Theory of the 1970s and minimalism Essay
Theory of the 1970s and minimalism
The Extended and the minimalism in the generative tradition are notions used in linguistics which explains different aspects of the language. The Extended Standard Theory was formulated in the late 1960s to early 1970s and specifically in 1965 to 1973 (Chomsky, 1965) while the minimalism started way back in the 1950s. They have both been used over time by learners in different times for criticism and for learning and understanding linguistics.
The Extended Standard Theory has two features namely the syntactic constraints and the generalized phrase features also known as the X-bar theory. The X-bar theory is a linguistics theory component which attempts to identify syntactic features common to all languages. It explains that all languages have some certain shared structural similarities, including the ‘X-bar’ which does not appear in traditional phrase. On contrary, Chomsky (1995) discussed how minimalist approaches to phrase structure have resulted in ‘Bare Phrase Structure’ which attempts to eliminate X-bar Theory.
Therefore in as much as the Extended Standard Theory uses the X-bar theory to explain syntactic features common to all languages, the minimalism in the generative tradition explains that all languages have some certain shared structural similarities. Minimalism program is a much transformational grammar inspired by Chomsky. The program aims at the further development of ideas involving economy of derivation and economy of representation which had become important earlier.
Economy of derivation in this aspect is a principle stating movements and occurs in order to match interpretable features with uninterruptable features such as inflection. Inflection is also referred to as inflexion and helps modify word forms to handle grammatical relations and relational categories such as tense, gender, case or mood. The principle of economy of representation is that structures must exist for a purpose and should satisfy constraints.
Another aspect of minimalism thought is the idea that, the derivation of synaptic structures should be uniform in that rules should not be stipulated as applying at arbitrary points in a derivation, but instead applies throughout derivations. Minimalism in the generative tradition also tries to give a distinction of deep structure of a linguistic expression with a theoretical construct that seeks to unify several related structures. The Extended Standard Theory on the other hand does not describe any of the two derivations but works with syntactic constraints and the generalized phrase features.
The usage of the term ‘transformation’ in linguistics refers to a rule that takes an input typically called the Deep Structure (in the Standard Theory) or D-structure (in the Extended Standard Theory or government and binding theory) and changes it in some restricted way to result in a Surface Structure (or S-structure). An example of a transformation in TG is the operation of subject-auxiliary inversion. Subject- auxiliary in English occurs when an auxiliary verb precedes a subject.
By the time of the Extended Standard Theory in the 1970s, due to the work of Joseph Emonds on structure preservation, transformations came to be viewed as holding over the trees. By the late 1980s at the end of the government and binding theory, transformation were viewed not as mere structure changing operations but as ways to add information to already existing trees by coping constituents. Earlier there was a conception that transformations were construction- specific devices but this was made clearer s discussed above.
The minimalist program on the other hand was a radical revision of the theory. The Extended structural Theory emphasizes on the importance of modern formal mathematical devices in the development of grammatical theory. The minimalism in the generative tradition on the other hand does not emphasize on the importance of formal mathematical devices. The generative tradition is a technical as it is well understood that linguistic processes are in some sense creative for expressing a system of recursive processes. The focus is has been made on the deep and surface structures.
The deep structure seeks to unify several related structures while the surface structure is derived from the deep structure by transformational rules. In the Extended Standard Theory, more technically sophisticated proposals about the structure of language have been made. This theory argues that all languages are presumed to follow the same set of rules which may vary depending on the values of certain universal linguistic parameters. In a 1983 article, Newmeyer discussed how, this assumption is very strong and brings the big difference between the two theories of language.
Minimalism has the idea that the derivation of syntactic structures should be uniform. This means that rules should not be stipulated as applying at arbitrary points in a derivation, but instead applies throughout derivations. Minimalism ideas and approaches to phrase structure have resulted in an attempt to eliminate x-bar theory. In conclusion, both notions; The Extended Standard Theory and the minimalism generative tradition may be somewhat vague and indeed the precise formulation of these principles is controversial.
The practicability of these notions should be further evaluated regarding their success. None of the two should be undermined since both have some importance and are of help in understanding linguistics. References Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge: MIT Press. Chomsky, N. (1995). The Minimalist Program. Cambridge: MIT Press. Hawkins, J. A. (1983). Word Order Universals. New York: Academic Press. Jackendoff, R. (1974). Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar. Cambridge: MIT Press. Newmeyer, F. J. (1983). Grammatical Theory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 September 2016
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