By J McLaren

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Extra resources for A grammar of the Kaffir language

Sample text

Complement" in this context denotes the nonhead in syntactic and morphological structures. I am well aware of the difficulty of this task. Numerous linguists of various schools have tried to find a definition of head; yet no one, as far as I know, has found a single, unambiguous definition that can be used for all grammatical structures. Yet, since the identification of the head is the basis of the description in terms of branching, it is necessary to discuss this thorny question. I do not pretend to succeed where numerous others have tried in vain, but I hope to find a definition that has a theoretical basis and that can be applied to the structures I want to analyze.

3. The head term is one bar-level lower than the immediately dominating phrasal node (Speas 1990:37) This description not only specifies that every phrase has a head; it explicitly states that at each level of the tree structure there is an element that is syntactically superior. The former trichotomy of X-bar theory, that made an artificial distinction between specifier and complement (see tree diagram A) has been replaced with a binary analysis.

With X-bar theory generative grammar finally included a component of phrase structure rules to which the notion of head is fundamental. Although I do not agree with all the interpretations of the theory, I will use some of its notions and structural interpretations. Consequently X-bar theory will be a starting point in my search for a definition rather than a theoretical frame to work in. To have X-bar theory as a starting point underscores the grammatical nature of this analysis, to which I have already referred.

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