Minimal indirect reference: A theory of the syntax -phonology interface

Amanda Hallie Seidl, University of Pennsylvania


This thesis investigates the hypothesis that phonology can refer to two levels of structure, one which has domains corresponding to domains of the Phase (in the sense of Chomsky 1999) and another which consists of phonological domains constructed by a simple mechanism referring to the domains in which theta-roles are assigned. The thesis also makes a methodological point: It is proposed that the locus of variation in the size of the domains in which phrasal phonological rules apply should first be assumed to be syntactic. It is argued that although there may be some variation in the phonology of languages in the construction of phonological domains, the primary locus of variation which causes differences in the phonological domains of languages is located in their syntax. It is proposed that aspects of the Prosodic Hierarchy which make reference to constituents larger than the word are unnecessary. In standard Prosodic Hierarchy Theory deriving from Nespor and Vogel (1986), Selkirk (1984, 1996), inter alia, it is claimed that UG contains a finite set of constituent types (such as ‘Phonological Phrase’). Since each of these constituent types is a representational prime within UG, then UG may also contain specific constraints referring to these constituents (as in Optimality Theory (Selkirk 1996, Truckenbrodt 1995, 1998)). This thesis rejects the premise that UG contains such a set. It follows from this that UG also cannot contain constraints referring to members of this set, since the set does not exist. A theory of minimal indirect reference (MIR) is proposed for the interface between syntax and phonology. In MIR, all variation across languages in phonological domain size is attributed to syntactic differences, along with a single domain parameter specific to phonology. MIR is shown to be more constrained than previous theories of direct reference (Cinque 1993, Odden 1995, Kaisse 1985, inter alia) since in MIR phonological domains are sensitive only to the output of a post-syntactic morphology component and not to the workings of syntax proper. Finally, MIR is shown to have greater coverage of the data than previous theories of indirect reference (Selkirk 1996, Truckenbrodt 1998, Hayes 1989, inter alia).

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Seidl, Amanda Hallie, "Minimal indirect reference: A theory of the syntax -phonology interface" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9989651.