Verbal Anti-Agreement with Non-Human DPs

  •  Feras Saeed    


This paper examines the unexpected verbal anti-agreement with non-human plural subjects in Standard Arabic. In this language, when the plural subject denotes non-humans, the verb fails to establish plural agreement with that subject. Non-human DPs refer to nominals which denote any animate life-form other than humans as well as all inanimate entities. In this paper, I provide two competing analyses to account for this phenomenon. In the first analysis, I build on the assumption (Mohammad, 2000) that preverbal subjects in this language are Topics and argue that the singular number marker on the anti-agreeing verb is the result of establishing partial agreement with the non-human subject in its base-position before movement/dislocation to TopP. In the second account, I borrow Corbett’s (2004) notion of ‘individuated nominals’ where it is assumed that plural nominals can either refer to collective individuals or distinct individuals; subsequently the intended referent dictates agreement on the verb. Hence, I argue that non-human plural subjects are collective nominals that are not individuated, therefore they are inherently singular and the plural marker in this case carries morphosyntactic information that does not affect the inherently imposed singular feature.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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