, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 305-344
Date: 24 Feb 2009

Embracing edges: syntactic and phono-syntactic edge sensitivity in Nupe

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Abstract

Though well established as grammatical domains within phonology and morphology, edges have recently come to play a central role in both syntactic analysis and explanation within the Minimalist Program. This article adduces further empirical justification for the inclusion of edges in the Minimalist ontology. By way of two case studies, it is demonstrated that reference to edge domains in both the narrow syntax and at the syntax-phonology interface facilitates principled explanations to two unsolved puzzles in Nupe. The first study investigates a peculiar restriction on extraction from perfect domains. The most tenable solution emerges when both phase edges and Edge Features are embraced. New insights into the nature of Edge Features arise as a consequence. The second study concerns the proper characterization of Comp-trace effects in the language. The most tenable characterization emerges when they are viewed through the lens of the syntax-phonology interface. Comp-trace phenomena are shown to exhibit phono-syntactic edge sensitivity. New insights into the syntax-phonology interface arise as a consequence.

The data presented in this article comes exclusively from fieldwork and represents the judgments of seven native speakers of the dialect of Nupe spoken in the towns of Lafiagi and Patigi. Abbreviations used in the glosses of examples sentences are as follows: comp—complementizer; emph—emphatic particle; foc—focus; fut—future; loc—locative marker; pl—plural; prf—perfect; prs—present; prt—particle; pst—past; rel—relativizer/relative clause particle; sg—singular. The orthographic representation of Nupe employed in this article conforms to the modern spelling system (cf. Madugu 1980) and thus differs slightly from the classic orthographies of Banfield (1914) and Banfield and Macintyre (1915). In what follows, high tone is marked with an acute accent over the vowel and low tone is marked with a grave accent. Mid tones are unmarked. Nasalized vowels are represented by the sequence V+n (e.g. <an> is the notation for the nasalized vowel [ã]). Labiovelar phonemes are also transcribed as sequences of graphemes (e.g. <kp> and <gb>). Vowel length is indicated by means of a colon following the vowel and contour tones are transcribed as sequences of level tones (e.g. a rising tone on the vowel [a] is transcribed <ǎ>).