Dr. Ahmad Fayez Al-Zu'be

Assistant Professor

Transforma- Syntax

Transformational grammar (syntax) ENG 424

In linguistics, a transformational grammar or transformational-generative grammar (TGG) is a generative grammar, especially of a natural language, that has been developed in the syntactic structures of phrase structure grammars (as opposed to dependency grammars). Transformational grammar is the tradition of specific transformational grammars.

Grammatical theories

In the 1960s, Chomsky introduced two central ideas relevant to the construction and evaluation of grammatical theories. The first was the distinction between competence andperformance. Chomsky noted the obvious fact that people, when speaking in the real world, often make linguistic errors (e.g., starting a sentence and then abandoning it midway through). He argued that these errors in linguistic performance were irrelevant to the study of linguistic competence (the knowledge that allows people to construct and understand grammatical sentences). Consequently, the linguist can study an idealised version of language, greatly simplifying linguistic analysis (see the "Grammaticality" section below). The second idea related directly to the evaluation of theories of grammar. Chomsky distinguished between grammars that achieve descriptive adequacy and those that go further and achieved explanatory adequacy. A descriptively adequate grammar for a particular language defines the (infinite) set of grammatical sentences in that language; that is, it describes the language in its entirety. A grammar that achieves explanatory adequacy has the additional property that it gives an insight into the underlying linguistic structures in the human mind; that is, it does not merely describe the grammar of a language, but makes predictions about how linguistic knowledge is mentally represented. For Chomsky, the nature of such mental representations is largely innate, so if a grammatical theory has explanatory adequacy it must be able to explain the various grammatical nuances of the languages of the world as relatively minor variations in the universal pattern of human language. Chomsky argued that, even though linguists were still a long way from constructing descriptively adequate grammars, progress in terms of descriptive adequacy will only come if linguists hold explanatory adequacy as their goal. In other words, real insight into the structure of individual languages can only be gained through comparative study of a wide range of languages, on the assumption that they are all cut from the same cloth.

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