The Position of NegP and Licensing N-words in Persian: A Distributed Morphology Approach

Document Type : Research Paper



The syntactic expression of sentential negation has given rise to a lot of research in most linguistic frameworks. During the last few decades of research in generative grammar, studies on negation focus on a range of topics, including the position of Negation Phrase. Indeed, not only do languages vary with respect to the form of negative elements, but the underlying position of these functional elements is also subject to cross-linguistic variation. Within the framework of Distributed Morphology (Halle & Marantz 1994), the present study investigates the position of NegP in Farsi. Contrary to the claim in the literature, it will be argued - both on theoretical and empirical grounds - that in this language NegP immediately dominates TP and verbal elements absorb the functional head of Negation Phrase via a post-syntactic process, called morphological merger. Moreover, the syntax of negation is connected to the phenomenon of negative polarity, i.e. items whose distribution is limited to a number of negative contexts. So, this article examines the conditions which license the occurrence of N-phrases (N-words) in indicative structures. Clearly, studying N-phrases provides more insight not only into the nature of such context-sensitive elements, but also into the syntactic nature and position of sentential negation itself.


انوشه، مزدک (1387). ساخت جمله و فرافکن‌های نقش‌نمای آن در زبان فارسی: رویکردی کمینه‌گرا. رسالۀ دکتری زبان‌شناسی. دانشگاه تهران.
انوشه، مزدک (1394 الف). فرافکن‌های نمود و زمان در صفت‌های فاعلی مرکب: بر پایۀ نظریۀ صرف توزیعی. جستارهای زبانی. د 6، ش 5 (26): صص 49-72.
انوشه، مزدک (1394 ب). مسئلۀ مجهول در زبان فارسی: رویکردی کمینه‌گرا. پژوهش‌های زبانی. س 6، ش 1: صص 1-20.
درزی، علی و شجاع تفکری رضایی (1389). پوچ‌واژه در زبان فارسی. پژوهش‌های زبان‌شناسی، س 2، ش (2): صص 57-73.
Bobaljik, J.D. 2011. Universals in Comparative Morphology: Suppletion, Superlatives, and the Structure of Words. Under contract: MIT Press.
Darzi, A. 2008. On the vP Analysis of Persian Finite Control Constructions. Linguistic Inquiry. N. 39 (1). pp. 103-116.
Embick, D. 2015. The Morpheme. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Embick, D. and R. Noyer 2001. Movement Operations after Syntax. Linguistic Inquiry, 32 (4): 555–595.
Folli, R. and H. Harley, S. Karimi. 2005. Determinants of event type in Persian complex predicates. Lingua, 115: 1365–1401.
Giannakidou, A. 2006. N-Words and Negative Concord. In M. Everaert and H. V. Riemsdijk (Eds.). The Blackwell Companion to Syntax (III: 327-391). Oxford: BP.
Haegeman, L. 1995. The Syntax of Negation. Cambridge: CUP.
Haegeman, L, and Lohndal, T. 2013. Negation. In: S. Luraghi and C. Parodi (Eds.). The Bloomsbury Companion to Syntax, (354-364). Bloomsbury Academic: London.
Halle, M. and A. Marantz. 1994. Some key features of Distributed Morphology. In: A. Carnie & H. Harley(Eds). Papers on Phonology and Morphology (MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 21), 275–288. Cambridge, MA: MITWPL.
Jackendoff, R. 1972. Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Jespersen, O. 1917. Negation in English and Other Languages. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Karimi, S. 2005. A Minimalist Approach to Scrambling: Evidence from Persian. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Kwak, S, and Darzi, A. 2006. “The syntax and semantics of Persian NCI, hič-phrase”. Proceeding of the 2nd workshop on the Persian language and computer. 55-69. Tehran Uni.
Labov, W., 1972. Negative Attraction and Negative Concord in English Grammar. Language 48: 773–818.
Laka, I. 1990. Negation in Syntax: On the Nature of Functional Categories and Projections. PhD thesis, MIT.
Longobardi, G. 1991. In Defense of the Correspondence Hypothesis: Island Effects and Parasitic Gap Constructions in Logical Form. In: Logical Structure and Linguistic Structure: Cross-Linguistic Perspectives. C.-T. James Huang and Robert May (Eds.), 149–196. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Ouhalla, J. 1990. Sentential negation, Relativized Minimality and the aspectual status of auxiliaries. Linguistic Review, 7, 183–231.
Pollock, J.-Y. 1989. Verb movement, universal grammar and the structure of IP. Linguistic Inquiry, 20, 365–424.
Quer, J. 2006. Subjunctives. In: M. Everaert and H.V. Riemsdijk (Eds). The Blackwell Companion to Syntax (IV: 660-684). Oxford: BP.
Radford, A. 1998. Syntactic Theory and the Structure of English: a Minimalist Approach. Cambridge: CUP.
Radford, A. 2004. Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English. Cambridge: CUP.
Siddiqi, D. 2009. Syntax within the Word. Amsterdam: JBP.
Taleghani, A.H. (2008). Modality, Aspect and Negation in Persian. Amsterdam: JBP.
Zanuttini, R. 1991. Syntactic Properties of Sentential Negation: A Comparative Study of Romance Languages. PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
Zanuttini, R. 1997. Negation and Clausal Structure: A Comparative Study of Romance Languages. Oxford: OUP.
Zanuttini, R. 2001. Sentential Negation. In: M. Baltin and Ch. Collins (Eds.). The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory, (511-535). Oxford: BP.
Zeijlstra, H. 2013. Negation and negative polarity. In: M. den Dikken (Ed). The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax, (793-826). Cambridge: CUP.
Volume 8, Issue 1
June 2017
Pages 1-20
  • Receive Date: 03 April 2017
  • Revise Date: 30 April 2017
  • Accept Date: 02 June 2017
  • First Publish Date: 23 August 2017