Structure of the dissertation and main claims

Dans le document Event building, selection and non-canonical Case: fi insertion in Tunisian Arabic (Page 28-0)

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.4 Structure of the dissertation and main claims

The remainder of the dissertation develops as follows: chapter 2 presents the dataset on which the claims made in this dissertation are based, chapter 3 discusses what fi is, chapter 4 develops a theory of accusative Case licensing which is then applied to SVCs and progressive contexts in chapter 5. Chapter 6 takes stock of the research and presents its possible future developments.

Chapter 2 starts off discussing the element fi in Tunisian, its multiple functions and also the contexts where fi as a preposition is not used, namely existential constructions. I refer to the use of fi we are interested in as “aspectual fi” for reasons that will become clear in the course of the analysis. Successively, the chapter illustrates that fi insertion is blind to the semantic role of the direct object, to its interpretative properties and that fi it is not subcategorized for by certain verbs.

This general picture suggests that the insertion of fi is a pure morphosyntactic fact, as suggested by Brahim (2007). The remainder of the second chapter discusses the syntactic environments which are incompatible with the presence of fi marked objects, namely after a perfective verb, after a future verb, in sentences which are interpreted as generic and in various types of non-finite embedded contexts; and the three syntactic environments where the insertion of aspectual fi is possible and/or mandatory, which are progressive sentences, SVCs and sentences whose verb is a causativized stative predicate.

The analysis is developed in the following three chapters, addressing first the issues pertaining to the local domain where aspectual fi is merged, i.e. chapter 3, and then the interplay

between the properties which determine the insertion of aspectual fi expressed in the vP domain and in the TP domain, in chapter 4 and chapter 5 respectively.

Chapter 3 discusses the element fi and the proposal put forward is that fi is not a particle that encodes aspect of any kind but, rather, is a prepositional element whose function is the licensing of Case on an argument which is not assigned canonical accusative Case. I adopt a cartographic model of syntax and, following Den Dikken (2010), fi is treated as the simplest prepositional structure available in syntax, namely a preposition that projects only the first layer of a preposition’s functional domain. Because of that, on the one hand fi is able to license Case on its argument while, on the other, is not interpreted as the head of a locative phrase. Arguments preceded by aspectual fi, in fact, behave as regular direct objects. The syntactic proposal is that fi is merged above a DP in order to make the nominal phrase self-sufficient with respect to its Case requirements.

Chapter 4 explains why fi insertion happens in Tunisian. The analysis is inspired by a body of work developed by Svenonius in which he addresses the issue of dative/accusative alternation in Icelandic (Svenonius 2002a; 2002b; 2013). He establishes the existence of a correlation between the absence of accusative Case and the aspectual interpretation of the event described by the underlying transitive predicate. The presence of dative objects in Icelandic patterns with complex events whose participants are not described as engaged in the action for the entire duration of the event itself. Ballistic motion verbs, e.g. to shoot, illustrate Svenonius’ theory in the clearest way, because they systematically switch from accusative to dative whenever the direct object describes not the target of the shooting but the projectile. The projectile’s movement is understood in these constructions as extending after the agent ceases to impart kinetic energy to it, hence the agent is understood as no longer participating to the event at the time when the theme is still involved.

I adopt this theory to account for the alternation between canonical unmarked objects and fi marked ones starting first with the issue of causativized stative verbs and their mismatching objects, as in ‘made someone hate something”. The similarity between Tunisian and Icelandic lies in the fact that they present similar temporal interpretations and comparable Case patterns.

The theme of ‘to hate’ in these contexts continues to be hated by the experiencer after the external causer ceases to do whatever they were doing to trigger the hating-state, and the theme is fi marked in Tunisian, like the projectile-theme is licensed with dative case in Icelandic.

I propose to disentangle the interpretative issue from Case licensing, considering them to stem from the same syntactic cause, meaning that the absence of accusative Case is attributed to the presence of an intervening element in syntax that prevents a uniform evaluation of all the event variables contained in a vP, whereas the peculiar interpretation of such predicates depend on the fact that semantics must compute the temporal reference of a sentence which contains one temporal value and two aspectual ones.

I adopt a Klenian approach to the temporal interpretation (Klein 1995) and assume that reference time, which is computed putting in relation an aspectual feature with T°, is the key relation in the licensing of accusative objects. Thus, assuming a neo-davidsonian approach whereby any verbal head projects its own event variable, I propose that a v° whose associated event variable is valued by the aspectual operator responsible for the definition of reference time licenses accusative Case; whereas a v° whose associated event variable cannot be valued by the aspectual operator responsible for the definition of reference time due to the presence of an

intervening element is defective and does not license any Case. These are the contexts where Tunisian resorts to the insertion of aspectual fi.

