Author Profile: Julie Frayn

Julie Frayn is the author of Suicide City, a Love Story (currently a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review 2013 Book Awards), and It Isn't Cheating if He's Dead. She also writes short stories (placing third in the Writer's Digest Write it Your Way contest with Samburger and Flies). Julie blogs at http://juliebird.ca. You can find her on twitter @JulieFrayn and facebook at www.facebook.com/JulieBirdFrayn

Canada Online News | Gonzo Online! Columinist

Well, let’s see – how to tiptoe around what’s sexy about head?

There’s that big round thing that sits atop your shoulders. That head can be sexy, if it’s filled with humorous, intelligent, humble brains.

Head can also be, well, something else entirely. An act of sorts. Is it sexy? Just plain dirty? Maybe it’s a bit of both. Why, you ask? Do I have to spell it out for you? Well, I’m not going to. That’s some risky business.

In grammar, head is the central element, the key word that determines the nature of a phrase. Without head there is no phrase,* no sentence. Maybe no grammar at all. It rules the roost of the grammar house. Put a crown on that head and we have the queen of the grammar world. Now that’s sexy.

*(Exception is a prepositional phrase. Preppies get no head).

In a noun phrase, the head is a noun or pronoun. In a verb phrase, it is a verb. In an adverb phrase it is an adverb. And so on, and so on…

In some cases one whole phrase can be satisfied with just a little head. Man is a one word phrase. It is also the head. Follow the bouncing logic ball: Man is a phrase that is satisfied by a little head. Yup, proof of exactly what I’ve known for many years.

Here are some examples:

In the noun phrase five spotted dogs, dogs is the head

In the verb phrase play the saxophone, play is the head

In the adverb phrase very quickly, quickly is the head

All together now: Five spotted dogs play the saxophone very quickly. Can anyone guess what that is? Correct! Darned silly.

Seems simple enough? Well, let’s go down on this little grammatical term and watch it grow.

There is a theory known as head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG) developed by Carl Pollard and Ivan Sag. I know a lot of men who have head-driven thoughts and theories, but these guys take it to a whole new level. To quote an article on Wikipedia: “It uses a uniform formalism and is organized in a modular way which makes it attractive for natural language processing.” Attractive? Check out the matrix for the word “walks.”

I can think of no better way to make grammar in general, and head in particular, less sexy than that. Yike!

Now, I don’t want to be cocky, but it’s possible you just learned something. Or maybe you’re more confused now than when you started reading. I know my head is spinning. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this little knob of knowledge, and you don’t think I’m off my nut.

Our valuable member Julie Frayn has been with us since Wednesday, 22 February 2012.

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