Intonation and Interface Conditions

  • Pesetsky D
  • Supervisor T
  • Marantz A
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The thesis presents a theoretical and experimental investigation of the interaction between focus intonation pattern (FIP) and certain syntactic phenomena-especially those involving wh-questions-in Japanese. A phonological mechanism of FIP formation is proposed that accounts for the variety of FIPs observed in various syntactic configurations. In the FIPs of Japanese wh-questions, the F0 of wh-phrases is raised, and the F0 of following phrases is lowered. There is a correlation between the domain of Fo-lowering and the scope of the wh-phrase. In a matrix wh-question, Fo-lowering after the wh-phrase continues until the end of the sentence, while in the case of an indirect wh-question, it stops at the end of the embedded clause. I account for this FIP- Wh-scope correspondence as follows. A pair of phonological rules is proposed that manipulate the prominence relations between semantically focalized phrases and post-focus phrases. These rules apply cyclically during the course of syntactic derivations, rather than waiting until the whole sentence is syntactically composed. Adopting the Multiple Spell-Out analysis (Chomsky, 2000, 2001b), I propose that the phonological rules for FIP formation apply to Spell-Out domains, rather than to a whole sentence. This proposal departs from previous analyses of FIP in Japanese (Truckenbrodt, 1995; Selkirk, 2003; Sugahara, 2003) in two respects: (1) it does not refer to prosodic phrasing; and (2) it is based on a cyclic model instead of a single-output model. The analysis makes the following prediction: if there are two wh-phrases that take different scopes in a single sentence, two independent FIPs will be created at different Spell-Out domains. This prediction was tested instrumentally. The results show that such a pitch contour is possible, and confirms other predictions as well.

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  • David Pesetsky

  • Thesis Supervisor

  • Alec Marantz

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