Online and Offline Examinations of Constituent Order in Persian Ditransitives

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The present dissertation is an empirical investigation of ordering variation of objects in Persian ditransitive through the use of a judgement survey (offline) and two online psycholinguistic techniques: self-paced reading (Just et al., 1982) and cross-modal lexical priming (Swinney et al., 1979). Leaning on the well-established literature on the active filler-gap dependency processing, the present work is an attempt to tackle the issue of the relative orderings of the direct object (DO) and the indirect object (IO) in Persian ditransitive structures, in which the specificity (specific in the discourse) of the DO determines its surface position relative to the IO, i.e. DO[+Specific]-IO, IO-DO[-Specific]. There are two existing analyses of the sources of this object ordering variation in Persian ditransitives; (i) it is caused by two distinct processes (two separate Merge operations), (ii) it is caused by a single process with two possible stages (a Merge and a Move operation). This syntactic question provides a good case study to achieve the main goal of the dissertation: showing that some well-established online techniques extend to Persian and can be used to shed light on a controversial syntactic structure for which the syntactic accounts have not been able to provide a conclusive analysis. The survey is designed to provide systematic acceptability judgements of some commonly discussed syntactic diagnostics used in arguments for either of the two existing analyses of Persian ditransitives. The unclear results of the survey are used as an argument for motivating online methods to investigate the case of ordering variation in Persian ditransitives. The results of both online studies show evidence of a copy/trace of the DO after the IO in DO[+Specific]-IO structures indicating its movement. The cross-modal lexical priming study also indicates that this movement is an A-movement operation. According to the results of this dissertation, these online techniques extend to Persian and, therefore, can be utilized to tackle theoretical questions in the language. The overall results also show that a convincing argument for a single theoretical analysis can be made using the results of a planned series of studies that approach an issue using different methodologies.
Abdollahnejad, E. (2020). Online and Offline Examinations of Constituent Order in Persian Ditransitives (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from