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Title: The syntax of wh-questions in Syrian Arabic
Author: Sulaiman, Mais
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 4938
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis discusses some different types of wh-questions available in the dialect of Syrian Arabic. It demonstrates that this variety of Arabic has a very rich and varied system of wh-questions. As a prelude to this, it will first be shown that, as far as basic word order in the clause is concerned, two possible orders are allowed in SA, VSO and SVO. It will be argued that in the past tense, the unmarked order is VSO and SVO as a commonly occurring alternative. In the VSO order, the verb raises to a higher functional head F, a lower head in the complementizer system following Rizzi (2001). The subject raises to SpecTP due to the rich agreement system in SA. In the SVO order, the NP is either definite or specific indefinite. Assuming that F can be marked with a definite/specific feature, it can attract a subject to its specifier. Alternatively F can be marked with a [Focus] feature so it can attract a wh-phrase when a higher interrogative head INT is merged with F. It will be shown that in wh-questions, the V-S order is obligatory; however, this is not a consequence of a V2 constraint. Following Holmberg (2014), it will be argued that this order follows from a constraint on movement across the head F where the verb lands. Only one XP can precede the finite verb in F. After this, the strategies for wh-question formation in SA will be discussed, demonstrating that the in-situ strategy is marginal, being employed only in discourse linked contexts. It will be argued that Merchant‟s (2001, 2005) analysis of multiple wh-questions does not account for the facts of SA. Instead, it will be proposed that they should be accounted for in terms of the clause structure folding approach discussed in Moro (2011). A further topic covered will be pied-piping in SA. Facts from this domain will be used to argue against Heck‟s (2009) edge generalization, according to which a wh-pied-piper has to move to the edge of the pied-piped phrase. However, it will be shown that there is no such movement in the possessive structure in SA, as illustrated in (1): (1) a. hada beit bassel. this house Bassel „This is Bassel‟s house.‟ v b. beit miin hada? house who this „Whose house is this?‟ In (1a), the possessor appears in post-nominal position. In the case of a wh-possessor, as in (1b), it still appears in that position. Specifically, it does not undergo movement to the edge of the pied-piped phrase. In order to account for the pied-piping facts in this construction, I investigate the Q/wh-agreement system in SA, following Cable (2007), trying to determine whether the facts in (1) might follow from SA being a non-Q/wh-agreement language. However, I show that SA is an agreement language and propose that the behaviour of Wh-possessive phrases can be accounted for in terms of a combination of Cinque‟s (2000, 2005) roll up movement and Cable‟s (2007) Q-theory. As I will show, this analysis also accounts elegantly for the fact that wh-possessive phrases cannot contain adjectives. Along with the long extraction strategy, SA also employs the partial wh-movement (wh-scope marking) strategy for questioning out of embedded questions, as in (2): (2) šw fakkar-ty maʕ miin knt ʕam iħki? what thought-2SG.F with who was.1SG PROG speaking „What did you think? Who was I talking to?‟ It will be argued that there is no direct dependency between the wh-scope marker and the embedded wh-phrase. The wh-scope marker is not an expletive. It is base generated in the complement of a copula clause. It will be rgued that the wh-scope marker and the embedded wh-clause form a small clause embedded in the complement of the main verb. This clause takes the embedded wh-clause as its subject and the wh-scope marker as its predicate assimilating the embedded wh-clause to a free relative clause headed by a null head. Another strategy for questioning out of embedded questions in SA involves what looks like clausal pied piping: vi (3) addesh ʕmr-a al-et-l-ak? how.much age-her said-3SG.F.SU-to-2SG.M.OBJ „How old is she, did she say?‟ It will be argued that sentences like (3) are instances not of pied piping but of interrogative slifting, an operation that is different from both scope marking and long distance movement. Following Haddican et al (2014), it will be proposed that the slifted clause does not originate in the complement of the main clause. Rather, it is coindexed with a null operator merged in that position.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available