/ \ / \
NP N V NP
John's house see John
Heads of phrase: Noun Verb
Grammatical relation: Possession Transitivity
1.1 Dependent-marked and head-marked possession
/ \ / \
NP N NP N
Peters Haus Janos ház-a
Peter-GEN house John house-3sg
“Peter’s house” “John’s house”
Double-marking of possession
/ \ / \
NP N' NP N
/ \ / \
Det N Det N
Dem Wolfgang sein Lied János-nak a lakás-a
the-DAT Wofgang his song John-DAT the flat-3sg
“Wolfgang’s song” “John’s flat”
Neutral marking: e.g. Possessive linker
Tagalog: nasa mesa ng
libro OR libro
ng nasa mesa
on table LINK book book LINK on table
Absent marking: no overt marker of the grammatical relation
Malay: rumah saya Mauritian
Creole: lakaz Pierre
house me house Peter
"my house" "Peter's house"
Cantonese: ngo ukkei
1.2 Dependent-marked and head-marked clauses: case marking vs. agreement
(case: dependent-marking) (object agreement: head-marking)
/ \ / \
V NP V NP
sehe den Mann ni-li-ki-soma ki-tabu
see-1sg the man-ACC I-PAST-O7-read 7-book
“(I) see the man” “I read the book”
Hungarian: double-marking (case marking + subject/object agreement)
látom az embert
see-1sg-OBJ the man-ACC
“(I) see the man”
Mandarin: absent marking
ta zhao ni
s/he seek you
"She's looking for you"
1.3. Dependent-marking vs. head-marking in adpositional phrases (PPs)
P as head of PP, NP as dependent of P
(case: dependent-marking) (agreement: head-marking)
with you.Dat with-2sg
"with you" "with you"
beside me.Dat behind-1sg
"next to me" "behind me"
2.. Head-marking and dependent-marking as language types
“because of him/her/it”
Person agreement on verb with ergative NP:
pa xasjoj xin Tukun
the PRT his.daughter Asp-Erg3-enter in dance of Tecun
“He entered his daughter in the dance of Tecun”
Head/dependent-marking and word order
Nichols (1986): Verb-initial word order correlates with head-marking, e.g. in Mayan languages: head-marking Verb-initial languages (VSO and/or VOS) with verb agreement but no case
Harris (1978), Matthews (1988): Verb-initial structures with verb agreement in colloquial French
V O S
Declaratives: Je l'aime moi Marie / Je l'aime Marie moi
1sg-Obj-love I Mary 1sg-Obj-love Mary I
"I love Mary" "I love Mary"
V S O
Il est là Paul? Tu l' as vu toi mon frère?
3sg-is there Paul 2sg-3sg-have seen you my brother
"Is Paul there?" "Have you seen my brother?"
Development of head-marking grammar in Romance languages: object pronouns > clitics > agreement prefixes
Je l' ai pas vu Pierre Nem lát-tam Janóst
I-him-have-not-seen Peter not saw-1sg-Obj John-ACC
"I haven't seen Peter." "I haven't seen John."
3. Synthetic structures and isolating languages
"Languages of the isolating type will be left out of the discussion entirely,-- although their 'grammatical words', 'function words', 'empty words' etc. presumably also exhibit head-marking and dependent-marking tendencies." (Nichols 1986: 59).
Cantonese: ngo5 ge3 man6tai4
I POSS problem
Mexican Spanish: Su casa de Juan
his house of John
Afrikaans: die boer se huis
the farmer his house
“the farmer’s house”
Nichols on subordination (p. 64):
dependent-marked: [ Since I was tired], I overslept
(subordinate clause as “dependent”)
head-marked: I was tired, [so I overslept]
Conditionals (Chen 2003)
dependent-marked: If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to
head-marked: [Lei5 m4 soeng2 heoi3] [zau6 msai2]
you not wish go then no-need
double-marked: [Jyu4gwo2 lei5 m4 soeng2 heoi3] [zau6 msai2]
if you not wish go then no-need
Aissen, Judith. 1992. Topic and focus in Mayan. Language 68, 43-80.
Chen, Ee San. 2003. Language convergence and bilingual acquisition: the case of conditional constructions. Annual Review of Language Acquisition.3, 89-137.
Harris, Martin. 1978. The Evolution of French Syntax. London: Longman.
Matthews, Stephen. 1988. French in flux: typological shift and sociolinguistic variation. In J. Alatis (ed), Georgetown University Round Table on Language and Linguistics, 188-203.
Nichols, Johanna. 1986. Head-marking and dependent-marking grammar. Language 62, 56-119.
Nichols, Johanna. 1992. Language Diversity in Time and Space. Chicago University Press.