Head-directionality parameter

head-finalhead-initialhead finalhead-firsthead directionalityhead directionality parameterhead-lasthead-initial or head-finalhead-initial languageshead-initial structure
In linguistics, the head directionality is a proposed parameter that classifies languages according to whether they are head-initial (the head of a phrase precedes its complements) or head-final (the head follows its complements).wikipedia
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Branching (linguistics)

branchingleft-branchingright-branching
Head directionality is connected with the type of branching that predominates in a language: head-initial structures are right-branching, while head-final structures are left-branching.
The direction of branching reflects the position of heads in phrases, and in this regard, right-branching structures are head-initial, whereas left-branching structures are head-final.

Chinese grammar

ChineseChinese aspectsChinese aspect markers
For more details and examples of the relevant structures, see Chinese grammar.
Otherwise, Chinese is chiefly a head-last language, meaning that modifiers precede the words they modify – in a noun phrase, for example, the head noun comes last, and all modifiers, including relative clauses, come in front of it. This phenomenon is more typically found in SOV languages like Turkish and Japanese.

Adpositional phrase

prepositional phraseprepositional phrasespreposition phrase
4) Adpositional phrase (PP). Such phrases are called prepositional phrases if they are head-initial (i.e. headed by a preposition), or postpositional phrases if they are head-final (i.e. headed by a postposition). For more on these, see Preposition and postposition. The complement is a determiner phrase (or noun phrase, depending on analytical scheme followed).
Languages that are primarily head-initial such as English predominantly use prepositional phrases whereas head-final languages predominantly employ postpositional phrases.

Noun phrase

noun phrasesNPnominal phrases
2) Noun phrase (NP). Here the head is a noun; various kinds of complementizer phrase and adpositional phrase may be considered to be complements.
In English, determiners, adjectives (and some adjective phrases) and noun modifiers precede the head noun, whereas the heavier units – phrases and clauses – generally follow it. This is part of a strong tendency in English to place heavier constituents to the right, making English more of a head-initial language.

Japanese grammar

Japanesegrammaronbin
Some have pointed out that in predominantly head-final languages such as Japanese and Basque, the change from an underlying head-initial form to a largely head-final surface form would involve complex and massive leftward movement, which is not in accordance with the ideal of grammatical simplicity.
Its phrases are exclusively head-final and compound sentences are exclusively left-branching.

Complementizer

complementizer phraseCPsubordinators
6) Complementizer phrase (CP). This contains a complementizer, like that in English, as the head. In some cases the head is covert (not overtly present). The complement can be considered to be a tense phrase.
The standard abbreviation for complementizer is C. The complementizer is often held to be the syntactic head of a full clause, which is therefore often represented by the abbreviation CP (for complementizer phrase). Evidence that the complementizer functions as the head of its clause includes that it is commonly the last element in a clause in head-final languages like Korean or Japanese, in which other heads follow their complements, whereas it appears at the start of a clause in head-initial languages such as English, where heads normally precede their complements.

Principles and parameters

parameterPrinciples and parameters theoryparameters
In linguistics, the head directionality is a proposed parameter that classifies languages according to whether they are head-initial (the head of a phrase precedes its complements) or head-final (the head follows its complements).
Whether a language is head-initial or head-final is regarded as a parameter which is either on or off for particular languages (i.e. English is head-initial, whereas Japanese is head-final). Principles and parameters was largely formulated by the linguists Noam Chomsky and Howard Lasnik.

Preposition and postposition

prepositionpostpositionprepositions
4) Adpositional phrase (PP). Such phrases are called prepositional phrases if they are head-initial (i.e. headed by a preposition), or postpositional phrases if they are head-final (i.e. headed by a postposition). For more on these, see Preposition and postposition. The complement is a determiner phrase (or noun phrase, depending on analytical scheme followed).
Whether a language has primarily prepositions or postpositions is seen as an aspect of its typological classification, and tends to correlate with other properties related to head directionality.

