Modularity, Phase-Phase Faithfulness and prosodification of function words in English

  • Dragana Šurkalović Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
Keywords: modularity, prosody, nanosyntax, Optimality Theory, spell-out, phase


This paper investigates the interface of syntax and phonology in a fully modular view of language, deriving the effects of (morpho)syntactic structure on prosodification without referring to that structure in the phonological computation, contra the use of constraints that map (morpho)syntactic edges or constituents to prosodic ones. The data focus is on function words in English, which receive different prosodic treatment from lexical words. The approach presented here adopts the view of the ‘syntax-all-the-way-down’ approaches, specifically Nanosyntax, which erase the traditional distinction between lexical and functional categories. The paper argues that phonological computation needs to proceed in phases in order to achieve domain mapping while maintaining an input consisting of purely phonological information, and offers a formalization within the Optimality Theory framework by introducing Phase-Phase Faithfulness constraints. Spell-out is attempted at each merge, and is successful when lexical matching is successful. The paper argues that spell-out cannot proceed in chunks but in concentric circles, producing cumulative cyclic input to phonology. An analysis is provided deriving prosodic domains from phases by phonological computation being faithful to the prosodification output of the previous phase. The prosodic word status of lexical words is derived from their status as phase 1 in the derivation.