Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar and the Interfaces

Paola Monachesi
Section: Language
Level: Introductory


Aim of the course is to provide an introduction to Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) and to show that the sign-based approach which is at the basis of the theory is particularly well suited to deal with interface problems. In HPSG, the 'sign', which is a fundamental object, integrates several levels of description: phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic.

The course will focus on the interfaces between syntax and the other components of the grammar. Specific interface phenomena will be addressed in order to investigate the kind of problems they create for a grammatical theory. In particular, we will look at the properties of weak pronouns (i.e., clitics) and complex predicates (i.e., auxiliary, modal and causative verbs) in Romance languages. They are quite relevant for the interface between syntax and morphology/phonology/argument structure.

The tools available within HPSG to deal with these problems will be presented. It will be shown that these phenomena can receive a more comprehensive explanation within a sign-based, monostratal framework such as HPSG.

The course will also briefly address the strategies employed by other surface based frameworks, such as recent versions of Categorial Grammar, to deal with interface phenomena.

Overview of the course


Students with no prior knowledge of HPSG are encouraged to attend also the introductory course by S. Müller.


Monachesi P. (1999) 'A lexical approach to Italian cliticization'. CSLI publications.

Monachesi P. (in preparation). 'Complex predicates in Romance. A case study in grammatical interfaces'.

Pollard C. and I. Sag (1994) 'Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar'. CSLI Publications.



Paola Monachesi
Utrecht University 
Trans 10 
3512 JK Utrecht,
The Netherlands