Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number1  March 2021                                                  Pp.325-338

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The Syntax of Multiple Determination in Arabic:
An anti- residual relative clause/close-apposition account 

Saleh Jarallah AlQahtani
Department of Linguistics and Translation Studies
College of Languages and Translation
King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Email: alashry@KSU.EDU.SA


Received: 1/31/2021               Accepted: 2/22/2021              Published:3/24/2021


This paper aims to give an account of the multiple determination (determiner spreading) phenomenon in Arabic. Determiner spreading is the syntactic representation and phonological realization of multiple determiners within the same determiner phrase. As a cross-linguistic phenomenon, determiner spreading has been investigated in other languages (e.g., Scandinavian and Greek); different accounts have been proposed. For Scandinavian languages, determiner spreading has been analyzed as a representation of different semantic interpretations. As far as Greek is concerned, some analyses have been proposed; however, two prominent ones have received considerable attention in the literature: (i) a residue of a reduced relative clause and (ii) an instantiation of close appositions. Contrary to those analyses, this paper claims that none of the two analyses is suitable for Arabic; thus, a language-specific analysis is required. To analyze determiner spreading in Arabic, the current paper posits the following research question: What is the linguistic purpose of the multiple determiners found in Arabic determiner phrases? Answering the research question, the paper claims that, in addition to its indispensable role in establishing agreement between nouns and adjectives within the Arabic determiner phrase, determiner spreading demarcates syntactic and semantic phrase boundaries. The paper takes Minimalist Program and Distributed Morphology as a theoretical framework to argue that attributive adjectives are projection of an agreement phrase headed by the definite article ʔal or by the indefinite phonological marker `nunation: -n’. This proposal requires no syntactic movements in the syntax proper. The ultimate linear order is achieved in the phonological components.
Keywords: Arabic, close apposition, demarcation, determiner phrases, determiner spreading,
semantics, syntax

Cite as:   (2021).  The Syntax of Multiple Determination in Arabic: An anti- residual relative clause/close-apposition account
Arab World English Journal, 12 (1) 325-338 .


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Received: 1/31/2021
Accepted: 2/22/2021
Published: 3/24/2021 

Dr. Saleh Jarallah AlQahtani is an assistant professor of theoretical and experimental linguistics. He specializes in syntax, distributed morphology and experimental syntax. He is affiliated to the Department of Linguistics and Translation Studies/College of Languages and Translation/King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He teaches MA graduate courses (Syntax, Morphology). He supervises MA students. He earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Ottawa/Canada.  ORCid ID: