This paper investigates the properties of stress in Georgian (Kartvelian). There is no agreement in the literature as to the existence or location of stress in Georgian; initial, penultimate or antepenultimate syllables are often quoted as possible stress loci, with potentially more than one of these carrying stress in longer words. It has also been noted that the F0 contour of a word/phrase plays an important role in Georgian, leading to hypotheses that pitch might be the primary cue for stress in Georgian. This paper reports on a pilot study that contributes to disentangling these issues. It concludes Georgian has fixed initial stress, which is primarily duration-based and is easiest to detect in shorter words, while in longer words its durational effect is obscured by polysyllabic shortening. There is no evidence, however, for a similar duration-based stress-like target on the antepenultimate/ penultimate syllable. Instead, it is a pitch target that is part of the prosodic makeup of a phrase. The high importance of this pitch target for the prosodic felicity of an utterance, and the insignificant role that stress plays in the overall phonological make-up of Georgian, raise questions about the typological properties of the loci of word-level and phrase-level prominence.
This paper investigates the expression of focus in Georgian, a Kartvelian language of the Caucasus. We selected Georgian as an object of investigation due to its cross-linguistically uncommon properties, both syntactic and prosodic, that affect the expression of information structure in the language. On the syntactic front, Georgian lacks cross-clausal A-bar movement and shows very little evidence for syntactic movement in general. On the prosodic front, it has acoustically weak and phonologically “inactive” stress, which affects the expression of prosodic prominence. In this paper, we show how the interplay of these two properties shapes the expression of focus.
Wh- and focal expression are found in the immediately preverbal position (IPP) in Georgian. We show that there is no support for postulating a dedicated functional syntactic projection that houses this material. Instead, we argue that wh-expressions and various types of focus are expressed in-situ, and the overall architecture of clauses containing them is determined by Georgian-specific expression of prosodic prominence. Specifically, prosodic prominence is manifested by grouping the wh-/focal material and the verb together into a single prosodic phrase. The material that might intervene between wh-/focal material and the verb undergoes altruistic displacement.
One of the South-Eastern dialects of Belarusian exhibits an unusual phonological property: in certain environments, the immediately pretonic syllable is pronounced with prominence which is equal to or greater than that of the stressed syllable. This phenomenon has been analysed, albeit tentatively, as stress retraction (Kurylo, 1928; Kryvicki, 1959; Belaja 1974), and also as pitch peak retraction (Bethin, 2006a, 2006b). Instrumental data presented in this paper confirms that the pretonic vowel can be higher in intensity and longer in duration than the stressed one, as well as comparable to it in pitch, depending on the respective heights of the pretonic vowel and the stressed one. However, the acoustic data does not lend support to either the stress retraction or pitch peak retraction hypothesis. Instead, this paper argues that the phenomenon at hand results from redistribution of the acoustic prominence associated with stress over two syllables.
This paper argues that Georgian, a language with a fixed structural position reserved for the focused element (immediately preverbal), also uses prosody to signal focus. Specifically, data from a preliminary study reported here shows that various types of foci – wh-questions (WHQ), yes-no questions (YNQ), and contrastive contexts – bear the same prosodic marker of focus: the phrase accent L, rigidly aligned with the penultimate syllable of the predicate. The advantage of the approach advocated here is that it provides a unified account for the prosodic realization of different types of focus in Georgian. The double-marking of the same feature in syntax and prosody raises questions as to why language does not rely on just one of these strategies.
This paper reconsiders the approach to Tagalog sluicing developed in Kaufman & Paul (2006) and Kaufman (2006), and puts forward an alternative analysis. I propose that Tagalog has two distinct strategies for sluicing that follow the two wh-question formation strategies available in the language: pseudoclefts for argument wh-questions, and wh-movement for adjunct wh-questions. Such a bifurcation is problematic for the traditional approaches to sluicing. I therefore propose that the Tagalog data discussed here provides support for the Unconstrained Pseudosluicing Hypothesis as argued for in Barros (2014).
In the course of their development, many Indo-European languages modified the system of three grammatical genders − masculine, feminine and neuter − inherited from Proto-Indo-European, either by eliminating neuter or merging feminine with masculine. The reasons and processes of such modifications are often poorly understood. Baltic languages are no exception to this tendency: they lost neuter gender either before the time of historical record (Latvian and Lithuanian) or shortly after it started (Old Prussian). Phonological factors are usually assumed to have played the crucial role in the Baltic neuter loss, causing minimally different masculine and neuter paradigms to merge. However, this account is unsatisfactory, since it can be shown that paradigm merge alone is insufficient for gender merge. In this paper, I propose that contact with genderless Finnic languages shares the responsibility for elimination of neuter in Baltic. Evidence for this comes from the distribution of remnants of old neuter across Baltic languages (the further north the less remnants), as well as the loss of the remaining gender categories in Baltic dialects (Tamian) spoken on the former Finnic territory.