Phase theory and prosodic spellout: The case of verbs

Angelika Kratzer 1 , 1  and Elisabeth Selkirk 2 , 2
  • 1 University of Massachusetts Amherst.
  • 2 University of Massachusetts Amherst.


In this article we will explore the consequences of adopting recent proposals by Chomsky, according to which the syntactic derivation proceeds in terms of phases. The notion of phase – through the associated notion of spellout – allows for an insightful theory of the fact that syntactic constituents receive default phrase stress not across the board, but as a function of yet-to-be-explicated conditions on their syntactic context. We will see that the phonological evidence requires us to modify somewhat the theory of which functional categories actually define a phase. Patterns of default, syntax-determined, phrase stress are argued to result from prosodic spellout requiring the highest phrase in the spellout domain to correspond to a major prosodic phrase in phonological representation, and carry major phrase stress.

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The Linguistic Review publishes high-quality papers in syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology within a framework of Generative Grammar and related disciplines, as well as critical discussions of theoretical linguistics as a branch of cognitive psychology. The journal welcomes reviews of important new monographs in these areas, dissertation abstracts and letters to the editor.