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Complex predicates in Bengali have a striking phonological structure that is distinct from both that of compounds and that of syntactic phrases (Bayer & Lahiri 1990; Hayes & Lahiri 1991; Fitzpatrick-Cole 1996). Like compounds, CPs are composed of two Phonological Words, which is evidenced by intonation, segemental assimilations, and reduplication. Unlike compounds, however, enclitics may attach the first word of the CP, in addition to the second. Unlike comparable syntactic phrases, CPs constitute a single Phonological Phrase. Object-verb sequences (N)P (V)P like (1a) are distinguishable from noun-verb CPs (N V)P like (1b) only by phonological phrasing. Verb-verb sequences (V)P (V)P and verb-verb CPs (V V)P show the same distinction (2).
Bengali focus clitics present a challenge to this analysis (Lahiri & Fitzpatrick-Cole 1997). Focus intonation suggests that the clitics must P-phrase final, but a clitic appearing in the middle of a CP, e.g. (mere=o pheletS H A )P'also beat to death' cannot be P-phrase final. We present a novel analysis of focus clitics involving lexical pitch accents.