generative grammar


generative grammar
1. a linguistic theory that attempts to describe the tacit knowledge that a native speaker has of a language by establishing a set of explicit, formalized rules that specify or generate all the possible grammatical sentences of a language, while excluding all unacceptable sentences. Cf. transformational grammar.
2. a set of such rules.
[1955-60]

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Finite set of formal rules that will produce all the grammatical sentences of a language.

The idea of a generative grammar was first definitively articulated by Noam Chomsky in Syntactic Structures (1957). The generative grammarian's task is ideally not just to define the interrelation of elements in a particular language, but also to characterize universal grammar
that is, the set of rules and principles intrinsic to all natural languages, which are thought to be an innate endowment of the human intellect. See also grammar, syntax.

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      a precisely formulated set of rules whose output is all (and only) the sentences of a language—i.e., of the language that it generates. There are many different kinds of generative grammar, including transformational grammar as developed by Noam Chomsky from the mid-1950s. Linguists disagree as to which, if any, of these different kinds of generative grammar will serve as the best model for the description of natural languages.

      Generative grammars do not merely distinguish the grammatical sentence of a language from ungrammatical sequences of words of the same language; they also provide a structural description, or syntactic analysis, for each of the grammatical sentences. The structural descriptions provided by a generative grammar are comparable with, but more precisely formulated than, the analyses that result from the traditional practice of parsing sentences in terms of the parts of speech.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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