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Sisterhood in prosodic branching*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2013

Sara Myrberg*
Stockholm University


This article discusses the syntax–prosody interface, drawing on evidence from Stockholm Swedish. It is shown that a Swedish main clause containing an embedded clause has three prosodic correlates, two of which are non-isomorphic to the syntactic bracketing. However, two coordinated clauses have only one – isomorphic – prosodic correlate. Optimality-theoretic constraints (Prince & Smolensky 1993) are used to derive this variation. A new markedness constraint, EqualSisters, is argued to be responsible for a preference for flat prosodic structures. This constraint requires that sister nodes in prosodic structure belong to the same prosodic category, and therefore sometimes conflicts with match constraints, which call for syntax–prosody correspondence (Selkirk 2009, 2011). When high-ranked, EqualSisters forces syntax–prosody non-isomorphism if the input syntactic structure contains embedding, whereas full isomorphism is predicted in coordinated structures. The previously suggested markedness constraints Non-recursivity and Exhaustivity (Selkirk 1996) cannot replace EqualSisters, and in the present account are rendered redundant.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013

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I would like to express my sincere gratitude to several people who have contributed to this paper in various ways. I would especially like to thank Tomas Riad, Lisa Selkirk, Shin Ishihara and the anonymous reviewers for Phonology for valuable advice and comments. I also want to thank Laura Downing, Caroline Féry, Fatima Hamlaoui, Gerrit Kentner and Fabian Schubö, the participants of the phonology colloquium in Frankfurt and the participants of the workshop on the phonology–syntax interface held in conjunction with the OCP conference at ZAS in Berlin in January 2012. I thank the editors of Phonology for their help during the review and editing processes. For financial support I am grateful to Sven och Dagmar Saléns Stiftelse and the Swedish Research Council. Of course, any remaining errors or mistakes in this article are entirely my own responsibility.



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