An Agree-based Approach to Structural Case Assignment in Najrani Arabic

Abdul-Hafeed Ali Fakih, Hadeel Ali Al-Sharif


This study aims to examine structural (nominative and accusative) Case assignment in Najrani Arabic (henceforth, NA) and in turn provide a satisfactorily unified account on how structural Case is assigned in Najrani Arabic within Chomsky's (2001, 2005) Agree theory. It attempts to present a straightforward answer to the following questions: (i) how is structural (nominative and accusative) Case assigned in NA, given the recent developments and challenges in Chomsky’s (2001, 2005) Agree theory?, and (ii) how are Case and agreement features valued in NA syntax? A closer examination of structural Case in NA demonstrates that, unlike Standard Arabic, NA has an abstract Case system which is not morphologically realized, a similar phenomenon to that of English. Furthermore, the study examines structural Case assignment in VSO and SVO structures and points out that structural Case in NA is assigned via an Agree relation between a probe and a goal within a c-command domain. That is, in VSO structures in NA, nominative Case is assigned by the C-T complex via an Agree relation established between T and the subject in [Spec-TP] while accusative Case is a reflex of an Agree relation between the light v and the object DP. Besides, preverbal DPs in SVO structures undergoes movement from [Spec-vP] to [Spec-topP] and leaves a resumptive pro(nominal in [Spec-vp] which appears as either an overt number marker cliticized onto the verb or as a covert pro(nominal). However, in SVO structures introduced by the complementiser inn, there are two DPs; a post-verbal DP and a preverbal one. The post-verbal DP is assigned nominative Case by the C-T complex while the preverbal DP is assigned accusative lexical Case in the presence of the over Case assigner inn or default nominative Case in the absence of inn.



Structural Case, Agree relation, probe, goal, phase, abstract Case, C-T complex

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