Generative grammar  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In theoretical linguistics, generative grammar refers to a particular approach to the study of syntax. A generative grammar of a language attempts to give a set of rules that will correctly predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentences. In most approaches to generative grammar, the rules will also predict the morphology of a sentence.

Generative grammar originates in the work of Noam Chomsky, beginning in the late 1950s. (Early versions of Chomsky's theory were called transformational grammar.) There are a number of competing versions of generative grammar currently practiced within linguistics. Chomsky's current theory is known as the Minimalist Program. Other prominent theories include or have included Head-driven phrase structure grammar, Lexical functional grammar, Categorial grammar, Relational grammar, and Tree-adjoining grammar.

Noam Chomsky has argued that many of the properties of a generative grammar arise from an "innate" universal grammar. Proponents of generative grammar have argued that most grammar is not the result of communicative function and is not simply learned from the environment (see poverty of stimulus argument). In this respect, generative grammar takes a point of view different from Cognitive grammar, functional and behaviourist theories.

Most versions of generative grammar characterize sentences as either grammatically correct (also known as well formed) or not. The rules of a generative grammar typically function as an algorithm to predict grammaticality as a discrete (yes-or-no) result. In this respect, it differs from stochastic grammar which considers grammaticality as a probabilistic variable. However, some work in generative grammar (e.g. recent work by Joan Bresnan) uses stochastic versions of Optimality theory.

Frameworks

There are a number of different approaches to generative grammar. Common to all is the effort to come up with a set of rules or principles that will account for the well-formed expressions of a natural language. The term generative grammar has been associated with at least the following schools of linguistics:




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Generative grammar" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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