Summary: Positions vs. precedences as primitives of constituent
Department of Computer and Information Science
S 58183 Linköping
This paper compares a number of different approaches to the formal description of
constituent order regularities, in particular as they apply to Swedish. All approaches
considered assume that it is meaningful and desirable to handle the sequential order of
syntactic elements, the topology of the language, by rules and structures that are separate
from those that express the combinatorial regularities, the syntax proper. Where the
approaches differ is in the primitives assumed, and in the assumptions made about the
nature of topological rules.
To begin with, a few remarks about our view on the nature of syntactic elements are in
order. I will, following HPSG terminology refer to a syntactic object as a sign, and make
the usual distinction between lexical signs (or words) and phrasal signs (Pollard&Sag,
1994: 31). The distinguishing property of a phrasal sign is that it is syntactically complex,
i.e. has one or more syntactic objects as immediate constituents.
Three aspects of a phrasal sign will be distinguished: the type, the constituent signs and