VARIATION IN HEADEDNESS: INSIGHTS FROM THE IZON AND ENGLISH LANGUAGES

Cynthia Moun Priye, Michael Alozie Nwala

Abstract


The syntax of headedness is parameterized in two values: head-initial/complement-final or
head-final/complement-initial. The Izon and English languages vary in the head parameter.
Izon is head-final while English is head-initial. Using the Dependency Grammar (DG) with
some insights from the Universal Grammar, the paper examined headedness in both
languages to establish the common challenges an Izon-English learner would face. The data
for the study that were analysed descriptively were got from textual materials and the
researcher, who is a speaker of both languages. In the NP, there are evidences of head-initial
structures and head-final structures in the two languages. Positionally, they share certain
features such as the use of adjectives, nouns, appositives demonstratives, numerals, wh-
DETs, and all other determiners except articles. However, there are areas of difference,
where English has head-initial, Izon has head-final or both, such as in the use of 'that clauses',
PPs, and RCs. Interestingly, as opposed to the conventional classification, the reverse is the
case for the two languages as regards headedness in the NP; Izon is head-initial while English
is head-final. This is viewed from the use of the most frequent, obligatory complement
(article) in modifying a singular common noun. The paper therefore recommended, in
addition to steps to the Izon leaners of English who have difficulties in setting the English NP
head parameter accurately, suggested a theoretical rethink in the classification of languages
in terms of the parameter of headedness in the NP.

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