Verb Height Indeed Determines Prosodic Phrasing: Evidence from Iron Ossetic

Lena Borise, David Erschler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We provide novel evidence in favor of the proposal by Hamlaoui and Szendrői (2015, 2017), who argue for a flexible mapping between an Intonational Phrase (ɩ) and syntactic constituents. According to them, ɩ corresponds to the highest projection that hosts verbal material, together with its specifier. The prediction is that the size of ɩ co-varies with the height of the verb, if the latter is variable. Our evidence comes from Iron Ossetic (East Iranian), a language with multiple projections available for verb raising, depending on context. The flexible ɩ-mapping approach – but not more rigid approaches to ɩ-formation – can account for the properties of ɩ-formation in Iron Ossetic. This applies to the prosody of utterances that contain negative indefinites, narrow foci, and single wh-phrases. More complex wh-questions (those with multiple wh-phrases and/or negative indefinites) provide evidence that syntax-based flexible ɩ-mapping approach interacts with language-specific eurhythmic constraints. The Iron Ossetic facts, therefore, provide support for the flexible ɩ-mapping approach, which has not been tested until now on languages of this type.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication51st Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistics Society
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 6 Nov 2020


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