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Title:Prosody-syntax interaction in the expression of focus
Authors:Vieri Samek-Lodovici
Abstract:Prosodic and syntactic constraints conflict with each other.
This is particularly evident in the expression of focus,
where the best position for main stress does not necessarily
match the best syntactic position for the focused constituent.
But focus and stress must match, therefore either stress
or the focused constituent must renounce their best position
violating either the syntactic or the prosodic constraints
responsible for it.
This study argues that human language addresses this tension
in optimality theoretic terms. Focus paradigms across different
languages only reflect different rankings of a shared invariant
set of syntactic and prosodic constraints. In particular,
only an optimality analysis can account for the focus paradigm
of Italian while keeping a prosodic analysis of main stress
in accord with the last two decades of phonological research.
The analysis also extends naturally to focus paradigms in
English, French, and Chichewa (including Chichewa's non-culminant
sentences, i.e. sentences lacking a single main stress),
making no appeal to language specific parametric devices.
Overall, the conflicting nature of prosodic and syntactic
constraints gives rise to a complex crosslinguistic typology
from a single set of universal constraints while keeping
interface conditions to an absolute minimum.

This paper revises (and supercedes) Samek-Lodovici 2002:ROA-524.
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Syntax, Phonology, Prosody, Prosody-Syntax Interface
Article:Version 1