The Morphosyntax of Tharifith Berber

Abdelhak El Hankari (2010). The Morphosyntax of Tharifith Berber PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Abdelhak El Hankari
Thesis Title The Morphosyntax of Tharifith Berber
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-07
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Rob Pensalfini
Professor Jamal Ouhalla
Dr May Laughren
Total pages 276
Total colour pages 2
Total black and white pages 274
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
Abstract/Summary Abstract: This dissertation investigates the syntax and also some aspects of the morphology of Tharifith Berber (such as, the inflectional classes of nouns and the Construct State) within the Distributed Morphology framework (Halle & Marantz 1993, et al.). One of its main objectives is to demonstrate how morphology could be brought within the range of syntax. This view becomes apparent when inflectional morphemes which project in the syntax are also used to derive words. Contrary to what has always been reported, that Berber is an unquestionable VSO language, I show that Tharifith has now shifted to a Topic-Initial configurational system. This claim is based on two pieces of evidence: (1) the SVO order is preferred over VSO, (2) when the object is a clitic both the verb and the clitic are required to be in the initial position of the clause. I propose an account arguing that the two alternations instantiate a Topic-fronting phenomenon, which requires the initial position of the clause to be filled with Topic. Of interest to word order is another property displayed by some WH- complex clauses which require Verb-First. A careful analysis of the structure of these clauses reveals that this is an instantiation of V-to-C movement, also known as the verb second phenomenon (V2). While the movement to the initial position in the main clause is argued to be motivated by Topic, I show that V2 is motivated by the feature Focus which needs to be checked in C. Due to the fact that this operation is sensitive to the phonological property of the complementiser, I make the claim that discourse features, at least in Berber, should be generated at PF. Despite the fact that the subject, object and dative clitics are often grouped under the ‘clitic – banner,’ I show that the first set displays the properties of agreement markers on the verb while the other two sets are claimed to be argument XPs. The approach takes an in-depth theoretical approach to the study of clitics. In a framework where syntax operates on purely formal features, and taking on board the view that clitics as arguments have the formal features required by the computation identical to the ones found with lexical NPs, it is argued that any other distinction between the two sets of arguments is made post-syntactically. Argument structure is then claimed to follow from a fairly small number of principles which govern their syntactic system. The study discusses the movement of clitics at length, and argues it to be phonological. Crucial to the analysis is the fact that this movement operation is not only dependent on the phonological property of clitics but is also dependent on the property of functional elements that host them. Evidence is provided which shows that only functional categories that are phonologically dependent can be hosts. I then conclude that cliticisation is in fact an attraction by the host, a process which occurs during the mapping of the syntactic output to phonology. I further argue that this type of PF merger which is claimed to generate the placement of clitics is constrained by an adjacency relation. Additional support to the claim that morphology should be subject to syntactic principles is found with valency. I show that the system, in many respects, treats the structure of verbs and clauses along the same line. Furthermore, the meaning which is traditionally claimed to be inherent to words is shown from the verbal system to follow from the syntactic structure the verbs project.
Keyword Tharifith Berber, Construct State, Clitics, Distributed Morphology, Valency, Word order.
Additional Notes 16-17

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Created: Sat, 31 Jul 2010, 15:26:57 EST by Mr Abdelhak El Hankari on behalf of Library - Information Access Service