Formal Grammar

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Grammar, Formal


in linguistics, a logical system or calculation that poses a certain set of (“grammatical”) chains (finite sequences) constructed from symbols of a given finite set called an alphabet or basic (terminal) vocabulary.

In the theory of formal grammar, these chains are interpreted as linguistic objects of various levels (for example, syllables [chains of phones], word forms [chains of morphs], and sentences [chains of word forms]). Introduced into linguistics by the American scholar N. Chomsky, formal grammar represents a means for the strict description of natural languages. Formal grammar theory constitutes an important section of mathematical linguistics, which in turn is subdivided into generative grammar and recognition grammar.

Generative grammar poses a set of (grammatical) chains through the enumeration of the chains together with statements about their structure. Generative grammar can construct any grammatical chain, supplying it with a characteristic of its structure; it must not construct even a single incorrect chain. The best known of the generative grammars are the so-called Chomskian grammars.

Recognition grammar offers a set of (grammatical) chains as a result of their recognition: for any chain produced, the grammar decides whether or not it is grammatical; in the case of an affirmative answer, the grammar makes statements about the structure of the chain. The best known of the recognition grammars are the categorial grammars introduced by K. Ajdukiewicz and Y. Bar-Hillel.


Chomsky, N., and G. Miller. “Vvedenie v formal’nyi analiz est-estvennykh iazykov.” In Kiberneticheskii sbornik, Novaia seriia. vol. 1. Moscow. 1965.
Chomsky, N. “Formal’nye svoistva grammatik.” In Kiberneticheskii sbornik, Novaia seriia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.
Bar-Hillel. Y. “Nekotorye novye resul’taty v teoreticheskoi lingvi-stike.” In Matematicheskaia logika i ee primenenie. Moscow, 1965.
Lambek, J. “Matematicheskoe issledovanie struktury predlo-zhenii.” In Matematicheskaia lingvistika. Moscow. 1964.
Gladkii, A. V. Lektsii po matematicheskoi lingvistike dlia studentov NGU. Novosibirsk, 1966.
Gladkii, A. V., and I. A. Mel’chuk. Elementy matematicheskoi lingvistiki. Moscow. 1969. Pages 23–136.


References in periodicals archive ?
As I will now show, other aspects of formal grammar are directly dependent on aspects of phonological grammar.
In view of the widespread agreement of research studies based upon many types of students and teachers, the conclusion can be stated in strong and unqualified terms: the teaching of formal grammar has a negligible or, because it usually displaces some instruction and practice in actual composition, even a harmful effect on the improvement of writing.
Thus, parsing in such grammars abandons the traditional search through the space defined by the application of multiple formal grammar rules.
The new paradigm, according to these architects, called for a stripped-down, "rational" architecture and for a cubist formal grammar identified with both Le Corbusier and the Machine Age.
Two other elements, Formal Grammar Instruction, and the Use of Writing Rubrics were also investigated.
Research suggests that the use of formal grammar instruction in the composition classroom does not help student writers in their proficiency with standard grammatical conventions.
15) Others disagree with a purely communicative approach to language learning and emphasise the importance of learning formal grammar.
For example, in a discussion of the teaching implications derived from the research findings available at the time, Dulay, Burt and Krashen recommend devoting some time to formal grammar lessons for adults but advise teachers to
However, because formal grammar tends to fall by the wayside in everyday speech, one solution is to explain every acronym every time it is used.
One of the most widely ignored research findings is that the teaching of formal grammar, divorced from the process of writing, has little or no effect on the writing ability of students.
Students are expected to internalize the formal grammar rules by means of written homework assigned in connection with the green pages which are visibly separated from the content-based activities in the white pages, so as not to interrupt communication.
The controversial topic of formal grammar instruction in second language acquisition has been a focus of much debate over the past few decades.