Causativized stative verbs become fi inserting contexts when they occur in the perfective form because their vP contains a generic operator which inherently bounds the variable associated to the verbal heads projected by the stative root, as in Chierchia (1995), but not the event variable projected by the causative head. Consequently, a perfective operator in the TP domain binds the highest event variable but not the lowest ones due to the intervention of the lower generic operator resulting in a v° unable to license accusative Case.

The analysis of SVCs and progressive sentences is subsumed under the same theory, although in contexts of this type intervention is claimed to happen across different vPs, in the former case, and within the TP domain in the latter one. Chapter 5 deals with the two contexts in this order. The verbs involved in SVCs are shown to be both lexical; therefore, intervention is attributed to the presence of mismatching aspectual features on the two verbs because the vPs are claimed to share the same TP. I propose that selection enables serialization so that the former V°

is responsible for the selection of verbal complements which display variable complexity. Under this view, fi insertion occurs whenever the higher verb selects a verbal complement whose structure comprises an AspP. The presence of two aspectual heads is the pre-requisite to have two contrasting aspectual values and, consequently, the presence of fi as salvaging mechanism.

One of the findings of this chapter pertains to the nature of the inflectional paradigms in Tunisian. I show how this paradigm can occur in structures of different complexity which vary from a fully blown CP domain, where the imperfectives function as Romance subjunctives, to FinP phrases, gerunds and, possibly, simple vPs. I reached this conclusion by looking at the class of predicates found in serial verbs constructions, and proposed that serialization is a form of restructuring.

The second topic dealt with in chapter 5 is the insertion of aspectual fi in progressive contexts. I follow Arche (2014) who proposes that progressive constructions invariably require the insertion of an additional temporal interval projected directly at the TP level in addition to the interval projected by the event presented in the imperfective. This means that reference time in progressive constructions is always defined by the progressive operator which dominates the imperfective event and, consequently, on the basis of our theory we predict all objects to be always fi marked when they are interpreted in the progressive, as it indeed is. Thus, Arches’ theory applied to the proposal carried out in this dissertation neatly explains why progressive sentences are the prototypical contexts of aspectual fi insertion in accordance with the intuition of my informants.

Chapter 6 presents the conclusions, summarizing the findings and discussing briefly some theoretical issues which I have not solved in the analysis and ends the dissertation addressing two possible paths for future research, meaning a comparative analysis of fi arguments across Arabic varieties and a comparison between aspectual fi insertion and antipassives.

« Le phénomène que l’on a en arabe et en berbère tunisiens ne saurait être assimilé, comme le fait Lazard (2001, 317) à l’alternance entre zéro et at devant les objets de verbes anglais comme [...] to shoot (I shot a rabbit/I shot at a rabbit « J’ai tué un lapin d’un coup de feu/ J’ai tiré sur un lapin

»). Cette dernière alternance relève plus du lexique que de la grammaire et constitue un phénomène limité à un petit nombre de verbes, alors que l’alternance entre zéro et fi: ou ge est un fait de morphosyntaxe qui concerne tous les verbes d’action conjugués à l’aspect inaccompli.»

(Brahim, 2007, 103-104)

Chapter 2

fi insertion in Tunisian Arabic

2.1. Introduction: object marking in Tunisian

Tunisian displays the systematic insertion of the particle fi [fī] before a DP which appears to be the direct complement of a sentence. This phenomenon can be predicted in at least three distinct syntactic environments, namely: progressive sentences as (1), constructions involving a causativized verb derived from an underlying stative predicate, like (2), and what I named SVCs (Serial Verb Constructions), as in (3):

(1) a. semi qāʕed yedhen fī-dār žirēn-ū Semi prog paint.imp fi-house neighbors-his

‘Semi is painting his neighbors’ house.’

b. *semi qāʕed yedhen dār žirēn-ū Semi prog paint.imp house neighbors-his (2) karrhet-nī fī-l-kusksi

make_hate.perf-me fi-the-couscous

‘She made me hate couscous.’

(Brahim 2007, 99: (15)d)

(3) marwa mšēt taqra fī-drus-ha Marwa go.perf study.imp fi-lessons-her

‘Marwa went studying her lessons.’

