Book: Syntax Prosody in Optimality Theory
Chapter: 7. Typological Consequences of Binarity Constraints
Constraints on Binarity are commonly used to capture size effects: the tendency for longer strings to be parsed into more prosodic constituents. In some implementations, binarity is assessed locally by counting immediate children (= branch-counting); in others, binarity is assessed by globally by counting all descendants of some category (= leaf-counting). In this chapter, we explore the consequences for these two versions of binarity for the predicted typology and their relevance to the observed typology, and argue that locally-assessed branch-counting binarity is both necessary and superior to leaf-counting binarity. In cases where branch-counting binarity is inadequate, we show that prosodic markedness constraints can replace leaf-counting, to better effect. This is illustrated with a case study of rebracketing in Japanese.