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Features between form and interpretation: the effect of animacy, gender, and number on verbal agreement

Benduhaish, Sara Omar A. (2018) Features between form and interpretation: the effect of animacy, gender, and number on verbal agreement. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis critically analyses the intriguing behaviour of plural inanimate nouns triggering partial agreement in subject–verb–object (SVO) word order in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). The analysis focuses on three significant morphosyntactic features of agreement: animacy, gender and number. I follow integrated theoretical assumptions of current Minimalism and Distributed Morphology (DM). I operate on the consonantal root-and-pattern property of MSA to argue for a DM approach to feature analysis. I argue that assignment of gender values takes place during syntax before PF whereas the exponence of agreement features takes place post-syntactically at phonological form. I argue for a decompositional analysis for the structure of determiner phrase (DP) in which agreement features are not located at the same syntactic head within the nominal. Following Ritter (1993) and Zabbal (2002), number heads its own syntactic projection, and thus number phrase (NumP) is the syntactic locus for inflectional number values of the nominal. I argue for two locations for number values: NumP, which hosts the distributive reading, and n, which hosts the collective reading interpretation. I also argue for a decompositional analysis of nP in which there are two ns; the closest to the root hosts the interpretable gender that is assigned based on the semantic properties of the nominal, whereas the higher n hosts the uninterpretable gender assigned arbitrarily to the noun. I argue that this structure provides a satisfactory analysis for the agreement behaviour of mixed-agreement nouns. With respect to agreement, I argue for an Agree-based approach in which the probe enters into an Agree relationship with a goal in its c-commanding domain. Following Doron (2000), I assume that the presence of an Extended Projection Principle feature on T is optional and conditioned by the goal’s capability to move to [Spec, TP].

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Animacy, Agreement, Modern Standard Arabic, Gender, Number, Features, Plurality, Inanimate plurals.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > Linguistics & Phonetics (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.759807
Depositing User: Dr Sara Benduhaish
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2018 12:34
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22245

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