Linguistics in Amsterdam 4-2 (september 2011)Magaly Grández Ávila: Language transparency in Functional Discourse Grammar: The case of Quechua1
3 Accounting for degrees of transparency between levels

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3.3 At the Morphosyntactic-Phonological levels

The following properties between the Morphosyntactic-Phonological levels are expected for a language to be considered as transparent:

3.3.1 Phonological phrasing and morphosyntactic phrasing run in parallel

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In keeping with the one-to-one correspondence between units at all levels of representation that characterizes language transparency, it is expected that the morphosyntactic encoding of the input formulated at the higher levels runs in parallel with its corresponding phonological encoding, which provides a representation that serves as input to the Output Component, responsible for articulation. However, as stated by Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008:427), the relation between these two encoding levels is only of partial parallelism, especially if we consider that the phonological representation of a given utterance may be influenced by many other factors, rather than purely morphosyntactic ones.

Unfortunately, the descriptions provided in grammars of the different varieties of Quechua, including the variety in question on this paper, do not provide with an exhaustive characterization of its prosodic phonological features. As stated by Cerron-Palomino (1987: 128), suprasegmental features in special, such as those related to intonation, accentuation and rhyme, have been the least studied phenomena in the phonology of Quechua and so they definitely deserve further investigation. The lack of relevant data in this respect does not allow for an exhaustive analysis of phonological phrasing, and its corresponding parallelism with morphosyntactic phrasing, in this language. As most accounts on Quechua phonology are related to segmental features, especially to stress patterns, which are regarded as the criterial property of Phonological Words, I will refer to them and attempt to account for their relevance with respect to the parallelism between morphosyntactic and phonological encoding.

As explained by Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008: 443), the correlation between morphosyntactic and phonological words is best in isolating, agglutinating and fusional languages. As an agglutinating language, Quechua does present a good correlation between morphosyntactic and phonological words, with primary stress being placed on the penultimate syllable of the morphosyntactic word, as shown in the following example (Weber 1989:55), in which primary stress falls on the syllable /ku/:


According to Weber (1989:457), this stress pattern is not always followed, especially in cases in which stress is used for emphasis, in which case it usually falls in the last syllable. The violation of this rule appears, however, to have a pragmatic trigger, therefore it is justifiable to account for the Phonological Word as a relevant category in which stress assignment takes place.

Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008:446) also explain that the correlation between morphosyntactic and phonological words becomes problematic when clitics are at stake. Clitics are morphemes generally treated as words at the Morphosyntactic Level and are represented as such according to the templates relevant to that level (for further explanation see 4.1.5 below). At the Phonological Level, however, a clitic is treated as part of the Phonological Word where it operates, which inevitably affects the parallelism between morphosyntactic and phonological phrasing. In the grammar of Quechua, the use of Clause and Phrase-layer clitics is a prominent feature, and so lack of correspondence between morphosyntactic and phonological phrasing, where clitics are involved, is expected, as shown in the following example (Weber 1989:470):


This structure constitutes an Adposition Phrase (Adp), integrated by morphosyntactic words, namely a Nominal Word (Nw) and a Grammatical Word (Gw), and is represented as such at the Morphosyntactic Level:


The locative marker chaw is represented as a Grammatical Word (Gw) within the Adposition Phrase (Adp). At the Phonological Level, however, this belongs to a single Phonological Word (pw), which is, in accordance to a general rule for Phonological Words in Quechua, stressed on the penultimate syllable, as shown in the following phonological representation:


The lack of correspondence between morphosyntactic and phonological phrasing in this example shows a partial parallelism between these two encoding levels. Thus, Quechua can be regarded as partly transparent in this respect.

3.3.2 Phonological weight does not influence morphosyntactic placement

In an ideal transparent language, neither morphosyntactic nor phonological factors are expected to determine the ordering of clause constituents. On the contrary, alignment is expected to reflect the organization of the higher levels: the Interpersonal and the Representational Level, which would go in accordance with the ideally one-to-one correspondence between processes of formulation and encoding operations.

In Quechua, the ordering of constituents may obey pragmatic factors, though in neutral contexts, alignment is generally the result of semantic and syntactic function assignment. As mentioned before, Quechua has a syntactic function Subject, which tends to occupy a clause-initial position. The placement of U and R arguments appear not to be attributable to syntactic factors, but semantic ones, as this is generally the Undergoer the argument that precedes the predicate, whereas the Recipient tends to precede the Undergoer. Thus, whether determined by syntactic or semantic factors, the placement of constituents in Quechua normally corresponds to that of a predicate-final language. However, when constituents are phonologically heavy, they can be placed after the predicate, as is commonly the case of sensory verb complements such as the one in (49) which can be shifted to the right as illustrated in (50):

(Weber, 1989: 290)

In the same way, nominal modifiers, which are normally placed before the nominal head, may be placed Clause-finally due to their being phonologically heavy. This is what generally occurs with relative clauses in complex constructions such as that in (51) which appears in (52) in clause-final position:

(Weber, 1989: 282)

Quechua cannot be regarded as transparent with respect to the morphosyntactic organization of Clause constituents, as this may not only be determined by pragmatic or semantic factors, but also by morphosyntactic or phonological ones.