3-26-08 - Transformational Grammar Most significant change...

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05/12/09 1 Transformational Grammar Most significant change in approach to grammar ●Not prescriptive , but descriptive ●Based on function rather than form
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05/12/09 2 Transformational Grammar First presented in 1957 by Noam Chomsky in Syntactic Structures Sets up 2 levels of structure, and relates these levels by transformations . Goal: to account for the ability that native speakers of a language share in generating and processing sentences Not pedagogical or practical like that of traditional theory TG suggests that a sentence has both a deep structure and a surface structure Deep structure: semantic and grammatical relationships that underline the surface structure Surface structure: form the sentence takes when we speak it or write it Must have expansion mechanism in grammar, but we can’t have an enormous number of rules and must account for ambiguities
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05/12/09 3 Transformational Grammar Consider the following sentence: Visiting relatives can be boring. Who is doing the visiting? You or your relatives? The sentence is ambiguous because there is more than one possible deep structure underlying it. In one, relatives is the subject of visiting; in the other it is the object. Ambiguity: a surface structure with more than one possible deep structure. The passive transformation illustrates the opposite situation: two different surface structures that mean the same thing. Howard Hughes built “The Spruce Goose.” “The Spruce Goose” was built by Howard Hughes.
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05/12/09 4 Transformational Grammar Descriptive methods of traditional and structural grammar were inadequate to explain this important aspect of language: an intuitive recognition, by native speakers, of ambiguity and similarity in sentences. The following sentences are neither ambiguous nor synonymous, but are outwardly similar in structure: John is easy to please. John is eager to please. Think about the underlying meaning, the relationship of John and please in the 2 sentences. They are not the same. In one sentence John is doing the pleasing and in the other someone is pleasing him.
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05/12/09 5 Transformational Grammar Transformational theory is concerned with those underlying logical relations and the way in which the deep structure gets transformed into the outward surface structure.
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