Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 24, 2018

Split noun phrase topicalization in Eshkevarat Gilaki

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour and Mansour Shabani
From the journal The Linguistic Review


Split noun phrase topicalization has been the subject of intense studies across languages in the syntactic literature of the last few decades. One of the key questions raised for these constructions is whether they involve syntactic movement or base-generation. This paper explores this phenomenon in two understudied Iranian languages, Gilaki (Northwestern Iranian, Caspien) and Persian. In particular, we explore splits in two contexts, possessive constructions and numeral constructions. We develop diagnostics for distinguishing the two derivational possibilities, movement or base-generation, for the cases under investigation. We show that while Gilaki uses both derivational possibilities, movement in possessor split and base-generation in numeral split, Persian only allows for the latter with very similar behavior. We argue that possessor split occurs when the whole possessum DP/DemP moves out of its base position in a small clause. Numeral split occurs when the NP is replaced by a null nominal element, which is associated with an overt or pragmatic antecedent. We end the paper with a discussion of why an operation, movement or base-generation, is available for one construction but not the other.


We are grateful to Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, the audience at the first North American Conference in Iranian Linguistics (NACIL1) at Stonybrook University, the members of the University of Toronto Department of Linguistics Syntax Project group and two anonymous reviewers for comments on older versions of this work.


Alexiadou, Artemis, Liliane Haegeman, and Melita Stavrou. 2007. Noun phrase in the generative perspective. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110207491Search in Google Scholar

Androutsopoulou, A. 1997. Split DPs, focus, and scrambling in modern Greek. Proceedings of the west coast conference in formal linguistics (WCCFL) 16. 1–16.Search in Google Scholar

Corver, Norbert. 2006. Freezing effects. In M. Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk (eds.), TheBlackwell companion to syntax, vol. II, 383–406. Oxford: Blackwell.10.1002/9780470996591.ch28Search in Google Scholar

Fanselow, Gisbert. 1988. Aufspaltung Von NP Und Das problem Der ’Freien’ Wortstellung. Linguistische Berichte 1. 91–113.Search in Google Scholar

Fanselow, Gisbert, and Damir Ćavar. 2002. Distributed deletion. In A. Alexiadou (ed.), Theoretical approaches to universals (Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 49), 65–107. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/la.49.05fanSearch in Google Scholar

Ghomeshi, Jila. 1997. Non-projecting nouns and the Ezafe construction in Persian. NaturalLanguage and Linguistic Theory 15. 729–788.10.1023/A:1005886709040Search in Google Scholar

Ghomeshi, Jila. 2006. NP-anaphora and focused possessors in parallel architecture. Linguistics 44(4). 721–748.10.1515/LING.2006.023Search in Google Scholar

Guéron, Jacqueline. 1985. Inalienable possession, PRO-inclusion and lexical chains. In J. Guéron, H.-G. Obenauer and J.-Y. Pollock (eds.), Grammatical representation, 43–86. Dordrecht: Foris.10.1515/9783112328064-004Search in Google Scholar

Guéron, Jacqueline. 2003. Inalienable possession and the interpretation of determiners. In M. Coene and Y. D’hulst (eds.), From NP to DP Vol. 2 (Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 56), 189–220. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/la.56.13gueSearch in Google Scholar

Haider, Hubert. 1990. Topicalization and other puzzles of German syntax. In G. Grewendorf and W. Sternefeld (eds.), Scrambling and Barriers (Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 5), 93–112. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/la.5.06haiSearch in Google Scholar

Hankamer, Jorge, and Ivan A. Sag. 1976. Deep and surface anaphora. Linguistic Inquiry 7. 391–428.Search in Google Scholar

Hiraiwa, Ken. 2005. Dimensions of symmetry in syntax: Agreement and clausal architecture.Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Jánosi, Adrienn, Jeroen Van Craenenbroeck, and Guido Vanden Wyngaerd. 2014. Long split focalization in Hungarian and the typology of A′-dependencies. Lingua 150. 117–136.10.1016/j.lingua.2014.07.009Search in Google Scholar

