Transformational-Generative Grammar Chomsky

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3.5 Transformational-Generative Grammar

Transformational-Generative Grammar was introduced by Chomsky. It is a model which simulates the mind of a native speaker to generate grammatically correct sentence through a set of rules or principles and describes different languages. It is not only used to analysis the structure of a sentence, but also transform or general new elements to form a more complex sentence.

3.5.1 The Deep Structure and the Surface Structure

Chomsky (1965) proposed the idea that there is a surface and a deep structure in each sentence. The deep structure is an underlying structure which is located in the phrase level (noun phrase and the verb phrase) of a sentence and it contains the semantic component of a sentence. The
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Syntactic Generative Processes

As mentioned in 3.5.1, surface structure is generated from a small, finite set of basic or deep structure. During the transformational processes, transformational rules can be applied to the basic sentence to form new sentences. Chomsky’s transformational rules can be summarized into four processes: substitution, expansion, extension and transformation (Wang, 2011). Through these four processes, we can discover more sentences and the possibilities of language (Chomsky, 1988).

e.g.: Kenny ate an apple.  Kenny ate an orange.
The word “apple” is replaced by “orange”. A new sentence is formed.

In the process of substitution, original word(s) is/are replaced by equivalent noun, verb or phrase. To illustrate the process in an effective way, we can create a substitution table to show the syntactic pattern and the arrangement of sentences.

A substitution table
1(7) 2(3) 3(8) 4(4)
Kenny liked jogging in the morning
Joe hates hiking in the afternoon
Amy love thinking in the evening
Harry swimming at night
Ben fencing
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For instance, “Kenny” can be expanded to “Kenny Wong”, “Doctor Kenny Wong” or “My tutor Dr. Kenny Wong”. If both substitution and expansion are applied in the same phrase, “Doctor Kenny Wong” can be changed to “My father Kenny Wong”, “My son Kenny Wong” or “My teacher Kenny Wong”. In spite of adding several words, phrases or clause can also be added to expand the basic structure of sentence, e.g. “Kenny, who is staying in the hospital now, ate an unripe apple.”

e.g.: Kenny ate an apple.  Kenny ate an apple yesterday.
The sentence is extended by adding an adverbial extension of time at the end.

“In the process of extension, new elements are added to the basic syntactic structure” (Wang, 2011, p.30). In other words, new elements are added outside the basic sentence structure and form a new syntactic structure. Generally, most of the new elements added are adverbial extensions, such as adverbial extension indicating time, e.g. “yesterday”, “in the morning”, “in the afternoon”, “in the evening” and “at night”.

e.g.: Kenny ate an apple.  The apple was eaten by

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