Configurational Language


A configurational language is typically characterized by its rigid phrase structure rules, determined by the underlying sentence structure. This results in a hierarchical tree structure that is ordered according to the language’s syntactic structure and may undergo syntactic movement.

In contrast, non-configurational languages tend to have what is called a flat phrase structure instead of a hierarchical ordering.

The configurationality of a language may be determined by a number of factors including the predictions of binding conditions as seen in the work of Lai (1998).


Example in the Secwepemctsín Context on the Structure of Preverbal Positions Indicating the Configurationality in the Language’s Structure – Note its Hierarchical Structure (Lai, 1998, p. 12)


Lai, I. S. (1998). The grammar and acquisition of Secwepemctsín independent pronouns. [Master’s thesis, The University of British Columbia].