Kahnemuyipour, Arsalan. 2014. Revisiting the Persian Ezafe construction: A roll-up movement analysis. Lingua 150. 1–24.10.1016/j.lingua.2014.07.012Search in Google Scholar

Kandybowicz, Jason. 2015. On prosodic vacuity and verbal resumption in Asante Twi. Linguistic Inquiry 46(2). 243–272.10.1162/LING_a_00181Search in Google Scholar

Kayne, Richard. 1984. Connectedness and binary branching. Dordrecht: Foris.10.1515/9783111682228Search in Google Scholar

Larson, Richard, and Hiroko Yamakido. 2008. Ezafe and the deep position of nominal modifiers. In L. McNally and C. Kennedy (eds.), Adjectives and adverbs: Syntax, semantics, and discourse, 43–70. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Mathieu, Eric. 2002. Split-DPs and complex predication. Manuscript, University College London.Search in Google Scholar

Merchant, Jason. 2013. Diagnosing Ellipsis. In L.L.-S. Cheng and N. Corver (eds.), Diagnosing syntax, 537–542. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602490.003.0026Search in Google Scholar

Ott, Dennis. 2011. Local instability: The syntax of split topics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University doctoral dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Öztürk, Balkiz, and Eser Erguv Taylan. 2016. Possessive constructions in Turkish. Lingua 182. 88–108.10.1016/j.lingua.2015.08.008Search in Google Scholar

Partee, Barbara, and Vladimir Borschev. 2003. Genitives, relational nouns, and argument— modifier ambiguity. In E. Lang, C. Maienborn and C. Fabricius-Hansen (eds.), Modifying adjuncts, 67–112. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110894646.67Search in Google Scholar

Riemsdijk, Henk van. 1989. Movement and regeneration. In P. Benincá (ed.), Dialect variation and the theory of grammar, 105–136. Dordrecht: Foris.10.1515/9783110869255-006Search in Google Scholar

Roehrs, Dorian. 2009. Split NPs. Ms., University of North Texas.Search in Google Scholar

Ross, John Robert 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral dissertationSearch in Google Scholar

Saab, Andres. Forthcoming. Nominal ellipses. In T. Tammerman and J. Van Craenenbroeck (eds.), The Oxford handbook of ellipsis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lingbuzz in Google Scholar

Samiian, Vida. 1994. The Ezafe construction: Some implications for the theory of X-bar syntax. In M. Marashi (ed.), Persian Studies in North America, 17–41. Bethesda, MD: Iranbooks.Search in Google Scholar

Svenonius, Peter. 2000. Quantifier movement in Icelandic. In P. Svenonius (ed.), The derivation of VO and OV, 255–292. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/la.31.10sveSearch in Google Scholar

Vahedi-Langroudi, Moahammad M. 2003. Tartib-E Kalemaat-E Asli Dar Jomalaat-E Saade Va Jofthaay-E Hambastegi Dar Guyesh-E Langrud [Basic word order in simple clauses and correlation pairs in the dialect of Langroud]. Guyeshshenasi [Basic word order in simple clauses and correlation pairs in the dialect of Langroud] 1. 98–121. [Basic word order in simple clauses and correlation pairs in the dialect of Langroud].Search in Google Scholar

van Hoof, Hanneke. 2006. Split topicalization. In M. Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, vol. IV, 408–462. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Wexler, Ken, and Peter Culicover. 1977. Some syntactic implications of a theory of language learnability. In P. Culicover, T. Wasow and A. Akmajian (eds.), Formal syntax, 7–60. New York: Academic Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wexler, Ken, and Peter Culicover. 1980. Formal principles of language acquisition. Cambridge: MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-10-24
Published in Print: 2018-11-27

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow