Deep Structure and Transformations
The purpose of this paper is to provide a clear account of the concept of deep structure throughout the whole evolution of transformational generative grammar proposed by Chomsky. The paper will be divided into four parts. In the first part, the concept of deep structure will be considered from the perspective of Chomsky’s grammatical theory published in his Syntactic Structures. The second section considers deep structure and its impact but after the publication of Chomsky’s Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. The third part is concerned with deep structure within the Government and Binding theory framework. The last part of the paper considers the status of deep structure within the minimalist approach.
I. Deep Structure after the Publication of Syntactic Structures
After the publication of Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures in 1957, the notion of transformational generative grammar started formally. In Syntactic Structures, Chomsky did not elaborate on his belief in the existence of a universal grammar. However, the concept was certainly there since Chomsky argued for the need of developing grammars of specific languages to be certain that these particular grammars fall within the framework of a general linguistic theory. In addition, Chomsky was interested in determining the basic underlying principles of a successful grammar. He also presented a new formulation: phrase structure rules plus transformation rules. Chomsky’s generative grammar was based on rationalism and it was developed as the perfect alternative to structuralism based on behaviourism. According to Chomsky, a grammar or an adequate grammar should be capable of producing grammatical sentences and rejecting ungrammatical ones. It must be able to mirror the speaker’s ability to both produce and understand an infinite number of grammatical utterances which he has never spoken or heard before. To illustrate this point, consider this classical pair of...