Vocatives as parenthetical adjuncts: Evidence from Arabic
Youssef Haddad
December 2020

Vocatives are noun phrases that are generally used as calls to attract an addressee’s attention or as addresses to maintain contact with her/him. In her 2014 book, Virginia Hill analyzes vocatives as forms of address; they are converted to syntax as nominal functional projections in the form of vocative phrases. Drawing on work by Speas and Tenny (2003) and Moro (2003), she further posits that vocatives merge as arguments of a speech act phrase in the left periphery. This merging site, Hill 2014 and others (e.g., Slocum 2016) argue, is fixed. This is so despite the fact that vocatives may appear in different positions in their host clause. Under this account, pre-vocative elements appear in that location as a result of movement. This paper presents counterevidence to this argument from Arabic. Using naturally occurring data, mainly from Twitter, the paper shows that Arabic vocatives do not merge in a fixed position in the left periphery. Rather, they are parenthetical adjuncts whose relationship with their host clause is minimally constrained. If correct, the analysis serves as an invitation for a closer and more data-driven look at vocatives in other languages, including those in which vocatives have already been explored.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005657
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: December 30, 2020
keywords: arabic; adjuncts; countercyclic merge; late merge; external syntax; parentheticals; vocatives, syntax, syntax
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