Generative grammar and its purposes and perspectives

The importance of Generative grammar

Generative grammar

The generative grammar brings together a number of specialized theoretical frameworks in the study of languages, all based on a set of rules or principles that, in principle, are able to predict the grammatically correct combinations that may appear in a given language.

generative grammar   Or “generative-transformational grammar.” Until Noam Chomsky , linguistics was concerned with the structural analysis of language, which it considered a reality independent of the subject’s abilities; this eagerness led him, for example, to look for rigorous methods to extract phonemes and morphemes, but not to study the uses of language or meanings. When you wanted to understand how a subject was able to acquire and develop a language, you went to psychology. The behavioral psychologists (Skinner prominently) considered that the child learns language as a result of the reinforcements that educators make in their behavior Verbal correct. When he emits badly formed sentences he is reprimanded and when he builds them well he is rewarded. Beginning in 1957 with the work “Syntactic structures”, Noam Chomsky will face this behaviorist conception, and ultimately empiricist , related to linguistic ability or competence, indicating that such explanation is insufficient because it cannot explain:

  • how, by having a finite number of morphemes and phonemes, we can potentially construct an infinite number of sentences;
  • the rapidity in the learning of a language, although the verbal stimulation of the parents or educators is poor and disorderly;
  • the existence of common structures in all languages.

The basic ideas of generative grammar, which today encompasses numerous schools of linguistic analysis, were originally formulated by the famous linguist Noam Chomsky, with the aim of developing a formal device that allowed identifying, describing, specifying and analyzing natural language sentences. in an exhaustive way as well as simple and universal.

Generative grammar assumes an approximation to the descriptive linguistic phenomenon, that is, it does not attempt, as traditional grammar did, prescribe the correct way to use the elements of language, but quite the opposite: it is proposed to describe how languages ​​of the world through the observation of them, and elaborate thanks to this observation general rules that explain this operation.

One of the main conclusions of generative grammar is the concept known as recursion. This is the following observation: language provides its speakers with a finite set of basic elements, which are linguistic units (nouns, verbs, articles, etc.), and also a finite set of rules for the use and relation of these units (the grammar rules); Well, with both tools, the speaker can make an infinite number of sentences. In fact, it is estimated that human language is the only communicative system with such capacity.

Generative grammar has also reached other conclusions. It raises, for example, the hypothesis that linguistic ability is genetic in humans, and therefore there are certain tools in your brain that allow the rapid absorption of the aforementioned units and rules. This capacity is therefore universal and identical in all the languages ​​of the world, which subsequently manifest themselves in very different ways but share the same structural basis.

Thus, generative grammar tries to answer several questions:

– What constitutes knowledge of language?
– How do you acquire such knowledge?
– How is such knowledge used?

Generative grammar basically implies an important displacement in the object of linguistic problems. It does not remain in the description of the basic elements of the language or in how these are related or in what kind of products can be generated from said relationship, but rather it investigates the mental reality that underlies the use of the linguistic elements.

Noam Chomsky’s role

Generally, this type of Grammar is conceived as a branch of Linguistics, inaugurated and promoted only by Noam Chomsky, however, this is not so accurate, since within the Generative Grammar at least nine theories can be counted:

  • Green banana based recipes
  • Examples of how to move from time units to smaller units
  • The boyfriend canceled the marriage and she went for a run
  • Standard theory , promulgated by Chomsky in 1965.
  • Relational grammar, developed during the first years of the seventies, thanks to the work of linguists Paul Postal and David Perlmutter.
  • Extended standard theory , reformulation of his first theory made by Chomsky towards the end of the 1970s.
  • Lexicon-functional grammar , promulgated towards the end of the 1970s, by linguists Juan o Bresnan and Ron Kaplan.
  • Generalized phrase structure grammar , also born in the 1970s, thanks to the work of linguists Gerald Gazdar and Ivan Sag , among others.
  • Principles and Parameters (P&P) theory developed equally by Nooam Chomsky, during the early years of the 1980s.
  • Rection and Ligament , also attributed to Chomsky and his group, as a result of his work in 1981.
  • Nuclear syntagmatic grammar , promulgated towards the middle of the 1980s, by linguists Ivan Sag and Carl Pollard.
  • Minimalist program , which is developed by Noam Chomsky, during the year 1993, and within the theory known as Principles and Parameters.

However, although within the set of theories that can be grouped within the conception of Generative Grammar, the names of other important linguists can be distinguished, that of Noam Chomsky will always occupy the first place, since it was this American linguist of 20th century who conceived and promoted the first study models, which would be established as the original source of this linguistic current. In this way, Chomsky and his Standard Theory, emerged during 1965, are considered the origins of Generative Grammar.

Purpose of the Generative Grammar

With respect to the main motivation of this linguistic current, the different sources agree that the Generative Grammar proposes a syntactic study of the Language, aimed at an understanding of the rules by which the different syntactic combinations are produced, which will allow thereafter also predict how combinations will be made that yield grammatically correct structures , hence this current is then known as Generative, since its main interest is how syntactic structures are generated within the language.

In this way, it can then be said that Chomsky’s main objective, as a promoter of Generative Grammar, as well as of this current in general, is to conceive a formal theory, which has the theoretical methods and elements necessary to approximate the Language, in order to examine, observe, describe and determine the sentences that can be found in a language, in order to understand its hierarchical grammatical structure, through its syntactic constituents.

Likewise, this understanding will help you make predictions about which syntactic constituents have been formed according to the correct grammatical hierarchy, and which not, without this possibility meaning that Generative Grammar pursues a prescriptive eagerness, since it does not seek to regulate the Language, but – through a descriptive vision – to understand its operation, so that – based on a set of principles and rules determined through formal study – generate an infinite number of syntactic, grammatically correct constructions . In short, understand the mechanisms through which they are generated, to continue producing them.

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