The Structure and Distribution of Determiner Phrases in Arabic: Standard Arabic and Saudi Dialects

Title: The Structure and Distribution of Determiner Phrases in Arabic: Standard Arabic and Saudi Dialects
Authors: AlQahtani, Saleh Jarallah
Date: 2016
Abstract: This thesis investigates the syntactic structure of determiner phrases (DP) and their distribution in pre- and postverbal subject positions in Standard Arabic (SA) and Saudi dialects (SUD). It argues that indefinite DPs cannot occupy preverbal subject positions unless they are licensed by modification. Working within the theory of syntactic visibility conditions (visibility of the specifier and/or the determiner) put forth by Giusti (2002) and Landau (2007), I propose that adjectives, diminutives or construct states (CS) together with nunation can license indefinite DPs in preverbal subject positions. The syntactic derivation of the licensed indefinite DP depends on its complexity. In other words, in the case of simple DPs (e.g., a noun followed by an adjective), the correct linear word order is achieved by the syntactic N-to-D movement which takes place in the syntax proper. By contrast, if the DP is complex as in diminutives or CSs, the narrow syntax may not be able to derive the correct linear order. Therefore, I propose a novel analysis that accounts for the mismatches between the spell out of the syntax and the phonological form. I argue that the derivation of diminutives and CSs is a shared process between the narrow syntax and the phonological component (PF). I show that movement operations after-syntax (Lowering and Local-dislocation) proposed by Embick and Noyer (1999, 2001, 2007), in the sense of Distributed Morphology (DM), can account for the mismatch. The last theoretical chapter of the thesis investigates the linguistic status of nunation. I argue that nunation is an indefinite marker that performs half of determination with a full lexical item satisfying the other half. As far as the subject position is concerned, the current thesis includes two experimental studies that investigate processing of syntactic subjects in different word orders (SVO/VSO) by two groups: Native speakers (NSs) and Heritage speakers (HSs) of Arabic whose dominant language is English. The first study aims to answer two questions: a) which word order is more preferred by NSs, SVO or VSO? and b) which word order requires more processing? The second study aims to answer the same questions but with different participants, HSs. It also aims to check whether or not the dominant language grammar affected the heritage language grammar. Results showed that VSO is more preferred than SVO by both groups. As far as processing is concerned, NSs significantly processed subjects in VSO faster the SVO; they showed no significant difference when processing postverbal subjects in definite and indefinite VSO. By contrast, HSs processed subjects in SVO faster than VSO; however, the difference was not significant. The slow processing of VSO shown by HSs might be attributed to the effect of the dominant language which has a different word order from the heritage language.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -