LINGUIST List 13.2042

Wed Aug 7 2002

Review: Phonology/Morphology/Syntax

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What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Simin Karimi at


  1. Rob O'Connor, Gerlach & Grijzenhout, Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax

Message 1: Gerlach & Grijzenhout, Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax

Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2002 21:17:44 +0000
From: Rob O'Connor <>
Subject: Gerlach & Grijzenhout, Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax

Gerlach, Birgit and Janet Grijzenhout, eds. (2001)
Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax.
John Benjamins Publishing Company, ix+441pp,
hardback ISBN 90-272-2757-8 (Europe) / 1-55619- 799-3 (US),
EUR 114.00 / USD 105.00, Linguistik Aktuell / Linguistics Today 36.

Book Announcement on Linguist: 
This book is announced at

Rob O'Connor, Department of Linguistics, University of Manchester.

Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax consists of an
introductory chapter by the editors, thirteen papers and two indexes
(name and subject). It grew out of a workshop on clitics organised by
the editors at the 1999 meeting of the German Society of Linguistics
in Konstanz.

The introductory chapter by Gerlach & Grijzenhout (Clitics from
different perspectives) is a short overview of phonological,
morphological and syntactic principles in current research on clitics.
There are brief discussions of the prosodic category 'clitic group'
proposed by Nespor & Vogel (1986) and Hayes (1989); the notion of
'clitic' as a morphological category; the properties of, and
allomorphic processes within, clitic clusters; two types of syntactic
approach to cliticisation based on a) movement of clitics to their
surface positions, and b) base generation of clitics in their surface
positions; and difficulties presented by clitic doubling and clitic
placement in Slavic languages for purely syntactic approaches. Where
appropriate, the editors refer to relevant chapters from the book.

Akinlabi & Liberman's paper (The tonal phonology of Yoruba clitics)
examines tone in host-clitic sequences and discusses various
strategies that the language uses to avoid tonal Obligatory Contour
Principle (OCP) violations between the last host syllable and the
clitic. The authors approach the phenomenon from a theory-neutral
point of view aiming at "...establishing the basic descriptive
generalizations and discussing some of the issues that will arise in
modelling them formally". Yoruba is a relatively 'new' addition to
the languages covered in research into clitics. A noteworthy feature
of the Yoruba clitic system is a clitic which consists only of a
floating tone.

The paper by Alexiadou & Stavrou (Adjective-clitic combinations in the
Greek DP) discusses the evidence from possessive clitics for the
proposal that there are two possessor positions within DP. Greek
possessive clitics attach either to the head noun or to a prenominal
adjective, with semantic differences resulting from the choice of
attachment site. The authors adopt a purely syntactic approach to
clitic placement which relies on the "presence of a tense type
projection within the noun phrase, the exact nature of which must be
left for future study".

Cocchi's contribution (Free clitics and bound affixes: Towards a
unitary analysis) proposes a unitary analysis of Romance pronominal
clitics and Bantu bound affixes couched within the clitic shell
framework put forward by Manzini & Savoia (e.g. 1999). The author
uses this 'parallelism' between Bantu and Romance, in particular
between their respective double object constructions, to account for
some puzzles in Bantu, including the opposition between 'symmetrical'
languages like Tshiluba and 'asymmetrical' languages like Swahili.

Crysmann's paper (Clitics and coordination in linear structure)
considers the lexical and/or syntactic status of European Portuguese
(EP) clitics. Whereas previous lexicalist literature (e.g. Miller
1992, Monachesi 1996, Miller & Sag 1997) treats weak Romance
pronominals as ordinary bound affixes rather than 'postlexical'
clitics, Crysmann proposes that EP clitics should instead be regarded
as 'true morpho-syntactic hybrids' transitional between full lexical
and full syntactic status. This status is accounted for within a
Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) analysis which makes a
distinction between constituent structure on one hand and
linearisation on the other.

The paper by Escobar & Gavarro (The acquisition of clitics and strong
pronouns in Catalan) presents experimental results illustrating
acquisition differences between clitics and strong pronouns in Catalan
and discusses implications of these differences for the claim that
binding is innate. Attention is paid to the acquisition of syntactic
anaphors (the clitic 'se') on one hand and focus anaphors (the
non-clitic 'ell(a) mateix(a)' (him/herself)) on the other hand. The
authors also examine children's choices of strong pronouns or
discourse anaphors in coreferential contexts.