Antisymmetry

antisymmetricfirst sectionKayne's theory of antisymmetry
According to the Antisymmetry theory proposed by Richard Kayne, there is no head-directionality parameter as such: it is claimed that at an underlying level, all languages are head-initial.
According to Kayne's Antisymmetry theory, there is no head-directionality parameter as such: it is claimed that at an underlying level, all languages are head-initial.

Head (linguistics)

headheadsheaded
In linguistics, the head directionality is a proposed parameter that classifies languages according to whether they are head-initial (the head of a phrase precedes its complements) or head-final (the head follows its complements).
Some language typologists classify language syntax according to a head directionality parameter in word order, that is, whether a phrase is head-initial (= right-branching) or head-final (= left-branching), assuming that it has a fixed word order at all.

Lucien Tesnière

Tesnièrecentrifugal
The idea that syntactic structures reduce to binary relations was introduced by Lucien Tesnière within the framework of dependency theory, which was developed during the 1960s.
The modern terms for these concepts are head-initial (centrifugal) and head-final (centripetal).

Tamil language

TamilTamil-languageta
Rigid head-final languages, including Japanese, Korean and Tamil;
Tamil is a consistently head-final language.

Malagasy language

MalagasymlgBetsimisaraka
Clearly head-initial languages, including Irish, Malagasy, Tongan and most Mayan languages;
Within phrases, Malagasy order is typical of head-initial languages: Malagasy has prepositions rather than postpositions (ho an'ny zaza "for the child").

Vietnamese grammar

Vietnamese classifier
Vietnamese is head-initial, has a noun classifier system, is pro-drop (and pro copula-drop), wh-in-situ, and allows verb serialization.

Swahili grammar

concord
It has head-first order with few exceptions.

Subject side parameter

SOV
In this respect, the subject-side parameter contrasts with the head-directionality parameter.

Standard Tibetan

TibetanTibetan languageTib.
Grammatical constituents broadly have head-final word order:

Adyghe verbs

steady-state verbsconditional suffixpositional prefix
Verbs are typically head final and are conjugated for tense, person, number, etc. Some of Circassian verbs can be morphologically simple, some of them consist only of one morpheme, like: кӏо "go", штэ "take".

OV language

OVobject–verbobject–verb order
They are primarily left-branching, or head-final, with heads often found at the end of their phrases, with a resulting tendency to have the adjectives before nouns, to place adpositions after the noun phrases they govern (in other words, to use postpositions), to put relative clauses before their referents, and to place auxiliary verbs after the action verb.

Thai grammar

Thai
Also like other languages in the region, Thai syntax conforms to subject–verb–object word order, Standard Thai is head-initial (displaying modified-modifier ordering), while Capital Thai more closely Southern Min grammar, and has a noun classifier system.

Southern Yukaghir language

Kolyma YukaghirYukaghir, SouthernSouthern Yukaghir
Kolyma Yukaghir has residual vowel harmony and a complex phonotactics of consonants, rich agglutinative morphology and is strictly head-final.

Tundra Yukaghir language

Tundra YukaghirNorthernNorthern Yukaghir
Tundra Yukaghir has residual vowel harmony and a complex phonotactics of consonants, rich agglutinative morphology and is strictly head-final.

Valyrian languages

ValyrianHigh ValyrianHigh Valyrian language
As a highly inflected language, word order is flexible (a feature lost in derived languages), but sentences with relative clauses are head-final.

Khmer grammar

Khmer
The language is generally head-initial so modifiers come after the words modified (adjectives, possessives, demonstratives, relative clauses, etc. follow nouns; adverbs mostly follow verbs; and so on).

Sesotho grammar

complete wordsverbal auxiliariesThe Sesotho word
It has head-first order, though it may be changed for emphasis. If an inflected qualificative is placed before the head, then it is technically a qualificative pronoun.