Serial verb constructions and the syntax-prosody interface

Matthew Tyler, Itamar Kastner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rolle (2020) identifies an apparent morphophonological conspiracy in serial verb constructions (SVCs) in Degema. He argues that it constitutes evidence for a partly-unified postsyntactic module, in which morphology and prosody are built in parallel (by ‘Optimality-Theoretic Distributed Morphology’). We argue that the pattern Rolle identifies in Degema SVCs instead results from the simultaneous interaction of two independently-attested syntax-prosody phenomena: (1) the pressure for adjacent verbs in an SVC to form a single prosodic unit, and (2) the suppression of redundant agreement within a single prosodic word (a.k.a. ‘Kinyalolo’s Generalization’). Thus the Degema SVC conspiracy can be localized to the syntax-prosody interface, and there is no need to adopt a unified postsyntactic morphology-prosody module like Rolle’s. We offer some further conceptual critiques of his model.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Early online date10 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2021


  • clitics
  • syntax-prosody
  • degema
  • serial verb constructions


Dive into the research topics of 'Serial verb constructions and the syntax-prosody interface'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this