Chapter published in:Advances in Iranian Linguistics
Edited by Richard K. Larson, Sedigheh Moradi and Vida Samiian
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 351] 2020
► pp. 107–118
The suffix that makes Persian nouns unique
Although it is widely acknowledged that Tehrani Persian (often broadly labeled as Persian) has no dedicated marker of definiteness, the nominal suffix -e has been analyzed as a colloquial definiteness marker. Here I show that -e can mark bare nominals to ensure a definite interpretation, but it can also appear on indefinites marked by the indefinite determiner ye. I show that indefinites marked by -e are scopally inert. To unify the effect of -e on definites and indefinites, I propose that -e introduces a uniqueness implication on the nominal it modifies. More specifically, N-e denotes a singleton set of objects. On a bare nominal, this uniqueness implication ensures a definite interpretation. On an indefinite, it restricts the domain of quantification to a singleton, making the indefinite scopally inert. I present a compositional account of definite and indefinite constructions with -e in Tehrani Persian.
Keywords: definiteness, specificity, Persian, colloquial
Published online: 22 July 2020
Farkas, Donka F.