transformational grammar

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transformational grammar

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Transformational Grammar


(1) A variant of generative grammar, which is an explicit description of a large number of grammatically correct sentences of a language that makes it possible to identify sentences which are correct in the given language. Transformational grammar is distinct from other types of generative grammar in that it distinguishes between the deep structure of a sentence, which determines the sentence’s semantic interpretation, and the surface structure, which determines the sentence’s phonetic character. In transformational grammar, syntax has two components: the base component, or phrase structure component, which consists of rules governing the deep structures of a language, and the transformation component, which converts deep structures into corresponding surface structures.

(2) A linguistic theory also known as transformational-generative grammar. It arose in the 1950’s and considers the most important task of descriptive linguistics to be the construction of a transformational grammar. The theory was founded by the American linguist N. Chomsky; other adherents have included R. Lees, C. Fillmore, E. Klima, E. Bach, J. Katz, J. Fodor, M. Bierwisch, and R. Rüzicka.

In the late 1960’s the concept of deep structure was reexamined owing to a growing need to relate syntactic description with meaning. Transformational-generative grammar divided into two schools. The first school, headed by R. Jackendoff and R. Dougherty, was that of interpretive semantics. It retained the concept of deep structure but permitted rules of semantic interpretation that use information other than the information contained in the deep structure. The second school, that of generative semantics, rejected the concept of deep structure and developed rules for generating the sentences of a language directly from their semantic representations. The main representatives of this school are G. Lakoff, J. McCawley, J. Ross, and P. Postal.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Given her grounding in transformational grammar, the commentary Tufte gives on sentences is not what I would expect.
Tufte's grounding in transformational grammar and her concern with what sentences do on the page allow her to simultaneously address syntax alongside rhetoric--all this evident in how she describes what sentences do:
Her use of "structure" points to the transformational grammar underlying her entire project.
Also missing is transformational grammar. Even though the book still organizes its chapters around transformational grammar, all overt references to it are cast aside.
I cannot say for sure, but I have my suspicions why Tufte would revise away from an explicit reliance on transformational grammar and imitation exercises.
KAYNE, FRENCH SYNTAX: THE TRANSFORMATIONAL CYCLE xviii (1975) (stating similar goals for study that uses French syntax as case study in test of Chomskyian transformational grammar).
Jamal Ouhalla: Transformational Grammar: From Principles and Parameters to Minimalism.
1970 "Idioms within a transformational grammar", Foundations of Language 6: 22-42.
Essentially, Fludernik finds that Banfield has revolutionized the frame of reference laid down in previous studies dealing with free indirect discourse by confronting them with modern linguistics, most notably with transformational grammar (for syntactic aspects of speech and thought report) and with Benveniste's distinction between discours and histoire (for deictic and anaphoric features which oppose subjectivity in language to the absence of communicative structures).
In her reevaluation of Banfield's paradigm, for example, she maintains that although the Chomskian Extended Standard Theory employed by Banfield has been superseded by more recent developments in transformational grammar and that although the practice of analyzing isolated sentences in literary texts is no longer tenable, the syntactic approach to speech and thought representation through the evocation of subjectivity by means of the expressive features evoked by textual signals remains fundamentally valid.
Although this contention wasn't rigorously proven, most linguistic scholars accepted it and began to focus on transformational grammars.
However, as transformational grammars themselves grew more and more complex, a few linguists began to feel that "some truth had been thrown overboard with the falsehood," says Peters.

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