This paper is concerned with a hitherto undiscussed type of tough-construction in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Our starting point is the observation that the tough-adjective in this construction invariably displays nominative masculine singular morphology, a pattern of ‘default’ agreement which does not seem to occur elsewhere in the grammar of MSA. At a semantic level, the relevant adjective is argued to form a complex predicate with a deverbal nominalization that acts as its complement: together, these two elements indirectly modify the subject noun phrase. To explain the default agreement pattern, we propose that MSA tough-constructions involve two distinct subjects, viz. a phonologically null expletive subject which controls agreement on the tough-adjective, and a Broad Subject which acts as the semantic subject of the whole construction. We show that there is independent evidence for the existence of both null expletives and Broad Subjects in MSA.
Akatsuka, Noriko. 1979. Why tough-movement is impossible with possible. Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS) 15. 1–8.
Al Sharifi, Budour & Louisa Sadler. 2009. The adjectival construct in Arabic. In Miriam Butt & Tracy Holloway King (eds.), Proceedings of LFG09, 26–43. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
Alexopoulou, Theodora, Edit Doron & Caroline Heycock. 2004. Broad subjects and Clitic Left Dislocation. In David Adger, Cécile De Cat & George Tsoulas (eds.), Peripheries: Syntactic edges and their effects, 329–358. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Alexopoulou, Theodora & Dimitra Kolliakou. 2002. On linkhood, topicalization and Clitic Left Dislocation. Journal of Linguistics 38. 193–245.
Borsley, Robert, Maggie Tallerman & David Willis. 2007. The syntax of Welsh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bosque, Ignacio & Ángel Gallego. 2011. Spanish double passives and related structures. Linguística 6. 9–50.
Bowers, John. 1993. The syntax of predication. Linguistic Inquiry 24. 591–656.
Cardinaletti, Anna. 1997. Subjects and clause structure. In Liliane Haegeman (ed.), The new comparative syntax, 33–63. London: Longman.
Cardinaletti, Anna. 2004. Towards a cartography of subject positions. In Luigi Rizzi (ed.), The cartography of CP and IP, 115–165. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cardinaletti, Anna & Michal Starke. 1999. The typology of structural deficiency. In Henk van Riemsdijk (ed.), Clitics in the languages of Europe, 145–233. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Cinque, Guglielmo. 1990. Types of Ā-dependencies. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Comrie, Bernard & Stephen Matthews. 1990. Prolegomena to a typology of tough movement. In William Croft, Suzanne Kemmer & Keith Denning (eds.), Studies in typology and diachrony, 43–58. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Dikken, Marcel den. 2006. Relators and linkers. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Doron, Edit & Caroline Heycock. 1999. Filling and licensing multiple specifiers. In David Adger, Susan Pintzuk, Bernadette Plunkett & George Tsoulas (eds.), Specifiers: Minimalist approaches, 69–89. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Engelhardt, Miriam. 2002. Nominal tough-constructions. In Jamal Ouhalla & Ur Shlonsky (eds.), Themes in Arabic and Hebrew syntax, 189–215. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Fassi Fehri, Abdelkader. 1993. Issues in the structure of Arabic clauses and words. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Giurgea, Ion. 2016. Romanian tough-constructions and multi-headed constituents. In Christina Tortora, Marcel den Dikken, Ignacio Montoya & Teresa O’Neill (eds.), Romance linguistics 2013, 119–138. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Giurgea, Ion & Elena Soare. 2010. Predication and the nature of non-finite relatives in Romance. In Ana Maria Di Sciullo & Virginia Hill (eds.), Edges, heads, and projections, 191–214. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Grimshaw, Jane. 1990. Argument structure. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Guérin, Valérie. 2006. On tough constructions in French. University of Hawaï at Manoa Working Papers in Linguistics 37. 1–21.
Hartman, Jeremy. 2011. (Non-)intervention in A-movement. Linguistic Variation 11. 121–148.
The official journal of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Folia Linguistica covers all non-historical areas in the traditional disciplines of general linguistics, and also sociological, discoursal, computational and psychological aspects of language and linguistic theory. Folia Linguistica Historica is exclusively devoted to diachronic linguistics (both historical and comparative) and to the history of linguistics.