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On Pragmatics-syntax Interface: The Case of Vocative Nominals

in Jordanian Arabic




This paper starts with exploring the internal syntactic structure of the vocative nominals in regional Jordanian Arabic sub-varieties. It shows that a vocative nominal can be either a full DP or a bare NP in the target three Jordanian sub-varieties, namely, Rural (RJA), Urban (UJA) and Bedouin (BJA) Jordanian Arabic. However, they differ in terms of the manifestation of D0. To illustrate, definiteness in RJA and UJA can only be obtained by a possessive pronominal clitic, whereas the definite article can merge with the vocative nominal in BJA. This should contribute to the vocative DP vs. NP debate in the relevant literature: it implies that data from Jordanian Arabic (JA) do not support the claim that languages should fall into a paradigm, i.e., the vocatives in a certain language must have a specific syntactic nature (either full DP or bare NP). The main goal of this paper is to argue for syntax-pragmatic interface. It is to show that these sub-varieties developed a pragmatic function to determiners within vocative phrases. First, we show that the definite article, which can combine vocative nominals only in BJA, developed a pragmatic function that defines the interpersonal relation between interlocutors. To clarify, the presence of the definite article with a nominal referring to a superior addressee or a good trait of him/her is interpreted as respecting and raising the status of the addressee, whereas its co-occurrence with a nominal referring to an inferior addressee or a bad trait is to condescend the addressee. On the other hand, if the vocative nominal is status-neutral, this neutralizes the intensifying function of the article. On this basis, the peculiarity of the definite article in BJA within vocatives is that its function is defined with reference to the vocative nominal. Additionally, the presence of the possessive pronominal clitic -na '1PL.POSS' with the vocative nominal is to raise the status of the addressee or show more respect to him/her. This implies that pragmatics interfaces with syntax while deriving the vocative phrase, consistent with Hill (2007, 2017) and Wiltschko and Heim (2016): a pragmatic function is assigned to D0 while deriving the syntax of vocatives, and therefore this function should not be post-syntactic.

Keywords: Determiners; Jordanian Arabic; Pragmatics-Syntax Interface; Vocative Nominals.

Authors: Abdulazeez Ahmad Jaradat  , Bassil Mashaqba , Anas Huneety

Doi: https://doi.org/10.47012/jjmll.14.2.7


Cited by: Jordan Journal of Modern Languages and Literatures (JJMLL) 2022, 14 (2): 309-327


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