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Date of Award


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Elisabeth Selkirk

Second Advisor

John J. McCarthy

Third Advisor

Robert A. Rothstein

Subject Categories

Linguistics | Modern Languages


I investigate the phonology of prosodic clitics--independent syntactic words not parsed as independent prosodic words--in Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. I ask, first, how clitics are organized into prosodic structures, and second, how this is determined by the grammar. Following Zec (1997, 2005), I look at several clitic categories, including negation, prepositions, complementizers, conjunctions, and second-position clitics.

Based on a reanalysis of word accent (Browne and McCawley 1965, Inkelas and Zec 1988, Zec 1999), I argue that in some cases where a preposition, complementizer, or conjunction fails to realize accent determined by a following word, it is not a proclitic-- that is, prosodified with the following word--but rather a free clitic parsed directly by a phonological phrase.

Conversely, the second-position clitics are not always enclitic--that is, prosodified with a preceding word--but are sometimes free. Their second-position word order results not from enclisis, but from the avoidance of free clitics at phrase edges, where they would interfere with the alignment of phonological phrases to prosodic words.

Regarding the determination of clisis by the grammar, I argue for an interface constraint approach (Selkirk 1995, Truckenbrodt 1995), whereby prosodic structures are built according to general constraints on their well-formedness, and on their interface to syntactic structures. I contrast this with the subcategorization approach , which sees clisis as specified for each clitic (Klavans 1982, Radanovic-Kocic 1988, Zec and Inkelas 1990).

The comparison across clitic categories provides key support for the interface constraint approach, showing that their prosody depends on their syntactic configurations and phonological shapes, rather than on arbitrary subcategorizations. Prosodic differences across categories are a derivative effect of their configuration in the clause, and of the division of the clause into phonological phrases.

The relevance of phonological phrases consists in how their edges discourage some kinds of clisis, blocking, for example, proclisis of complementizers and conjunctions to their complements. Free clisis is disfavored at phrase edges, producing the second-position effect. Thus, the interface constraint approach leads to a unified account of word, phrase, and clitic prosody.