Head-directionality parameter

head-finalhead-initialhead finalhead-firsthead direction parameterhead directionalityhead directionality parameterhead-initial languageshead-initial or head-finalhead-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-branchingbinary 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.

Noun phrase

noun phrasesNPnominal phrase
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.

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 post-positional phrases.

Complementizer

subordinatorcomplementizer phraseCP
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.

Chinese grammar

ChineseChinese aspect markersChinese aspects
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.

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.

Principles and parameters

parameterPrinciples and Parameters theorylinguistic parameters
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.

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.

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.

Antisymmetry

antisymmetricCondition on Extraction Domainfirst section
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.

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).

Dependency grammar

dependentdependencydependency grammars
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.
Head-directionality parameter

Tamil language

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

Malagasy language

MalagasyBetsimisarakamlg
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").

Linguistics

linguistlinguisticlinguists
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).

Verb phrase

verb phrasesVPphrases
The head is the element that determines the category of a phrase: for example, in a verb phrase, the head is a verb. 1) Verb phrase (VP). Here the head is a verb, and the complement(s) are most commonly objects of various types. The ordering here is related to one of the chief questions in the word order typology of languages, namely the normal order of subject, verb and object within a clause (languages are classed on this basis as SVO, SOV, VSO, etc.).

English grammar

Englishgrammarthere
English is considered to be strongly head-initial, while Japanese is an example of a language that is consistently head-final.

Japanese language

JapaneseJapanese-languageJp
Rigid head-final languages, including Japanese, Korean and Tamil; English is considered to be strongly head-initial, while Japanese is an example of a language that is consistently head-final.

German language

GermanGerman-languageGerman-speaking
In certain other languages, such as German and Gbe, examples of both types of head direction occur.

Gbe languages

GbeGbe familyGbe language
In certain other languages, such as German and Gbe, examples of both types of head direction occur.

Adjunct (grammar)

adjunctadjunctsadnominal
In some cases, particularly with noun and adjective phrases, it is not always clear which dependents are to be classed as complements, and which as adjuncts.

Verb

verbsv.verbal morphology
1) Verb phrase (VP). Here the head is a verb, and the complement(s) are most commonly objects of various types. The ordering here is related to one of the chief questions in the word order typology of languages, namely the normal order of subject, verb and object within a clause (languages are classed on this basis as SVO, SOV, VSO, etc.).

Object (grammar)

objectdirect objectindirect object
1) Verb phrase (VP). Here the head is a verb, and the complement(s) are most commonly objects of various types. The ordering here is related to one of the chief questions in the word order typology of languages, namely the normal order of subject, verb and object within a clause (languages are classed on this basis as SVO, SOV, VSO, etc.).

Word order

free word orderconstituent orderword-order
1) Verb phrase (VP). Here the head is a verb, and the complement(s) are most commonly objects of various types. The ordering here is related to one of the chief questions in the word order typology of languages, namely the normal order of subject, verb and object within a clause (languages are classed on this basis as SVO, SOV, VSO, etc.).

Subject (grammar)

subjectsubjectsgrammatical subject
1) Verb phrase (VP). Here the head is a verb, and the complement(s) are most commonly objects of various types. The ordering here is related to one of the chief questions in the word order typology of languages, namely the normal order of subject, verb and object within a clause (languages are classed on this basis as SVO, SOV, VSO, etc.).