Subject/Object complexity and prosodic boundary strength in Irish

Author(s): Emily Elfner

Abstract

This paper reports on the results of a production experiment examining the rhythmic properties of prosodic boundaries in VSO (transitive) sentences in Connemara Irish. Specifically, word duration and the presence and duration of prosodic pauses were examined in two locations while manipulating the relative complexity of the subject and object: (a) between V and S and (b) between S and O. It was found that there is evidence for a prosodic boundary between S and O, but little evidence for a prosodic boundary between V and S, and further, that the relative strength of the prosodic boundary between S and O increases with the complexity of both the subject and the object. It is proposed that the observations can be accounted for under a model that assumes that the location of prosodic boundaries is determined by syntactic structure and principles of syntax-prosody mapping, while the relative strength of these boundaries is a function of processing load and production planning.

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