The syntax of the addressee in imperatives: What Levantine Arabic attitude datives bring to the table

Youssef A. Haddad


The imperative subject constitutes a special category compared to the subjects of other types of clauses in that it is required to be the addressee. Zanuttini (2008) argues that this requirement follows from a special syntactic status: imperative subjects enter the computation with gender and number but no person features. They acquire a second-person specification later by entering an agreement relation with the head of a jussive phrase, a functional projection that is unique for imperative clauses and that occupies the left periphery. This paper provides independent evidence from attitude dative constructions in Levantine Arabic in support of this approach. Attitude datives are optional pronominal elements that make pragmatic contributions to utterances without altering their meaning. The paper shows that attitude datives whose referent coincides with the referent of the subject are less restricted in terms of the interpretation they may receive in imperative versus other types of clauses. Imperative clauses are more permissive, a characteristic that follows from the special status of their subject.


Arabic; datives; imperatives; addressee; adjuncts; countercyclic merge; cyclic merge

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Youssef A. Haddad

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Donate to the Open-Access Fund of the LSA

Linguistic Society of America

Advancing the Scientific Study of Language since 1924

ISSN (online): 2473-8689

This publication is made available for free to readers and with no charge to authors thanks in part to your continuing LSA membership and your donations to the open access fund.