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Phonology-Free Syntax

  • Guido Vanden Wyngaerd (KU Leuven)
Thursday 21 March 2019
P.N. van Eyckhof 2
P.N. van Eyckhof 2
2311 BV Leiden


The Principle of Phonology-Free Syntax (PPFS) states that “[i]n the grammar of a natural language, rules of syntax make no reference to phonology” (Miller, Pullum, and Zwicky 1997). Late-insertion theories of syntax, like Distributed Morphology and Nanosyntax, adopt an architecture of the grammar from which the PPFS follows: if the building blocks of syntax are roots and features, i.e. elements with no phonology, then the syntactic rules by which these elements combine cannot make reference to phonological properties. Recently, Harley (2014) has argued that roots must be individuated in the syntax, a proposal that lets the phonology into the syntax through the backdoor again. Harley’s argument involves the phenomenon of root suppletion. We propose a theory of root suppletion that does not require Harley’s backdoor. For such a theory to be possible, a distinction must be made between syntactic √s and morphological roots.

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