18 Scopus citations


The constraint known as the Specificity Effect has been discussed in the literature in terms of the semantic property of determiners classified as weak and strong, or the presuppositionality of the determiner phrase. These semantic properties have been suggested to lead to a syntactic explanation for the existence of this constraint. Modern Persian provides evidence indicating that the Specificity Effect cannot be explained solely on the basis of the semantic properties of the determiner or the determiner phrase. The data in this language show that a specific DP is subject to the Specificity Effect only if its SPEC is lexically filled. In that case, the DP becomes an island, blocking extraction. The analysis in this paper explains this phenomenon by justifying the existence of two distinct base positions for determiners depending on (a) their inherent property, and (b) the semantic status of the DP within the clause. Thus it provides an explanation as to why specific DPs containing weak determiners are subject to the Specificity Effect. It further predicts that Persian type languages that do not have a definite article equivalent to English the allow extraction out of a specific DP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalLinguistic Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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