restricted access Rhythmic Structure Constituents and Clitic Placement in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
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Christina Y. Bethin, ed. American Contributions to the 14th International Congress of Slavists, Ohrid, September 2008. Vol. 2: Literature. Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 1–19. Rhythmic Structure Constituents and Clitic Placement in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian Ronelle Alexander As in other inflected Slavic languages, the word order of Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian (BCS) is relatively free. For instance, any three-word sentence composed of a noun subject, a noun object, and an active transitive verb, has six possible orders; and all six are grammatical (though with slightly different information-structure readings and stylistic effects). When it comes to clitics, however, things are quite rigid. All the clitics in a sentence or clause must occur together in a strictly regulated order and at a particular point in the sentence. Although there are sporadic instances of variation, the internal ordering of the clitic string is basically consistent and easily stated. It is, however , more difficult to predict the particular point in the sentence at which the clitic string will occur. It is generally true that they occur in “second position,” but this is not helpful without a precise specification of what constitutes “first position.” This paper provides such a specification in terminology that is both precise enough to be useful to linguists, straightforward (and non-technical) enough to be useful to students of BCS and their teachers, and which furthermore allows for an objective evaluation of “stylistic variation,” especially when correlated with national-ethnic consciousness. The language which a number of linguists still call Serbo-Croatian must now be called by different names. When reference is made to the separate official languages, or to those elements of a code which mark it as separate, then the terms Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian must be used (Montenegrin has been claimed as a separate language by some but has not yet achieved international recognition). But when reference is made to the common code which allows Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Montenegrins , and others to communicate with one another, and which by and large still functions as a single cohesive system and can be described as such, then the term BCS should be used. This acronym, which represents the three components in neutral alphabetical order, is now accepted by most official international bodies. The terms are used herein in these meanings. I assume that BCS clitics are defined by the “absence of autonomous accent” and the fact of “phonological subordination to another word” (Anderson 2005: 12), and that proclitics precede their host (the “other word” to which they are subordinated) while enclitics follow it. The present study concerns BCS enclitics, which function as in (1). 2 RONELLE ALEXANDER (1) Stipulations concerning clitic placement in BCS a. enclitics cannot occur at the beginning of a sentence or clause b. enclitics within a single clause must cluster together in a specific order c. the ordered sequence of enclitics must come in “second position” The first two requirements are straightforward: (a) is part of the definition of an enclitic (if an enclitic must follow its host, it follows that it cannot occur initially), while (b) refers to a fixed order. This order is stated in (2). (2) Internal order of clitic strings in BCS a. interrogative particle li b. verbal auxiliaries (including present tense copula), except third singular je c. dative pronominal objects d. accusative pronominal objects e. the particle se (usually termed “reflexive”) f. the third singular copula / auxiliary je Stipulation (c) is more difficult, because the notion “second position” is in fact quite fluid. Namely, clitics can follow the first accented word, the first “prosodic word” (a unit composed of proclitic plus accented word), the first phrase, or even a much larger chunk of the sentence. Examples (3) through (7) below illustrate these possibilities. Only the first of these sentences would occur in a completely neutral context; all the others structure the information in certain subtle ways. (In these and subsequent examples clitics are denoted in boldface. For simplicity’s sake, most examples include the same two clitics, the third plural auxiliary su, denoted aux; and the particle se, denoted refl.) After the first accented word (3) Oni su se sreli u gradu. they aux refl met in town ‘They met in town.’ After the first prosodic word (4) U gradu su se sreli. in town aux refl met ‘They met in town.’ RSCs and Clitic Placement in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian 3 (5) U onom su se gradu sreli. in that aux refl town met ‘They met in that town.’ After the...


Subject Headings

  • Slavic philology -- Congresses.
  • Slavic literature -- History and criticism -- Congresses.
  • Slavic languages -- Congresses.
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