Working paper Open Access

On the Prosodic Status of Function Words

Zec, Draga

In this paper, I argue for a bifurcation of function words in standard Serbian into the free and bound class. I further argue that, while the properties of the free class are to be captured by a general set of prosodic constraints, which account for both lexical elements
and free functional elements, the status of bound function words, or clitics, calls for a different approach. If constraints were asked to distinguish between the two classes of function words, this would obviously call for class specific constraints. My proposal is to prespecify clitics as prosodic affixes, associating their lexical entries with prosodic subcategorization frames. The full burden of the distinction between free and bound function words is thus placed on prosody, and implemented through lexical prespecification. This accounts both for cases of distributional overlap between free and bound function words, and those in which distributions of the two classes diverge. In sum, I opt here for prosodic prespecification as the most natural, and least cumbersome, solution.

I am grateful to Abby Cohn, Molly Diesing, Yoshi Dobashi, and Eungyeong Kang for enlightening discussions of the issues prese ented in this paper, as well as for invaluable comments and criticisms of its earlier versions. This working paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see
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