The chapter by Green (The prosodic representation of clitics in Irish)
examines multiple prosodic structures in Irish proclitic-host
sequences. He presents evidence that the default structure is for the
clitic to attach to the phonological phrase containing the prosodic
word of the host. However, when a vowel-final clitic precedes a
vowel- initial host vowel deletion and resyllabification affect the
clitic-host prosodic structure. Based on Selkirk (1995)'s Optimality
Theory (OT) approach to variable prosodic structure of clitic-host
sequences, Green proposes that in these circumstances all or part of a
clitic is prosodically incorporated into the host's prosodic word
contrary to the default structure.

Legendre's contribution (Positioning Romanian verbal clitics at PF: An
Optimality-Theoretic analysis) provides an OT view of Romanian verbal
clitic placement. The author supports the phrasal affixal approach to
clitics put forward by, among others, Klavans (1985) and Anderson
(1992). She does this by firstly giving arguments for the syntactic
inertness of clitics, and secondly by presenting evidence that clitics
behave differently from word-level affixes. Placement differences
between Romanian clitics and their South Slavic equivalents are
explained as the result of differences in ranking of the same set of
violable OT constraints.

Monachesi's paper (Clitic placement in the Romanian verbal complex)
takes a Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) approach to
Romanian clitics. The author argues that pronominal clitics and
intensifiers on one hand are affixal, whereas auxiliaries and negation
on the other hand are syntactic entities. Thus Monachesi is in
agreement with Legendre regarding pronominals but not regarding
auxiliaries. The ordering of Romanian clitics, Monachesi suggests,
follows from this division of labour between the lexicon and syntax,
rather than having to be stipulated as in other approaches.

Ortmann and Popescu's contribution (Romanian definite articles are not
clitics) proposes that the Romanian postposed article is an
inflectional suffix rather than a clitic, and extends the argument to
Albanian and Bulgarian. The authors argue that previous analyses of
the article either as a second position clitic, or as a result of
movement, suffer from unexpected idiosyncrasies and wrong
distributional predictions. Instead, using the Minimalist Morphology
framework, a lexical analysis is provided which accounts for the
article's morphological behaviour and syntactic distribution.

The chapter by Reindl and Franks (Clitics in the 'Srpske Narodne
Pjesme' (Serbian Folk Songs -- Karadzic 1841/1964)) describes how
metrical demands can be superimposed on 'normal' grammar. In
particular, normally ungrammatical clitic placements are permissible
in song and poetry. The authors use OT constraints to mediate the
interfaces between the lexicon, syntax, morphology and
phonology. Metrical constraints, usually irrelevant for prose and
conversation, have the effect in verse of selecting otherwise
ungrammatical outputs with added, deleted or out- of-place syllables.

The paper by Spencer (Verbal clitics in Bulgarian: A Paradigm-Function
approach) extends Paradigm Function Morphology (PFM - Stump 2001) to
formalise the notion of clitics as phrasal affixes (cf. Klavans 1985;
Anderson 1992). Paradigm Functions generate a string of affixes and
account for the fixed order of clitics within the Bulgarian clitic
cluster. As for the placement of the cluster, and the variable
placement of the notorious question clitic 'li' with respect to the
cluster, these can be dealt with through OT in the manner put forward
by Legendre (e.g. 2000). The approach is extended to briefly deal
with the closely related Macedonian clitic system.

Tomic's contribution (Operator clitics) distinguishes between
Macedonian 'inflection' clitics (pronominals and auxiliaries) and
'operator' clitics (negation and interrogative 'wh'-operators). The
former have non-clitic counterparts with different syntactic
behaviour. The latter have no non-clitic counterparts. All clitics
are derived as "heads of functional categories to the left of the head
of the VP". Tomic captures the variable nature of Macedonian clitic
cluster attachment through two factors -- (i) whether or not an
operator clitic is present in the cluster; (ii) the exact nature of
the head of the clause in terms of the features [+/-V, +/-N].

Uriagereka's paper (Doubling and possession) discusses the correlation
between clitic doubling in languages such as Spanish and the semantics
of inalienable possession. Working within the Minimalist Programme,
the author argues that these phenomena can be analysed as having
essentially the same syntax. In doing so, he accounts for the
referentiality of doubling clitics and the aspectual properties of the
event in which the clitics participate.

Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax presents a variety of
clitic phenomena analysed from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
In fact, besides the phonological, morphological and syntactic aspects
of clitics implied by the title, semantic characteristics are also
discussed by Alexiadou & Stavrou and by Uriagereka.

