Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Joseph Sabbagh


This dissertation provides a syntactic account for the Jarai noun phrase and for the three regions of the Jarai clause: the operator domain, the inflectional domain, and the theta domain. Within the noun phrase, I argue that demonstrative-final word order involves phrasal movement of the demonstrative's complement into Spec,D, where it identifies null definite D. Jarai classifiers, rather than being heads in the functional spine of the DP, are shown to form a constituent with numerals, and this classifier--numeral phrase merges as the specifier of a number (plurality) head. In the operator domain, three head positions can be identified: a finiteness head, evident in non-finite complement clauses; a focus head, whose specifier position is the landing site of focus-movement (which subsumes wh-movement); and a force head, which in questions is spelled out as a question particle. In addition to having standard wh-movement (or, as I argue, focus-movement of wh-phrases) and wh-in-situ, Jarai also has a pseudocleft strategy for forming wh-questions; variations in the word order of wh-pseudoclefts arise from different combinations of topic-movement to Spec,T and focus-movement to Spec,Foc.In the inflectional domain, I analyze the variable position of negation in terms of optional Aux-to-T raising. I also put forward two arguments that surface subjects in Jarai sit in Spec,T at spellout.In the theta domain, I show that the verb phrase comprises three head positions: v, sometimes overtly realized by a causative prefix; iAsp, an inner aspect head position sometimes realized by the telicity-related particle hi; and V, where the verbal root usually merges. Additionally, Jarai distinguishes between unaccusatives and unergatives, correlating to a difference between state-denoting roots and manner-denoting roots. Finally, Jarai has various types of serial verb constructions (SVCs). I examine four classes of SVCs, focusing on the status of shared arguments. I argue that SVCs in Jarai involve (i) the merging of a verbal root directly into vcause, the first verb of the construction, and (ii) the merging of a VP or vP, containing the second verb, with the higher v. Apparent agent sharing is mediated by a controlled PRO in the specifier of the lower v. Apparent theme sharing is merely an interpretive effect of the causal relation between the two verbs; in fact, the higher verb, because it is a light verb, does not assign a theme theta role.


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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