Syntax Supper: Alexandra Simonenko (Mcgill)

NOV 20, 2012 | 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




November 20, 2012: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM




Clitic-hood as a Phonological Correlate of Phase-Head Status: Connecting Phonological and Syntactic Opacity


In this talk I present evidence supporting an expectation generated by the conjunction of two logically independent claims about the derivation: first, that a phase-head triggers its complement's spellout (Chomsky 2001), and second, that spelled-out material tends to preserve its phonological make-up, Dobler et al. (2009). The expectation is that phase-heads should have the prosodic status of "clitics", defined as adjuncts to a certain prosodic domain, Selkirk (1996). I show that this expectation is borne out in the Mainland North Germanic languages where whether or not a suffixal determiner behaves as a phonological clitic perfectly correlates with the presence in a language of the "double DP" structure. This fact is naturally accounted for assuming that what is at stake is the phase-head status of the head realized by the suffixal determiner. I show that this analysis can potentially handle some anaphoric binding contrasts in the Mainland North Germanic. This work aims at connecting the emerging body of research suggesting that phonologically opaque domains emerge as a result of the by-phase nature of syntactic derivation which constrains phonological interaction between morphemes (Svenonius 2005, Piggott and Newell 2006, Michaels to appear, Bouchard to appear) to the tradition of accounting for binding phenomena by appealing to the opacity/phase-hood of certain domains (Fiengo and Higginbotham 1981, Bader 2011, Despic 2011, Hicks 2012).