William Kruger PhD Defense: "Isomorphy and Syntax-Prosody Relations in English"

Committee members: Elly van Gelderen (chair), Kathryn Pruitt, and Andrew Carnie.  ::  ABSTRACT: This dissertation investigates the precise relation between the domain of prosody and the domain of syntax. Two differing theoretical perspectives are addressed. The first assumes a direct ("isomorphic") mapping between syntactic and prosodic primitives at an underlying level (Chomsky & Halle 1968, Selkirk 1995, 2011, Ito & Mester 2009). This predicts that (2a) should be the more preferred prosodic form of (1) below, with most prosodic brackets reifying syntactic brackets. The second perspective does not assume an obligatorily isomorphic relation between syntax and prosody (Wheeldon & Lahiri 1997, Lahiri & Plank 2010). Instead, under this view, prosodic phrasing is guided by non-syntactic factors like stress prominence, represented in (2b),with word-stress marked overtly:

(1) [S [NP Susan ] [TP has [VP driven [PP to Tucson ] ] ] ]
(2) a. ( ( Susan ) ( has ( driven ( to Tucson ) ) ) )
b. ( Súsan has ) ( dríven to ) ( Túcson )
I argue that both perspectives are necessary to account for a range of phonological and prosodic facts in English and related languages. In particular, I demonstrate that a stress-based approach is better-suited to account for principles of higher-level phonological phrase (φ) formation. In contrast, I show that an isomorphic theory of syntax/prosody is indeed necessary to account for properties of prosodic word (ω) formation and phrasal pitch accent assignment. I deploy the stress-based account of φ-phrasing to capture constraints on word-initial lenition and segment-deletion in English, both of which are allowed internal to φ but are prevented at the leading edge of φ ("domain initial strengthening"; Fougeron & Keating 1997). I also apply stress-based φ-phrasing to English complementizer-effects, demonstrating that the distribution of overt and null allomorphs of C is governed by the same prosodic principles governing word-initial lenition/deletion. On the isomorphic side, I develop a model for syntax/prosody mappings within a Minimalist framework (Chomsky 2013, 2015) such that non-branching nodes (defined within Bare Phrase Structure) are targeted for ω-status and phrasal pitch accent assignment. I then apply this model to account for restrictions on vowel reduction in function words stranded in phrase-final position and to capture cases where phrasal pitch accents are subordinated on syntactic heads that combine with a complement. The latter account is then extended with assumptions about head-movement and linearization to address variation in pitch accent subordination between English and German, along with the non-licensing of phrase-final pronoun constructions with ditransitives, phrasal verbs, and resultatives in English.

Contact: 
Sheila Luna
Friday, Apr. 12, 2019, 1 p.m.
Room: 
117
Location: 
Ross-Blakley Hall (RBHL)
Campus: 
Tempe campus

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