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Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar cover

Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar

Carl Pollard and Ivan A. Sag

This book presents the most complete exposition of the theory of head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG), introduced in the authors' Information-Based Syntax and Semantics. HPSG provides an integration of key ideas from the various disciplines of cognitive science, drawing on results from diverse approaches to syntactic theory, situation semantics, data type theory, and knowledge representation. The result is a conception of grammar as a set of declarative and order-independent constraints, a conception well suited to modelling human language processing.

This self-contained volume demonstrates the applicability of the HPSG approach to a wide range of empirical problems, including a number which have occupied center-stage within syntactic theory for well over twenty years: the control of "understood" subjects, long-distance dependencies conventionally treated in terms of wh-movement, and syntactic constraints on the relationship between various kinds of pronouns and their antecedents. The authors make clear how their approach compares with and improves upon approaches undertaken in other frameworks, including in particular the government-binding theory of Noam Chomsky.

Carl Pollard is associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Ohio State University. Ivan A. Sag (1949–2013) was professor of linguistics and symbolic systems at Stanford University.


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1 HPSG: A System of Signs
    • The Structure of the Sign
    • Some Formal Properties of HPSG Feature Structures
    • The Linguistic Application of Feature Structure Descriptions
    • Phrasal Signs and Principles of Universal Grammar
    • Immediate Dominance Schemata
    • Complementizers
    • Determiners, Quantifiers, and Quantifier Storage
    • Possessives
    • Adjuncts
    • Conclusion

  • 2 Agreement
    • Two Views of Agreement
    • Problems for Derivation-Based Agreement Theories
    • How Syntactic Is English Agreement
    • Agreement in English
    • Further Issues
    • Hybrid Agreement
    • Conclusion

  • 3 Complement Structures
    • Introduction
    • Category Selection and Small Clauses
    • Stowell Structures
    • Unsaturated Complements
    • Equi and Raising
    • Expletive Pronoun
    • Constructions
    • Raised Expletives
    • Conclusion

  • 4 Unbound Dependency Constructions
    • Introduction
    • Filler-Gap Constructions
    • Tough Constructions
    • The Trace Principle
    • Parasitic Gaps
    • More on Island Constraints
    • Conclusion

  • 5 Relative Clauses
    • Introduction
    • English Relative Clauses
    • Relative-Correlative Constructions
    • Internally Headed Relative Clauses
    • Conclusion

  • 6 Binding Theory
    • Introduction
    • The Binding Theory of Chomsky 1986a
    • Problems for Chomsky's Binding Theory
    • A Nonconfigurational Binding Theory
    • Binding Theory and Expletive Pronouns
    • The Facts Explained
    • Nonsyntactic Factors in the Distribution of Exempt Anaphors
    • Alternatives
    • Conclusion

  • 7 Complement Control
    • Introduction
    • The Semantic Nature of Controller Assignment
    • Realization of Controllers: Manzini's and Visser's Generalizations
    • Complement Coercion
    • Control Theory and Coerced Complements
    • Conclusion

  • 8 Aspects of Interpretation
    • Introduction
    • Quantificational Content and Nuclear Content
    • Modifiers Revisited
    • Contextual Information
    • Some Analytic Alternatives
    • Conclusion

  • 9 Reflections and Revisions
    • Introduction
    • On Borsley's Arguments from English
    • The sub/comps Distinction Analysis in Welsh
    • The Status of Specifiers
    • Extraction Revisited
    • Inversion Revisited
    • Classifying Headed Structures
    • Conclusion

  • Appendix
  • References
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Languages
  • Index of Subjects


ISBN (Paperback): 0226674479 (9780226674476)
ISBN (Cloth): 0226674460 (9780226674469)

Subject: Linguistics; Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG)

Books by Ivan A. Sag

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