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Presentation on theme: "GENERATIVE LINGUISTICS"— Presentation transcript:

A Presentation By: Christina Seeliger Cornelia Wächter Eva Nunnemann Cornadia Ellefred

2 OUTLINE 1.) Introduction and Overview 2.) Deep and Surface Structures
3.) Universal Grammar 4.) Further Examples 5.) Discussion and Conclusion

3 Question What do you think the above diagram could mean?
Linguists Curiosity

4 Major Questions Why does a two year old learn to speak at an alarming rate while I struggle so hard to learn a second language? Are some languages easier to learn than others? Why is Shakespeare’s English so different from ours? How did all the different accents and dialects of English arise?

5 Do all languages have something in common or vary in an infinite number of ways?
Is it really possible to translate perfectly from one language to another? How possible is it to hold a conversation with a computer? And, And, And…..?

6 The attempts to answer the above questions bring about the different concepts, topics and theories found in the Linguistics field today.

A broad concept in itself A school of thought within Linguistics. Makes use of the ´Concept of Generative Grammar` One great propounder of this concept is Avram Noam Chomsky

8 Noam Chomsky Born December 7, 1928, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In 1945 he began to study philosophy and linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania

9 His book “Syntactic Structures” in 1957 brought together his linguistic ideas
Further information:

10 GENERATIVE GRAMMAR Chomsky’s concept of generative grammar implies a finite set of rules that can be applied to generate sentences, at the same time capable of producing infinite number of strings from the set rules. A type of grammar which describes a language by giving a set of rules that can be used to produce other possible sentences in that language.

11 Deep and Surface Structures

12 Two Levels of Representation
Deep Structure (DS): represents syntactic relations (underlying representation) Surface Structure (SS): derived (surface) representation of a Deep Structure SS can be derived from DS by transformations like passivization, forming of questions etc.

13 Example „I can solve this problem!“ (DS)
1st Pers. Sing. Ind. Pres. Act. What does the tree structure look like?


15 Possible surface structure (derived by topicalisation):
„This problem, I can solve!“

16 Possible Problem for Analysis
The categories are not in the correct positions any more. (e.g. „solve“ seems to be intransitive here, though it cannot be) In SS the categories can appear in positions other than expected from the DS of a sentence!

17 When transformational rules are applied to a sentence, not the structure itself changes, but merely the form of representation. In the tree structure the DS is still shown by the marker of „trace“.


19 Transformational rules map the Deep Structure onto Surface Structure representations.

20 What‘s it good for? Chomsky: „a simple system of phrase structure can provide the basis from which all sentences can be derived by simple transformations“ (Generative Grammar = Transformational Grammar) Humboldt: Show how language can „make infinite use of finite terms.“

21 From Structures to Universal Grammar
Chomsky: „Deep Structures of different languages show considerable similarities.“ This indicates properties common to all languages. These are concealed by the different Surface Structures.

22 3. Universal Grammar

23 3.1. The General Concept of UG
„the system of principles, conditions, and rules that are elements or properties of all human languages, … the essence of human language.“ (Chomsky, 1976)

24 3.1.The General Concept of UG
All human beings share part of their knowledge of language Speaker knows a set of principles that apply to all languages, parameters that vary within clearly defined limits from one language to another UG is an attempt to integrate grammar, mind and language

25 3.2 Aims of Linguistics Summarized by Chomsky:
What constitutes language? How is such knowledge acquired? How is such knowledge put to use? What are the physical mechanisms that serve as the material basis for this system of knowledge and for its use?

26 3.3 An Example of a Principle
Structure- dependency A principle common to all languages Asserts that knowledge of language relies on the structural relationships in the sentence rather than on the sequence of words

27 3.3 An example of a Principle
The man who is tall is John. Is the man who is tall John? *Is the man who tall is John?

28 3.4. Parameters Languages differ!
One way in which they differ is in terms of the words they use Other differences between languages also have to be acquired Parameters select among possible variants Comparable to switches

29 3.4.Parameters Example: Word order Most languages use:
Subject Verb Object (SVO): e.g. English Subject Object Verb (SOV): e.g. Turkish Verb Subject Object (VSO): e.g. Irish A few languages use: Verb Object Subject (VOS): e.g. Malagasy No (or almost no languages) use: Object Subject Verb (OSV) Object Verb Subject (OVS)

30 5. General Ideas About Language
Chomsky distinguishes between: E-language : aims: to collect samples of data and then describe their property Constructs a grammar to describe the regularities I- language: Concerned with what a speaker knows about language and where this knowledge comes from

31 5. General Ideas About Language
„language is a system represented in the mind/brain of a particular individual“ (Chomsky, 1988) Chomsky‘s first goal- to discover what constitutes- is an I-language aim

32 5. General Ideas about Language
Chomsky distinguishes between: Competence: speaker‘s/ hearer‘s knowledge of his language Performance: actual use of language in concrete situations UG is part of the competence of all language speakers

33 Syntax is More than Meaning
Well-formed sentence without meaning: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Syntax as well as meaning deprived of inner logic: Ideas furiously green colorless sleep.

34 Syntax is More than Meaning

35 Jabberwocky (by Lewis Carroll, 1872)
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!"

36 Jabberwocky Revised version not following English syntax:
“Toves slithy the and brillig ‘twas wabe the in gimble and gyre did...”

37 Jabberwocky ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Grammatical words, e.g.: and, the, … Lexical words (with ‘nonsense’ stems), e.g.: tove, gyre, gimble, wabe, …

38 Jabberwocky ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. slithy: syntactic position for an adjective (Art Adj N) morph –y, a common marker of a derivational process deriving adjectives from nouns (cf. slime: slimy, grime: grimy, and so on)

39 Creating a Grammar 5 rules: S  NP VP NP  Det N NP  N VP  V NP
9 words: Det: the, four, some N: dogs, cats, slugs V: understood, ate, approached How many sentences? 468 (!) 10 words, 5 rules above  How many sentences? 122,00 How many sentences?

40 Conclusion and Discussion
„the shift of focus from the dubious concept of an E-language to the significant notion of I- language was a crucial step in early generative grammar.“ (Chomsky, 1991) Chomsky‘s theories like UG aim at exploring the mind rather than the environment.

41 The generative approach offers a simple method to analyze and compare highly comlex structures and relations of languages. Language is more than just (generative) theory

42 Literature Carnie, Andrew (2002): Syntax- A Generative Introduction. Malden, Oxford and Carlton: Blackwell Publishing. Chomsky, Noam (1957): Syntactic Structures. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Cook, Vivian and Newson, Mark (1996): Chomsky‘s Universal Grammar – An Introduction. Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing. Gardner, Thomas (1973): Hauptströmungen der Modernen Linguistik. Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht. Ouhalla, Jamal (1999): Introducing Transformational Grammar. London: Arnold.

43 http://de. wikipedia. org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky, last visited 07. 01


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