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Intonation and Prosodic Structure

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Reviewer: Gisela Collischonn
Book Author: Marina Vigário
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Subject Language(s): Portuguese
Issue Number: 14.1956

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Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 22:41:48 -0300
From: Gisela Collischonn
Subject: The Prosodic Word in European Portuguese

Vigário, Marina (2003) The Prosodic Word in European
Portuguese, Mouton de Gruyter, Interface Explorations 6.

Reviewed by Gisela Collischonn, Universidade Federal do
Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


This book, a revised version of the author's doctoral
thesis, is a phonological investigation of prosodic
structure at the level of the prosodic word in European
Portuguese (EP). An array of phonological properties that
identify the prosodic word in EP are presented and, based
on them, the prosodic structure related to affixes, clitics
and compound words is proposed. It provides empirical
support for prosodic theory, since it shows that the
prosodic word has a role to play in EP. It argues also for
the pertinence of the division into lexical and postlexical
components in EP phonology. The thesis is divided into
eight chapters. The first four provide the theoretical and
empirical background; the following two chapters form the
main part of the book. Chapter 5 presents the argumentation
for specific prosodic structure associated to prefixes,
suffixes, pronominal clitics and other clitic words.
Vigário takes phonological evidence to support the view
that prefixes, unlike suffixes, are adjoined to the
following prosodic word creating a recursive prosodic
structure. The same asymmetry is argued to explain the
distribution of proclitics vs. enclitics. Chapter 6 argues
that two prosodic words that belong to the same
morphological or syntactic compound form a recursive
structure, the compound prosodic word, which is distinct
from the regular p-phrase. Chapter 7 provides empirical
data about the reduction of function words and discusses
the generality of these reduction processes and their
status in grammar. Chapter 8 summarizes the results
obtained in the previous chapters and points to issues of
further research. The thesis comprises also two appendices
(containing collected data (Appendix I) and tables
containing the results for the empirical test of chapter
7), a list of references, and an index.

Critical evaluation

This work is a contribution to the study of the interface
between phonology and morphosyntax, with special emphasis
on the mapping of prosodic words from morphosyntactic
structure. It is also a contribution to the description of
EP since it displays a large amount of data about segmental
processes, as well as prominence and tonal phenomena and
phonotactic restrictions that had never been discussed
before or had not been discussed in relation to the issue
of prosodic word structure.

