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Title: The Syntax and Semantics of Gap and Resumptive Strategies in Iraqi Arabic D-linked Content Questions
Authors: Sterian, Laura Andreea
Keywords: Afro-Asiatic Languages
Semitic Languages
Arabic Language
Arabic - Grammar
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: University of British Columbia
Abstract: This thesis examines Iraqi Arabic D-linked content questions of the type “Which woman saw Ragheb?”. I develop a syntactic and semantic analysis of both the gap and resumptive strategies of such D-linked content questions. Chapter 1 provides background information on Iraqi Arabic. Chapter 2 develops the syntactic analysis: the gap strategy is treated as an instance of full DP-deletion, with the deletion site being structurally ambiguous between a D-N and a D-φ-N structure. I further propose that the resumptive strategy is an instance of remnant DP-deletion with a D-φ-N structure, and treat the resumptive pronoun as a stranded φ-element. Chapter 3 relates the two syntactic structures — D-N versus D-φ-N — to the semantic distinction between the pair-list interpretation versus a natural-function interpretation. A pair-list reading is found when a question such as “Which woman did every man invite?” is answered with a list such as: “John, Sue; Bill, Lucy, ...”. A natural function reading would answer the same question with a relational noun: “His sister.” In contexts where both the gap and resumptive strategy are possible, we observe the following: the gap strategy is ambiguous between a pair-list and a natural function reading; the resumptive strategy only allows a natural function reading. I propose that the semantic ambiguity of the gap strategy reflects its structural ambiguity: if the deletion site is D-N, this corresponds to the pair-list reading; if the deletion site is D-φ-N, this corresponds to the natural function reading. As for the resumptive strategy, in contexts where the gap strategy is also possible, it is unambiguously interpreted with a natural functional reading; this is consistent with the syntactic remnant DP-deletion, which requires a D-φ-N structure. I further show that, in contexts where only the resumptive strategy is possible, economy considerations allow syntactic remnant DP-deletion to be semantically ambiguous between a pair-list and a natural function reading. Chapter 4 examines the syntactic and semantic parallels between D-linked content questions and genitive interrogatives and argues that the latter are inherently D-linked.
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