Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 741–787 | Cite as

Morphological alternations at the intonational phrase edge

The case of K’ichee’
  • Robert Henderson


This article develops an analysis of a pair of morphological alternations in K’ichee’ (Mayan) that are conditioned at the right edge of intonational phrase boundaries. I propose a syntax-prosody mapping algorithm that derives intonational phrase boundaries from the surface syntax, and then argue that each alternation can be understood in terms of output optimization (Mascaró 2007; Mester 1994). The important fact is that K’ichee’ requires a prominence peak rightmost in the intonational phrase, and so the morphological alternations occur in order to ensure an optimal host for this prominence peak. Finally, I consider the wider implications of the analysis for the architecture of the syntax-phonology interface, especially as it concerns late-insertion theories of morphology (Anderson 1982, 1992; Embick and Noyer 2001; Halle and Marantz 1993; Hayes 1990, among others). The primary result is that late lexical insertion must occur at least as late as the construction of intonational phrases.


Syntax-prosody interface Morphology Prosody 



Above all I am indebited to Jenniffer Estefany Lopez Vicente and the Can Pixab’aj family for their judgements. I am also greatly indebited to Telma Can Pixab’aj for her judgements and insights into the phenomena under discussion. Armin Mester deserves great thanks for all his help. I also need to thank Judith Aissen, Scott AnderBois, Ryan Bennett, Andrew Dowd, Nora England, Junko Itô, B’alam Mateo Toledo, Andrew Nevins, Jeremy O’Brien, Dave Teeple, and Matt Tucker for many productive discussions about these data and the analysis within. Four NLLT reviewers deserve credit for their constructive comments that improved this paper. Finally, I need to thank the CrISP Research Group at UCSC and an audience at NELS 40 for their input. That being said, the usual disclaimers apply. This work was supported by a travel grant from the UCSC Institute for Humanities Research, a grant from the UCSC linguistics department, and the Tanya Honig Fund for Linguistics Graduate Students.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stevenson CollegeUC, Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA

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