Edited by Birgit Gerlach and Janet Grijzenhout
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 36] 2000
► pp. 325–354
Clitics in the Srpske narodne pjesme
This paper examines the ways in which the realization of clitics in the Srpske narodne pjesme (“Serbian Folk Songs”) can depend on metrical considerations, and places these dependencies within a model of grammar that can provide appropriate mechanisms to express them. It is demonstrated that both the form and position of words in poetry can be sensitive to metrical requirements, in that these sometimes deviate from what is normally expected in order to respect the exigencies of meter. It is further argued that the observed phenomena are best understood as the imposition of metrical constraints in a specialized optimality theoretic model, in which a set of highly ranked metrical constraints is superimposed on the normal system.
We imagine a metrical module which employ either generative rules (cf. e.g. Kiparsky 1975) or OT constraints (cf. e.g. Hanson and Kiparsky 1996; Hayes and MacEachern 1998; and Freidberg 1999) to produce a metrical template. Two types of mismatches between this template and what the “normal” grammar provides are encountered, quantitative ones and qualitative ones. In the former, (1) and (2), the grammar provides fewer or greater syllables than the template has beats and in the latter, (3) and 94), there is conflict between the prosodic properties of those syllables and the strong or weak status of the corresponding beat. These mismatches are stated as OT constraints as follows:
1. No extra syllables (*Ex-Syl)
2. No extra beats (*Ex-Beat)
3. Accented syllables are strong (Ac St)
4. Clitics are weak (Cl Wk)
In all instances, violations of these constraints are avoided by selecting as optimal an otherwise ungrammatical alternative, by deleting or adding syllables, pronouncing lower copies, and so on.
Rice (1997) has similarly demonstrated that metrical constraints outrank syntactic constraints in poetry, which is a reversal of the normal situation observed by Golston (1995) for prose. We extend his conclusions to show how metrical considerations can have priority also over requirements stemming from any component of grammar. We than argue against the idea that poetry involves noncanonical ranking, since constraints such as (1)–(4) are simply irrelevant in Serbian prose. Instead, we put forward a system in which the mapping of linguistic structure onto a metrical template is regulated by OT-like constraints. Following Franks (1999b, 2000), the proper place of OT is to police interfaces between components, picking from a small set of options supplied by one component the best choice to serve as input to the next component. Given a system with the following basic components: (i) lexical choices are made, (ii) abstract lexical items are manipulated by the syntax, (iii) the resulting structure is further adjusted by the morphology, (iv) morphosyntactic feature sets are replaced by phonological representations, upon which the phonology then operates. At each juncture, we argue that what the normal grammar provides is evaluated against metrical requirements, with the typical consequence that some property of normal grammar is flouted in order to satisfy some metrical constraint. By regarding EVAL as a cyclic process, this model highly restricts the role of OT and equates GEN with traditional generative components. Metrical constraints are an overlay on the normal interfaces, which the poet must continuously keep in mind and at each interface point in the creative process use to assess the fit between what s/he wants to say and the target metrical template. In this way, the exigencies of literary form and convention are superimposed on the grammar.