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Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب

Association of Arab Universities Journal for Arts  مجلة اتحاد الجامعات العربية للآداب

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Responses to a polar question have recently received much attention in the syntactic literature (e.g., Yaisomanag, 2012 on Thi; Wu, 2016 on Taiwanese, Servidio et al., 2018 on Italian; among others). However, the syntax of yes-no questions in Arabic has been undermined in the literature. The present study provides a syntactic analysis of answers to positive/neutral polar questions in Jordanian Arabic. Jordanian Arabic is particularly relevant here because its system allows for a variety of answer expressions. For example, an answer to a polar question could be in the form of a particle (a: ‘yes’ and laʔ ‘no’) or a finite verb echoing the verb of the question. Following Holmberg (2016), we demonstrate that these expressions are full sentences derived by ellipses. We assume that a yes-no question has an unvalued, free polarity variable [±Pol] that needs to be assigned a value. Deriving the answer would provide a value for this variable. This involves copying the TP of the question and merging an answer particle or an abstract polarity feature (affirmative or negative) in spec-Foc to value the unvalued feature of Pol; then the TP of the answer gets deleted at the PF component under identity with the TP of the question.

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