Harmonic Minimalism

Harmonic Minimalism - Cumulativity and Serialism in Syntax - Andrew Murphy

Andrew Murphy [+-]
University of Leipzig
Andrew Murphy is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leipzig where he obtained his PhD in linguistics in 2017.


The second chapter will develop and motivate the Serial Harmonic Grammar framework for syntax and show how these properties are compatible with, and indeed often implicit in, mainstream syntactic analysis. This chapter is divided into two main parts that deal with the two components of the syntactic framework proposed in this monograph, namely Harmonic Minimalism. The first is derivational optimization, as it is known from Harmonic Serialism (e.g.McCarthy 2000, 2008a,b, 2010a,b, 2011, 2016, Pruitt 2010, 2012, Jesney 2011, Torres-Tamarit 2012, McCarthy et al. 2012, 2016, Elfner 2016). First, some classic arguments from phonology from McCarthy (2000, 2008a,b, 2010a, 2016) will be reviewed, and the core properties of this approach (e.g. gradualness, the nature of GEN) will be established. Subsequently, some of the arguments put forward by Heck & Muller (2003, 2013, 2016) for extending Harmonic Serialism to syntax will be presented. Finally, a number of examples of ‘hidden optimization’ will be discussed. These are analyses in mainstream Minimalism (e.g. Merge-over-Merge, Multitasking) that implicitly require the comparison of intermediate steps of a derivation, which is precisely what we find in Harmonic Serialism. The second major focus of this chapter will be motivating the additional of weighted constraints as in Harmonic Grammar (e.g. Legendre et al. 1990, 2006, Pater 2009a,b, 2014, 2016, Goldrick & Daland 2009, Potts et al. 2010, Jesney & Tessier 2011, Lionnet 2015, Jesney 2015, 2016, McPherson 2016). This part of the chapter will focus on how weighted constraints naturally give rise to cumulative effects. Important differences in the restrictiveness of Harmonic Grammar and its competitor OT-LC (Optimality-Theory with Local Conjunction) will also be highlighted. Furthermore, cases of ‘hidden cumulativity’ in mainstream syntactic analyses will be presented, arguing that cumulativity is a genuine feature of syntactic phenomena. The remainder of this chapter will be focused on laying out the details of the Serial Harmonic Grammar framework when combined with the assumptions of Minimalist syntax. Some important properties of this framework, e.g. gang effects, threshold effects and derivational amnesia, will also be highlighted.

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Murphy, Andrew. Harmonic Minimalism. Harmonic Minimalism - Cumulativity and Serialism in Syntax. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Nov 2021. ISBN 9780000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40308. Date accessed: 13 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40308. Nov 2021

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