Linguistic Theory and Grammar Formalisms

Alexandr Rosen

lecture + on-line seminar

credit+exam Z+Zk

2/2 in the summer term

language: English


an introductory course in linguistics or equivalent knowledge


Course credit: Sufficient number of points for submitted assignments and a project (implemented grammar).

Exam: Winning a prescribed number of course credit points qualifies as passing with a corresponding grade. Oral exam is always possible, its result overriding the grade based on course credit points.


The aim of this course is to bridge the gap between theoretically motivated description of linguistic phenomena and their implementation in formal grammars. Following an overview of formal frameworks coupled with specific theories - Categorial Grammar (CG), Tree Adjoining Grammmar (TAG), Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG), Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) - and formal aspects of other theoretical frameworks (Chomskyan and dependency-based tradition, Construction Grammar), the students will be introduced to the core principles of HPSG both as a theory and linguistic formalism, based on examples of relevant phenomena in English, Czech and other languages. In parallel with the classroom presentations and discussions the students will develop corresponding grammars of increasing complexity, using the system Trale as the grammar writing environment.

The course is intended for students of the European Masters Program in Language and Communication Technologies who have chosen a module at Charles University. However, all interested participants satisfying the requirements mentioned in PREREQUISITES above are equally welcome.


  1. Theory, formalism, grammar, implementation
  2. The choices: theories, formalisms, grammar development environments
  3. Basics of HPSG: linguistic categories as a hierarchy of types, grammar and lexicon as a set of constraints
  4. A simple sentence (word order, valency)
  5. Subject-predicate agreement, case assignment
  6. Semantic interpretation
  7. Adjuncts
  8. Non-finite verb forms, complex verb forms, complex predicates
  9. Discontinuous (non-projective) word order
  10. Coordination
  11. Relative clause
  12. Anaphora


  • slides, handouts etc. for course participants: Moodle
  • Brief introductions:

    More extensive introductions:

    Further reading:

    TRALE (software for grammar writing):

    Alexandr Rosen