Morphological alternations at the intonational phrase edge: The case of K'ichee': The case of K'ichee'

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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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-787
Number of pages47
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Morphology
  • Prosody
  • Syntax-prosody interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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