User:Javier Carro/Transformational Grammar

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About this wikibook[edit | edit source]

This page is a stub of what pretends to be a future module dealing with the rules governing the Grammar according to Transformational theories. We may also add the new theories of the Minimalist Program.

As long as this module is a stub, I would prefer to keep it under my user page. But I encourage you to modify, contribute and discuss whatever you consider necessary. And if you want to contribute but you don't like the book to be under my user-page, we may consider moving it.

I am a Spanish native speaker, but I have studied this theory applied only to English language. I'd like to study the transformational principles applied to Spanish language, and then, I'd begin a Spanish wikibook about this topic.

I'd be very grateful to those English speaking wikicontributors who may check my mistakes. Thank you :)

The problem of the branching representation[edit | edit source]

I just discovered that we can use branching nodes to represent the examples, have a look here, we may also use the box [ ] symbology and/or pictures created by us and uploaded to Commons.

Contents[edit | edit source]

What is the transformational grammar?[edit | edit source]

The transformational grammar is a mathematically powerful grammar based on the theory of language described by w:Noam Chomsky. More information in w:Transformational grammar.

Categorial information[edit | edit source]

The syntactic category of a word determines its distribution in the syntactic structure.

Word level categories[edit | edit source]

A adjective

ADV adverb

D determiner

N noun

P preposition

V verb

Phrasal level categories[edit | edit source]

AP adjectival phrase

(ADVP adverbial phrase) Its existence is discussed.

DP determiner phrase (According to Santorini and Kroch)

NP noun phrase

PP prepositional phrase

VP verbal phrase

IP inflectional phrase

CP complementizer phrase

Constituency tests[edit | edit source]

  • Preposing: only phrasal constituents may undergo preposing.
1.a.*People at Wikimedia Embassy we have a list with.
  b. At meta:Wikimedia Embassy we have a list with people. (Example taken from [1])

Constituency vs. adjunct tests

Phrase markers[edit | edit source]

  • Hierarchic structure

In the transformational grammar, it is proposed that the constituents of a clause are hierarchically structured.

  • Branch
  • Node and branching node

The node is the point where two (or more) branches are connected.

  • Dominance
  • Exhaustive dominance
  • Immediate dominance
  • Precedence
  • Immediately precedence
  • C-command: (see also coindexing)
A c-command B iff (if and only if) the node that immediately dominates A also dominates B and neither A dominates B, nor B dominates A.

Phrase structure rules[edit | edit source]

(More information about this topic in Wikipedia's article w:Phrase_structure_rules)

XP → (W) X(') (Y)

Phrase structure in a NP[edit | edit source]

  • Determiner rule:
N''→ D N' (According to Radford (2003))
  • Adjunct rule:
N'→ N' PP
  • Complement rule
N' → N PP

Argument structure and Theta-role[edit | edit source]

The arguments are participants selected by the predicate. Each argument receives a theta role assigned by the predicate and, each theta role needs to be assigned to one and only one argument.

Theta or semantic roles[edit | edit source]

  1. Theme
  2. Agent
  3. Cause
  4. Locative
  5. Source
  6. Goal
  7. Experiencer
  8. Benefactive
  9. Instrument
  10. Manner
  11. Reason
  12. Time

X' theory[edit | edit source]

(Initially extracted from X-bar theory).

X-bar theory is a component of linguistic theory which attempts to identify syntactic features common to all languages. The theory claims that there are certain structural similarities among all phrasal categories of all languages. The letter X is used to signify an arbitrary lexical category for the head of the phrase (instead of, for example, N for noun or V for verb) in order to allow a generic description.

X-bar theory adds additional levels of hierarchy to more traditional phrase structure rules using the phrasal constituent called an X-bar.

The head, X, is said to combine with a complement to form an X-bar, and an w:adjunct is said to combine with an X-bar to form another X-bar. Finally, an X-bar is said to combine with a specifier to form the top level of the phrase, the X Phrase (or XP). [In this way, complements are distinguished from adjuncts by the fact that a complement has an X as a sister, whereas an adjunct has X-bar as a sister.]

These rules can be formalized as follows:

  • XP --> (specifier), X-bar An X Phrase consists of an optional specifier and an X-bar, in either order.
  • (X-bar --> X-bar, adjunct) An X-bar may consist of an X-bar and an adjunct, in either order.
  • X-bar --> X, (complement...) An X-bar consists of an X and any number of complements, in either order.

Note, the adjuct rule is itself optional.

Subcategorization frame[edit | edit source]

The subcategorization frame shows the constituents selected or subcategorized by a lexical item. The number of constituents subcategorized depends on the valency of the lexical item. For example, the verb "give" is trivalent (or three place predicate). Thus, it is associated with three arguments.

The three Wise Men give many presents to the children.
The three Wise Men give the children many presents.
give: [___ NP PP(to)]
      [___ NP NP] (see Dative shift)

Selectional restrictions[edit | edit source]

Predicates impose certain semantic restrictions to the arguments selected. For example, in 1. the predicate "overtake" may select the NP "a cyclist" as an argument, but it cannot select the NP "a smile" :

1. a. The car driver overtook a cyclist.
   b.*The car driver overtook a smile.

