Clause chaining and the utterance phrase: Syntax-prosody mapping in Matukar Panau

John Mansfield, Danielle Barth

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Clause chaining is a form of syntactic dependency holding between a series of clauses, typically expressing temporal or causal relations between events. Prosodic hierarchy theory proposes that syntactic constituents are systematically mapped to prosodic constituents, but most versions of the theory do not account for clause chain syntax. This article presents original data from Matukar Panau, a clause-chaining Oceanic (Austronesian) language of Papua New Guinea. The clause chain is a syntactic constituent in which final-clause TAM scopes over preceding clauses. There are also other types of multi-clausal structures, encompassing subordinate adverbial clauses, and verbless copula clauses, and we analyse all these as instances of the "syntactic sentence." The syntactic sentence maps to a distinct prosodic domain, marked by the scaling of L% boundary tones, and we equate this domain with the "utterance phrase" posited in some versions of prosodic hierarchy theory. The prosodic characteristics of the Matukar Panau utterance phrase are similar to those found in non-chaining languages, but while other languages use this prosody to mark pragmatically related groups of clauses, in Matukar Panau it most commonly maps to a syntactic sentence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)423-447
    JournalOpen Linguistics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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