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  • The Arabic noun phrase A minimalist approach

  • Published by LOT phone: +31 30 253 6006 Trans 10 fax: +31 30 253 6000 3512 JK Utrecht e-mail: lot@let.uu.nl the Netherlands http://wwwlot.let.uu.nl/

    ISBN: 90-76864-38-1 NUR 632

    Copyright c© 2003 Joost Kremers. All rights reserved.

    This dissertation was typeset in LATEX by the author.

  • The Arabic noun phrase A minimalist approach

    Een wetenschappelijke proeve op het gebied van de Letteren

    Proefschrift

    ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan de Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen

    op gezag van de Rector Magnificus, Prof. Dr. C. W. P. M. Blom,

    volgens besluit van het College van Decanen in het openbaar te verdedigen

    op maandag 16 juni 2003, des namiddags om 1.30 uur precies

    door

    Joost Merijn Kremers geboren op 22 april 1974 te Nijmegen

  • Promotores: Prof. Dr. C. H. M. Versteegh Prof. Dr. E. J. Reuland (Universiteit Utrecht)

    Co-promotor: Dr. A. P. Foolen

    Manuscriptcommissie: mw. Prof. Dr. A. M. C. van Kemenade (voorzitter) Prof. Dr. M. B. H. Everaert Dr. W. E. Ditters

  • Contents

    Acknowledgements ix

    Introduction xi Sources of the examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xii A note on transcription and glosses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xii

    1 The minimalist framework 1 1.1 Principles and parameters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.2 The grammar model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1.3 Minimalist tree structures and Merge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 1.4 Agree and the feature system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 1.5 Phases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

    2 Linearisation 11 2.1 Tree structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 2.2 Kayne’s antisymmetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 2.3 Problems with Kayne’s theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

    2.3.1 Precedence and subsequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 2.3.2 Practical implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

    2.4 Recursive Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 2.4.1 Linearisation as a PF procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 2.4.2 A demonstration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 2.4.3 Derivation by phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

    2.5 A conceptual comparison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

    3 Non-event nominals 33 3.1 Noun complementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

    3.1.1 Genitive-marked complements of nouns . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 3.1.2 Definiteness inheritance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

    3.2 Derivation of nominal forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 3.2.1 Case, number and gender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

  • vi CONTENTS

    3.2.2 Possible word forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 3.2.3 Morphological markers in the Arabic noun phrase . . . . . . . 47 3.2.4 Case as a “roaming” feature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 3.2.5 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

    3.3 Modifiers in the noun phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 3.3.1 Adjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 3.3.2 Numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 3.3.3 Quantifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 3.3.4 Demonstratives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 3.3.5 Relative clauses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 3.3.6 Combinations of modifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 3.3.7 Combinations of adjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

    3.4 Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 3.4.1 Antisymmetric approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 3.4.2 The recursive approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 3.4.3 The English noun phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

    3.5 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

    4 Adjectives 97 4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 4.2 The internal structure of the adjective phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

    4.2.1 Agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 4.2.2 Genitive complements of adjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 4.2.3 The Deg head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

    4.3 Definiteness agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 4.4 Relative clauses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 4.5 Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 4.6 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118

    5 Deverbal nouns 121 5.1 Properties of masdars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 5.2 Comparison to English event nominals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125 5.3 Abney’s analysis of gerunds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 5.4 A minimalist view . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 5.5 Participles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 5.6 Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 5.7 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

    6 Conclusions 157

  • CONTENTS vii

    Appendices

    A Arabic noun-phrase syntax and morphology 163 A.1 The simple noun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163

    A.1.1 Noun morphology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 A.1.2 Modification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166

    A.2 The possessive structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 A.2.1 The construct state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 A.2.2 Modification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170

    B Breadth-first vs. depth-first 173

    References 179

    Summary 187

    Samenvatting 195

    Curriculum Vitae 203

  • Acknowledgements

    A number of people have contributed to the realisation of this thesis, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

    It has been said before that a thesis cannot be written if one does not have good supervision. The supervision that I received has always been extremely helpful, and the comments from my supervisors have taught me a lot, especially about what a scientific text should and should not be.

    Iris Mulders and Vic Schepens have often listened to — or read — long rantings of mine about what I was trying to do and the dead alleys I was running into. Their comments and probing questions have often revealed flaws in my reasonings and lead to solutions to problems I was facing. Many other people have helped me in the same way, although less extensively. I would like to thank them all.

    I have also appreciated it very much that Eric Reuland has been willing to co- supervise this thesis, and to take time out of his busy schedule on a regular basis to meet with me and with the other supervisors.

    Arabic is not my native language, which means that the help of native speakers has been essential. I would like to thank Rabha Heinen, Achmed Khabbazeh and Mohammed el-Sharkawy in particular for helping me with judgements and comments. I have also used data from the corpus of Arabic newspaper and literary texts collected at the University of Nijmegen. I would like to thank Jan Hoogland for allowing me to use this corpus and for helping me to find in it what I needed to know.

    The practical side of writing the documents that make up the dissertation has been made much easier and more satisfying by the use of LATEX. I must thank Iris Mulders for introducing me to this wonderful system, and thereby saving me endless frustra- tion.

    Lastly, a word of thanks must also go to Wolfgang Mederle for providing me with a good English translation of a particularly intricate piece of German scientific writing, and to the various posters in the alt.os.linux.slackware newsgroup, who have helped me with several questions regarding English style and usage.

  • Introduction

    The subject of this thesis is the Arabic noun phrase. In the past decade, Chomsky (1995, 1998, 1999) has initiated a new development in syntactic research, commonly known as minimalism. The central idea of this development is that linguistic theory should make use of as few primitive notions as possible. For this reason, standard notion such as X-bar theory and government are abandoned and replaced with more basic notions.

    Chomsky does not develop a fully worked-out syntactic theory. Rather, he sets out the basic principles along which such a theory should be developed. In this thesis, I will develop a syntactic theory for the Arabic noun phrase that is based on the mini- malist principles proposed by Chomsky. I will give an account for several of the most common phenomena that are known from Arabic noun phrases, such as the genitive construction, word formation, placement of adjectives and other modifiers, adjectival agreement and to a lesser extent the formation of deverbal nouns and participles.

    Because Chomsky’s minimalist program is not intended to be a fully-fledged syn- tactic theory, but rather a basis for one, there are important parts