Tongan Definitive Accent

Tongan nominal structure and the syntax-phonology interface

Like most Austronesian languages, Tongan is rather rigidly head-initial. In the nominal domain, two obvious counterexamples exist: the demonstrative enclitic, and the so-called definitive accent. I show that both derive from head-initial structures via phrasal movement, and the case of the definitive accent requires neither morpheme-indexed constraints, nor lexemes marked in the lexicon with morphophonological properties such as enclitic/suffix (as opposed to proclitic/prefix). Additionally, I show that PF representations of spelled-out material is mutable (pace e.g. Piggott and Newell 2006’s Phase Integrity/PF, Samuels 2009’s Phonological Derivation by Phase). Further joint work with Laura McPherson explores how to formalize this using OT Faithfulness constraints and a Multiple Spell Out architecture.

some work in this project

  1. Ahn, Byron. 2012. Tongan Relative Clauses at the Syntax-Prosody Interface. In Proceedings of the 18th Annual Conference of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association,