Prosody distinguishes Estonian V2 from Finnish and Swedish

Anders Holmberg, Heete Sahkai, Anne Tamm


The paper proposes a theoretical account of two prosodically conditioned exceptions to the verb-second order of Estonian declarative main clauses. The account is formulated in terms of prosodic constraints on the spell-out of movement chains. Estonian declarative main clauses display a relatively strict verb-second order. Still, there are two main exceptions to it, both of which have been stated in terms of prosody: (i) verb-third order occurs with weak pronominal subjects, and (ii) nuclear-accented finite verbs tend to occur later in the clause. To account for the first exception, we propose that the verb-second order results from a constraint on prosodic structure, which is breached by full DPs (which correspond to a prosodic phrase), but not by unstressed pronouns (which do not affect the prosodic structure). This constraint blocks the spell-out of the highest copy of a DP subject, but not of a weak pronoun. As a result, a lower copy of the subject is spelt out, if the subject is a full DP. We propose that the second exception results from a prosodic constraint on nuclear accent placement, which blocks the spell-out of the highest copy of the finite verb and causes a lower copy to be spelt out.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-90

Cite as: Holmberg, A., Sahkai, H., Tamm, A. (2020) Prosody distinguishes Estonian V2 from Finnish and Swedish. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 439-443, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-90.


@inproceedings{Holmberg2020,
  author={Anders Holmberg and Heete Sahkai and Anne Tamm},
  title={{Prosody distinguishes Estonian V2 from Finnish and Swedish}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={439--443},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-90},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-90}
}