Prosody – a source of word-order microparameters

Projekt: ForskningInternationellt samarbete

Forskningsområden

Nyckelord

  • Object Shift, prosody, tonal accent, optionality, Mainland Scandinavian

Beskrivning

Danish grammarians have observed that in certain South Danish dialects Object Shift (1b) is
not required as it is in standard Danish allowing also for the order (1c).
1a Jeg så ikke Ruth.
I saw not Ruth
b Jeg så hende ikke.
I saw her not
c Jeg så ikke hende. (only South Danish)
Basbøll 1986, Pedersen 1993 view 1b as an application of the lightness rule
(lethedsregelen) whereas 1c follows the likeness rule (lighedsregelen) in that the word order
matches that of full DP objects, as in 1a. The optionality between the word order in 1b and
1c is also to be found in many Swedish and Norwegian dialects.
The proposed research seeks to provide evidence for a crosslinguistic correlation
between the existence of a tone distinction and the optionality of Object Shift. Standard
Danish has no tone distinction and also does not allow the word order in 1c. Certain
Swedish, Norwegian and South Danish dialects (a subset of the Danish dialects which lack
glottal stops: the isogloss runs below the stød-line) exhibit tone distinctions in polysyllabic
words (Accent 1 and Accent 2), and also allow 1c. Polysyllabic words in these tonal dialects
have one of two word accents. Here we focus on Swedish and on the South Danish dialect
spoken on Ærø and show not only that the correlation holds, but we also argue that the
correlation follows from the prosodic properties of weak pronouns in general and the
property of accent 2 to combine words together into one prosodic ‘tone’ unit, Hellan 2005;
Riad 2008. We seek to identify the particular prosodic units at stake, following Vigário 2010,
Wetterlin and Lahiri 2012 and Selkirk 2011 among others.)
The existence of such a correlation would not be surprising: It seems reasonable to
assume that weak pronouns can incorporate into a verb (1b) or a subject (in non-subject
initial clauses) - this is simply Object shift. Adverbs are unsuitable (primary) hosts for weak
pronouns. However, in varieties with tone, an additional way of incorporation is available,
creation of a compound-like Tone Unit. In varieties without this possibility, a weak pronoun
following an adverb is left prosodically stranded, which makes the sentence ungrammatical.
What drives the variation in word order,then, is the microparametric prosodic
properties of each dialect. Our conclusion supports the view that object shift is itself a
prosodically driven process as argued in Erteschik-Shir 2005 and Josefsson 2012 and
therefore also provides evidence against syntactic accounts of Object Shift which cannot
account for the covariation of prosodic properties and the optionality of Object Shift argued
for here.

Populärvetenskaplig beskrivning

I vårt projekt vill vi undersöka en ordförljdsvariation i fastlandsskandinaviska (svenska, norska och danska) som har intresserat språkforskare under en lång tid, nämligen det faktum att obetonade pronomen har fler placeringsmöjligheter i satsen, än betonade pronomen och substantiv. Ordningen "Jag gillar den inte " är fullt grammatisk, t.o.m. obligatorisk i standarddanska, medan "Jag gillar den nya bilen" är ogrammatiskt.En annan ordning mellan pronomen och negation, "Jag såg inte den" är möjlig som ett alternativ i svenska, men också i vissa dialekter av danska. De fastlandsskandinaviska varieteter som tillåter variationen av typen "inte den" och "den inte" har det gemensamt att de också har tonal distinktion, d.v.s. akut och grav accent. Vår hypotes är att det är tonal accent som möjliggör den senare ordföljden. Projektets syfte är att ge undersöka detta närmare.

Det ska tilläggas att möjligheten att förklara ordföljdsvariation med hjälp av fonologiska faktorer är mer revolutionernade än man i förstone kan tycka, eftersom det betyder att den inom många delar av språkvetenskapen antagna relationen mellan syntax, i synnerhet ordföljdsrestriktioner, och fonologi måste omvärderas.
StatusSlutfört
Effective start/end date2014/06/012016/12/31

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