The Grammar of Repetition

Nupe grammar at the syntax–phonology interface

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Displacement is a fundamental property of grammar. Typically, when an occurrence moves it is pronounced in only one environment. This was previously viewed as a primitive/irreducible property of grammar. Recent work, however, suggests that it follows from principled interactions between the syntactic and phonological components of grammar. As such, the phonetic character of movement chains can be seen as both a reflection of and probe into the syntax-phonology interface. This volume deals with repetition, an atypical outcome of movement operations in which displaced elements are pronounced multiple times. Although cross-linguistically rare, the phenomenon obtains robustly in Nupe, a Benue-Congo language of Nigeria. Repetition raises a tension of the descriptive-explanatory variety. In order to achieve both measures of adequacy, movement theory must be supplemented with an account of the conditions that drive and constrain multiple pronunciation. This book catalogs these conditions, bringing to light a number of undocumented aspects of Nupe grammar.

Subjects: Phonology; Syntax; Other African languages; Generative linguistics; Theoretical linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: Swarthmore College

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