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  • The Arabic noun phraseA minimalist approach

  • Published byLOT phone: +31 30 253 6006Trans 10 fax: +31 30 253 60003512 JK Utrecht e-mail: lot@let.uu.nlthe Netherlands http://wwwlot.let.uu.nl/

    ISBN: 90-76864-38-1NUR 632

    Copyright c 2003 Joost Kremers. All rights reserved.

    This dissertation was typeset in LATEX by the author.

  • The Arabic noun phraseA minimalist approach

    Een wetenschappelijke proeve op het gebied van de Letteren

    Proefschrift

    ter verkrijging van de graad van doctoraan de Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen

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

    volgens besluit van het College van Decanenin het openbaar te verdedigen

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

    door

    Joost Merijn Kremersgeboren op 22 april 1974 te Nijmegen

  • Promotores: Prof. Dr. C. H. M. VersteeghProf. 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. EveraertDr. W. E. Ditters

  • Contents

    Acknowledgements ix

    Introduction xiSources of the examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiiA note on transcription and glosses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xii

    1 The minimalist framework 11.1 Principles and parameters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2 The grammar model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31.3 Minimalist tree structures and Merge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41.4 Agree and the feature system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61.5 Phases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

    2 Linearisation 112.1 Tree structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112.2 Kaynes antisymmetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122.3 Problems with Kaynes theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

    2.3.1 Precedence and subsequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162.3.2 Practical implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

    2.4 Recursive Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222.4.1 Linearisation as a PF procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222.4.2 A demonstration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 282.4.3 Derivation by phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

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

    3 Non-event nominals 333.1 Noun complementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

    3.1.1 Genitive-marked complements of nouns . . . . . . . . . . . . 343.1.2 Definiteness inheritance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

    3.2 Derivation of nominal forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 443.2.1 Case, number and gender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

  • vi CONTENTS

    3.2.2 Possible word forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 463.2.3 Morphological markers in the Arabic noun phrase . . . . . . . 473.2.4 Case as a roaming feature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 533.2.5 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

    3.3 Modifiers in the noun phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 573.3.1 Adjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 583.3.2 Numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 623.3.3 Quantifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 633.3.4 Demonstratives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 653.3.5 Relative clauses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 673.3.6 Combinations of modifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 693.3.7 Combinations of adjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

    3.4 Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 763.4.1 Antisymmetric approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 763.4.2 The recursive approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 823.4.3 The English noun phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

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

    4 Adjectives 974.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 974.2 The internal structure of the adjective phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

    4.2.1 Agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 994.2.2 Genitive complements of adjectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1024.2.3 The Deg head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

    4.3 Definiteness agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1114.4 Relative clauses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1144.5 Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1164.6 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118

    5 Deverbal nouns 1215.1 Properties of masdars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1215.2 Comparison to English event nominals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1255.3 Abneys analysis of gerunds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1325.4 A minimalist view . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1355.5 Participles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1415.6 Linearisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1465.7 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

    6 Conclusions 157

  • CONTENTS vii

    Appendices

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

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

    A.2 The possessive structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168A.2.1 The construct state . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168A.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 liketo take this opportunity to thank them.

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

    Iris Mulders and Vic Schepens have often listened to or read long rantingsof mine about what I was trying to do and the dead alleys I was running into. Theircomments and probing questions have often revealed flaws in my reasonings and leadto solutions to problems I was facing. Many other people have helped me in the sameway, 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 tomeet with me and with the other supervisors.

    Arabic is not my native language, which means that the help of native speakershas been essential. I would like to thank Rabha Heinen, Achmed Khabbazeh andMohammed 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 collectedat the University of Nijmegen. I would like to thank Jan Hoogland for allowing me touse 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 beenmade much easier and more satisfying by the use of LATEX. I must thank Iris Muldersfor 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 agood 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 helpedme 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, commonlyknown as minimalism. The central idea of this development is that linguistic theoryshould make use of as few primitive notions as possible. For this reason, standardnotion such as X-bar theory and government are abandoned and replaced with morebasic notions.

    Chomsky does not develop a fully worked-out syntactic theory. Rather, he sets outthe basic principles along which such a theory should be developed. In this thesis, Iwill 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 mostcommon phenomena that are known from Arabic noun phrases, such as the genitiveconstruction, word formation, placement of adjectives and other modifiers, adjectivalagreement and to a lesser extent the formation of deverbal nouns and participles.

    Because Chomskys minimalist program is not intended to be a fully-fledged syn-tactic theory, but rather a basis for one, there are important parts of it that have not beenworked out. One such part is linearisation: the derivation of a linear ordering from ahierarchical tree structure. Since Kayne (1994), the idea that Universal Grammar(UG) specifies a universal Specifier-Head-Complement ordering has become more orless the standard view in generative syntax

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