Exploring the syntax-semantics-prosody interface

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This variationist study examines finite clausal complementation with respect to the prosodic integration of matrix clauses (MC) and complement clauses (CC). In both Spanish and English conversational data, MCs and CCs are found to occur in a single prosodic unit, or Intonation Unit (IU), over two-thirds of the time. The presence of syntactic material (e.g., adverbs) intervening between MC verb and CC (and complementizer that, in English) favors CC occurrence in a different IU. A contrary effect, favoring CC occurrence on the same IU, is that of first person MC subjects, which may form part of formulaic expressions. These discourse-cognitive constraints provide cross-linguistic evidence for the interaction of syntax with prosody in speech.


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