DFKI-LT - Dissertation Series

Vol. III

Klaus Netter: Functional Categories in an HPSG for German

ISBN: 3-933218-02-0
282 pages
price: € 15

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This dissertation is focussed on formal and theoretical linguistic issues of language technology, addressing the issue of functional categories in German in the framework of Head Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). It also describes a broad set of empirically relevant data from German. The thesis gives a very general overview of the family of unification or constraint-based grammar formalisms, among others TDL, and the history of grammatical frameworks which eventually led to the development of HPSG. Theoretical assumptions of the HPSG framework, which are discussed, are among others the relation between universal grammar and language particular grammars, or the notion of head as one of the central concepts of HPSG, as well as locality as an open issue in this theory.

One of the major theoretical contributions of the thesis is a novel approach to functional categories as phrasal heads. This approach draws on a split of head features into MAJOR and MINOR features, which interact such that the functional category as the head of the phrase shares a subset of features (under MAJOR) with its substantive complement. This approach is applied to an analysis of functional categories in German nominal phrases involving determiners and determinerless constructions. It is shown that many undesirable properties, such as unmotivated disjunctions, unary projections or empty determiners, can be avoided if one allows both determiners and nouns to become the heads of nominal phrases. The approach also extends very flexibly to other aspects of nominal syntax, such as attributive adjectival adjunction, agreement and declension phenomena, empty nominal heads and numerals. The analysis is also applied to categories in the verbal domain. We describe how the relationship between complementizers and finite verb position can be captured on this basis and develope an approach which models word order phenomena by a homogeneous structural description.