Head (linguistics)

headheadsheadedhead nounhead nounshead wordhead-finalhead-initial compoundinghead-initial structuresheaded phrase
In linguistics, the head or nucleus of a phrase is the word that determines the syntactic category of that phrase.wikipedia
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Noun phrase

noun phrasesNPnominal phrase
For example, the head of the noun phrase boiling hot water is the noun water.
A noun phrase or nominal (phrase) is a phrase that has a noun (or indefinite pronoun) as its head or performs the same grammatical function as such a phrase.

Syntax

syntacticsyntacticalsyntactically
In linguistics, the head or nucleus of a phrase is the word that determines the syntactic category of that phrase. 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.
For example, rather than asserting that sentences are constructed by a rule that combines a noun phrase (NP) and a verb phrase (VP) (e.g., the phrase structure rule S → NP VP), in categorial grammar, such principles are embedded in the category of the head word itself.

Noun

nounssubstantiveabstract noun
For example, the head of the noun phrase boiling hot water is the noun water.
In English, nouns are those words which can occur with articles and attributive adjectives and can function as the head of a noun phrase.

Compound (linguistics)

compoundcompound wordcompounds
Analogously, the head of a compound is the stem that determines the semantic category of that compound.
An endocentric compound consists of a head, i.e. the categorical part that contains the basic meaning of the whole compound, and modifiers, which restrict this meaning.

Phrase

phrasesTense phrasephrasal
In linguistics, the head or nucleus of a phrase is the word that determines the syntactic category of that phrase.
In grammatical analysis, most phrases contain a key word that identifies the type and linguistic features of the phrase; this is known as the head-word, or the head.

Branching (linguistics)

branchingleft-branchingbinary branching
Heads are crucial to establishing the direction of 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.

Grammatical modifier

modifiermodifiersqualifier
The other elements of the phrase or compound modify the head, and are therefore the head's dependents.
Modifiers may come either before or after the modified element (the head), depending on the type of modifier and the rules of syntax for the language in question.

Endocentric and exocentric

exocentricendocentric
Headed phrases and compounds are called endocentric, whereas exocentric ("headless") phrases and compounds (if they exist) lack a clear head.

Constituent (linguistics)

constituentconstituentssyntactic constituents
The heads of phrases can often be identified by way of constituency tests.
A phrase is a sequence of one or more words (in some theories two or more) built around a head lexical item and working as a unit within a sentence.

Dependency grammar

dependentdependencydependency grammars
The other elements of the phrase or compound modify the head, and are therefore the head's dependents. These trees tend to be organized in terms of one of two relations: either in terms of the constituency relation of phrase structure grammars or the dependency relation of dependency grammars.
Structure is determined by the relation between a word (a head) and its dependents.

Head-directionality parameter

head-finalhead-initialhead final
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.
In linguistics, 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).

Head-marking language

head-markinghead markinghead
It is also common to classify language morphology according to whether a phrase is head-marking or dependent-marking.
A language is head-marking if the grammatical marks showing agreement between different words of a phrase tend to be placed on the heads (or nuclei) of phrases, rather than on the modifiers or dependents.

X-bar theory

X-bar schemaX' theoryX-bar
Trees that are based on the X-bar schema also acknowledge head-initial, head-final, and head-medial phrases, although the depiction of heads is less direct.
3. Another kind of X-bar consists of an X (the head of the phrase) and any number of complements (possibly zero), in any order:

Minimalist program

Minimalismbare phrase structureThe Minimalist Program
Since some prominent phrase structure grammars (e.g. most work in Government and binding theory and the Minimalist Program) take all branching to be binary, these head-medial a-trees may be controversial.

Dependent-marking language

dependent-markingDependent markingdependent-marked
It is also common to classify language morphology according to whether a phrase is head-marking or dependent-marking.
A dependent-marking language has grammatical markers of agreement and case government between the words of phrases that tend to appear more on dependents than on heads.

Possessive

possessive pronounpossessive casepossessive pronouns
For instance, in the English possessive case, possessive marking (s) appears on the dependent (the possessor), whereas in Hungarian possessive marking appears on the head noun:
In English, this is done using the ending -'s, as in Jane's, heaven's, the boy's, those men's, or sometimes just an apostrophe, as in workers', Jesus', the soldiers'. Note that the ending can be added at the end of a noun phrase even when the phrase does not end with its head noun, as in the king of England's; this property inclines many linguists towards the view that the ending is a clitic rather than a case ending (see below, and further at English possessive).

Word stem

stemstemsverb stem
Analogously, the head of a compound is the stem that determines the semantic category of that compound.

Phrase structure grammar

phrase structureconstituencyconstituency grammar
These trees tend to be organized in terms of one of two relations: either in terms of the constituency relation of phrase structure grammars or the dependency relation of dependency grammars.

Government and binding theory

government and bindingmaximal projectionChomsky's Binding Theory
Since some prominent phrase structure grammars (e.g. most work in Government and binding theory and the Minimalist Program) take all branching to be binary, these head-medial a-trees may be controversial.

Word order

free word orderConstituent orderbasic word order
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.

Franz Kafka

KafkaKafkaesqueKafka, Franz
English is more head-initial than head-final, as illustrated with the following dependency tree of the first sentence of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis:

The Metamorphosis

Gregor SamsaMetamorphosisDie Verwandlung
English is more head-initial than head-final, as illustrated with the following dependency tree of the first sentence of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis:

Morphology (linguistics)

morphologymorphologicalmorphologically
It is also common to classify language morphology according to whether a phrase is head-marking or dependent-marking.

Hungarian language

HungarianMagyarHungarian-language
For instance, in the English possessive case, possessive marking (s) appears on the dependent (the possessor), whereas in Hungarian possessive marking appears on the head noun:

Prosodic unit

intonation unitintonational phraseintonational phrases
In a prosodic unit, the head is the part that extends from the first stressed syllable up to (but not including) the tonic syllable.