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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 31, 2019

Verb placement and accentuation: Does prosody constrain the Estonian V2?

  • Heete Sahkai EMAIL logo and Anne Tamm
From the journal Open Linguistics


The paper contributes to the understanding of the variation in finite verb placement in Estonian, a verb-second language, by establishing two descriptive facts. First, it identifies a previously undescribed finite verb position in Estonian declarative main clauses, which will be referred to as ‘clause-medial’. The clause-medial position is located between clause-medial sentence adverbials on the one hand, and VP adverbials and the complements of the verb on the other hand. Secondly, the paper reports two empirical studies providing evidence in support of the hypothesis that the occurrence of a finite verb in the proposed clause-medial position, as opposed to its occurrence in the second position, correlates with its accentuation. While clause-medial verbs tend to bear a nuclear pitch accent, second-position verbs don’t. Finally, the paper briefly discusses some broader implications of the existence of the clause-medial finite verb position and of the interaction between verb placement and prosody.


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Received: 2018-11-14
Accepted: 2019-10-27
Published Online: 2019-12-31

© 2019 Heete Sahkai et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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