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In North-Germanic languages and English, VPs are head-initial. In continental West-Germanic languages, VPs are head-final. This chapter surveys major syntactic contrasts that directly correlate with this structural difference. Head-initial phrases are structurally more tightly constrained than head-final phrases. Since clauses typically contain VPs, constraints on VPs are reflected in the clause structure. Syntactic differences triggered by head-positioning show in contrasts such as the following. Head-initial VPs are strictly ordered, that is, the relative order of arguments does not change; adjuncts do not intervene between the head and the arguments; the relative order of auxiliaries is invariable. In addition to the VP-internal contrasts, there are VP-external ones, too. Adjuncts preceding head-initial phrases are head-adjacent, hence adjuncts preceding head-initial VPs are minimized. Finally, head-initial VPs with a preverbal subject entail clause structures with an obligatory subject position. All these restrictions are absent when the VP is head-final.
In this illuminating new theory of grammar, Hubert Haider demonstrates that there is a basic asymmetry in the phrase structure of any language, whatever sentence structure it takes. Moreover, he argues that understanding this asymmetry is the key to understanding the grammatical causality underlying a broad range of core syntactic phenomena. Until now, Germanic languages have been seen to fall into two distinct classes: those which take an object-verb sentence structure (OV) or a verb-object one (VO). However, by examining the nature of this universal underlying asymmetry, Hubert Haider reveals a third syntactic type: 'Type III'. In particular, he employs the third type to explore the cognitive evolution of grammar which gave rise to the structural asymmetry and its typological implications. Symmetry Breaking in Syntax will appeal to academic researchers and graduate students involved in comparative and theoretical syntax and the cognitive evolution of grammar.