The Problem of Word Order and Verbal Movement in Moroccan Arabic


  • Inass Announi Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant, English Department, Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, Morocco


Word order, Verbal movement, Moroccan Arabic, Focus, Minimalist Program


This paper attempts to investigate word order and verbal movement in Moroccan Arabic in the Minimalist framework. We observe that the unmarked word order in MA is SVO while the derived structure is VSO. SVO follows an English-like derivation where the subject moves from [Spec, vP] to [Spec, TP] whilst the verb moves from v to T. This paper raises the issue of the verbal movement when it comes to VSO order in languages that have VSO as the derived order and SVO as the underlying order. To derive VSO, we propose that the verb moves from T to Focus based on pragmatic reasons: verbs positioned in the left-periphery denote new information that is focused compared to SVO. We also test our new proposal against the marginal word orders OSV and OVS and propose that object topicalization is the result of the object moving to [Spec, TopicP] which dominates FocusP. Moreover, we go back to the issue of verbal movement and trace the verbal cyclic movement. We argue that the verb moves from V to v based on the position of the adverb. The verb further moves to T based on the quantifier evidence and feature checking: Focus and T form a complex and probe into v to check [TNS] and [V] features. Moreover, T-to-Focus occurs in wh-constructions except when /lli/ ‘that’ is present. In WH-VO (WH as a wh-subject), the verb stays in T while the wh-subject stays in [Spec, TP]. If /lli/ ‘that’ is present, then the wh-subject is forced to move further to [Spec, FocusP]. In WH-SV, the wh-elements move to [Spec, FocusP] while the subject moves to [Spec, TopicP] and the verb moves to Topic. In WH-VS, the wh-elements move to [Spec, FocusP] while the verb moves to Focus.


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How to Cite

Announi, I. (2021). The Problem of Word Order and Verbal Movement in Moroccan Arabic. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 4(4), 34-54.