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Multiple Subject Positions: A Case of Perfect Match between Syntax and Prosody
Öner Özçelik and Miho Nagai
303-312 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The question of where in the sentence nominative arguments can appear has been well studied within the fields of syntax and semantics. Most of the debate has centered around the issue of whether a nominative phrase has to be licensed in SpecTP (e.g., Chomsky 1991) or if it may remain in its base position (i.e., internal to vP/VP, Agree model in Chomsky 2000). This paper provides, for the first time, prosodic evidence in support of the latter hypothesis. In particular, the paper argues, based on Turkish, that whereas definite subjects must raise to SpecTP in this language, indefinite subjects remain in a vP/VP internal position. This conclusion is reached based on the fact that two phonological phrases (PPhs) are created in a simple sentence containing a definite subject and an unaccusative verb, one PPh for the subject and one for the verb (suggesting that definite arguments are in a different syntactic projection than the verb), whereas only one PPh is created in the case of an indefinite subject preceding such a verb (suggesting that indefinite arguments stay within the same projection as the verb, i.e., vP/VP-internal). The latter option is not available when the verb is unergative (since arguments of unergative verbs have to be external, introduced by a functional head such as v (e.g., Chomsky 1995)), while the former is not available for existential constructions (because of the Definiteness Effect (Milsark 1977)), providing independent evidence for the way the paper assumes syntax-prosody interface works in Turkish.

Published in

Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Mary Byram Washburn, Katherine McKinney-Bock, Erika Varis, Ann Sawyer, and Barbara Tomaszewicz
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00