Transformations[edit | edit source]

  • Structure-Preserving Hypothesis

The transformations are structure-preserving. Thus, when a constituent moves to a new position, the constituent must keep the same category as it was.

Deep and Surface structure[edit | edit source]

NP raising[edit | edit source]

The NP raises to SpecIP position to cover subject requirements and to obtain a compatible case.

V-I or I-V movement[edit | edit source]

There are two significant and different hypotheses used to explain the process of inflectional affixation in English verbs. While Chomsky suggested that the inflectional element lowers to V position, also called affix lowering, others have suggested that the V rises to I position.

NICE properties[edit | edit source]

NICE is an acronym used to distinguish the main verbs from the auxiliary and modal verbs.

  • Negation
[IP I(i) do [NEGP not [VP t(i) scream]]].

(Do support in order to fulfill the VI movement requirement when lexical, because lexical verb scream cannot undergo VI movement).

*[IP I(i) scream(j) [NEGP not [VP t(i) t(j)]]].

The ungrammaticality of this example shows that lexical verbs cannot undergo V-I movement and they need do-support, as it is shown in the previous grammatical example.

  • Inversion (in interrogative sentence formation).
[CP Do(i)[IP you(j)  t(i)[VPt(j) scream]]]?

(I-C movement)

  • C
  • Ellipsis

Only verbs in the inflectional domain may undergo these properties. That is why we cannot apply them to lexical verbs, because the lexical verbs stay always in the lexical domain. When a V-I movement is needed, then it undergoes do insertion.

I-C movement[edit | edit source]

I-C, Inflectional to Complementizer domain movement takes place in:

  • Semiindirect speech
  • Direct questions (see the example above in Inversion, of NICE properties).
  • Subordinate clauses.

Functional domain[edit | edit source]

Inflectional phrase (IP)[edit | edit source]

  • Modal verbs and auxiliary verbs.

Modal verbs are generated in the functional domain, as it is proved in the next examples:

  • Negation: (the particle of negation, in English, may only occur between the IP and the VP.
1  a. The wikipedians should not despise other users.
   b.*The wikipedians not should despise other users.
  • Sentential adverbs: (sentential adverbs are those adverbs which, according to Radford, are immediately dominated by the Sentence node.
2  a. [IP The wikipedians(i) necessarily should [VP (i) respect other users]].
   b. *[IP The wikipedians(i) should [VP (i) respect necessarily other users]].

Modal verbs may co-occur in the same clause with one or more auxiliary verbs:

3  a. The wikipedians should have respected other users.
   b. The wikipedians should have been respected by other users.

However, modal verbs may not co-occur in the same clause with other modal verbs, as it is shown in an ungrammatical sentence like:

4  *The wikipedians must should respect other users.

Complementizer domain[edit | edit source]

Wh- movement[edit | edit source]

  • Wh- base generation
1 a. [CP What(h) do(i) [IP you(j) t(i)[VP t(j) like ____(what)t(k)?]]]
  • Complex NP constraint.

The Complex NP is a Noun Phrases whose head is modified by a relative clause or by a Noun Complement Clause. Wh- movement out of a Complex NP leads to ungrammaticality, because there is no way to extract an element out of a Complex NP. That is the reason why Complex NPs are called islands.

  • Wh-island constraint

In the same way, no constituent can undergo extraction from a subordinate clause whose CP by a WH- word.

  • Head Movement constraint
  • Adjacency and the Boundary theory

Glosary of terms[edit | edit source]

  • A adverb
  • AP adverbial phrase
  • Complement-adjunct tests.
  • Constituency rules.
  • Constituency tests.
  • DP Determiner phrase
  • NP Noun phrase
  • PP Prepositional phrase
  • VP Verbal phrase

Useful links[edit | edit source]

w:Transformational grammar

External linguistic sites[edit | edit source]

(Be aware that this dictionary is protected under restrictive copyrights, so its content is incompatible with our free lycense GFDL.

Santorini, Beatrice, and Anthony Kroch. 2000.
The syntax of natural language: An online introduction using the Trees program.
© 2000 Beatrice Santorini and Anthony Kroch
(A 21 de diciembre de 2004),última modificación conocida: 4 de febrero del 2004.
Descripción:Libro de acceso libre en internet de sintaxis de la lengua inglesa desde una perspectiva de la Gramática Transformacional. Idioma: inglés
Descripción:Desarrollado por - Yves Roberge de la Universidad de Toronto con la colaboración de Henriette Gezundhajt. Idioma: francés.


Asociaciones, centros de investigación y recursos

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Haegeman, L. & J. Guéron (1999) English grammar: a Generative Perspective. Blackwell. Oxford, England.

Radford, A. (2003) Transformational Grammar, a first course, Cambridge textbooks in linguistics. Cambridge, England. ISBN 0-521-34750-5