The book displays empirical support for some of the ideas
proposed in Peperkamp (1997), Booij (1996) and others,
about the prosodization of clitics and prefixes. It does
not propose any novel theoretical mechanisms (except for
the compound prosodic word), and its value lies mainly in
demonstrating how some recent proposals in prosodic
phonology (Peperkamp, 1997, Selkirk, 1995, Hayes, 1990) can
be successfully employed in analysing EP data, uncover
unnoticed aspects of the ponology of this language and
solve descriptive problems.
Language data come from the author's judgements and the
judgements of other native speakers of the same variety
about the acceptability/possibility of the application of
rules/processes in certain environments. In addition, there
was recourse to production data collected both in
experimental conditions and in daily conversations or in
the speech of the media. Restricting the analysis to one
variety -the EP variety spoken in the Lisbon area- ensures
the exhaustivity and consistency of the claims presented.
Chapter 1 is an introduction, including a brief description
of the theoretical backgrounds and a short review of the
literature about the status of the clitic group and of the
Strict Layering Hypothesis in Prosodic Phonology. Lexical
Phonology is also mentioned, although the literature review
focuses mainly on Prosodic Phonology (Nespor & Vogel, 1986,
Selkirk, 1984, and Hayes, 1989). The chapter presents the
diagnostics for the prosodic word and extends to issues
like resyllabification and prosodic restructuring.
Important for understanding what follows are some
assumptions the author makes. (Throughout the remaining of
the book, she is careful to supply evidence that support
these assumptions). First, it is assumed that the Strict
Layering Hypothesis may be relaxed, that is, if it is
decomposed in related statements (along the lines of
Selkirk, 1995), some of these statements may be violated.
This assumption - which had already been taken in Peperkamp
(1997) - allows for recursive prosodic structure that is
argued for in chapters 5 and 6. Since an Optimality Theory
perspective is not assumed, these statements should be
understood as parameters, though this issue is not
Second, relating to the lexical/postlexical distinction,
the idea of precompilation (Hayes, 1990) is adopted. This
idea is applied to explain ambiguous behavior of host +
clitic sequences, as regards the lexical/postlexical
status. The other assumption is that (as has been argued in
Booij (1988) and others) prosodic structure up to the level
of the prosodic word is already present in the lexical
component. This has consequences for the analysis, since
phenomena that refer to the prosodic word may be either
postlexical or lexical. Some diagnostics for prosodic words
based on lexical processes will be relevant only for
morphosyntactic structures derived in the lexicon, while
other diagnostics, based on postlexical processes, will be
relevant only for sequences obtained in the postlexical
As regards the clitic group, the author adopts the thesis
that it is not a needed prosodic category (Booij, 1988,
1996, Selkirk, 1995, and many others). Once the clitic
group is excluded from the prosodic hierarchy, several
alternative analyses of clitic plus host prosodic structure
have to be investigated. These analyses are presented in
chapter 1 and discussed carefully in chapter 5.
Chapter 2 reviews previous studies on EP word phonology.
The author states that 'the prosodic word domain is almost
totally absent from the phonological descriptions of EP.'
(p.62) So, the disperse references to the word obtained
from a miscellanea of structuralist, generative and post-
generative studies are presented and discussed. One
exception are the reflections of the Brazilian linguist
Câmara Jr. about the distinction between the morphological
and the phonological word, that Vigário thoroughly reviews.
Chapter 3 presents the phenomena that will be later on used
to diagnose prosodic constituency. Each phenomenon is
briefly described and then ascribed to the
lexical/postlexical level of EP phonology. I reckon that it
is important to learn about the phenomena and to be
presented to independent evidence for the lexical or
postlexical status of each of them. However, I do not
believe that the amount of phenomena and data discussed in
this chapter will be of easy reading to anyone not familiar
with EP phonology. Some processes are too different in
nature to be treated in the same chapter, while others are
so similar that they can be easily confounded. Very helpful
is a chart that summarizes the division of rules into
lexical and postlexical levels at the end of the chapter.
In Chapter 4 the issue of the affix or clitic behavior of
stressless pronouns is approached. Stressless pronouns may
occur inside inflectional affixes in EP, as in 'perceber-
TE-ia' 'note -YOU -Conditional/3rdperson singular'. They
may also trigger idiosyncratic segmental insertions and
deletions, as in 'come-lo' 'eat, present 2ndperson singular
- it', and, further, since they only admit verbs as their
hosts, they show a selectivity that is characteristic
behavior of affixes. Contrary to the position argued for in
Zwicky (1987) and others that pronominal clitics have been
reanalyzed as inflectional affixes, Vigário presents
evidence that they are attached to the verb only in the
post-lexical level, while inflectional affixation is
considered to happen only in the lexicon. First, as far as
word stress is concerned, clitics do not modify their
host's stress location. Second, there are processes that do
not apply to host + clitic sequences, while they apply to
base + suffix. One example: in EP /e/ changes to a half-
open central vowel when followed by a palatal segment; this
centralization applies across the morphological juncture in
'Europe + -izar' 'to turn into European', but not in the
host + clitic juncture in 'dê-lho' 'give it to him'. Since
there is independent motivation for considering
centralization and other processes as lexical, they
constitute evidence that host + clitic sequences are
obtained only postlexically. Suffixes, on the other hand,
are attached to their base in the lexical level and are,
therefore, input to stress assignment and other lexical
The above-mentioned aspects that point to a lexical status
of these cliticizations -'mesoclisis', segmental
substitutions- are accounted for with precompiled rules and
Chapter 5 deals with the prosodic structure of affixations
and cliticizations in EP. Suffixes are shown to be
incorporated into their base's prosodic word, while
monosyllabic prefixes are adjoined to the word, yielding a
recursive structure, where one prosodic word is embedded in
a higher-order prosodic word, e.g. (RE(ORGANIZAR)w)w 'to
reorganize' (similar to Peperkamp's proposal for Spanish
and Italian productive monosyllabic prefixes). This
prosodic distinction results from a morphological
distinction: suffixes attach to stems while prefixes attach
to words (or themes).
The same adjunction is argued for in rightward
cliticization; enclitics, on the other hand, are
incorporated into their host's prosodic word, like
suffixes. Contrary to the idea put forward in Brandão de
Carvalho (1989) that EP tends towards leftward
cliticization, Vigário takes phonological evidence to
support the view that only pronominal clitics are enclitic
in EP, while other functional words (definite articles,
prepositions, complementizers) behave consistently as
The evidence for proclitic status of these functional words
is the following: (i) the fact that they behave in a way
distinct from enclitics in several phonological processes
(for example, the definite article O does not semivocalize
when preceded by a vowel, as happens with the enclitic
pronoun O ('him'), e.g. Eu vi o *[iw] texto "I saw the
text" vs. Eu vi-o [iw] deitado "I saw him lying" vs. (p.
186)); (ii) the fact that these words, contrary to clitic
pronouns, may appear in intonational phrase initial
position; (iii) the fact that these words may optionally
receive intonational phrase prominence and pitch accent.
Although enclitics are like suffixes incorporated into the
preceding prosodic word, similar to what Peperkamp (1997)
has proposed for Lucanian and Booij (1996) for Dutch, they
present not exactly the same behavior as suffixes as
already mentioned. This at first sight should deny the idea
that EP enclitics bear the same prosodic structure as
suffixes do. However, as was stated above, Vigário contends
that this can be explained by the locus in the grammar
where host + clitic sequences are obtained: the postlexical
level. Enclitics do not undergo exactly the same processes
as suffixes do, because the latter are added in the lexical
level. The same contrast is argued to hold between prefixes
and proclitics, although there are no lexical phonological
phenomena which may support this.
The fact that also postlexically adjunction happens at the
left edge, while incorporation happens at the right, is
explained by the idea that only the left edge of lexical
prosodic words is visible when words are concatenated into
the postlexical level. Since clitics are not prosodic words
by themselves, they are incorporated into the prosodic word
on the left (cliticization to the left depends on
particular syntactic configurations too) or else adjoined
to the right. Here, Vigário seems to adhere to a end-based
mapping approach (Selkirk, 1986) while, in the first
chapter, a relation-based mapping approach had been
implicitly adopted.
In Chapter 6 the issue of the prosodization of compound
words is investigated. Vigário discusses if this
prosodization should be distinct from regular p-phrases.
Taking into account, besides regular morphological and
syntactic compounds, a series of words not generally
considered as compounds, like derived words with the
diminutive suffix -ZINHO and the adverbialyzing suffix -
MENTE, abbreviations, letter names, mesoclitic
constructions, etc.- she shows that there is particular
behavior that may point to a special prosodic constituent
for compounds. Evidences presented are the following:
segmental deletion rules, like non-back vowel deletion
(e.g. doce[0] água "sweet water") and optional back vowel
deletion (eg. salto[0] alto... "high heels") tend to be
blocked in compounds (e.g. onze avos "eleventh", porta-
óculos "glasses holder"). Moreover, focal stress may only
occur in the rightmost prosodic word of compound words,
while it may occur on any of the prosodic words that
constitute a p-phrase.
Thus, a compound prosodic word, a prosodic word that
dominates two constituents of the same type is argued for.
I think that the idea for such a particular structure
should not be rejected a priori. However, it seems to me
that there is not sufficient empirical justification for it
since the phenomena adduced as evidence are too malleable.
We are in need of more research about phrasal processes
that may highlight the issue.
Chapter 7 focuses on the characteristic reductions of
clitics, which are not generalizable to other unstressed
syllables. Data collected in experimental conditions are
reported. The author concludes that the idiosyncratic
reductions of consonant-schwa clitics (preposition 'de',
complementizers and pronouns) and other non-schwa clitics
(like the prepositions EM in', COM 'with', PARA 'for', and
others) should be ascribed to the existence of lexically
stored reduced allomorphs. Non-reduced allomorphs, on the
other side, may also be affected by general reduction
processes, which explains some gradient effects that have
been found in the analyzed data. Since this chapter must be
related to chapters 4 and 5, where clitics have been
discussed, it seems out of place here.
Chapter 8 is an excellent conclusion, summarizing the
contents of the book as a whole, underlining the results
achieved, pointing to and discussing alternative analyses,
and raising questions of theoretical relevance and
empirical questions for future research.
Overall, this book constitutes a careful investigation of
the prosodic phonology of the level of the word in EP. It
provides a lot of empirical data, and some of the results
are very interesting. The data are accounted for in terms
of distinct prosodizations within the domain of the
prosodic word allied with the lexical/postlexical
distinction, which seems to capture most of the data. As
regards the proposal of a compound prosodic word, I think
it should have been motivated with more substantive
evidence, since, in practice, it adds a new kind of
constituent to the prosodic hierarchy. Except for some
minor details that were not completely clear to me, the
issues are clearly presented and thoroughly discussed.
Therefore, this work will be of use for everybody
interested not only in the phonology of EP, but also in
phonological theory concerning Prosodic Phonology.


