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تحلیلی بر روش enerative Grammar by: منصور اسماعیلی

 

 

 

 

 

A Paper on

Evolution of Generative Grammar

By:

Shokrollah BEHZADI

PESONNEL NO: 58545778

ISFAHAN, DISTRICT 2

Day, 1388

Jan, 2010

Abstract

A lot of researches have been conducted on different theories of grammar mentioning

their strong points and weak ones , and also many linguistics have taken an important

role in developing these theories. The purpose of this research is to study Evolution of

Generative Grammar. In this research the foundation and the reasons of evolution of

this kind of grammar have been mentioned and also a brief history of grammar and

the different theories of this territory have been put down. This research also mentions

the reasons why the theories on grammar have been modified through the time. At the

end of the research some future trends in this area have been suggested.

1-Introduction

The goal of this research is to study generative grammar, its foundation and its

evolution, but before dealing with this fundamental issue I am going to give a

definition of Grammar and a brief history of theories on this area Grammar refers to

logical and structural rules governing: the composition of sentences, phrases and

words in any language. (www.wikipedia.com)

Three main theories on grammar since nineteenth century have been traditional

grammar, structural grammar and transformational grammar. Such theories have been

given by many great grammarians such as Leonardo Bloomfield, Zellig Harris and

Noam Chomsky. A quick change in the theories of grammar has happened since the

19

 

th

century. So, this century was a very important era in the beginning of evolution of

grammar. Thus, to elucidate the main issue, let’s have a look at these three

fundamental theories.

1-2- Traditional Grammar

Traditional grammar is a kind of grammar consisting of prescription. This kind of

grammar prescribes rules about using words in a sentence. It also gives names to parts

of speech such as the noun, the verb, and the adverb and so on. Another important

feature in traditional grammar is the analyzing of sentences The analysis of sentence

is the separation of it into its parts (Reed and Kellog, 1909). This is the most

important characteristic of this grammar. The first systematic grammars originated by

Panini in Sanskrit language. Also, some of his commentators such as Pingala,

Katyoyona and Patanjali helped to this realm of grammar.

1-3- Structural Grammar

This new school of grammar started during the second quarter of the twentieth

century. Leonard Bloomfield is said to be originator of this school in 1933.

Bloomfield hoped to begin his field of study as scientific one. (Liles, 1972).

Liles also explains the reason for the evolution of structural grammar: There were a

number of reasons which caused the Structuralists to become disenchanted with

traditional grammar and to try to develops a more satisfactory approach one of the

greatest problems they found with the traditional approach was that it was inadequate

for describing many languages. It was impossible for example to analyze American

Indian languages according to the eight parts of speech. The structures of these

languages were incompatible with traditional classifications.

So, the new theory evolved. That is, structural grammar defined as a kind of grammar

for describing the structure of grammatical sentence. In this kind of grammar

substitution is important and also word class and structures are expanded into larger

structures. (Cattell , 1969)

Another linguist who has had a very important role in developing this theory is Zellig

Harris. His role is very important in “Methods in structural linguistics” He helped to

bring structural grammar to the forefront in the 1940’s (Nevin 2002)

The most important characteristic of this method is analyzing how words form and

how those words are used together to form larger structures. This theory distinguishes

form and meaning in language while traditional grammar mostly focuses on the

meaning of the words and considers sentences as a complete thought, Also the

emphasis of structural linguistics is on language used by members of the community,

so Bloomfield’s slogan was: “Accept everything a native speaker says in his language

and nothing he says about it”. Thus, We say that structural grammarians are famous

for their descriptive approach to grammar.

However, since the late 1950’s structural grammar was criticized by transformational

grammar. (Lilies 1972) and this happened, as Chomsky claims, to overcome the

inadequacies of certain theories of phrase structure rule on procedures of constituents

analysis in structural linguistics and also on the study of formal languages.

Transformational grammar was the early version of generative grammar originated by

Chomsky. Before treating with the development of different models of

transformational grammar, let’s raise some fundamental questions about this

important issue:

Research Questions

1-what is generative grammar?

2- why did it evolve into its present situation?

3- How did it evolve?

