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Book: Syntax Prosody in Optimality Theory

Chapter: 7. Typological Consequences of Binarity Constraints

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41009


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.

Chapter Contributors

  • Jennifer Bellik ( - jbellik) 'University of California, Santa Cruz '
  • Nick Kalivoda ( - nkalivoda) 'University of California, Santa Cruz'
  • Nicholas Van Handel ( - nvhandel) 'PhD student, University of California, Santa Cruz'