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The Morphosyntax of the Arabic Verb: Toward a Unified Syntax-Prosody

  • Author(s): Tucker, Matthew A
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper proposes a unified model of the morphosyntax and morphophonology of the Modern Standard Arabic verbal system which attempts to preserve the empirical and analytical observations from recent Optimality-Theoretic approaches to templates in Semitic (Ussishkin 1999, 2000, 2005) as well as the observations from Distributed Morphology concerning argument structure and morphemic composition (Arad 2003, 2005). In doing so, a clausal syntax for Arabic is proposed which does not crucially rely on an Agr(eement) Projection as a landing site for subject movement. This is done using arguments from VP-adverb placement, negative clitic placement, and word order in perfective periphrastic verbal constructions in order to motivate the syntactic structure. This structure is then shown to pose a problem for modern theories of morphological linearization (Pak 2008; Embick 2010). Finally, the linearization problem is resolved by appealing to prosody as the mechanism for linearization, following recent proposals in morphophonology (Kramer 2007, Tucker 2011b). This move is motivated by data from Arabic Hollow Verbs which confirm the predictions the model makes with respect to allomorphic sensitivity of morphemes to each other over nonconcatenative (and therefore nonadjacent) distances. Finally, the implications of these findings for morphological and syntactic theory are discussed.

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