While it is now accepted that syntax affects the application of postlexical phonological rules (P-rules), much less is known about the effect of semantics, in particular focus, on these rules. The Rhythm Rule (RR) of English, which has been found to be sensitive to F, will be examined in detail to determine precisely where and how it applies. Since the domain of application of RR is generally taken to be the Phonological Phrase, the main problem to be addressed is how focus can be taken as input, along with the usual syntactic information, to P-rules that apply within this domain. In addition, since RR contributes to the overall rhythmic pattern of a sentence, a question that must be addressed is whether there is one universal rhythmic mechanism of language that also accounts for the effects of RR or whether RR is part of the specific phonological system of English, and is thus treated by a mechanism distinct from that which handles overall rhythmic alternations. Experimental data, which will be brought to bear on the theoretical issues at the core of this research, will consist of recordings of subjects reading sentences a) in isolation, b) embedded in paragraphs, c) with special intonations (i.e., yes-no question and incredulity patterns) and d) with the syllable "ma" in reiterant speech. The sentences will contain the appropriate conditions for RR (i.e., stress clashes) in different positions with regard to both syntactic and focus structure. The recordings will be analyzed both perceptually and acoustically. The proposed research will investigate the organization of the phonological component of grammar as well as its interaction with other components of grammar, especially syntax and semantics. This project furthers VPW program objectives to provide opportunities for women to advance their careers in science or engineering through research, and to encourage other women to pursue careers in these areas through the investigator's enhanced visibility as a role model on the host campus. The proposed activities which contribute to the second objective include: arranging weekly meetings of the women graduate students, who will be joined once a month by male students, with emphasis placed on developing the skills needed for careers in linguistics (abstract writing, conference presentations, conducting research, publishing, applying and interviewing for jobs, and teaching)--and women's problems (for the single gender sessions); inviting prominent women linguists invited within the context of the regular colloquium series; and teaching an advanced seminar on the interactions of phonology with the other components of grammar.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Margrete S. Klein
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University of Pennsylvania
United States
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