There’s Nothing Exceptional about the Phrasal Stress Rule
Byron Ahn
April 2015

Since the beginning of generative work on phrasal stress, it has been convincingly argued that syntax generates structure, and the phrasal-stress assignment operation takes syntactic output as its input. In addition, it has long been assumed that there are exceptions to the phrasal-stress assignment operation, caused by certain lexical or interpretive properties. This paper demonstrates that having such exceptions to the rule is not only undesirable on purely theoretical grounds, but is also unsuccessful on empirical grounds.

Instead, this paper argues that putative examples of exceptionality are in fact produced by an exceptionless model, extending logic in Wagner 2006 and Ahn 2015. Specifically, the model rethinks the nature of the system that predicts phrasal stress placement. Instead of a linear-based rule with exceptions, evidence is found in favor of an exceptionless and structure-based phrasal stress assignment operation in the vein of Cinque 1993 and subsequent works such as Zubizarreta 1998. The proposed theory allows phrasal-stress assignment to conform to Minimalist assumptions, simplifies the task of language acquisition, and provides theoreticians and the learner with evidence for a more articulated syntax that is transparently interpreted at the interfaces.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002458
(please use that when you cite this article)
keywords: syntax-phonology interface, syntax-prosody interface, exceptions, phrasal stress, nuclear stress, nsr, spell-out, architecture, syntax, phonology
previous versions: v1 [March 2015]
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