November 29, 2017
Title: Nominal Linkers: The Case of Ezafe in Iranian Languages
Speaker: Dr. Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, University of Toronto Mississauga
Time: 11:30am -1:00pm
Location: CNH 103
Looking across languages, we find elements in the nominal domain which seem to have no clear meaning or function. These elements are sometimes referred to as “linkers”. In this talk, I explore a particular example of this type of linker, known as the Ezafe, found in Iranian languages. The bulk of my talk is about Persian, a Western Iranian language spoken mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, with the majority of the data coming from the dialect spoken in Iran. Descriptively, Ezafe is an unstressed vowel –e (-ye after vowels) which appears between a noun and its modifier (N-e Mod), and is repeated on subsequent modifiers, if they are present, except the last one (N-e Mod1-e Mod2-e Mod3). The presence of this iterative element inside the noun phrase has puzzled syntacticians for several decades. What is its function? Is it the realization of case, agreement, or something else? I start with a discussion of the distribution of Ezafe, with a special emphasis on its correlation with the order of elements in the noun phrase. I discuss several approaches to this phenomenon and argue for a roll-up movement account which takes the base order of the noun phrase in Persian to be head final, with the surface order derived via phrasal movement to specifiers of intermediate functional projections. I then explore the status of Ezafe in several other Iranian languages to verify how this analysis fares with data from these languages.
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