The syntax of exceptives and exclamatives in Arabic

Albataineh, Hussein Hamid (2021) The syntax of exceptives and exclamatives in Arabic. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis examines the syntax of exceptive constructions and exclamative constructions in Arabic. The study of both types of constructions is significant as it raises questions for case theory, word order, agreement, negation, and the syntax-semantics interface. However, contra previous studies, this thesis argues that both exceptives and exclamatives are nonsentential phrases (i.e., ExP ‘Exceptive Phrases’ and ExclP ‘Exclamative Phrases’), and there is no evidence to analyze them as TPs or CPs; in fact, there is compelling counter-evidence. The morphosyntactic complexities in Arabic exceptives cast doubts on the adequacy of previous proposals in the literature and lead the thesis to argue for more principled accounts in which exceptive particles are the lexicalization of the functional head Ex which exists in two distinct environments. The first involves the full-fledged exP in which there are two different sources for theta-role and case assignment, and the second includes the functionally impoverished ExP in which one single source is available for both theta-role and case assignment. The thesis explains that the Ex-complement is assigned the accusative case only when the ExP is projected as a full-fledged exP. In the functionally impoverished ExP, a particular case is assigned on both the ExP-associate and the ExP-complement by PF-concord mechanism (i.e., Morphological Feature Copying). Furthermore, the thesis shows that free exceptives cannot include any maximal projection and cannot have greater distributional freedom than connected exceptives, contra previous studies. In brief, the thesis argues against an analysis in the light of coordination and ellipsis and maintains that Arabic exceptives are nonsententials. In a similar vein, the thesis argues that Arabic exclamatives (Excls) are also nonsententials; they are largely temporally deictic to the here and now, and they are anchored by the context rather than Tense (i.e., they lack the TP layer). Based on this assumption, the thesis argues that Excls are asymmetrical small clauses projected as ExclPs. This analysis accounts for the peculiarities and intricacies of the three types of Arabic Excls (i.e., Wh-Excls, vocative Excls, and verbal Excls) such as their inflexible word order, case alternation on the referent, and the presence of some particles and affixes although not semantically required. The analysis of Excls as nonsententials is argued to be more adequate as it is more closely associated with the defining properties of Excls (i.e., evaluation and referentiality), and also to be more convincing since even the presence of the copula kān ‘was’ cannot be considered as counterevidence. The thesis argues that it is the realization of the Excl head, rather than an auxiliary verb in V or T, as evidenced by its distinctive semantic and distributional properties.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 15002
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 242-267).
Keywords: Exclamation, Exception, Case assignment, Pseudo-passives, Agreement, Arabic Syntax, Negation, Nonsententials (CP-less Structures), Morphological Templates, Morphological Feature Copying, Case Concord
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: April 2021
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Arabic language--Grammar; Construction grammar; Grammar, Comparative and general-—Exclamations.

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