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Phasal syntax = cyclic phonology?

Journal article
Authors Lisa L.-S. Cheng
Laura J. Downing
Published in Syntax
Volume 19
Issue 2
Pages 159-191
ISSN 1368-0005
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 159-191
Language en
Keywords phonology-syntax interface, Bantu languages, spell out domains, Edge alignment
Subject categories Linguistics, African languages, Bantu languages


This paper addresses three central questions in the phonology–syntax interface: What does phonology know about syntax? Does phrasal phonology “know” about syntax directly or indirectly (i.e., mediated by prosodic constituents such as Intonation Phrase)? When does the phonology–syntax interaction take place? Most current phase-based theories of the interface assume a strict cyclic model of derivation, in which the output of each spell-out domain directly feeds the phonology. We argue instead for an indirect model in which phonology is mainly conditioned by phase edges and accesses syntax only when the syntactic derivation is complete. We motivate the model mainly with data from Bantu languages that have played a leading role in the development of current theories of the phonology–syntax interface.

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