oa Journal for Semitics - The verbless clause with pleonastic pronoun in Biblical Aramaic

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1013-8471



The aim of this article is to determine the status and interpretation of pleonastic pronouns in verbless clauses of Biblical Aramaic. The hypotheses that the pleonastic pronoun can be construed as pan of the sentence predicate (the so-called copula) or as a resumptive pronoun in a left-dislocation construction are considered and rejected. According to the conditions of Chomsky's minimalist programme for linguistic theory, it is argued that the pleonastic pronoun has the status of a pronominal clitic which is the phonological realization of unattached agreement features. The pronominal clitic is obligatory in verbless clauses with determined (referring) noun phrases in predicate positions where the pronominal clitic fulfils the role of a theta-role assigner. Pronominal clitic insertion might best be construed as a type of last-resort strategy, when theta-role assignment fails to yield a grammatical output. Thus, the pronominal clitic is never freely generated. A pronominal clitic is necessary for the syntactic interpretation of certain verbless clauses and must be interpreted as such.

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