʃ and kam are fundamentally different both syntactically and semantically. ʔaddēʃ can be separated from the term that contributes the scale it asks about, which is typical of degree operators in Syrian Arabic. Various scales are compatible with ʔaddēʃ. This makes ʔaddēʃ similar to English how as in how high, how fast, how much, etc. Kam, on the other hand, combines only with a singular count noun and asks how many instances of the count noun denotation have the property the remnant sentence denotes. This, and syntactic and morphological parallels between kam and numerals in Syrian Arabic, point to the conclusion that kam is an interrogative numeral.

Open Access
In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics