transformational grammar

a system of grammatical analysis, esp. a form of generative grammar, that posits the existence of deep structure and surface structure, using a set of transformational rules to derive surface structure forms from deep structure; a grammar that uses transformations to express the relations between equivalent structures.
[1960-65]

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      a system of language analysis that recognizes the relationship among the various elements of a sentence and among the possible sentences of a language and uses processes or rules (some of which are called transformations) to express these relationships. For example, transformational grammar relates the active sentence “John read the book” with its corresponding passive, “The book was read by John.” The statement “George saw Mary” is related to the corresponding questions, “Whom [or who] did George see?” and “Who saw Mary?” Although sets such as these active and passive sentences appear to be very different on the surface (i.e., in such things as word order), a transformational grammar tries to show that in the “underlying structure” (i.e., in their deeper relations to one another), the sentences are very similar. Transformational grammar assigns a “deep structure” and a “surface structure” to show the relationship of such 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 of deep structure can be especially helpful in explaining ambiguous utterances; e.g., “Flying airplanes can be dangerous” may have a deep structure, or meaning, like “Airplanes can be dangerous when they fly” or “To fly airplanes can be dangerous.”

 The most widely discussed theory of transformational grammar was proposed by U.S. linguist Noam Chomsky in 1957. His work contradicted earlier tenets of structuralism by rejecting the notion that every language is unique. The use of transformational grammar in language analysis assumes a certain number of formal and substantive universals.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Transformational grammar — In linguistics, a transformational grammar, or transformational generative grammar (TGG), is a generative grammar, especially of a natural language, that has been developed in a Chomskyan tradition. Additionally, transformational grammar is the… …   Wikipedia

  • transformational grammar — noun : a grammar that generates the deep structures of a language and relates these to the surface structures by means of transformations * * * ˌtransforˌmational ˈgrammar 7 [transformational grammar] noun uncountable (abbr. TG …   Useful english dictionary

  • transformational grammar — transforma′tional gram′mar n. ling. a system of grammatical analysis, esp. a form of generative grammar, that posits the existence of deep structure and surface structure and uses a set of transformational rules to derive surface structure forms… …   From formal English to slang

  • transformational grammar — /trænsfəˈmeɪʃənəl græmə/ (say transfuh mayshuhnuhl gramuh) noun a grammar which uses transformational rules in its description of a language …   Australian English dictionary

  • transformational grammar — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. generative grammar, New grammar, string grammar; see grammar …   English dictionary for students

  • transformational grammar — noun Date: 1961 a grammar that generates the deep structures of a language and converts these to the surface structures by means of transformations …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • transformational grammar — noun Linguistics grammar which describes a language in terms of transformations applied to an underlying deep structure in order to generate the surface structure of sentences which can actually occur …   English new terms dictionary

  • generative-transformational grammar — /jen euhr euh tiv trans feuhr may sheuh nl, euh ray tiv /, Ling. See transformational generative grammar. * * * …   Universalium

  • generative-transformational grammar — /jen euhr euh tiv trans feuhr may sheuh nl, euh ray tiv /, Ling. See transformational generative grammar …   Useful english dictionary

  • Grammar — is the field of linguistics that covers the rules governing the use of any given natural language. It includes morphology and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics. Each language has its own distinct… …   Wikipedia

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