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Linearization : a derivational approach to the syntax-prosody interface Shiobara, Kayono

Abstract

The major goal of this thesis is to account for a certain class of word order alternations in natural languages, in particular heavy NP shift in English and short-scrambling in Japanese. My central claim is that the properties of these alternations are best accounted for as PF interface phenomena constrained by correspondence conditions on the mapping from syntax to prosody. I develop a model of grammar in which linearization is distributed between core syntax and the prosody-syntax interface: using an incremental structure-building mechanism based on that of Phillips (1996, 2003), I provide a derivational model of the syntax-prosody mapping in which the unit of spell-out is defined by correspondence relations between syntactic objects and prosodic objects. This approach, which I refer to as the Prosodic Phase Hypothesis, provides a prosodically based account of the distinctive properties of heavy NP shift and short-scrambling, including not only clearly prosodic factors such as weight and sentence level stress, but also, indirectly, sensitivity to semantic/pragmatic factors such as focus. The gist of the Prosodic Phase Hypothesis is that the general prosodic properties of a particular language constrain the linearization of verbal dependents in the language. In English, a clause corresponds to an Intonational Phrase in the default case, and mobile prosodic prominence, e.g. accenting and deaccenting, is used in order to encode semantic/pragmatic information. In Japanese, a syntactic phrase corresponds to an Intonational Phrase in the default case, and deletion or a word order alternation is used in order to encode semantic/pragmatic information. I attempt to reduce the difference between the two languages to the Lexical Pitch Parameter, which differentiates languages according to whether their lexically specified pitch features are distinctive (Japanese) or not (English). The Prosodic Phase Hypothesis imposes a particular division of labor between the syntax and the prosody, and shifts the explanatory basis of certain types of linearization from pure syntax toward the PF interface. This is inspired by the guiding idea of the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995), which seeks to derive the conditions imposed on the language faculty from external constraints at the interfaces.

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