Headedness and/or grammatical anarchy?

Ulrike Freywald (ed), Horst J. Simon (ed), Stefan Müller (ed)


head, grammar


In most grammatical models, hierarchical structuring and dependencies are considered as central features of grammatical structures, an idea which is usually captured by the notion of “head” or “headedness”. While in most models, this notion is more or less taken for granted, there is still much disagreement as to the precise properties of grammatical heads and the theoretical implications that arise of these properties. Moreover, there are quite a few linguistic structures that pose considerable challenges to the notion of “headedness”.
Linking to the seminal discussions led in Zwicky (1985) and Corbett, Fraser, & Mc-Glashan (1993), this volume intends to look more closely upon phenomena that are considered problematic for an analysis in terms of grammatical heads. The aim of this book is to approach the concept of “headedness” from its margins. Thus, central questions of the volume relate to the nature of heads and the distinction between headed and non-headed structures, to the process of gaining and losing head status, and to the thought-provoking question as to whether grammar theory could do without heads at all.
The contributions in this volume provide new empirical findings bearing on phenomena that challenge the conception of grammatical heads and/or discuss the notion of head/headedness and its consequences for grammatical theory in a more abstract way. The collected papers view the topic from diverse theoretical perspectives (among others HPSG, Generative Syntax, Optimality Theory) and different empirical angles, covering typological and corpus-linguistic accounts, with a focus on data from German.


  • Anarchy in grammar?
    Ulrike Freywald, Horst J. Simon
  • Three sources of head effects
    Yury Lander
  • The NP vs. DP-debate and notions of headedness
    Martin Salzmann
  • Headless in Berlin
    Headless (nominal) structures in Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar
    Stefan Müller
  • Silent heads in Early New High German
    Ulrike Demske
  • Categoryless heads in morphology?
    Manuela Korth
  • The Left-Left Constraint
    A structural constraint on adjuncts
    Hubert Haider
  • Head alignment in German compounds
    Implications for prosodic constituency and morphological parsing
    Renate Raffelsiefen
  • Heads and feet in prosody, poetry, and natural metrics
    Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna
  • Burning down the phrase and heating up the head
    The interjectionalization of German ``von wegen''
    Jörg Bücker
  • Headedness as an epiphenomenon
    Case studies on compounding and blending in German
    Andreas Nolda



Ulrike Freywald, Technische Universität Dortmund

Ulrike Freywald studied Music in Weimar, and German and Historical Linguistics as well as Public Relations and Communication Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, and in Vienna. While working at the University of Potsdam and in the Berlin-Potsdam Collaborative Research Centre on Information Structure, she did her doctorate in German Linguistics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. After her postdoc phase in Potsdam, where she also led a project in the Collaborative Research Centre on “Limits of Variability in Language“, she took up a professorship in German Linguistics with a Special Focus on Grammar and Didactics at the TU Dortmund.

Her main research areas are morphology and syntax of German where she studies non-canonical and often under-researched structures. Another topic is language variation and change, with a focus on different varieties of German, including multilingual environments. A more recent interest concerns the application of modern linguistic theorising in teacher training contexts.

Horst J. Simon, Freie Universität Berlin

Horst J. Simon studied German and English Literature and Linguistics in Passau, Amsterdam and Glasgow. He obtained his doctorate in German Linguistics at Humboldt University Berlin, where he also worked as a postdoc. He was a Feodor-Lynen-Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Vienna and (Senior) Lecturer in German and General Linguistics at King’s College London before taking up his current position as Professor of Historical Linguistics at Freie Universität Berlin. He has held various visiting posts, e.g. at Peking University.

His research interests range from historical grammar and pragmatics via theories of language change and variation to the history of ideas about language(s). He thinks a lot on methodological issues of linguistic research and on the diversity of the German language today. A particular interest lies in linguistic politeness.

Stefan Müller, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Stefan Müller studied Computer Science, Computational Linguistics and Linguistics at the Humboldt University at Berlin and in Edinburgh. He worked at the German Research Center of Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Saarbrücken and for the company Interice. He worked as acting chair for German and Computational Linguistics in Jena and for Theoretical Computational Linguistics in Potsdam. He had an assistant professorship in Bremen for theoretical linguistics and computational linguistics, a full professorship for German and General Linguistics at the Freie Universität Berlin and is now professor for German language with specialization in syntax at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

His main re­search topic is Ger­man gram­mar. He works both em­pir­i­cal­ly and the­o­ret­i­cal­ly. Top­ics of in­ter­est are mor­phol­o­gy, syn­tax, se­man­tics, and in­for­ma­tion struc­ture. He pub­lished main­ly about Ger­man, but he also works on other lan­guages as for in­stance Man­darin Chi­nese, Dan­ish, Maltese, and Per­sian. The the­o­ret­i­cal work is car­ried out in the framework of Head-​Driv­en Phrase Struc­ture Gram­mar (HPSG) and the theoret­i­cal anal­y­ses are im­ple­ment­ed in com­put­er-​pro­cess­able gram­mar fragments. The gram­mar frag­ments that are implemented in the CoreGram Project use a com­mon core. One goal of his re­search is to un­der­stand lan­guage and to find out what lan­guages in gen­er­al and cer­tain lan­guage class­es in par­tic­u­lar have in com­mon.

Cover image of Headedness book


October 18, 2022
LaTeX source on GitHub
Cite as
Freywald, Ulrike, Simon, Horst J. & Müller, Stefan (eds.). 2022. Headedness and/or grammatical anarchy?. (Empirically Oriented Theoretical Morphology and Syntax 11). Berlin: Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6973523


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Details about the available publication format: PDF


ISBN-13 (15)




Details about the available publication format: Hardcover


ISBN-13 (15)


Physical Dimensions

180mm x 245mm