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Towards a model of the syntax-prosody interface in Samoan

Kristine Yu (UMass Amherst)
Event time: 
Monday, January 23, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Rosenfeld Hall See map
109 Grove Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

It has long been clear that syntax determines certain aspects of prosody, and that prosody should therefore be part of the grammar influencing the action of the syntactic parser. Moreover, a body of theoretical work exists proposing general theories of how syntax determines certain aspects of prosody (but not others). However, what has remained unclear is how to bring prosody into the grammar to inform the parser. This is because of the many interacting, conditioning factors on prosody that may obscure the informativity of prosodic information for syntactic analysis. Our strategy for moving forward is to define and compare computational models of the interface which capture fundamental properties that distinguish proposed theories from one another—starting with case studies where syntax is clearly the primary determining factor for prosody. This talk is about a first case study on Samoan, which provides clear cases of prosodic events that are under the control of the syntax. First, we provide empirical evidence from original fieldwork that the distribution of high edge tones in Samoan is rigidly correlated with particular syntactic constructions, while the distribution of low edge tones is not. Then, we introduce work towards a computational model of the syntax-prosody interface in Samoan: (1) comparisons of prosodic grammars with and without prosodic constituents, and (2) syntactic grammar fragments with spellout rules for edge tones in Minimalist Grammar.

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