On Independent Adjectives: A Syntactic Analysis of Arabic Adjectival Nominals

Maather Mohammed Al-Rawi


In this study, I aim to investigate the ambiguity on the category of the non-modifying Arabic adjectives that occur independently without a modified noun and to provide an account for the following questions: (1) are independent adjectives in Arabic nouns or adjectives?; (2) do they undergo a deadjectivizing process?; and (3) if they do, at which layer in adjectival phases does nominalization take place? I attempt to investigate the bi-categorial nature of independent adjectives in Arabic showing that they are internally adjectival but externally nominal. This analysis postulates that these adjectives have undergone category-change by moving A to the nominalizer D, which has the abstract affix NOM. Semantically, the adjective becomes referential (or +[indiv(iduated)]) naming entities of certain attributes, rather than denoting the attribute. However, DP is not the mere layer at which category-change takes place. The category-change is observed to occur earlier than the DP layers as indicated by the subregularities in the adjective form. The plural morpheme indicates three layers of nominality: the lower nP, NumP, and DP. Adjectives that undergo a-to-n change are nominalized having singular nominal form. Adjectives that are nominalized in NumP are pluralized with the nominal broken plural, yet having a singular adjectival form. Finally, adjectives that are nominalized in the highest functional DP projection are marked with an adjectival sound plural morpheme. This analysis provides a neat account for the diversity in the adjective number form and is favored over the alternative assumption that adjectives in pro-drop languages drop the head noun.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v8i1.8930

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