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Generative grammar, or generativism , is a linguistic theory that regards
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
as the study of a hypothesised innate grammatical structure. It is a
biological Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of cells that process hereditary in ...
or biologistic modification of earlier structuralist theories of linguistics, deriving ultimately from
glossematics Glossematics is a structuralist linguistic theory proposed by Louis Hjelmslev and Hans Jørgen Uldall although the two ultimately went separate ways each with their own approach. Hjelmslev’s theory, most notably, is an early mathematical metho ...
. Generative grammar considers
grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraints, a field that includes doma ...
as a system of rules that generates exactly those combinations of words that form grammatical sentences in a given language. It is a system of explicit rules that may apply repeatedly to generate an indefinite number of sentences which can be as long as one wants them to be. The difference from structural and functional models is that the object is base-generated within the
verb phrase In linguistics, a verb phrase (VP) is a syntactic unit composed of a verb and its arguments except the subject of an independent clause or coordinate clause. Thus, in the sentence ''A fat man quickly put the money into the box'', the words ''qui ...
in generative grammar. This purportedly cognitive structure is thought of as being a part of a
universal grammar Universal grammar (UG), in modern linguistics, is the theory of the genetic component of the language faculty, usually credited to Noam Chomsky. The basic postulate of UG is that there are innate constraints on what the grammar of a possible hu ...
, a syntactic structure which is caused by a genetic
mutation In biology, a mutation is an alteration in the nucleic acid sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extrachromosomal DNA. Viral genomes contain either DNA or RNA. Mutations result from errors during DNA or viral replication, mi ...
in humans. Generativists have created numerous theories to make the NP VP (NP) analysis work in natural language description. That is, the subject and the
verb phrase In linguistics, a verb phrase (VP) is a syntactic unit composed of a verb and its arguments except the subject of an independent clause or coordinate clause. Thus, in the sentence ''A fat man quickly put the money into the box'', the words ''qui ...
appearing as independent constituents, and the object placed within the verb phrase. A main point of interest remains in how to appropriately analyse
Wh-movement In linguistics, wh-movement (also known as wh-fronting, wh-extraction, or wh-raising) is the formation of syntactic dependencies involving interrogative words. An example in English is the dependency formed between ''what'' and the object position ...
and other cases where the subject appears to separate the verb from the object. Although claimed by generativists as a cognitively real structure,
neuroscience Neuroscience is the science, scientific study of the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system), its functions and disorders. It is a Multidisciplinary approach, multidisciplinary science that combines physiology, an ...
has found no evidence for it. In other words, generative grammar encompasses proposed models of linguistic cognition; but there is still no specific indication that these are quite correct.


Frameworks

There are a number of different approaches to generative grammar. Common to all is the effort to come up with a set of rules or principles that formally defines each and every one of the members of the set of well-formed expressions of a
natural language In neuropsychology, linguistics, and philosophy of language, a natural language or ordinary language is any language that has evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditation. Natural language ...
. The term ''generative grammar'' has been associated with at least the following schools of linguistics: *
Transformational grammar In linguistics, transformational grammar (TG) or transformational-generative grammar (TGG) is part of the theory of generative grammar, especially of natural languages. It considers grammar to be a system of rules that generate exactly those combi ...
(TG) ** Standard theory (ST) ** Extended standard theory (EST) ** Revised extended standard theory (REST) ** Principles and parameters theory (P&P) ***
Government and binding theory A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government is a ...
(GB) ***
Minimalist program In linguistics, the minimalist program is a major line of inquiry that has been developing inside generative grammar since the early 1990s, starting with a 1993 paper by Noam Chomsky. Following Imre Lakatos's distinction, Chomsky presents minima ...
(MP) * Monostratal (or non-transformational) grammars ** Relational grammar (RG) ** Lexical-functional grammar (LFG) **
Generalized phrase structure grammar Generalized phrase structure grammar (GPSG) is a framework for describing the syntax and semantics of natural languages. It is a type of constraint-based phrase structure grammar. Constraint based grammars are based around defining certain syntacti ...
(GPSG) ** Head-driven phrase structure grammar (HPSG) **
Categorial grammar Categorial grammar is a family of formalisms in natural language syntax that share the central assumption that syntactic constituents combine as functions and arguments. Categorial grammar posits a close relationship between the syntax and semant ...
** Tree-adjoining grammar **
Optimality Theory In linguistics, Optimality Theory (frequently abbreviated OT) is a linguistic model proposing that the observed forms of language arise from the optimal satisfaction of conflicting constraints. OT differs from other approaches to phonologica ...
(OT)


