Question Affix Analysis in Standard Arabic: A Minimalist Perspective

  •  Abdul-Hafeed Fakih    
  •  Abdullah Al-Dera    


The study examines question affix analysis in Standard Arabic within the minimalist framework of Chomsky (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001) and shows how Standard Arabic is different from English in terms of feature strength, feature checking, and I-raising to Q (i.e., raising of the head INFL to the head COMP). The objective is to present a unified treatment of question affix analysis in Standard Arabic and illustrate to what extent possible the Arabic data interacts with Chomsky’s minimalist analysis. It also demonstrates how feature licensing takes place in the right checking domains in the derivation of yes-no questions. It points out that Standard Arabic resorts to ‘Merge’ because it does not have auxiliary inversion, while English resorts to ‘Adjunction’ because of auxiliary inversion. Besides, question particles in Standard Arabic are viewed as merely morphological affixes placed sentence-initially to form yes-no questions. Furthermore, we argue that the interrogative particles in Standard Arabic have one function (that of showing interrogativity) since they do not stand for any DP, PP or AP argument. Given this, we propose that the question particles in Standard Arabic are base-generated in the head C position of CP, since they never undergo any morpho-syntactic movement.

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