UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 8 (1996)

Dependency, licensing and the nature of grammatical relations



Word Grammar (Hudson 1984, 1990), in common with other dependency-based theories of syntax, seeks to express syntactic knowledge in terms of direct relationships between words. Dependency theories have traditionally recognised a large class of primitive grammatical relations (GRs), including Subject, Object and Adjunct, amongst others. In this paper I call into question the status of these GRs, and argue instead that it is possible, and preferable, for a dependency theory to be based on just one type of syntactic relation -- licensing. I suggest that residual properties of individual GRs can then be derived in a principled way from the simple structures composed of licensing relations.

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