In theoretical linguistics, a generative grammar refers to a particular approach to the study of syntax. A generative grammar of a language attempts to give a set of rules that will correctly predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentences. In most approaches to generative grammar, the rules will also predict the morphology of a sentence. Generative grammar arguably originates in the work of Noam Chomsky, beginning in the late 1950s. However, Chomsky has said that the first generative grammar in the modern sense was Panini's Sanskrit grammar. Chomsky also acknowledges other historical antecedents.
Early versions of Chomsky's theory were called transformational grammar, and this term is still used as a general term that includes his subsequent theories. There are a number of competing versions of generative grammar currently practiced within linguistics. Chomsky's current theory is known as the Minimalist program. Other prominent theories include or have included dependency grammar, head-driven phrase structure grammar, lexical functional grammar, categorial grammar, relational grammar, link grammar, and tree-adjoining grammar.
Chomsky has argued that many of the properties of a generative grammar arise from an "innate" universal grammar. Proponents of generative grammar have argued that most grammar is not the result of communicative function and is not simply learned from the environment (see poverty of the stimulus argument). In this respect, generative grammar takes a point of view different from cognitive grammar, functional, and behaviorist theories.
Most versions of generative grammar characterize sentences as either grammatically correct (also known as well formed) or not. The rules of a generative grammar typically function as an algorithm to predict grammaticality as a discrete (yes-or-no) result. In this respect, it differs from stochastic grammar, which considers...
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