Phonological phrasing in Germanic: the judgement of history, confirmed through experiment


Aditi Lahiri

Frans Plank


There are contrary views on how phonological phrasing in Germanic is determined: either by surface syntax or by rhythmic principles (forming trochaic/dactylic or iambic/anapaestic groupings) or alternately by both depending on speech style (spontaneous/planned, casual/careful). It is shown in this paper that a host of historical developments in Germanic – having to do with cliticisation and the creation of new inflectional affixes from clitics, and with attendant changes of the forms involved – point to a default phonological phrasing of grammatical/function words which associates them leftwards regardless of morphosyntactic constituency and which does not respect morphological word integrity either. Thus, encliticisation predominates almost exclusively, and productive inflectional affixes innovated via cliticisation are all suffixes. Experimental evidence from contemporary Germanic (in this case Dutch) confirms that phonological words are crucial units in speech planning, with such units equally formed as trochees irrespective of the phrasal syntax of grammatical and lexical words.