Syntactic Dependencies and Verbal Inflection: Complementisers and Verbal Forms in Standard Arabic

Feras Saeed


This paper investigates the syntactic dependency between complementisers and verbal forms in Standard Arabic and provides a new analysis of this dependency. The imperfective verb in this language surfaces with three different forms, where each form is indicated by a different suffixal marker attached to the end of the verb as (-u), (-a), or (-Ø). The occurrence of each suffixal marker on the verb corresponds to the co-occurrence of a particular type of Comp-elements in the C/T domain. I argue that these morphological markers on the three verbal forms are the manifestation of an Agree relation between an interpretable unvalued finiteness feature [Fin] on C and an uninterpretable but valued instance of the same feature on v, assuming feature transfer and feature sharing between C/T and v (Pesetsky & Torrego 2007; Chomsky 2008). I also argue that the different verbal forms in Standard Arabic are dictated by the co-occurrence of three types of Comp-elements: i) C-elements; ii) T-elements which ultimately move to C; and iii) imperative/negative elements.

Keywords: feature transfer/sharing, verbal forms, complementisers, finiteness, syntactic dependency, Standard Arabic

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