Aspectual fi is also found in sentences that are not of the three types mentioned above. However, for practical reasons this dissertation limits its scope to these core contexts, postponing the investigation of the residual contexts to future research.

These three types of constructions will be described in the course of the chapter, although more space will be given to progressive contexts which, according to the small body of pre-existing literature on the topic (Brahim 2007; McNeil 2017; Ritt-Benmimoun 2017), represent the prototypical context for the realization of fi-complements in Tunisian Arabic.

Progressive aspect is expressed in Tunisian by means of a periphrastic construction involving an imperfective verb and the active participle qāʕed, literally ‘sitting, staying’. In this work qāʕed is simply glossed as prog for “progressive” as we see in (1). Whenever qāʕed precedes a verb, the predicate is understood as referring to an ongoing event and, if such a verb is transitive, its direct object must be preceded by aspectual fi; cf. (1)a and (1)b.

The association between progressive aspect and fi insertion is considered somehow prototypical by native speakers too: when explicitly questioned on the contribution provided by fi to the meaning of the sentence, the informants I interviewed consistently reply that fi indicates that a preceding transitive predicate must be understood as ongoing, progressive.

Moreover, the interpretation of a transitive progressive sentence remains unvaried, whether qāʕed is present or not, as long as fi is overtly realized, see example (4):

(4) semi yedhen fī-dār žirēn-ū Semi paint.imp fi-house neighbors-his

‘Semi is painting his neighbors’ house.’

Halila (1992) suggests that this interpretative effect is possible because progressive qāʕed can be optionally dropped at PF. According to his explanation the presence of progressive qāʕed is a matter of pragmatic or stylistic preference, so that a speaker will not produce qāʕed at PF to avoid redundancy in contexts where its functional content can be recuperated from another lexical element in the sentence, namely aspectual fi. In this work I adopt Halila’s PF deletion approach which I will discuss in more detail in the course of the chapter. Consequently, in the reminder of this work, sentences presenting the template:

imperfective verb – fi – complement DP

are considered structurally and semantically equivalent to sentences where qāʕed is phonologically realized, that is:

qāʕed – imperfective verb – fi – complement DP

The reminder of this chapter presents the phenomenon of fi insertion by means of a data set consisting of elicited data and data found in the literature. Not all data I am about to present will

be addressed in the analysis; nonetheless, I included most of it in this chapter to provide the reader with a picture as complete as possible of the phenomena under discussion.

The remainder of this chapter is organized as follows: section 2.2 illustrates the various uses of the particle fi in Tunisian, illustrating that aspectual fi is homophonous to the preposition fi but must be treated as a separate item. The syntactic interpretative and distributional properties of phrases marked by aspectual fi are discussed in section 2.3, while section 2.4 singles out the contexts in which aspectual fi cannot occur. The following three sections each address a different syntactic context in which the systematic insertion of aspectual fi occurs, namely, section 2.5 focuses on progressive contexts; section 2.6 on serial verb constructions and section 2.7 on causativized stative. Finally, section 2.8 recapitulates the findings of the chapter.

2.2. fi in Tunisian 2.2.1. Locative fi PPs

The item fi occurs in a variety of contexts in Tunisian. Some of the collocations, namely when fi is understood as a locative preposition, are common to all other Arabic varieties; aspectual fi conversely is a geographically restricted phenomenon that has its epicenter precisely in the Tunisian region and its bordering areas. Before launching the discussion on aspectual fi, this section quickly presents the range of collocations besides the aspectual use, in which fi is found or not found in Tunisian.

First, the preposition fi. fi in Tunisian is roughly equivalent to Italian in, French en or English

‘in’. Similarly, to its Italian, French and English equivalents fi expresses in most cases a relation of central coincidence although as we will see in the course of this section there are a number of English prepositions that can be accurately translated by fi. A detailed description of the contexts in which locative fi is used is presented in McNeil (2017). In what follows I will present some of her examples.

First, she proposes that the prototypical meaning of fi is “containment” as in (5).

(5) al-ṭanžēra fī-yid-ik the-pot Ø in-hand-your

‘The pot is in your hand.’

(McNeil, 2017, (2))

As she illustrates ‘containment’ also covers the cases in which the container is not properly encasing the content:

(6) ṯāwla fī-ha mažmūʕa min l-muwaḏḏifīn table in-it group from the-employees

‘A table at which is a group of employees.’

