Prosody of V1 languages
My dissertation addresses the derivation of verb-initial word orders from the perspective of prosody. Drawing primarily from Niuean (Polynesian) data, I argue that VOS can arise in an otherwise VSO language in order to satisfy a prosodic well-formedness constraint, which I call the Argument Condition on Phonological Phrasing (Arg-φ).
- Paper: Clemens (2019)
- Dissertation: Clemens (2014)
- Paper: Clemens and Coon (2018a)
- Paper: Clemens and Coon (2018b)
- Paper: Clemens (2021)
Looking at the Tongic Polynesian languages, Rebecca Tollan and I apply an absolutive inversion approach to case assignment to explain why Tongan (but not Niuean) display syntactic ergativity and why Tongan (but not Niuean) show true VSO~VOS alternations.Extending our account of syntactic ergativity beyond the Polynesian languages, we developed an account of syntactic ergativity based on the grammaticalization of a processing constraint against crossing dependencies (e.g. Kuno and Robinson 1972). We propose that restrictions on the A'-movement of the ergative subject arise because such movement would cross the prior A-movement path of the absolutive object.
- Paper: Tollan and Clemens (2022)