DGfS 2017 AG 6 "Prosody in Syntactic Encoding"

Prosody in Syntactic Encoding

Workshop Section at the 39th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS)

Organizers: Gerrit Kentner, Joost Kremers

March 8th - 10th, 2017, Universität des Saarlandes Saarbrücken

Theories of language production and theories of grammar agree in that they grant syntax precedence over prosody in sentence construction. That is, prominent models of language production consider prosody to be built on the basis of syntactic pre-­processing. Similarly, in grammatical theory, the purpose of the phonological component is primarily in interpreting or expressing what the syntax has already constructed. Correspondingly, syntactic influences on prosodic structure are expectable and well documented. However, prosody does not perfectly mirror syntactic structure, and mismatches between prosodic domains and syntactic constituents are commonplace.

This raises the question as to what extent prosody is generated independently from syntax. What is more, the reverse influence is also well attested: Prosodic requirements may constrain syntax to such an extent that the default, "unmarked" word order is not acceptable and another, "marked" word order is the only viable option. Prosody may even determine the choice of a particular syntactic construction by suppressing syntactic alternatives that are prosodically less favorable. This kind of evidence for mutual influence of syntax and prosody appears to be problematic for strictly modular, unidirectional models of both grammar and language processing.

This workshop focuses on the interplay between syntax and prosody in linguistic encoding, specifically examining the extent to which prosody affects syntax. In light of the assumption that language production (and perception) involves recourse to grammatical knowledge, we especially ask how the grammar has to be conceptualized to be in a position to explain prosodic/phonological influences on sentence structure.

Invited Speaker:

Arto Anttila (Standford University)