Expression of information structure in West Slavic: Modeling the impact of prosodic and word order factors
Radek Simik, Marta Wierzba
February 2017
 

The received wisdom is that word order alternations in Slavic languages arise as a direct consequence of word order-related information structure constraints such as "place given expressions before new ones". In this paper, we compare the word order hypothesis with a competing one, according to which word order alternations arise as a consequence of a prosodic constraint – "avoid stress on given expressions". Based on novel experimental and modeling data, we conclude that the prosodic hypothesis is more adequate than the word order hypothesis. Yet, we also show that combining the strengths of both hypotheses provides the best fit for the data. Methodologically, our paper is based on gradient acceptability judgments and multiple regression, which allows us to evaluate whether violations of generalizations like "given precedes new" or "given lacks stress" lead to a consistent decrease in acceptability and to quantify the size of their respective effects. Focusing on the empirical adequacy of such generalizations rather than specific theoretical implementations also makes it possible to bridge the gap between different linguistic traditions, and to directly compare predictions emerging from formal and functional approaches.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003304
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Language 93(3):671-709, https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2017.0040
keywords: information structure, givenness, given before new, *stress given, acceptability rating experiments, modeling, multiple regression, slavic, czech, polish, slovak, semantics, syntax, phonology
previous versions: v1 [February 2017]
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