Verb height, prosodic phrasing, and the flexible ⍳-mapping hypothesis: evidence from Iron Ossetic

Presented by : Lena Borise (Research Institute for Linguistics, Budapest)

David Erschler (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)

Date : 12 April 2021

Abstract :

This paper provides novel evidence in favor of flexible mapping between an Intonational Phrase (ι) and syntactic constituents. In the existing accounts, ι is assumed to map onto a syntactic clause, but a ‘clause’ in the syntax-prosody literature may be defined as a TP (Zerbian 2006), CP (Truckenbrodt 2005, Henderson 2012), or the complement of Force0 and C0 (Selkirk 2011). Hamlaoui & Szendrői (2015, 2017) propose that ι is flexible and corresponds to the highest projection that hosts verbal material, together with its specifier (HVP), and, therefore, provide a unified, syntax-based account of cross-linguistic variation in ι-size. A prediction that it makes is that ι-size is also determined by HVP in a language where the height of the verb depends on utterance type. Iron Ossetic (East Iranian), with several projections available for verb raising, is a uniquely suitable testing ground for this prediction. We adopt the flexible ι-mapping approach and, using experimental prosodic data, show that the HVP indeed determines the size of ι in Iron Ossetic. We demonstrate that the prosodic phrasing in clauses with narrow foci and negative indefinites directly follows from the flexible ι-mapping hypothesis. We also show how the flexible ι-mapping hypothesis interacts with phonological (i.e., independent from syntax) markedness constrains on prosodic phrasing in wh-questions. Overall, this paper provides further support to flexible ι-mapping, based on a new language type, while also showing that the surface prosodic facts of Iron Ossetic result from the interaction of factors rooted both in syntax and phonology.

Biography :

Lena Borise is a Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Linguistics (Budapest, Hungary) and an Associate at the Department of Linguistics at Harvard University. Her work focuses on the acoustic manifestation of prosodic prominence, both on lexical and phrasal levels, and its phonological interpretation. She also works on issues surrounding the syntactic and prosodic realization of information structure. In her PhD dissertation (2019, Harvard University), she investigated the prosodic and syntactic properties of focus in Georgian (Kartvelian). She currently works on prosody, syntax of information structure, and syntax-prosody interface in several understudied languages, including Georgian, Iron Ossetic (Iranian), Udmurt, and Eastern Khanty (Uralic).

David Erschler is a Lecturer at the Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beer Sheva, Israel). He works on syntax and its interfaces with morphology and phonology, on syntactic and morphological typology, diachronic syntax, and description of languages of the Caucasus. In his PhD dissertation in linguistics (2018, UMass Amherst) he investigated the typology of several ellipsis varieties. He currently works on the syntax-prosody interface in Iron Ossetic, morphology and syntax of Iron and Digor Ossetic, and syntax of Russian. He also holds PhD in mathematics from Tel Aviv University.