Linguistics Speaker Series: Ahmad Alqassas

The Syntax of Coordination in Arabic

Coordinate complexes display a variety of empirical puzzles that challenge our standard assumptions about the nature of syntactic categories, syntactic operations and structural configurations available in narrow syntax. The theoretical debates diverge on whether coordinate complexes have a special syntactic status necessitating the addition of syntactic categories, operations or configurations. A specific debate is whether the clause structure of coordinated DPs involves phrasal or clausal coordination at LF (the Logical Form). This talk focuses on empirical puzzles in Arabic involving the structure of coordinate complexes and their interaction with negation, phi-agreement, and ellipsis.

I argue that coordinators are the lexicalization of a syntactic head that takes the internal conjunct as a complement and the external one as a specifier. The categorical status of the coordination phrase is determined by the syntactic category of the external conjunct and the coordination head is specified for the formal features of number and negation. With negatively disjoined DPs, I argue that the coordinators are Negative Concord Items (NCIs) carrying an uninterpretable negation features which get licensed by a negative operator under Agree. I also argue that CSC in negatively disjoined DPs involves clausal coordination and ellipsis, while CSC elsewhere does not.


Dr. Alqassas is an Assistant Professor of Arabic Linguistics in the AIS Department. He does research on Arabic syntax, morphosyntax and acquisition. Dr. Alqassas holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature and an M.A. in English Language and Linguistics from Yarmouk University, Jordan. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Linguistics from Indiana University – Bloomington. Ahmad’s interests include the applications of linguistic theory to second/heritage language acquisition. He also teaches courses on Arabic linguistic analysis, dialectology, sociolinguistics, language policies/politics and political discourse.

Friday, April 27, 2018 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Poulton Hall, 230
1421 37th St., N.W., Washington


Students, Faculty/Staff


Georgetown College, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Linguistics


Ahmad Alqassas - Georgetown University

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Ben Croner

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