Multiple Functions of the Nunations in Arabic Syntax: A Minimalist Perspective

Atef Jalabneh


The objective of this work is to investigate the phonological features of nunation appear at the end of an NP in Modern Standard Arabic and relate them to syntax and semantics in the light of Chomsky's (1995) views of Minimalist Program. Al-Jahaawi (1982, p. 10-11) has argued that the Arab phoneticians defined nunation as "a short vowel plus the nasal consonant n. The vowel is determined either by (i) its nature or (ii) its relation with other segments in articulation". The researcher agrees with this definition but added that there are other forms having the structure [v + n + v] in addition to [v + n]. Due to the multiple forms projected, he posits phonological rules to govern their phonemic occurrences. He, further, has argued that each form carries intrinsic as well as optional features in syntax and they are posited at spell-out but survived up to the logical form as per X-bar- theory. In it, the NP with nunation is less in rank than the NP with the definite article al 'the' in the syntactic hierarchy as per the Extended Projection Principle. As far as the semantic features of nunation forms are concerned, a hypothesis is posited to account for the values of indefiniteness and non specificness in syntax and represent them concretely under [- Def. P].


Nunation, Vowel, Consonant, Extended Projection Principle, Spell-Out, Logical Form, X-Bar Syntax and Features.

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