Research Hypothesis

Based on these questions a hypothesis is given: The human grammar will be open to

future investigation constantly creating new trends.

2- Generative Grammar

Generative grammar is a particular approach to study syntax. This word was

introduced into linguistic by Chomsky in 1950. Generative grammar is a set of rules

by which different kinds of language systems are defined. (Lyons, 1981)

A generative grammar of a language tries to give a set of rules that will correctly

predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentence. Most versions

of generative grammar characterize sentences as either well - formed or not. In most

approaches to generative grammar, the rules will also predict the morphology of a

sentence. (Wikipedia)

Although numerous scholars disagree with Chomsky’s claims he gained many

supporters and the idea was both developed and challenged at the same time His

works have influenced psycholinguistics, cognitive linguistics and language

methodology .

A classical generative grammar consists of four elements: (Kamil Wisniewsk 2007)

1-A limited number of conterminal signs.

2- A beginning sign which is contained in the limited number of conterminal signs .

3- A limited number of terminal signs

4- A finite set of rules which enable rewriting conterminal signs as strings of terminal

signs.

The term generative grammar’ which was introduced into linguistics by Chomsky in

the mid-1950 is nowadays employed in two rather different senses. In its original,

narrower and more technical sense was the same mentioned before but in its second

sense, that is, generetivism it refers to a whole body of theoretical and method logical

assumptions about language Structure.

Taking these two sense in mind , it is time to get right into the foundation of

generative grammar and the reason why it evolved into its present situation and the

‘how’ of its evolution.

3- The foundation of generative grammar

Three theoretical pillars which support generative grammar are: mentalism,

combinatoriality; and acquisition:

Mentalism

Before Aspects of syntax mentioned by Chomsky the paramount view among

linguistics was that language exists in texts or in the community (the Latter was under

influence of Saussure’s view (1915) .But Chomsky urged that language is in the mind

of language speaker, According to this view a community has a common language

shared by the speakers of that community. This view considers language as an ability

and knowledge In this view language is a kind of brain property.

Combinatoriality

It means that a language contains an arbitrarily large number of sentences .

Therefore, in addition to the finite list of words, a language must contain a set of rules

describing or generate the sentences of the language.

Acquisition

Mentalism and combimatoriality together lead to an important question: How do

children get the rules into their heads? Noam Chomsky is perhaps the best known and

the most influential linguist of the second half of the twentieth century He has made a

number of strong claims about language . He suggests that language is an innate

faculty that is to say that we are born with a set of rules about language in our heads

referring to the ‘ Universal Grammar. The Universal is the basis upon which all

human languages are built.

Up to this point the foundations of Generative grammar was briefly discussed and the

evolution of Grammar was briefly discussed and the evolution of grammar from

beginning was mentioned in brief. Now it is time to treat with different versions of

generative grammar whose early versions are transformational grammar and later the

historical development of trans formational grammar will be discussed and the

reasons for this change will be mentioned.

4- Transformational grammar

“A transformational grammar is a kind of grammar setting two levels of structure and

relates these levels by means of operations known as transformations”. Atchison

(1992: 169) A transformational grammar (like most other types of grammar) has three

major components: syntax, phonology and semantics. It is also different from other

grammars in that the syntactic component is divided into two components: the base

and the transformational rules:

Syntactic component:

1) Base semantic component

2)T-Rules phonological rules

4-1- Historical development of transformational grammar models

4-1-2- Standard Theory (1957-1965)

In the Standard Theory, the base contained phrase structure (Ps) rules for the

formation of deep structure and also a lexicon from which words come to the output

of PS rules. The deep structure then passed to the transformational rules in order to be

changed into the surface structure. At this point. The surface structure of a sentence

was still abstract, it did not yet have a phonetic form. This was met by the

phonological component which converted each surface structure into a phonetic

components, which gave a semantic interpretation of each.

