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Title: The syntax of case and agreement in standard Arabic : a minimalist analysis
Author: Alsubhi, Adil Saeed
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 6971
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates Case assignment and subject-verb agreement in Standard Arabic. 'It discusses the assignment of default, structural and inherent Case in Arabic and provides a new analysis of subject-verb agreement based on the Minimal Feature Syntax of Sigurosson (2004). The key assumption is that Case assignment and agreement relations are realised by unrelated tokens of Agree. The thesis is composed of six chapters. The first chapter comprises the introduction and presents a rationale for the topic chosen, an outline of the thesis and the sources of the data discussed in the following chapters. The second chapter presents the background of the thesis and falls into two main sections. The first section introduces the descriptive background discussing the permissible word orders in Arabic, the patterns of subject-verb agreement and the morphological realization of Gender, Number, Case, and Definiteness as well as the forms of personal and demonstrative pronouns. The second section presents the theoretical background and discusses the introduction of features in syntax and the syntactic operations, Merge and Agree. The third chapter investigates the syntax of the left periphery. In its first section, the chapter discusses CLLD topics in Arabic and their Case marking. The chapter argues that a CLLD topic can be assigned either structural accusative Case by a finite complementiser, or nominative Case by default in the absence of any overt Case assigner. It is also posited that the assignment of structural Case is limited to the highest topic in structures with multiple CLLD topics. The second section discusses fronted focus phrases and argues that the ban on fronted focus phrases as to not occur immediately after a finite complementiser can be accounted for in terms of the defective intervention effect of Chomsky (2000, 2001). In its third section, the chapter discusses double complementiser structures in Arabic and argues that ?inna can merge in the structure either as the head Force of ForceP or as the head Fin of FinP, an analysis which provides support for the CP-Split Hypothesis of Rizzi (1997) in general and the structure used in this chapter for analysing CLLD topics and fronted focus phrases in particular. The fourth chapter investigates subject-verb agreement and the assignment of structural nominative Case in Arabic. It argues that the patterns of subject-verb agreement available in Arabic can be accounted for by adopting a structure in which each agreement phi-feature projects its own maximal projection. The fact that a postverbal subject can raise to a preverbal position and consequently get assigned structural accusative Case by a complementiser is linked to the absence of the expletive grammatical subject in the specifier of T which renders T unable to assign its structural Case. This postulation embodies two key assumptions; the first is that the assignment of nominative Case is not a reflex of the valuation of the agreement features, and the second is that Burzio's (1986) generalisation can be extended from the functional head v to the functional head T. The fifth chapter discusses the assignment of Case in double object constructions. It is argued that the lexical head V assigns inherent accusative Case either to its direct object or its indirect object. This optional assignment is posited to determine which DP object serves as the subject of the corresponding passive. The sixth chapter is a conclusion presenting a summary of the main findings of this thesis and the scope of further research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available