Historical development of models of transformational grammar

Leonard Bloomfield Leonard Bloomfield (April 1, 1887 – April 18, 1949) was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. He is considered to be the father of American distributionalism ...
, an influential linguist in the American Structuralist tradition, saw the ancient Indian grammarian
Pāṇini , era = ;;6th–5th century BCE , region = Indian philosophy , main_interests = Grammar, linguistics , notable_works = ' (Classical Sanskrit) , influenced= , notable_ideas=Descriptive linguistics (Devanagar ...
as an antecedent of structuralism. However, in ''Aspects of the Theory of Syntax'',
Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American public intellectual: a linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky ...
writes that "even Panini's grammar can be interpreted as" a fragment of a generative grammar, a view that he reiterated in an award acceptance speech delivered in India in 2001, where he claimed that "The first generative grammar in something like the modern sense is Panini's grammar of Sanskrit". Military funding to generativist research was influential to its early success in the 1960s. Generative grammar has been under development since the mid 1950s, and has undergone many changes in the types of rules and representations that are used to predict grammaticality. In tracing the historical development of ideas within generative grammar, it is useful to refer to the various stages in the development of the theory:


Standard theory (1956–1965)

The so-called standard theory corresponds to the original model of generative grammar laid out by Chomsky in 1965. A core aspect of standard theory is the distinction between two different representations of a sentence, called deep structure and surface structure. The two representations are linked to each other by
transformational grammar In linguistics, transformational grammar (TG) or transformational-generative grammar (TGG) is part of the theory of generative grammar, especially of natural languages. It considers grammar to be a system of rules that generate exactly those combi ...
.


Extended standard theory (1965–1973)

The so-called extended standard theory was formulated in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Features are: * syntactic constraints * generalized phrase structures (
X-bar theory In linguistics, X-bar theory is a model of phrase-structure grammar and a theory of syntactic category formation that was first proposed by Noam Chomsky in 1970Chomsky, Noam (1970). Remarks on Nominalization. In: R. Jacobs and P. Rosenbaum (eds. ...
)


Revised extended standard theory (1973–1976)

The so-called revised extended standard theory was formulated between 1973 and 1976. It contains * restrictions upon
X-bar theory In linguistics, X-bar theory is a model of phrase-structure grammar and a theory of syntactic category formation that was first proposed by Noam Chomsky in 1970Chomsky, Noam (1970). Remarks on Nominalization. In: R. Jacobs and P. Rosenbaum (eds. ...
(Jackendoff (1977)). * assumption of the
complementizer In linguistics (especially generative grammar), complementizer or complementiser (glossing abbreviation: ) is a functional category (part of speech) that includes those words that can be used to turn a clause into the subject or object of a ...
position. * Move α


Relational grammar (ca. 1975–1990)

An alternative model of syntax based on the idea that notions like subject, direct object, and indirect object play a primary role in grammar.


Government and binding/principles and parameters theory (1981–1990)

Chomsky's ''Lectures on Government and Binding'' (1981) and ''Barriers'' (1986).


Minimalist program (1990–present)

The minimalist program is a line of inquiry that hypothesizes that the human
language faculty The language module or language faculty is a hypothetical structure in the human brain which is thought to contain innate capacities for language, originally posited by Noam Chomsky. There is ongoing research into brain modularity in the fields ...
is optimal, containing only what is necessary to meet humans' physical and communicative needs, and seeks to identify the necessary properties of such a system. It was proposed by Chomsky in 1993.


