Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/3972
Title: Aspects of Persian Syntax, Specificity, and the Theory of Grammar
Authors: Karimi, Simin
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Iranian Languages
Issue Date: 1989
Publisher: University of Washington
Abstract: Two major goals are addressed in this dissertation: (a) presenting an in-depth investigation of untouched or puzzling phenomena central to Persian syntax, and (b)° considering their implications for the theory of universal grammar. As for (a), the discussion on Persian specific oblique morpheme ra sets the stage for the subsequent discussion and provides a key to the understanding of the interesting interaction of syntactic principles with specificity. The empirical description of Persian word order exhibits a great number of surface rearrangements, implying free word order in this language. It is argued, however, that Persian is a verb-final language underlyingly, and that all the surface variations are captured by four general rules in main and subordinate clauses. In this respect, a fundamental distinction is made between topicalizations and verb-frontings as root phenomena, and the local rule of phrasal postposing. Regarding the two classes of reorderings, striking similarities are observed and discussed between the word order of Persian and that of German and Dutch. As for (b), the empirical results of Persian word order are worked out within the theory of Government and Binding (Chomsky 1981). Adopting the Determiner Phrase Hypothesis (Fukui and Spees 1986), and directionality of government (Kayne 1983), it is argued that the restriction on post-verbal determiner phrases is a result of the interaction of specificity with the Empty Category Principle (Chomsky 1981), a syntactic principle which limits the distribution of empty categories in all languages. The striking parallelism between Persian and Mandarin Chinese with respect to specificity and word order, and the universal considerations discussed in this study, confirm and justify the idea that discourse conditions as well as language specific parameters are subordinated to general principles of universal grammar. Crucially, it is argued that specificity applies an important role in the formulation of relevant restrictions on different types of extractions. The Lexical SPEC Principle, suggested and empirically supported in the last chapter, leads to the generalizations proposed as properties of universal grammar.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/3972
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