Who is what and what is who: the morpho-syntax of Arabic WH
This thesis advances a micro-parametric analysis for the variation in wh-dependencies in a number of modern Arabic dialects, especially, Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian. It will be shown that although these dialects have much in common, there are certain differences in the strategies used in the formation of wh-questions. At a narrower level, it will also be shown that argument wh-phrases such as ‘who’ and ‘what’ in these dialects display asymmetric behaviour in the various wh-questions. In this thesis, I argue that cross-linguistic variation can only be accounted for in terms of morpho-syntactic properties of individual wh-phrases. As far as the Arabic dialects investigated here are concerned, I propose that wh-expressions such as Iraqi meno ‘who’ and Lebanese ˇsu ‘what’, unlike what has been assumed, are copular wh-phrases and, as such, have internally complex structures. It is this internal complexity, I argue, that directly affects their external syntax. To put the findings in perspective, this thesis examines the possibilities that Universal Grammar offers languages in terms of building wh-dependencies ranging from topicalisation and variable binding to relativisation and equation. The thesis, departs away, however, from mainstream approaches to cross-linguistics variation couched in the P&P framework (Chomsky 1981, 1986, 1995), such as LF-movement and binding, on the grounds that they are too rigid to capture the variation observed here. Instead, the thesis supports, and makes a contribution to, novel approaches to cross-linguistic variation, such as the Nanosyntax framework (Starke 2010, 2011), which take syntax to operate on (sub)-morphemic levels. Overall, the analysis has implications for the syntax of wh-constructions in general and the interaction at the morphology-syntax interface in particular.
AuthorsRazaq, Issa M. M. Abdel
- Theses