Context-free grammars

Generative grammars can be described and compared with the aid of the
Chomsky hierarchy In formal language theory, computer science and linguistics, the Chomsky hierarchy (also referred to as the Chomsky–Schützenberger hierarchy) is a containment hierarchy of classes of formal grammars. This hierarchy of grammars was described b ...
(proposed by Chomsky in the 1950s). This sets out a series of types of formal grammars with increasing expressive power. Among the simplest types are the regular grammars (type 3); Chomsky claims that these are not adequate as models for human language, because of the allowance of the center-embedding of strings within strings, in all natural human languages. At a higher level of complexity are the
context-free grammar In formal language theory, a context-free grammar (CFG) is a formal grammar whose production rules are of the form :A\ \to\ \alpha with A a ''single'' nonterminal symbol, and \alpha a string of terminals and/or nonterminals (\alpha can be em ...
s (type 2). The derivation of a sentence by such a grammar can be depicted as a derivation
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, usually supporting branches and leaves. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondar ...
. Linguists working within generative grammar often view such trees as a primary object of study. According to this view, a sentence is not merely a string of words. Instead, adjacent words are combined into ''constituents'', which can then be further combined with other words or constituents to create a hierarchical tree-structure. The derivation of a simple tree-structure for the sentence "the dog ate the bone" proceeds as follows. The
determiner A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word, phrase, or affix that occurs together with a noun or noun phrase and generally serves to express the reference of that noun or noun phrase in the context. That is, a determine ...
''the'' and noun ''dog'' combine to create the
noun phrase In linguistics, a noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase that has a noun or pronoun as its head or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common cross-linguistically, and they may be the most frequently oc ...
''the dog.'' A second noun phrase ''the bone'' is created with determiner ''the'' and noun ''bone''. The verb ''ate'' combines with the second noun phrase, ''the bone,'' to create the
verb phrase In linguistics, a verb phrase (VP) is a syntactic unit composed of a verb and its arguments except the subject of an independent clause or coordinate clause. Thus, in the sentence ''A fat man quickly put the money into the box'', the words ''qui ...
''ate the bone''. Finally, the first noun phrase, ''the dog,'' combines with the verb phrase, ''ate the bone,'' to complete the sentence: ''the dog ate the bone''. The following tree diagram illustrates this derivation and the resulting structure: Such a tree diagram is also called a phrase marker. They can be represented more conveniently in text form, (though the result is less easy to read); in this format the above sentence would be rendered as:
sub>S_[NP_[D_The_[N_dog_.html" ;"title="sub>NP_[D_The_.html" ;"title="sub>S [NP [D The ">sub>S [NP [D The [N dog ">sub>NP_[D_The_.html" ;"title="sub>S [NP [D The ">sub>S [NP [D The [N dog ] [VP [V ate ] [NP [D the ] [N bone ] ] ] ] Chomsky has argued that phrase structure grammars are also inadequate for describing natural languages, and formulated the more complex system of
transformational grammar In linguistics, transformational grammar (TG) or transformational-generative grammar (TGG) is part of the theory of generative grammar, especially of natural languages. It considers grammar to be a system of rules that generate exactly those combi ...
.


