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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.


Ghomeshi, J., 1997. Non-projecting Nouns and the Ezafe Construction in Persian. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 15: 729-788.

Kahnemuyipour, A. 2014. Revisiting the Persian Ezafe Construction: A Roll-up Movement Analysis, Lingua 150, 1-24.

Larson, R., 2009. Chinese as a Reverse Ezafe Language. Yuyanxue Luncong (Journal of Linguistics) 39, 30-85. Beijing, Peking University.

Larson, R., Yamakido, H., 2006. Zazaki “Double Ezafe” as Double Case-marking. Paper presented at the Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting, Aluquerque, NM.

Larson, R., Yamakido, H., 2008. Ezafe and the Deep Position of Nominal Modifiers. In: McNally, L., Kennedy, C. (Eds.), Adjectives and Adverbs: Syntax, Semantics and Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 43-70.

Samiian, V., 1994. The Ezafe Construction: Some Implications for the Theory of X-bar Syntax. In: Marashi, M. (Ed.), Persian Studies in North America, Betheda, MD: Iranbooks, 17-41.

Samvelian, P., 2008. The Ezafe as a Head-marking Inflectional Affix: Evidence from Persian and Kurmanji Kurdish. In: Karimi, S., Samiian, V., and Stilo, D. (Eds.), Aspects of Iranian Linguistics, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 339-361.