The Syntax of Word Order Derivation and Agreement in Najrani Arabic: A Minimalist Analysis

  •  Abdul-Hafeed Fakih    
  •  Hadeel Al-Sharif    


The paper aims to explore word order derivation and agreement in Najran Arabic (henceforth, NA) and examines the interaction between the NA data and Chomsky’s (2001, 2005) Agree theory which we adopt in this study. The objective is to investigate how word order occurs in NA and provide a satisfactorily unified account of the derivation of SVO and VSO orders and agreement in the language. Furthermore, the study shows how SVO and VSO word orders are derived morpho-syntactically in NA syntax and why and how the derivation of SVO word order comes after that of VSO order. We assume that the derivation of the unmarked SVO in NA takes place after applying a further step to the marked VSO. We propose that the default unmarked word order in NA is SVO, not VSO.  Moreover, we propose that the DP which is base-generated in [Spec-vP] is a topic, not a subject. We adopt Rizzy’s split-CP hypothesis on the basis of which we assume the existence of a Top Phrase (TopP) projection in the clause structure of NA. We postulate that the phase head C passes its ϕ-features to the functional head T and the Edge feature to TopP. We assume that T in VSO lacks the Edge feature which motivates movement of the subject DP to [Spec-TP]. As a consequence, the subject of VSO structure remains in situ in the subject position of [Spec-vP]. In addition, it explores subject-verb agreement asymmetry (henceforth, SVAA) and shows that the asymmetry in NA is not related to word order differences but rather to gender agreement differences.

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