A universal characteristic of speech is that utterances are generally
down phonologically into smaller phrases which are marked by suprasegmental
features such as intonational events and/or final lengthening.
Moreover, phrases can be further divided into smaller-sized constituents.
These constituents of varying size, or ‘prosodic units’, are
characterised as performing the dual function of marking a unit of
information and forming the domain of application of phonological rules.
However, there is less agreement about how prosodic units are defined in
generating an utterance. There are at least two different approaches (for
general review, see Shattuck-Hufnagel & Turk 1996). One approach
posits that prosodic constituents are hierarchically organised and that
prosodic constituents larger than a word are derived indirectly from the
syntactic structure by referring to the edge of a maximal projection
(Selkirk 1986), to the head–complement relation (Nespor & Vogel
or to the c-command relation (Hayes 1989). This position, which I call
SYNTACTIC APPROACH, has been called the Prosodic Hierarchy theory,
Prosodic Phonology or the Indirect Syntactic Approach (Selkirk 1984,
1986, Nespor & Vogel 1986, Hayes 1989).
The other position, which I call the INTONATIONAL APPROACH,
assumes a hierarchical prosodic structure, but defines the prosodic units
larger than a word based on the surface phonetic form of an utterance by
looking at suprasegmental features such as intonation and final lengthening
(e.g. Beckman & Pierrehumbert 1986, Pierrehumbert & Beckman 1988,
Jun 1993, Beckman 1996). Both approaches assume a prosodic hierarchy
in which prosodic units are hierarchically organised and obey the Strict
Layer Hypothesis (Selkirk 1984, 1986, Nespor & Vogel 1986; a prosodic
unit of a given level of the hierarchy is composed of one or more units
the immediately lower prosodic unit, and is exhaustively contained in the
superordinate unit of which it is a part). The prosodic units which are
higher than a word, and which are commonly assumed by proponents of
the syntactic approach, are the Phonological Phrase and the Intonation
Phrase, while those assumed by the intonational approach are the
Accentual Phrase, the Intermediate Phrase and the Intonation Phrase.
The prosodic units below the Phonological Phrase, i.e. the Syllable, Foot
and Prosodic Word, do not differ much in the two approaches, since these
units have more fixed roles vis-à-vis syntax or intonation.
The intonational unit corresponding to the Phonological Phrase is the
Intermediate Phrase in English (Beckman & Pierrehumbert 1986) or the
Accentual Phrase in Korean (Jun 1993), in that these are the units
immediately higher than a Word. The Phonological Phrase is defined
based on the syntactic structure, but the intonational units are defined
intonational markers. The Intermediate Phrase in English is the domain
of downstep, and is delimited by a phrase accent, H- or L-; the
Accentual Phrase in standard (Seoul) Korean is demarcated by a phrase-final High tone. The next higher level, the Intonation Phrase, is much
more similar in the two approaches. Even though the proponents of the
syntactic approach define this level in terms of syntax (e.g. a sister
a root sentence), they claim that this level is the domain of the intonational
contour and is sensitive to semantic factors (Selkirk 1980, 1984, 1986,
Nespor & Vogel 1986). In this paper, we will focus on the prosodic
corresponding to the Phonological Phrase.