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“feš taqra?” What are you reading? Prepositional objects in Tunisian Arabic

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Pallottino Margherita,
Project Selection at the interfaces
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Brill’s Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
Volume (Issue) 8(2)
Page(s) 286 - 312
Title of proceedings Brill’s Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics
DOI 10.1163/18776930-00802004


This paper describes the distribution and the selectional properties of perfective and imperfective verb forms in Tunisian Arabic. While perfective predicates are finite forms and always undergo movement out of the vp domain, imperfective predicates act less consistently and, in some contexts, do not undergo movement to negation showing a behavior that reminds this of non-finite forms. Moreover, when the imperfective verb does not undergo movement, an additional structural layer headed by the preposition “fi” is introduced above the direct object. I propose that in this configuration the imperfective predicate is the non-finite element of a periphrastic construction whose other component is a null auxiliary with present tense reference. On the one side this construction affects the aspectual interpretation of the event; on the other, it affects the predicate’s ability to assign accusative Case to its object. As for the contexts where the imperfective predicate undergoes movement, I propose that its interpretation relies on a Generic Operator that provides an aspectual frame over which the predicate is interpreted.