In 1960, it seemed that there was no problem and linguistics hoped to produce final

and definitive list of possible transformation, but some problems arose: “The most

obvious trouble with transformations in the Standard Theory (1956) was that they

appeared to be a kind of magic wand, something which could change a deep structure

into any kind of surface structure by any means whatsoever. But this would clearly be

absurd. We would not want a device which altered a deep structure something like:

Bill kept the dodo in the bath into, say,: My goldfish eats bumble- bees”. (Atchison

1999: 177)

But there must be some restrictions on transformations, and the most powerful of

these restrictions is that they should not be allowed to change meaning. But in some

cases we encountered sentences which the problem appeared and another theory

called Extended standard Theory was represented to solve the problem.

4.1.2. Extended standard Theory (1965-1973)

This theory is really a extension of standard Theory in which transformations also

could not change meaning and the deep structure was the only input to the meaning.

In this theory it is said that for limited types of sentences, semantic interpretation

depends on both deep structure and surface structure.

As mentioned this theory was developed because of the problem arisen as a result of

the changing of meaning using transformations, so this theory tries to consider the

meaning change by establishing semantic interpretation rules to apply both to deep

structure and to surface structure.

However, the problems arose again. The min problem was to specify the underlying

structures, which became more and more complex. Nobody could agree on what they

should be like. They seemed to be based on persons’ intuitions than to be something

which was to be objective. They also needed some complicated rules. At last most

supporters of this approach gave up the impossible task of specifying details. And in

the end most supporters of this theory accepted that some surface structures were

important for the interpretation of meaning and the following theory arose.

4-1-3- Revised Extended standard Theory: (1973-1976)

This theory says that all semantic interpretation occurs at the level of surface

structure. This analysis is possible only if we modify our conception of those

transformational rules that delete or move constituents in the process of generating

surface structures from deep structures. The modifications that is necessary requires

that such transformation leave a “trace” of the constituent in is original position. This

trace would then be available at surface structure and , therefore semantic

interpretation could occur. The details of this new proposal remain to be developed.

(Julia. S Falk 1978: 256)

However the assumption that surface structures alone are responsible for meaning

had several repercussions on the rest of the grammar. Above all, it became important

to know where items had been moved from in the deep structure This was necessary

in order for the grammar to be able to deal with the meaning of sentences in which an

NP had been shifted away from its original position when an NP was moved it was

assumed to leave behind a faint trace of its previous location, (Atchison, 1999: 182)

Although Standard has the advantage of simplifying the superficial contusion of

language, coping with different transformations led to its own problems and listing

transformations many of them were unnecessary and uneconomic. And also different

transformational rules sometimes had the same effect, yet this was at recognized in

the grammar. so, transformations. little by little disappear one after the after. And

these changes led to a new version of transformational grammar:

4-1-4- Government and binding theory (1981-1990)

In this theory two aspects of grammar ignored in the Standard Theory are attentioned.

One of them is government and the other one is binding. The source of the word

government can be found in terms of traditional grammar “Nouns are governed as it is

called by verbs and prepositions; that is to say, these latter sorts of words cause nouns

to be in such or such or such a case; and there must be a concord or agreement

between the nouns and the other words, which along with nouns, compose a sentence.

(Cobbett, 1819:67)

So, the notion of this theory has been in linguistics for a long time. That is , it has

been recognized that some words have influenced over other words: For example, in

Latin grammars it was recognized that prepositions govern nouns. But , in the recent

meaning the word government is used in connection with heads of phrases influencing

others. For example in English a verb such as 'eat' governs an NP like “a sandwich”

There is also an important relationship between words in the same sentence.

One specific thing about this theory is to specify which part exactly govern one

another and Chomsky and his followers tried to depict a wider notion of government

known as command, meaning which constituents have power over others in a tree

structure. And Binding is interlinked with the notion of command.

As mentioned above one of the topics in traditional grammar was the relationship

among the parts of a sentence and this was developed by Chomsky in GB.

Furthermore one of the important topics in traditional grammar was how pronouns

were related to their antecedents. As Cobbett mentions it."Never write a personal

pronoun without duly considering what noun it will, upon a reading of the sentence be

found to relate to (Cobbett, 1819:73). Binding Theory is basically concerned with the

same issue of how pronouns and other types of noun relate to each other.

