The empty noun construction in Persian
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This dissertation explores, within the general framework of Distributed Morphology, the licensing conditions of empty nouns in Persian, a Western Iranian language, and the issues that arise within this context for the distribution of plural marking and the insertion of the Ezafe vowel. With respect to the licensing of the empty noun, the proposal made in this thesis is along the lines of those that link ellipsis to information structure (e.g. Rooth 1992a, 1992b; Gengel 2007, among others). It is suggested that the Empty Noun Construction (ENC) is derived through the interaction between the following two information-structural features: (i) the E(llipsis)-feature, which ensures that the head noun is identical with its counterpart in the antecedent and specifies the head noun for non-pronunciation; (ii) the F(ocus)-feature, which specifies the remnant modifier as an element which is in some kind of contrastive relationship with its corresponding element in the antecedent. The interaction between these two features is implemented in the syntax in a phase-based derivation. Plural marking and Ezafe insertion in the ENC are accounted for within an articulated derivational model of PF (Embick & Noyer 2001; Embick 2003 et seq.; Pak 2008). It is proposed that the displacement of the plural marker in the ENC is motivated by the non-pronunciation of the head noun and is handled early in the PF derivation by Local Dislocation operation. Adopting Pak's (2008) model of syntax-phonology interface, the rule responsible for the insertion of the Ezafe linker -e is argued to be a phonological rule that applies at the Late-Linearization stage to connect [+N] heads to their following modifiers/complements.