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Syntax-prosody correspondence

Much of my research deals with the interface between syntax and phonology. In particular, I am interested in how syntactic constituents and prosodic constituents correspond and whether there is a universal mapping algorithm between syntax and phonology. Within a Match Theory framework (Selkirk 2011), I argue that MatchWord must be revised to refer to phases in order to account for the prosodic phonology of Blackfoot.

  • Weber, Natalie. 2021. Phase-based constraints within Match Theory. In Supplemental Proceedings of the 2020 Annual Meeting on Phonology, Ryan Bennett, Richard Bibbs, Mykel Loren Brinkerhoff, Max J. Kaplan, Stephanie Rich, Amanda Rysling, Nicholas Van Handel, and Maya Wax Cavallaro (eds.). Washington, D.C.: Linguistic Society of America. [proceedings] [poster] [captioned video]
  • Weber, Natalie. submitted. Phonological domains within Blackfoot: Towards a family-wide comparison. Ms, submitted to the Papers of the 52nd Algonquian Conference.

Prosodic phonology and alignment

In many languages, prosodic constituents mismatch from syntactic constituents in order to satisfy the alignment of prosodic edges and syllable onsets. The expected counterpart is a language which maintains exact syntax-prosody correspondence at the expense of edge alignment. I argue that Blackfoot (Algonquian; Frantz 2017) fills this typological gap. Specifically, the left edge of the Prosodic Word (PWd) often falls in the middle of a syllable, without aligning to a syllable onset.

  • Weber, Natalie. 2020. On the misalignment of prosodic edges and syllables. Colloquium, ICU Linguistics Colloquium (ICU LINC) on Prosody. ICU, Dec 4 (EST) / Dec 5 (JST), 2020. [abstract] [slides] [video]

Stress typology

Blackfoot has default third syllable stress assignment, which is a typologically rare pattern. I argue in several papers that the Blackfoot pattern can only be captured with a form of underparsing at the left edge. The analysis I propose introduces a version of a NonInitiality constraint. Stress in Blackfoot is manifested primarily via a high f0 and so a subset of my work also examines pitch accents and contours.

  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Accent and prosody in Blackfoot verbs. In Papers of the Forty-fourth Algonquian Conference, Monica Macaulay, Margaret Noodin, and J. Randolph Valentine (eds.), 348–369. SUNY Press.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Initial extrametricality and cyclicity in Blackfoot accent. In Proceedings of the Qualifying Papers Mini-conferences 2013–2014, Andrei Anghelescu, Joel Dunham, and Natalie Weber (eds.), 234-248. UBCWPL 42). [link]
  • Weber, Natalie. Accent and pro-DPs in Blackfoot. In Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association (University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, June 1–3, 2013), Shan Luo (ed.). N.p. [link]
  • Weber, Natalie and Blake Allen. 2012. Blackfoot pitch accent: Insights from morpho-phonology. Ms, University of British Columbia. [link to paper and poster]

A subset of this work focuses on pitch accents and pitch contours.

  • Miyashita, Mizuki and Natalie Weber. 2020. Blackfoot pitch contour: an instrumental investigation. In Papers of the 49th Algonquian Conference, Monica Macaulay and Margaret Noodin (eds.). East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Syntax and semantics

The vP/VP stem in Blackfoot is morphologically complex. Some of my work focuses on a morphological analysis of the vP stem and categorizing the elements in terms of their syntactic distribution and semantics. One project with Rose-Marie Déchaine focused on the syntax of roots and the differences between Blackfoot and Plains Cree (both part of the Algonquian family).

  1. Déchaine, Rose-Marie and Natalie Weber. 2018. Root syntax: Evidence from Algonquian. In Papers of the Forty-seventh Algonquian Conference, Monica Macaulay (ed.). Michigan State University Press.
  2. Déchaine, Rose-Marie and Natalie Weber. 2015. Head-Merge, Adjunct-Merge, and the Syntax of Root Categorisation. In Proceedings of the Poster Session of the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Pocholo Umbal and Kyeong-min Kim (eds.), 38–47. (SFUWPL 5). [link]

A project with Lisa Matthewson explores how the vP/VP stem morphology reflects the semantic type of the verbal complement.

  1. Weber, Natalie and Lisa Matthewson. 2017. The semantics of Blackfoot arguments. In Papers of the Forty-fifth Algonquian Conference. (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Oct. 18–20, 2013), Monica Macaulay (ed.). MSU Press.
  2. Weber, Natalie and Lisa Matthewson. 2014. Reflections of complement type: The view from Blackfoot. In The Art and Craft of Semantics: A Festschrift for Irene Heim, vol. 2, Luka Crnič and Uli Sauerland (eds.), 275–298. (MITWPL 71). [link]

Language documentation

I feel it is important to produce useful language description and documentation even within theoretical linguistics papers. To that end, a subset of my research program deals specifically with language documentation.

  • Sanker, Chelsea, Sarah Babinski, Roslyn Burns, Marisha Evans, Jeremy Johns, Juhyae Kim, Slater Smith, Natalie Weber, and Claire Bowern. submitted. (Don’t) try this at home! The effects of recording devices and software on phonetic analysis. Ms, submitted to Language Commentaries. [lingbuzz]
  • Derrick, Donald and Natalie Weber. submitted. Blackfoot. Ms, submitted to the Illustrations of the IPA series of the Journal of the International Phonetic Association.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Blackfoot dictionary. Contributor, database organization and parts of speech categorization.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Blackfoot stories. Contributor.


My dissertation, “Syntax, prosody, and metrical structure in Blackfoot” (April 2020, University of British Columbia) focuses on structural correspondences at the interface. I show that the Blackfoot verbal complex has two distinct phonological domains, corresponding to a syntactic vP/VP and CP, respectively. There are two main contributions. First, I hypothesize that each syntactic phase corresponds to a particular prosodic constituent by default. I model these relationships using a modified version of Match Theory (Selkirk 2011), in which the vP/VP phase corresponds to a PWd and the CP phase corresponds to a PPh. Second, I argue that the syntax-prosody correspondence is distinct from the alignment of prosodic and metrical structure. In a parallel constraint-based model of phonology, there are separate constraints regulating each type of correspondence, which predicts that a language might satisfy isomorphic syntax-prosody correspondence at the expense of prosodic and metrical alignment, or vice versa.

Research groups

(Last updated: 1 May 2021)