Transformational Rule: Optional and Obligatory

Topics: Grammar, Phrase, Linguistics Pages: 23 (7102 words) Published: June 30, 2013
Changing of sentences from one form to another is a favorite exercise in public school English. Thus from a sentence like John is writing a letter.
May be formed, among others, the following:
John isn’t writing a letter.
Is John writing a letter?
A letter is being written by John.

Very little is ordinarily given by way of clearly formulated rules for these processes, yet students seem to learn the technique more or less readily.

On the other hand, a little examination will show that changes of the sorts illustrated above can described structurally that is, in terms of the addition of elements, the rearranging of elements, or the altering of the form of elements. What specific portions of the sentence are involved, and how, can be very exactly stated. This is done, not in terms of their meanings, but on the basis of their structural position within the sentence. Not all operation of altering sentences to related sentences have the same linguistic interest. The ones involving structural changes stand apart from all the others. They will be called transformations.

Questions to be imposed:
What is transformational rule?
What are those rules and how its work?

After completing this report, you will be able to:
Understand what is transformational rule
Familiarize some rules in transforming sentences
Distinguish optional and obligatory rules
Transform affirmative and negative sentences interchangeably •Transform interrogative and affirmative interchangeably and other kinds of sentences

A transformation is a statement of the structural relation of a pair of constructions which treats that relation as though it were a process. Hence, it is normally stated in the form of rules which may be applied to one of the pair--- an input --- altering it to produce the other --- an output. Note that transformations are directional.

As an example we might consider the following set of sentence pairs.

1.John is writing a letter.John isn’t writing a letter. 2.Jim has been trying to do it.Jim hasn’t been trying to do it. 3.James will come tomorrow.James won’t come tomorrow.
4.Ruth was a beautiful girl.Ruth wasn’t a beautiful girl. 5.Mary could have been there.Mary couldn’t have been there. 6.His father walked home.His father didn’t walk home.
7.My friends like chess.My friends don’t like chess.
8.The car runs well.The car doesn’t run well.
9.Sam started running immediately. Sam didn’t start running immediately.

All these nine sentence pairs are examples of a single transformation. The sentences seem to fall into two groups. For sentences 1 to 5 a simple rule is immediately evident: -n’t is added as a suffix to the first word in the verb phrase. This is true whether the verb phrase consists of a single word as in 4, or several as in 2 and 5. There is a minor complication in 3: will + -n’t yields won’t. we can easily show that this is quite regular, a fact about the language which would have to be describes in any case. Pairs 6to 9 seem to follow a different rule. Before the –n’t is added, walked is changed to did walk and comparable changes are made in the other cases. If we try applying the pattern of the first five pairs without this intermediate step we get such very strange output as *His father walkedn’t home.

These two rules may be combined into one, if certain conditions can be met. The first of these is that we find a clear conditioning which determines which applies. This we can do: -n’t is never added to words like walked. Which of the two rules applies is determined by whether or not the first word is one of the small list (is, are, was, has, can, . . .) to which –n’t can be added. If not, it is changed to a verb phrase which starts with did, do, does. A second condition which must be met is to find a clear statement as to how this change, walked to did walk, etc.., it to be described.

The following sentence pairs...

References: Books:
Descriptive Linguistic.
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