Revisiting the Persian ezafe construction: A roll-up movement analysis

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour
(2014). Lingua, 150, 1-24.

This paper explores the Persian Ezafe construction, a construction which has received significant attention in the syntactic literature in the past few decades. Descriptively, Ezafe is an unstressed vowel -e (-ye after vowels) which appears between a noun and its modifier (N-e Mod), and is repeated on subsequent modifiers, if they are present, except the last one (N-e Mod1-e Mod2-e Mod3). This paper takes a fresh look at the distribution of the Ezafe vowel, with a special emphasis on its correlation with the order of elements in the noun phrase. After the close connection between word order and the absence/presence of Ezafe is established, the paper considers alternative ways this relation can be captured and argues for a roll-up movement account of this construction, which takes the base order of the noun phrase in Persian to be head final, with the surface order derived via phrasal movement to specifiers of intermediate functional projections in a roll-up fashion. In developing and arguing for this analysis, we will also have a closer look at several constructions in Persian, such as the superlative and the colloquial definite marker, and will account for various word order restrictions in the Persian noun phrase.