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1 Interaction between phonology and syntax in Icelandic Arguments for a strongly parellel OT-analysis A Phonological Workshop University of Iceland May.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Interaction between phonology and syntax in Icelandic Arguments for a strongly parellel OT-analysis A Phonological Workshop University of Iceland May."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Interaction between phonology and syntax in Icelandic Arguments for a strongly parellel OT-analysis A Phonological Workshop University of Iceland May 16, 2008 Anton Karl Ingason University of Iceland

2 2 Introduction Generative grammar –Generally serial and modular design (rules/transformations within modules such as syntax and phonology) –Optimality Theory (OT) (Prince and Smolensky. 1993/2002) is more parellel, but usually within serially connected modules (syntax still “happens before” phonology) –In such a model syntax can affect phonology but phonology can not affect syntax –But what if there is evidence of the latter? Linguistic behaviour/performance –Not what “real” linguistics should deal with? –But what if variation has structure that can be predicted using an already existing model?

3 3 Icelandic case variation Variation in case marking of subjects of impersonal verbs, dative substitution (“dative sickness”) –Native speakers are not consistent in judgements of the grammaticality of subject case marking for certain verbs –Effects of post-syntactic phenomena generally not considered –Syntactic and semantic forces considered entirely responsible –Which predicts that syntactically and semantically equivalent subjects should behave identically with respect to case marking New hypothesis –Speakers who show variation in their judgements will not have syntactic preference for either accusative or dative case –And will prefer the prosodically better case, ideally the least marked prosodic word, a trochee (σσ)

4 4 Experiment 54 speakers judge the grammaticality of the following sentences: Hvers vegna vantar Jón þessa nagla? Why needs Jón-ACC-(σ) those nails? Guðmund vantar nýjan jakka. Guðmund-ACC-(σσ) needs a new jacket. Það er ljóst að Jóni vantar betri hugmynd. It is clear that Jóni-DAT-(σσ) needs a better idea. Vantar ekki Guðmundi bara stærri jeppa? Needs not Guðmundi-DAT-(σσσ) just a bigger jeep? Not syntactic minimal pairs, but since dative sickness is a well known phenomena it is necessary to disguise the experiment if possible All comments from participants were about case marking Current literature on syntax does not predict that the names Jón and Guðmundur will behave differently with respect to case in those examples If prosody affects judgements and (σσ) is the least marked PrWd there should be a tendency to accept Jóni-DAT-(σσ) rather than Jón-ACC-(σ) and Guðmund-ACC-(σσ) rather than Guðmundi-DAT-(σσσ)

5 5 Positive judgements about grammaticality of accusative subjects

6 6 Positive judgements about grammaticality of dative subjects

7 7 Modelling variation in OT Different dialects and social registers –Constraint reranking works well and seems logical if the grammar is indeed different Variation within a “fixed” system –Variation as accessing non-optimal candidates (Coetzee 2004; 2006) –Extra information generated by OT used to make predictions about variation –Candidates are ordered by relative grammaticality

8 8 Coetzeean variation model Relative grammaticality Predictions: –Better candidates are more frequent –Possible variation patterns: (C1,*C2,*C3), (C1,C2,*C3), (C1,C2,C3) –Impossible variation patterns: (*C1,*C2,C3), (*C1,C2,C3), (*C1,C2,*C3), (C1,*C2,C3) Const1Const2Const3 11 Cand 1* 22 Cand 2* 33 Cand 3*

9 9 Strongly parellel OT Using an entirely parellel grammar, with only one E VAL function syntax and phonology are processed in the same step (Teeple 2007) Syntax can still outrank phonology (Golston 1995) but when two syntactic options are equally grammatical – phonology can decide which one is better Instead of serially connected modules we have layers of constraints where any constraint can interact with any other constraint S YNTAX P HONOLOGY 11 (σσ) */  22 (σσσ) */  *

10 10 Trochee sickness? 29 out of 54 participants were inconsistent in their judgements about grammaticality of dative subjects All of those had the same judgement pattern Current literature on syntax does not predict one pattern to be more frequent than the other Informal experiment using syntactic minimal pairs confirms the result Explains some of the results of Kristín Edda Búadóttir (2007) SP 11 (σσ) */  22 (σσσ) */  * Possible variation pattern: (σσ) / *(σσσ) Impossible variation pattern *(σσ) / (σσσ)

11 11 Conclusion Serial and modular grammar can not account for phonology affecting syntax –Strongly Parellel OT can –Instead of serially connected modules we have layers of constraints (syntax, phonlogy) where any constraint can interact with any other constraint –Syntax can still outrank phonology A Coetzeean model of variation can account for patterns in linguistic performance while still predicting the optimal “competence output” (  1 ) Brings up questions –Previous research on dative substitution asks questions like “how common is dative sickness for the verb x?” (Given what subject?) –Is it a good idea to design grammar as a one directional algorithm if there is evidence of two way interaction between phonology and syntax? –Do similar patterns occur in other cases of variation?

12 12 References Búadóttir, Kristín Edda Þágufallshneigð. [Dative substitution.] Mímisþing. March 17, Coetzee, Andries W What it Means to be a Loser. Non- Optimal Candidates in Optimality Theory. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. [ROA #687.] Coetzee, Andries W Variation as Accessing “Non-Optimal” Candidates – A Rank-Ordering Model of Eval. Phonology 23:337– 385. [Also ROA #863.] Golston, Chris Syntax outranks phonology: evidence from Ancient Greek. Phonology 12:343–368. Prince, Alan and Paul Smolensky. 1993/2002. Optimality theory: Constraint Interaction in generative grammar. Manuscript. Rutgers University and University of Colorado at Boulder. (Updated version of the Technical Report from 1993) [ROA #537.] Teeple, David Prosody Can Outrank Syntax. WCCFL 26, Berkeley, April 27-29, University of California, Santa Cruz.


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