(McNeil, 2017, (7))

Example (6) illustrates that the broad notion of containment can also extend to the cases in which there is no complete physical containment. As McNeil (2017) illustrates by means of the

following example containment also extends to abstract concepts, e.g. “member of the administration”:

(7) l-nsā illī tekhdem fī-l-idārāt waqt kāmil the-women that work.imp in-the-administration time complete

‘The women who do office work full time.’

(McNeil, 2017, (9))

According to McNeil fi is also used to indicate a spatial relation of terminal coincidence, see (8)1. (8) yarmī l-bīs fī-l-ḥofra

throw.imp the-marble in-the-hole

‘He throws the marble into the hole.’

(McNeil, 2017, (8))

The locative preposition fi can cliticize onto the invariable relative pronoun illi ‘which, that’

to form the complex element f-illi. The semantics of f-illi is compositional corresponding to the sum of its parts: fi + illi ‘in’ + ‘which’. Just like English ‘in which’, f-illi introduces a relative clause expressing a relation of containment between a place and the head, see (9).

(9) l-dār f-illi sakān semi the-home in-that live.perf Semi

‘The house where Semi lived.’

Besides its locative spatial use, McNeil illustrates the temporal function of fi which is used to express temporal coincidence, as in: “during a time period”.

(10) illī tsawwa milyūn fī-šhar which equal.imp million in the-month

‘Which is equal to million per month.’

(McNeil, 2017, (10))

1 The term central coincidence was first proposed by Hale (1986) in contrast with the notion of terminal coincidence. Central coincidence refers to a relation between a figure and a location that does not imply a change of place; terminal coincidence, on the contrary, refers to a relation in which the end of the trajectory of a figure coincide with a location. If ‘in’ expresses central coincidence in English, terminal coincidence is expressed for instance by the proposition ‘to’:

(a) John smokes in the garden (b) John goes to the garden

Tunisian fi is similar to English ‘in’ in that it accurately translates the English preposition in contexts such as (a) above. However, this is not always the case since in a limited number of contexts fi can also translate

(11) fī-l-līl / fī-l-nahār in-the-night / in-the-daytime

‘At night/during the day’

(McNeil, 2017, (12))

In the remainder of this dissertation I use the expression “locative fi” as a label for all the occurrences in which fi is interpreted as a locative preposition in any of the interpretative nuances just described. As we shall see later, the semantic contribution of prepositional fi does not transfer in any obvious way to aspectual fi, i.e. fi preceding a direct object.

2.2.2. Dummy fi: the licensing of denominal arguments

The element fi has a third use in Tunisian described as far as I know only in Brahim’s (2007) work. This third type of fi occurs before the object of a deverbal noun.

The default syntactic configuration used to license the argument of a noun in Tunisian is the construct state, see Shlonsky (2012) for a syntactic account of this construction. The construct states correspond to a configuration in which a noun head of a phrase precedes its argument in a juxtaposed sequence. These constructions are typically used to express possession, but they can also license nominal subjects and nominal objects, like in (12) and (13) respectively:

(12) qrāyet muḥammad reading Mohammed

‘Mohammad’s reading’

(Brahim 2007, 99) (13) qrāyet el-qurān

reading the-Quran

‘The reading of the Quran’

(Brahim 2007, 99)

Since only an argument at the time can be licensed via a construct state, the licensing of two nominal arguments in the same phrase must resort to a second strategy.

Shlonsky (o.c.) explains that whenever two denominal arguments are preset, the subject takes precedence over the object and is licensed via the construct state, while the object is licensed in situ by a preposition. As we can see in the following example, in configurations of this kind Tunisian resorts to fi for the licensing of the nominal object:

(14) tarbyet-ha fī-awlēd-ha education-her fi-children-her

‘Her education of the children’

(Brahim 2007, 99: (16)a)

This pattern is reminiscent of the phenomenon referred to in English as ‘of-insertion’ (Alexiadou 2001; Alexiadou and Schäfer 2010), consisting of the last resort insertion of a dummy preposition needed to license structural case on the theme of a deverbal nouns, since nominal structures do

This pattern is reminiscent of the phenomenon referred to in English as ‘of-insertion’ (Alexiadou 2001; Alexiadou and Schäfer 2010), consisting of the last resort insertion of a dummy preposition needed to license structural case on the theme of a deverbal nouns, since nominal structures do

Dans le document Event building, selection and non-canonical Case: fi insertion in Tunisian Arabic (Page 28-0)