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Transformational grammar is an approach to the use of grammar in communications that involves a

logical and analytical process to fully grasp the meaning behind the words selected. From this
perspective, it goes beyond the process of structural grammar, which tends to focus on the proper
construction of sentences as the device for communication. Along with sentence structure, this type
of grammar will also attempt to explore the thought behind the words.
"The new linguistics, which began in 1957 with the publication of Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structures,
deserves the label 'revolutionary.' After 1957, the study of grammar would no longer be limited to what
is said and how it is interpreted. In fact, the word grammar itself took on a new meaning. The new
linguistics defined grammar as our innate, subconscious ability to generate language, an internal system
of rules that constitutes our human language capacity. The goal of the new linguistics was to describe
this internal grammar.
"When it comes to syntax, [Noam] Chomsky is famous for proposing that beneath
every sentence in the mind of a speaker is an invisible, inaudible deep structure,
the interface to the mental lexicon. The deep structure is converted
by transformational rules into a surface structure that corresponds more closely
to what is pronounced and heard. The rationale is that certain constructions, if they were listed
in the mind as surface structures, would have to be multiplied out in thousands of redundant variations
that would have to have been learned one by one, whereas if the constructions were listed as deep
structures, they would be simple, few in number, and economically learned."
(Steven Pinker, Words and Rules. Basic Books, 1999)

The Transformation of Transformational Grammar
"Chomsky initially justified replacing phrase-structure grammar by arguing that it was awkward,
complex, and incapable of providing adequate accounts of language. Transformational grammar offered
a simple and elegant way to understand language, and it offered new insights into the underlying
psychological mechanisms.

"As the grammar matured, however, it lost its simplicity and much of its elegance. In addition,
transformational grammar has been plagued by Chomsky's ambivalence and ambiguity
regarding meaning. . . . Chomsky continued to tinker with transformational grammar, changing the
theories and making it more abstract and in many respects more complex, until all but those with
specialized training in linguistics were befuddled. . . .

"[T]he tinkering failed to solve most of the problems because Chomsky refused to abandon the idea of
deep structure, which is at the heart of T-G grammar but which also underlies nearly all of its problems.
Such complaints have fueled the paradigm shift to cognitive grammar."
(James D. Williams, The Teacher's Grammar Book. Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999)

"In the years since transformational grammar was formulated, it has gone through a number of
changes. In the most recent version, Chomsky (1995) has eliminated many of the transformational rules
in previous versions of the grammar and replaced them with broader rules, such as a rule that moves
one constituent from one location to another. It was just this kind of rule on which the trace studies
were based. Although newer versions of the theory differ in several respects from the original, at a
deeper level they share the idea that syntactic structure is at the heart of our linguistic knowledge.
However, this view has been controversial within linguistics."
(David W. Carroll, Psychology of Language, 5th ed. Thomson Wadsworth, 2008)

In transformational grammar, the underlying syntactic structure (or level) of a sentence. In contrast
to surface structure (the outward form of a sentence), deep structure is an abstract
representation that identifies the ways a sentence can be analyzed and

In transformational grammar, deep structures are generated by phrase-structure rules,
and surface structures are derived from deep structures by a series of

"[Noam] Chomsky had identified a basic grammatical structure in Syntactic Structures [1957] that he
referred to as kernel sentences. Reflecting mentalese, kernel sentences were where words and meaning
first appeared in the complex cognitive process that resulted in an utterance. In [Aspects of the Theory
of Syntax, 1965], Chomsky abandoned the notion of kernel sentences and identified the underlying
constituents of sentences as deep structure. The deep structure was versatile insofar as it
accounted for meaning and provided the basis for transformations that turned
deep structure into surface structure, which represented what we actually hear or
read. Transformation rules, therefore, connected deep structure and surface
structure, meaning and syntax."
(James D. Williams, The Teacher's Grammar Book. Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999)

"The remarkable first chapter of Noam Chomsky's Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965) set the agenda
for everything that has happened in generative linguistics since. Three theoretical pillars support the
enterprise: mentalism, combinatoriality, and acquisition. . . .

"A fourth major point of Aspects, and the one that attracted most attention from the wider public,
concerned the notion of Deep Structure. A basic claim of the 1965 version of generative grammar was
that in addition to the surface form of sentences (the form we hear), there is another level of syntactic
structure, called Deep Structure, which expresses underlying syntactic regularities of sentences. For
instance, a passive sentence like (1a) was claimed to have a Deep Structure in which the noun
phrases are in the order of the corresponding active (1b):

(1a) The bear was chased by the lion.
(1b) The lion chased the bear.

Similarly, a question such as (2a) was claimed to have a Deep Structure closely resembling that of the
corresponding declarative (2b):
(2a) Which martini did Harry drink?
(2b) Harry drank that martini.

. . . Following a hypothesis first proposed by Katz and Postal (1964), Aspects made the striking claim that
the relevant level of syntax for determining meaning is Deep Structure.

"In its weakest version, this claim was only that regularities of meaning are most directly encoded in
Deep Structure, and this can be seen in (1) and (2). However, the claim was sometimes taken to imply
much more: that Deep Structure is meaning, an interpretation that Chomsky did not at first discourage.
And this was the part of generative linguistics that got everyone really excited--for if the techniques of
transformational grammar could lead us to meaning, we would be in a position to uncover the nature of
human thought. . . .

