Interfaces in Constraint-Based Theories of Grammar

Jonas Kuhn

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780199247455
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Interfaces in Constraint-Based Theories of Grammar

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



This article considers the notion of interface from the point of view of Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) and Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). It starts by introducing the basic assumptions of constraint-based theories of grammar, contrasting them with transformational approaches. The main dimensions of representation – or interfaces – assumed in constraint-based theories are motivated. The article also presents them somewhat more technically for the frameworks of LFG and HPSG. The three interfaces along the path Phonological Structure-Phrase Structure-Subcategorization Structure-Lexicosemantic Argument Structure are dealt with. This path has been the backbone of most syntactic work in constraint-based theories. The interface to (Compositional) Semantic Structure is considered. The article finally draws a conclusion about the status of interfaces in constraint-based grammar. With a purely informational notion of ‘module’ in mind, it is a central goal of constraint-based theorizing to find an adequate modularization of the complex system of constraints needed to capture the empirical language facts.

Keywords: Lexical-Functional Grammar; Head-driven Phrase; Phonological Structure; Phrase Structure; Subcategorization Structure; Lexicosemantic Argument Structure; Semantic Structure

Article.  13016 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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