The syntax and semantics of Modern Standard Arabic resumptive tough-constructions

  • 1 Savoirs, Textes, Langage (STL UMR 8163 - CNRS), Université de Lille - Sciences Humaines et Sociales, Rue du Barreau BP 60149, Villeneuve-d’Ascq Cedex, France
Fayssal Tayalati
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  • Savoirs, Textes, Langage (STL UMR 8163 - CNRS), Université de Lille - Sciences Humaines et Sociales, Rue du Barreau BP 60149, Villeneuve-d’Ascq Cedex, 59653, France
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and Lieven DanckaertORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9660-0945

Abstract

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.

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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.

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