Evidentiality

Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American public intellectual: a linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky ...
, the main proponent of generative grammar, believed he had found linguistic evidence that syntactic structures are not learned but ‘acquired’ by the child from universal grammar. This led to the establishment of the poverty of the stimulus argument in the 1980s. However, critics claimed Chomsky's linguistic analysis had been inadequate. Linguistic studies had been made to prove that children have innate knowledge of grammar that they could not have learned. For example, it was shown that a child acquiring English knows how to differentiate between the place of the verb in main clauses from the place of the verb in relative clauses. In the experiment, children were asked to turn a declarative sentence with a relative clause into an interrogative sentence. Against the expectations of the researchers, the children did not move the verb in the relative clause to its sentence initial position, but to the main clause initial position, as is grammatical. Critics however pointed out that this was not evidence for the poverty of the stimulus because the underlying structures that children were proved to be able to manipulate were actually highly common in children's literature and everyday language. This led to a heated debate which resulted in the rejection of generative grammar from mainstream
psycholinguistics Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms by which language is processed and represented in the mind ...
and
applied linguistics Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, psychology, communication rese ...
around 2000. In the aftermath, some professionals argued that decades of research had been wasted due to generative grammar, an approach which has failed to make a lasting impact on the field. There is no evidence that syntactic structures are innate. While some hopes were raised at the discovery of the '' FOXP2''
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanings. The Mendelian gene is a ba ...
, there is not enough support for the idea that it is 'the grammar gene' or that it had much to do with the relatively recent emergence of syntactical speech. Neuroscientific studies using ERPs have found no scientific evidence for the claim that human mind processes grammatical objects as if they were placed inside the verb phrase. Instead, brain research has shown that sentence processing is based on the interaction of semantic and syntactic processing. However, since generative grammar is not a theory of
neurology Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the brain, the spinal c ...
, but a theory of
psychology Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries betwe ...
, it is completely normal in the field of
neurology Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the brain, the spinal c ...
to find no concreteness of the verb phrase in the brain. In fact, these rules do not exist in our brains, but they do model the external behaviour of the mind. This is why GG claims to be a theory of
psychology Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries betwe ...
and is considered to be real cognitively. Generativists also claim that language is placed inside its own mind module and that there is no interaction between first-language processing and other types of information processing, such as mathematics. This claim is not based on research or the general scientific understanding of how the brain works. Chomsky has answered the criticism by emphasising that his theories are actually counter-evidential. He however believes it to be a case where the real value of the research is only understood later on, as it was with
Galileo Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath. Commonly referred to as Galileo, his name was pronounced (, ). He was ...
.


Music

Generative grammar has been used in
music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. ''The Oxford Companion to Music'' describes three interrelated uses of the term "music theory". The first is the "Elements of music, rudiments", that are needed to understand ...
and
analysis Analysis ( : analyses) is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle (3 ...
since the 1980s. The most well-known approaches were developed by Mark Steedman as well as Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, who formalized and extended ideas from
Schenkerian analysis Schenkerian analysis is a method of analyzing tonal music based on the theories of Heinrich Schenker (1868–1935). The goal is to demonstrate the organic coherence of the work by showing how it relates to an abstracted deep structure, the ''Urs ...
. More recently, such early generative approaches to music were further developed and extended by various scholars. Katz, Jonah;
David Pesetsky David Michael Pesetsky (born 1957) is an American linguist. He is the Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and former Head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Edu ...
(2009) "The Identity Thesis for Language and Music". http://ling.auf.net/lingBuzz/000959
French Composer Philippe Manoury applied the systematic of generative grammar to the field of contemporary classical music.


See also

* Cognitive linguistics * Cognitive revolution * Digital infinity *
Formal grammar In formal language theory, a grammar (when the context is not given, often called a formal grammar for clarity) describes how to form strings from a language's alphabet that are valid according to the language's syntax. A grammar does not describe ...
*
Functional theories of grammar Functional linguistics is an approach to the study of language characterized by taking systematically into account the speaker's and the hearer's side, and the communicative needs of the speaker and of the given language community. Linguistic fu ...
* Generative lexicon * Generative metrics * Generative principle * Generative semantics * Generative systems *
Linguistic competence In linguistics, linguistic competence is the system of unconscious knowledge that one knows when they know a language. It is distinguished from linguistic performance, which includes all other factors that allow one to use one's language in practi ...
* Parsing *
Phrase structure rules Phrase structure rules are a type of rewrite rule used to describe a given language's syntax and are closely associated with the early stages of transformational grammar, proposed by Noam Chomsky in 1957. They are used to break down a natural langu ...
* ''
Syntactic Structures ''Syntactic Structures'' is an influential work in linguistics by American linguist Noam Chomsky, originally published in 1957. It is an elaboration of his teacher Zellig Harris's model of transformational generative grammar. A short monograp ...
''


Notes


References


Further reading

* Chomsky, Noam. 1965. Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. * Hurford, J. (1990) ''Nativist and functional explanations in language acquisition''. In I. M. Roca (ed.), Logical Issues in Language Acquisition, 85–136. Foris, Dordrecht. * Cipriani, E. (2019). Semantics in Generative Grammar. A Critical Survey. Lingvisticae Investigationes, 42, 2, pp. 134–85 * * * {{Authority control Grammar Grammar frameworks Noam Chomsky Cognitive musicology