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LINGUIST List 21.3426

Thu Aug 26 2010

Disc: Morpho-syntax of wh-questions in Arabic

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Issa Razaq, Morpho-syntax of wh-questions in Arabic

Message 1: Morpho-syntax of wh-questions in Arabic
Date: 24-Aug-2010
From: Issa Razaq <issarazaqyahoo.com>
Subject: Morpho-syntax of wh-questions in Arabic
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Dear colleagues,

As a follow up from my last topic on 'WH-forms in Arabic'
(http://linguistlist.org/issues/20/20-3654.html#1) for which I received
significant feedback, I would like to raise the following issues concerning
the behavior of argument wh-forms in some Arabic languages:

1. One of the issues I am pursuing is concerned with the wh-forms: sheno
'what' in Iraqi and shu(u) 'what' in Lebanese. Although these forms have
been assumed to be wh-DPs like English 'what', I argue against such
treatment, especially the wh-form shu(u). For instance, this form appears
only in clause-initial position, it cannot be used referentially (cannot be
d-linked, resumed), unlike the wh-phrase miin 'who'. As such, shu(u) does
not have the same distribution as miin 'who'. My argument is that shu(u)
is not a DP but rather a (coplular) CP on its own, which comprises the DP
?eysh 'which thing' and the pronominal copula huu/huwa 'he/it'. Within the
CP containing these elements, the DP ?eysh 'which thing' moves from SpecTP
to SpecCP. This could explain why shu(u) 'what' behaves the way it does,
i.e., being a CP, shu(u) cannot be used where a DP is, hence its
ill-formedness in d-linking contexts, with a presumptive reading or even
being in argument position (*in-situ). As for sheno 'what' in Iraqi, this
form is acceptable in situ unlike Lebanese shu(u), assuming the same
internal structure as Lebanese shu(u) - given phonological differences- it
could be the case that movement of the wh-DP 'which thing' results in
labeling the CP as a DP following the logic of Citko (2008) and Donati

2. Similarly, the Iraqi form meno 'who' is argued in my study to be CP that
contains the wh-element men 'who' and the pronominal copula 'hu/huwa' with
internal movement of men 'who' as a DP to SpecCP resulting in DP structure.
For those who are familiar with this topic, notice that I argue against
treating the pronominal element attaching to men in men-o as an object
clitic since the wh-phrase men/miin does not qualify as a host for any type
of clitic, i.e., it does not behave like verbs or prepositions that are
able to host pronominal clitics.

These are the issues I am looking at. This is just a brief, I will be more
than happy to share and exchange views and ideas on this topic. Your
feedback is much appreciated. My e-mail is issarazaqyahoo.com. Thank you all.

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard (arb)

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