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A note on phrasal movement in Modern South Arabian and its consequences

Published in Brill's Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics. 2017, vol. 9, p. 247-267
Abstract I argue that the predominance of clause-final negation and the ban on object cliticization on perfective verb stems with a subject agreement suffix in the Modern South Arabian languages (MSA) Mehri and Jibbali are both consequences of the fact that in these languages, a verbal projection rather than a verbal head is probed by T(ense) or by a higher functional head. As a result, this verbal projection moves to a position above T and a fortiori above negation. A corollary of verb-projection phrasal movement above T is that the affixal phi features of subject agreement are stranded, bereft of a suitable host. In face of this conundrum, MSA reanalyzes subject agreement as a weak pronoun that undergoes suffixation under adjacency to a verbal host, like a pronominal object suffix. This reanalysis has a price, however, in that only a single suffix is possible on a single host, since only one suffix is adjacent to it. Hence, object pronouns cannot occur as clitics on a verb with a weak pronominal subject suffix.
Keywords MehriJibbaliPhrasal movementClause-final negationAgreement suffixes
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SHLONSKY, Ur. A note on phrasal movement in Modern South Arabian and its consequences. In: Brill's Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics, 2017, vol. 9, p. 247-267. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:93967

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Deposited on : 2017-05-03

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