"When the dust of the ensuing 'linguistic wars' cleared around 1973 . . ., Chomsky had won (as usual)--
but with a twist: he no longer claimed that Deep Structure was the sole level that determines meaning
(Chomsky 1972). Then, with the battle over, he turned his attention, not to meaning, but to relatively
technical constraints on movement transformations (e.g. Chomsky 1973, 1977)."
(Ray Jackendoff, Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure. MIT Press, 2007)
n transformational grammar, the outward form of a sentence. In contrast to deep structure (an
abstract representation of a sentence), surface structure corresponds to the
version of a sentence that can be spoken and heard.

"The surface structure of a sentence is the final stage in the syntactic
representation of a sentence, which provides the input to the
phonological component of the grammar, and which thus most closely
corresponds to the structure of the sentence we articulate and hear. . . . This two-
level conception of grammatical structure is still widely held, though it has been much criticized in
recent generative studies. An alternative conception is to relate surface structure directly to a
semantic level of representation, bypassing deep structure altogether. . . . The term 'surface grammar' is
sometimes used as an informal term for the superficial properties of the sentence."
(David Crystal, A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 4th ed. Blackwell, 1997)

Define the Deep Structure and Surface Structure of Transformational Grammar?
According to Chomskyan theory, transformational grammar involves two levels to represent the
structure of sentences known as the deep structure and the surface structure. The deep
structure implies a more abstract form underlying the structure of a sentence. It is represented by
a phrase structure tree in which the abstract relations between words and phrases of a sentence are
depicted in a hierarchical tree diagram. The surface structure refers to the actual form of the
structure of a sentence used. Besides the two levels of sentence structure,
transformational grammar consists of a body of formal rules to enable transforming deep structures to
surface structures.
What is a Phrase Structure Tree in Transformational Grammar?
A phrase structure tree in transformational grammar is a diagrammatic representation of sentences
distinguished by their syntactic characteristics. Thus we have verb phrases (VP), noun phrases (NP),
prepositional phrases (PP) and so on. Most of the sentence structures in a language are governed by
phrase structure rules. For example, sentences in English are governed by the rule that they should
contain a Noun Phrase (NP) and a Verb Phrase (VP)
transformational grammar
a system of language analysis that recognizes the relationship amongthe various elements of a sentence
and among the possiblesentences of a language and uses processes or rules (some of whichare called tra
nsformations) to express these relationships. Forexample, transformational
grammar relates the active sentence "Johnread the book" with its corresponding passive, "The book was
readby John." The statement "George saw Mary" is related to thecorresponding questions, "Whom [or
who] did George see?" and "Whosaw Mary?" Although sets such as these active and passivesentences a
ppear to be very different on the surface (i.e., in suchthings as word
order), a transformational grammar tries to show thatin the "underlying structure" (i.e., in their deeper r
elations to oneanother), the sentences are very similar. Transformational grammar
assigns a "deep structure" and a "surface structure" to show therelationship of su
ch sentences. Thus, "I know a man who flies planes"can be considered the surface
form of a deep
structure approximately like "I know a man. The man flies airplanes."The notion o
f deep structure can be especially helpful in explaining
ambiguous utterances; e.g., "Flying airplanes can be dangerous" mayhave a deep
structure, or meaning, like "Airplanes can be dangerouswhen they fly" or "To fly ai
rplanes can be dangerous."
The transformational grammar was a theory of how grammatical knowledge is represented and
processed in the brain. Developed by Noam Chomsky in the1960's, the transformational
grammar consisted of:

1. Two levels of representation of the structure of sentences: an underlying, more abstract
form, termed 'deep structure', and the actual form of the sentence produced, called
'surface structure'. Deep structure is represented in the form of a hierarchical tree
diagram, or "phrase structure tree,"* depicting the abstract grammatical relationships
between the words and phrases within a sentence.
2. A system of formal rules specifying how deep structures are to be transformed into
surface structures.
Consider the two sentences "Steven wrote a book on language" and "A book on language was
written by Steven." Chomsky held that there is a deeper grammatical structure from which both
these sentences are derived. The transformational grammar provides an characterization of this
common form and how it is manipulated to produce actual sentences.
Or take the sentence "Who will John see." This corresponds to its surface structure. According
to the transformational grammar, we form this sentence by unconsciously applying
transformation rules to the underlying deep structure given in the phrase structure tree of the
form "John will see who." In this particular case, the transformation rule applied is termed "Wh-
The transformational grammar formed the basis for many subsequent theories of human
grammatical knowledge. Since Chomsky's original presentation, many different theories have
emerged. Although current theories differ significantly from the original, the notion of a
transformation remains a central element in most models.
Consider the following sentence pairs:

"The cat chased the mouse."
"The mouse was chased by the cat."
"Where did John drive?"
"John drove (where)."
According to the transformational grammar, there is an abstract level of representation that
underlies the syntactical structures of each pair member. For instance, the forms first and
second sentences correspond to "surface structures." The linguist Noam Chomsky proposed
that these surface structures are derived from a common underlying grammatical
representation, called their "deep structure." Within the theory, their deep structure is
represented in the form of a hierarchical tree depicting the grammatical relationships between
the various constituents that make up the sentence, such as the noun phrases* "the cat" and
"the mouse," and the verb phrases "chased" and "was chased ." The application of certain
transformation rules to this tree produces the surface structures seen above.