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Academic Paper

Title: Optionality in Cairene Arabic wh-questions between the Minimalist Program and Optimality Theory
Paper URL:
Author: Kariema El Touny
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Women's College for Arts, Science, and Education, Ain Shams University
Linguistic Field: General Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Syntax
Abstract: The aim of this study is to explore the optionality phenomenon found in Cairene Arabic (CA) matrix and embedded wh-questions, where a wh-phrase can be found either in-situ or in Spec-CP. This is explored within two competing theories, the Minimalist program (MP) and Optimality theory (OT). MP (Chomsky 1995) and OT (Prince & Smolensky 1994, 2002, 2004) provide different explanations for this phenomenon. In MP, the Optionality phenomenon in CA can be described in a purely syntactic way. The wh-feature of C can be checked by the wh-phrase either in the Spec-CP position or the in-situ position. In contrast, the OT analysis incorporates the discourse-related constraint ALIGN- FOCUS (WH) to tip the scale in favor of the optimal form. MP does not rely on other fields of linguistics such as discourse, which falls under the individual discretion of the speaker and not on standard rules. Hence, OT best describes this phenomenon.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences: Illinois Working Papers 2011: 16-35

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