Swedish and the Head-Feature Convention

  • Robin Cooper
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 5)


The HEAD-FEATURE CONVENTION (HFC) has been proposed in the literature on Generalized Phrase-structure Grammar (GPSG) as a mechanism whereby the features on a node are essentially the same as the features on its head node. There are a number of ways in which the convention could be made precise. The discussion of it in Gazdar, Pullum, and Sag (1982), Gazdar and Pullum (1981) does not come down firmly on any one of the possibilities. Gazdar and Pullum (1982) opt for the exact matching requirement discussed below. In section 1. I shall discuss the possibilities, and then in the remaining sections 2.–4. I shall discuss three classes of data from Swedish (well known to scholars of Swedish linguistics) which bear on the choice. My main conclusion will be that HFC should be regarded as a markedness convention rather than as an absolute condition, because however we formulate the matching requirements between the features on a node and those on its head constituent there seem to be examples in Swedish which do not obey HFC.


Relative Clause Definite Article Grammatical Gender Natural Gender Semantic Treatment 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Cooper

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