Transformational Generative Grammar

“Transformational Generative Grammar Theory” was presented by Noam Chomsky. This theory is about structure (Syntax) of sentences in a language. This theory tells us how syntax is formed and learned.

The study and organization or arrangement of sentences in a language is called Syntax. T.G.G theory explains this arrangement and organization of sentences. It means how correct and well-formed sentences are made or formed. First generation takes place and then transformation takes place. There are two main parts of this theory, which are as follows: o Generation or Generative Grammar o Transformation or Transformational Grammar Transformational Generative Grammar

Generative Grammar

Transformational Grammar

Let’s concentrate on both of these aspects of T.G.G.

1: Generation or Generative Grammar:
This part of T.G.G deals with the generation of sentences, i.e., correct and well-formed sentences. For this some rules are necessary for the formation of correct sentences. Now Generation Grammar can be defined as: “A particular type of grammar which would have a very explicit system of rules specifying what combinations of basic elements would result in well-formed sentences.” It means that Generation Grammar is a set of basic principles and explicit rules which deals with the formation of sentences. Now take a look on these basic explicit rules for generation of sentences.

Rule 1: We know that the basic structure of a sentence is that it consists of a Noun Phrase and Verb Phrase i.e., NP and VP.

Rule 2: A Noun Phrase usually consists of a noun and article as in 1) or a noun as in 2) or it may consist of a noun, article and adjective as in 3). Rule 3: A Verb Phrase is usually consists of a verb and prepositional phrase as in 1) or an auxiliary verb and verb as in, I am reading newspaper. or it may consist of a verb and adverb as in, She walks quickly. We can create or generate many sentences or structures by keeping in view any basic rule or structure in mind.

Qualities of Generative Grammar

Some basic qualities of generative grammar are given as under; Quality 1: By using these explicit rules we will form correct and wellformed sentences, not incorrect and ill-formed.

Quality 2: By using one structure or finite structures a number of or infinite sentences can be produced. Quality 3:

Recursion or Recursive rule
Recursion is the capacity to be applied more than once in generating a structure. e.g., “He is the man who caught the thief who stole the jewelry that I bought yesterday” In this example relative clause is used more than once to create a long sentence. It means that we can create long sentences by Recursion rule. The same rule can be applied again and again to create more and more sentences. NP + VP Ahmad thought Quality 4: Deep structure and Surface Structure On the basis of Generative Grammar differentiate between deep and surface structures. Surface Structure: The formal structure of a sentence as it actually occurs in speech. It is the apparent structure of a sentence. Deep Structure: we are able to NP + VP Ali helped him

The deep structure is a direct representation of the basic semantic relations underlying a sentence. It is the underlying meaning of the sentence. Let’s take an example to understand the difference between deep and surface structures. i) I ate a banana. ii) A banana was eaten by me. In this example i) is active voice and ii) is passive voice. Structures of the sentences are different but the meanings are same. In the above example there are two surface structures but one deep structure or underlying meaning. It means that a sentence can have two or many surface structure but one deep structure. Now take another example; “The lady beat a man with an umbrella.” What we read is the surface structure of this sentence, but when we ponder on its meaning we feel ambiguity in getting its meaning. Whether it means that the lady is having an umbrella and she is beating the man with it or that the lady is beating the man who is having an umbrella. This ambiguity leads to two different meanings of one sentence. It means that a sentence can have on surface structure but more deep structures.

Tree Diagram:
It is defined as a way of representing a sentence with its structure. This structure is drawn in the shape of tree having branches. This type of tree-diagram representation contains all the grammatical information found in the other analyses, but also shows more explicitly the fact that there are different levels in the analysis. e.g., The monkey ate a banana. NP VP Tree diagram of this sentence would be like this,

Phrase Structure Rule:
Phase structure rules are used to describe a given language’s syntax. This is accomplished by attempting to break language down into its constituent parts namely Phrasal Categories and Lexical Categories. The former include the noun phrase (NP), verb phrase (VP) and prepositional phrase (PP). And the latter include noun (N), verb (V), adjective (Adj), adverb (Adv) and many others. These rules present the information of the tree-diagram in an alternative format. e.g., S NP NP NP VP VP + NP N N + art N + art + adj V


aux + V V + PP Preposition + NP

2: Transformation:
Literally transformation means “ to change the form of something.” Here we write a sentence then we change its form by moving, adding, deleting some words but the actual meanings remains the same. e.g., i) I met my friend yesterday. ii) Yesterday I met my friend. In the first sentence the adverbs is in the last place and in the second sentence the adverb is in the first place but the meanings of both of the sentences are same just it has been transformed into another structure. Let’s take another example. iii) He is ridiculing his friend. To make this sentence interrogative we transform the position or shape of the sentence by moving the auxiliary verb. iv) Is he ridiculing his friend? This shows that by transformation we can produce many sentences by keeping in view one sentence.

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