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Bookmark and Share Paper 2189

Agree in the Functional Domain: Evidence from the Morphosyntax of Positive and Negative Imperatives in Standard Arabic
Usama Soltan
86-99 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper provides a minimalist analysis of the distinctive morphosyntactic features of imperatives in Standard Arabic, particularly the absence of person agreement and the occurrence of the so-called jussive marker on positive imperative verb forms. In particular, it is argued that positive imperatives appear without person agreement due to an Agree relation between imperative C and T that results in [Person] getting realized on (null) C. By contrast, in both negative imperatives and imperatives introduced by the particle li-, the presence of an intervening head between imperative C and T breaks the sisterhood relation between C and T required for feature displacement to take place. As a result, in these cases, the imperative verb appears with person agreement. In all of these cases, however, the Agree relation between C and T will have a morphological reflex of a jussive marking on the verb. The paper also explores the cross-linguistic implications of the given analysis for the problem of the (in)compatibility between imperatives and negation in natural languages, arguing that languages with preverbal negation will typically disallow negative imperatives due to the blocking effect of Neg between C and T in clause structure, whereas languages with postverbal negation, by contrast, will always allow negative imperatives since Neg is too low to intervene in any relation between C and T in imperative structures.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Research and Languages in Africa
edited by Akinloye Ojo and Lioba Moshi
Table of contents
Printed edition: $270.00