The two related issues of word order, and subject-verb agreement have occupied center stage in the study of Arabic syntax since the time of Sibawayhi in the eighth century. This book is a contribution to both of these areas. It is grounded within the generative grammar framework in one of its most recent versions, namely Minimalism, as expounded in Chomsky (1995). In this volume, a detailed description is given of word order options in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Palestinian Arabic (PA). It is shown that, perhaps surprisingly, the two varieties allow almost the same range of word orders. The important question of whether Arabic has a VP is addressed: the author argues extensively that Arabic has a VP category. The evidence derives from examining superiority effects, ECP effects, binding, variable interpretations, etc. Also discussed is the content of [Spec, TP] in VSO sentences. It is argued that the position is occupied by an expletive pronoun. The author defends the Expletive Hypothesis which states that in VSO sentences the expletive may take part in checking some features of the verb.
A typology of the expletive pronoun in Modern Standard Arabic, Palestinian Arabic, Lebanese Arabic, and Moroccan Arabic is provided. A particularly interesting problem involving pronominal co-reference is the following: if the subject is the antecedent of a pronominal clitic, word order is free; if a pronominal is cliticized onto the subject, then the antecedent must precede. An account that derives these restrictions without recourse to linear order is proposed.
1. Abbreviation and Transcription Conventions; 2. Abbreviations; 3. Transcription Conventions (adapted from Saad 1975, p. 10); 4. Preface; 5. 1. Variation in Word Order; 6. 2. The Categorial Status of VP in Arabic; 7. 3. Word Order and the Expletive Pronoun; 8. 4. The Expletive Hypothesis; 9. 5. Asymmetries in Binding; 10. Bibliography; 11. Index