The most recurrent theme revolves around the question of which
component of the grammar - syntax or morphology - are clitics to be
represented in. In this book clitics are treated as morphological
entities (e.g. Legendre and Spencer), as syntactic entities
(e.g. Alexiadou & Stavrou, Cocchi and Tomic) and as intermediate or
hybrid entities (e.g. Crysmann). Furthermore, Monachesi proposes that
some Romanian clitics are morphological entities while others are best
treated syntactically.

By comparison, the phonological status of clitics commands much less
discussion with only two papers (Akinlabi & Liberman and Green)
dealing with this aspect. While most researchers acknowledge the
prosodic dependence of clitics on a preceding or following host, the
question of which categories of prosodic constituent are involved
often remains unexplored. Gerlach and Grijzenhout's introduction
discusses "the prevailing view...that there is no special prosodic
category 'clitic group' and that a single language may have more than
one [prosodic] representation of clitics". Green's paper explores the
latter point. Other recent work (e.g. Zec & Inkelas 1991, Selkirk
1995, Peperkamp 1996, Hall 1999, O'Connor 2002) also considers
implications of multiple representations of host-clitic prosodic
structure, both cross-linguistically and within individual languages.

Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax also continues the trend
of not concentrating solely on the Romance clitic systems, with six of
the thirteen papers concentrating on a non-Romance language. In
addition, three papers dealing with Romance make comparisons with
non-Romance languages (Cocchi for Italian and Bantu, Legendre and
Ortmann & Popescu for Romanian and other Balkan
languages). Particularly welcome are the contributions by Green and by
Akinlabi & Liberman, focussing respectively on Irish and Yoruba, two
languages which have featured in little or none of the clitic
literature to date. The increasing interest commanded by (South)
Slavic/Balkan clitics over the last decade is continued in seven of
the thirteen chapters.

With diverse clitic elements participating in diverse phenomena, and
analysed through diverse approaches, the overall impression given by
Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax is that much within this
sub-field remains open for further investigation.


Anderson, S. (1992). A-morphous morphology. Cambridge: CUP.

Hall, T. (1999). Phonotactics and the prosodic structure of German
function words. In Hall, T. & Kleinhenz, U. (eds.), Studies on the
phonological word. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 99-131.

Hayes, B. (1989). The prosodic hierarchy in meter. In Kiparsky, P. &
Youmans, G. (eds.), Rhythm and meter. New York/Orlando: Academic
Press. 201-260.

Karadzic, V. (1841/1964). Srpske narodne pjesme, Vol. 1. Beograd: Prosveta.

Klavans, J. (1985). The independence of syntax and phonology in
cliticization. Language 61. 95-120.

Legendre, G. (2000). Morphological and prosodic alignment of Bulgarian
clitics. In Dekkers, J., van der Leeuw, F. & van der Weijer,
J. (eds.), Optimality theory: Syntax, phonology and
acquisition. Oxford: OUP. 423-462.

Manzini, M. & Savoia, L. (1999). The syntax of middle- reflexive and
object clitics: A case of parameterization in Arberesh dialects. In
Mandala, M. (ed.), Studi in onore di Luigi Marlekaj. Bari:
Adriatica. 283-328.

Miller, P. (1992). Clitics and constituents in phrase structure
grammar. New York: Garland.

Miller, P. & Sag, I. (1997). French clitic movement without clitics or
movement. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 15 (3). 573-639.

Monachesi, P. (1996). The syntax of Italian clitics. PhD thesis,
Tilburg University.

Nespor, M. & Vogel, I. (1986). Prosodic phonology. Dordrecht: Foris.

O'Connor, R. (2002). The placement of enclitics in Bosnian, Croatian
and Serbian. Ms. University of Manchester

Peperkamp, S. (1996). On the prosodic representation of clitics. In
Kleinhenz, U. (ed.), Interfaces in phonology. Berlin: Akademie
Verlag. 102-127.

Selkirk, E. (1995). The prosodic structure of function words. In
Beckman, J., Walsh Dickey, L. & Urbanczyk, S. (eds.), Papers in
optimality theory. Amherst: University of Massachusetts. 439-469.

Stump, G. (2001). Inflectional morphology: A theory of paradigm
function. Cambridge: CUP.

Zec, D. & Inkelas, S. (1991). The place of clitics in the prosodic
hierarchy. In Bates, D. (ed.), Proceedings of the 10th West Coast
Conference on Formal Linguistics. 505-519.


I am a second year PhD student at Manchester where I received a Master
of Arts in 2000. My research interests are the syntax-phonology
interface; the morphology- phonology interface; prosodic phonology and
Lexical Functional Grammar.
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