BOOIJ, G.(1988) On the relation between lexical and
prosodic phonology. In: BERTINETTO, P. M. And LOPORCARO, M.
(eds.) Certamen Phonologicum. Torino: Rosemberg and
Sellier. p.63-76.
BOOIJ, G. (1996) Cliticization as prosodic integration:
The case of Dutch. The Linguistic Review, n.13.p. 219-242
BRANDÃO de CARVALHO, J. (1989) Phonological conditions on
Portuguese clitic placement: on syntactic evidence for
stress and rhytmical patterns. Linguistics. n. 27. p. 405-
HAYES, B. (1989) The prosodic hierarchy in meter. In:
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Phonetics and Phonology I. New York: Academic Press.
HAYES,B. (1990) Precompiled phrasal phonology. In:
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NESPOR, M. and VOGEL, I. (1986) Prosodic Phonology.
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PEPERKAMP, S. (1997) Prosodic words. HIL Dissertations 34.
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SERKIRK, E. (1984) Phonology and Syntax. The Relation
between Sound and Structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
SELKIRK, E (1986) On derived domains in sentence phonology.
Phonology Yearbook, n. 3. p. 271-405.
SELKIRK, E.(1995)The prosodic structure of function words.In:BECKMAN,J.,
DICKEY, L. W. and URBANCZYK, S. (eds.) Papers in Optimality
Theory. University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers, n.
18. Amherst, MA: GLSA. p. 439-469.
ZWICKY, A. (1987) Suprressing the Z's. Journal of
Linguistics. v.23, n.1. p.133-148.


ABOUT THE REVIEWER Gisela Collischonn is Adjunct Professor at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where she teaches phonology and morphology.

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