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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2015, Vol. 46, No. 2, Pages 243-272
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00181)
© 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
On Prosodic Vacuity and Verbal Resumption in Asante Twi
Article PDF (1.17 MB)

I argue that verbal resumption (the occurrence of an additional default verbal element meaning ‘do’) in Asante Twi is prosodically conditioned. Following the MATCH theory of syntactic-prosodic constituency correspondence (Selkirk 2011), I propose that phonosyntactic constituency matching requires, at the minimum, avoidance of phonetically empty transferred syntactic structures (i.e., prosodic vacuity). I show that Twi verbal resumption is highly constrained and occurs precisely in those contexts where a prosodically vacuous domain would otherwise be mapped from a fully evacuated syntactic Spell- Out domain. As a measure of last resort, a late default-form insertion of the verb root (the -form) occurs to evade prosodic vacuity and ensure a matching correspondence between syntactic and prosodic constituents at PF. Because an additional higher copy of the verb root (i.e., the lexical verb) survives as well, Twi verbal resumption represents an instance of multiple copy Spell-Out. The article thus bears on several issues concerning the syntax-phonology interface, among them the nature of prosodic mapping and the conditions regulating multiple copy realization.