Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Natural Syntax of Slovenian: The Complex Sentence

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Natural Syntax of Slovenian: The Complex Sentence

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper applies the framework of Natural Syntax to complex sentences in Slovenian, with the twin goals of introducing the framework to Slavicists and showing how it deals with Slavic language data. The framework of Natural Syntax as initiated by Janez Oresnik, in the tradition of (morphological) naturalness as established by Wolfgang Dressier and Willi Mayerthaler, is a developing deductive theory. The naturalness judgments are couched in naturalness scales, which follow from the basic parameters (or "axioms") listed at the beginning of the paper. The predictions of the theory are calculated in what are known as deductions, the chief components of each being a pair of naturalness scales and the rules governing the alignment of corresponding naturalness values. Parallel and chiastic alignment are distinguished and related to Henning Andersen's early work on markedness.

1. Introduction

Natural Syntax is a (developing) deductive linguistic theory that determines the presuppositions on the background of which a (morpho)-syntactic state of affairs can be made predictable and thus synchronically explained. (1) The two basic kinds of presuppositions are what are known as naturalness scales and rules of alignment among corresponding values of any two scales. Every (morpho)syntactic state of affairs is represented by two comparable variants. Natural Syntax contains no generative component. The basic format of our naturalness scales is >nat (A, B), where A is more natural than B. Two expanded scales are allowed, viz., >nat (A + B, B) and >nat (A, A + B); they are valid if the corresponding scale of the format >nat (A, B) is valid. These are exemplified below. We begin by listing the criteria with which Natural Syntax substantiates naturalness scales:

(a) The speaker/hearer parameter. In the scale >nat (A, B), value A is natural for the speaker (and unnatural for the hearer); value B is unnatural for the speaker (and natural for the hearer). The basic naturalness scale is >nat (favorable for the speaker, favorable for the hearer). This view of naturalness is commonplace in linguistics (Havers 1931: 171), under the names of tendency to economize (utilized first of all by the speaker) and tendency to be accurate (mainly in the hearer's interest). (2)

(b) The principle of least effort (Havers 1931: 171). What conforms better to this principle is more natural for the speaker. What is cognitively simple (for the speaker) is easy to produce, easy to retrieve from memory, etc.

(c) Degree of integration into the construction. What is better integrated into its construction is more natural for the speaker. (3)

(d) Frequency. What is more frequent (tokenwise) is more natural for the speaker. What is cognitively simpler (for the speaker) is used more. (4)

(e) Small vs. large class. The use of (a unit pertaining to) a small class is more natural for the speaker than the use of (a unit pertaining to) a large class. During speech, small classes are easier for the speaker to choose from than are large classes. (This is frequency typewise.)

(f) The process criterion. Any process is natural. Examples of processes include movement and agreement.

(g) Acceptable vs. non-acceptable use. What is acceptable is more natural for the speaker than what is not acceptable. The very reason for the acceptability of a syntactic unit is its greater naturalness for the speaker with respect to any corresponding non-acceptable unit.

(h) What is more widespread in the languages of the world is more natural for the speaker (the typological criterion). What is cognitively simpler (for the speaker) is realized in more languages.

The above criteria of naturalness (henceforth also called axioms) are utilized to support our naturalness scales. (5) Normally it suffices to substantiate any scale with one criterion, which backs up either value A or value B of the scale; the non-supported value is allotted the only remaining position in the scale. …

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