Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 45–75 | Cite as

On the prosody and syntax of DPs: evidence from Italian noun adjective sequences

  • Nicole Dehé
  • Vieri Samek-Lodovici
Original Paper


This study tests a syntactic property—namely the availability of N- vs. NP-raising in DPs—through prosodic means. The opposition between N- and NP-raising is central to the ongoing debate about the internal representation of DPs, yet it often eludes testing by syntactic means alone. As we show in this study, the two syntactic hypotheses are instead neatly distinguished by the distinct prosodic phrasing predicted by each operation. In this paper, we present the results of an empirical experiment designed to test the prosodic phrasing of N-A and A-N sequences in Italian and the corresponding syntactic implications. As prosodic cues, we use syllabic and word lengthening effects induced by phonological phrase boundaries. According to our results, A and N share the same phonological phrase in both orders. Regarding the syntactic implications of this finding, we show that under all current models of syntax-prosody mapping the underlying syntactic structure responsible for the attested prosodic phrasing must necessarily rely on N-raising. Finally, we propose an analysis of Italian DPs where the N-raising operation found necessary in light of the attested prosodic phrasing is reconciled with the evidence for DP-internal phrasal movement discussed in Cinque (2005 2006).


Italian N-/NP-raising DP-structure Head v. phrasal movement Prosodic phrasing Prosodic boundaries 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Englische PhilologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of ItalianUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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