Eliminating bracketing paradoxes in phonologically driven syntax
Susan Schmerling
April 2021

This revision of a PowerPoint presentation from a University of British Columbia talk on 4 March 2021 outlines how a phonologically driven theory of grammar (Schmerling 2018) explains apparent misalignments of syntactic and prosodic structures as resulting from operations that substitute units of varying weight at prosodic edges and that apply bottom to top in the formation of larger structures. On this approach, syntax is semantically relevant relations among prosodic structures. This theory is a generalization to units larger than prosodic words of the item and process morphology of Edward Sapir and his students. A Sapirian perspective on the relationship between grammar and phonology allows us to view “bracketing paradoxes” identified to date as involving affixations, i.e., operations that increment prosodic words within prosodic phrases. A broader perspective on the sound grammar relationship, however, lets us see affixations as akin to substitutions of units smaller than words, like the mutations of Celtic initial consonants or of syllable nuclei as in Germanic umlaut and Indo European and Penutian ablaut. Formation operations that apply directly to prosodic structures further allow us to revise our conception of the motivation for syntactic categories, which can now be divorced from units properly seen as prosodic and which are thus applicable to languages traditionally seen as typologically incommensurate. A further advantage of this approach to linguistic structure is its ability to explain lexicalization of linguistic expressions as simply entailing a prosodic structure (initially) ceasing to be derived according to some formation rule.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005865
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: presentation
keywords: bracketing paradox, morphology, syntax
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