In Government and Binding theory introduced the concepts of principles and

parameters by which language knowledge consists of two levels, that is, logic form

(L.F) and phonetic form. (P.F):

Of course these two levels themselves come from this process

Lexicon

Deep structure

Government

Surface Structure

Logic form (semantic component) Phonetic Form

However the necessity of these levels were questioned And this issue paved the way

for another important theory called Minimalism.

4-1-5- The Minimalist Programme

Theories about human language are becoming economic and simple and the

statements about language are going to be as simple as possible. From the beginning

of generative grammar in 1960 the goal was to abstract general principles from the

complex rule systems. (Chomsky, 1995: 388) The minimalist framework continues

this drive for simplification In particular it draws on concepts from Chomsky’s late

1980, papers such as full Interpretation and Economy of representation and derivation

and derivation (Cook & Newson, 1996: 312).

So, it is easy to see how the Principle of Economy leads to Minimalism, that is, to be

both economical and generative the smallest possible set of devices for language

should be used. In the minimalism framework only LF and PF are really necessary

and there is the possibility of doing away with D structure and Structure. Of course

there must still be a lexicon and a computational system which forms LF and PF

representations from lexical information.

“The I- language consists of a computational procedure and a lexicon (Chomsky

1995:15) So, the idea of minimalist design would be something like:

Lexicon

PF - [phonetic component )

LF

(semantic component)

Explanation about the Minimalist Program doesn’t end at this point. However,

because we want to have a brief review of each theory and to give a sketch of it we

have to explain the general points of each theory.

Now, it’s time to get right into one important subject, that is, what will happen next?

What is the future this path will it end; or the evolution will continue. Certainly the

latter question is correct because the is everything in the world changing and so is

language and its theories.

5- Future trends in the evolution of grammar theories

There are three things in life you must never run after a bus, a woman and a theory of

transformational grammar. There will be another one along a moment, commented

one well- known linguist (Aitcheson 1992: 189)

Grammars evolve through usage and also due to separations of the human population.

This evolution happens because the society changes and as a result people’s needs

change. As we saw the theories on grammar have become more economic and easier

to understand and this process is going to continue. Moreover, scientists from various

disciplines have begun to focus renewed attention on the psychology and biology of

human morality. One research program which has gained attraction and has been

profiled in science, Nature. the New York Times, and other publications is universal

moral grammar (UMG)UMG seeks to describe the nature and origin of moral

knowledge by using concepts and models similar to those used in Chomsky’s program

in linguistic . (Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No, 95439)

Thus, as we see the changes are being done to meat the human’s needs. And as our

society develops and makes progress the theories on different field of study are

becoming more real and tangible. So, the future perspective more real and tangible so,

the future Perspective of grammar would be one based on psychology, morality and

people’s understanding.

6-Conclusion

In this research a brief history of grammar wa*s put down and the reason of

appearance of each one was mentioned. Furthermore, the pitfalls of each theory was

given in brief . This research also aimed to say that the theories of grammar are

changing and being modified through the time and are becoming more economic,

through the time since the society changes and it develops. and also because science is

making progress. and people’s thoughts are also becoming more scientific. Thus, the

theories taken granted by scientist for years are questioned whether in the domain of

grammar or in any other linguistic fields, this is because more complete researches are

being done on different domains of language. So we must surely expect other future

trends in the territory of grammar and we bear in mind that as the world changes

language and its different parts change.

References

Aitcheson, Jean (1992). Teach yourself linguistics. British Library Cataloguing in

Publication Data

Chomsky, Noam (1995), The Minimalist Program. MIT Press

Cook, V.j & Newson, Mark (1996), Chomsky’s Universal Grammar: An Introduction,

second edition. Blank well Publishers Ltd.

Cattell, N.R. (1969), The New English Grammar: A Descriptive Introduction

Cambridge, Massachustts: The MLT Press

Falk , Julia S( 1978), English Transformational Grammar.Blasdell Publishing co.

Lyons, John (1981), Language and linguistics : An Introduction. Cambridge

University Press.

Jackendoff, Ray (2003) Programme in Linguistics .Cambridge University Press

Liles, Bruce (1972), Linguistic and the English Language: A Transformational

Approach. Publishing Company Inc.

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