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Review of  Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax

Reviewer: Rob O'Connor
Book Title: Clitics in Phonology, Morphology and Syntax
Book Author: Birgit Gerlach Janet Grijzenhout
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Issue Number: 13.2042

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Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 17:07:32 +0100
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.

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

This book is announced at

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.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER 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.