Optimality Theory and the theory of phonological phrasing: The Chimwiini evidence

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It has long been known that vowel length alternations require sentences in Chimwiini to be broken down exhaustively into a sequence of phrases. This paper shows that the accentual facts provide even more robust evidence for what the phrasing of a given sentence is. The phrasing motivated by these two independent phonological phenomena provide critical evidence in support of Selkirk's edge-based approach to phrasing. This paper demonstrates, however, that there is not a unitary principle (specifically, Align the Right edge of a Phrase with the Right edge of a Maximal Projection) that governs phrasing in Chimwiini. The role of focus/emphasis, as well as as the definite/indefinite contrast, are discussed. In addition, a role for Wrap-XP (which requires all the elements in a maximal projection to be wrapped inside the same phonological phrase) is shown to be supported by the accentual data.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sound Patterns of Syntax
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191722271
ISBN (Print)9780199556861
StatePublished - 1 May 2010


  • Chimwiini
  • Focus
  • Phonological phrasing
  • Phonology-syntax interface
  • Prosody


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