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GPSG, HPSG, LFG. Jack Hoeksema. Syntax in the 1970’s. Rapid growth of transformations: Movement : Wh-movement, relativisation, topicalization, V2, Subject-Aux inversion, Extraposition, Passivization, Raising to Subject, Raising to Object, Verb Raising,Quantifier Raising, clitic movement, etc.

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Gpsg hpsg lfg


Jack Hoeksema

Syntax in the 1970 s

Syntax in the 1970’s

Rapid growth of transformations:

Movement: Wh-movement, relativisation, topicalization, V2, Subject-Aux inversion, Extraposition, Passivization, Raising to Subject, Raising to Object, Verb Raising,Quantifier Raising, clitic movement, etc.

Deletion: Gapping, RNR, conjunction reduction, VP-deletion, have/be deletion, complementizer deletion, Equi-NP deletion

Leading to

Leading to

  • Complex derivations, reaching their apex in generative semantics, with extremely abstract underlying structures related to surface forms by a multitude of transformations

E g postal 1970 on the surface verb remind

E.g. Postal 1970‘On the surface verb remind’

  • me PERCEIVE [Larry SIMILAR Winston Churchill] =>

    Larry reminds me of Winston Churchill

Emonds 1970 and 1976

Emonds 1970 and 1976

  • Limit the possibilities of transformations

  • Structure-preserving transformations only

  • So: no tree-pruning, nor tree-building by means of transformations

Brame 1976 conjectures and refutations in syntax and semantics

Brame 1976: Conjectures and Refutations in Syntax and Semantics

  • Chain of mutually dependent transformations: Equi-NP deletion, passive, raising to object

  • If one falls, so will the others

  • Making the transformational theory a house of cards

Bresnan 1978 realistic syntax

Bresnan 1978: Realistic syntax

  • Problem with 1960’s transformational syntax was lack of psycholinguistic support

  • The theory of derivational complexity had fallen apart: it does not predict order of acquisition, nor ease of computation

  • A more realistic theory would not use transformations in a model of online production

Gpsg hpsg lfg

  • Cf. Joan Bresnan, 1978, “A Realistic Transformational Grammar,” in Morris Halle, Joan Bresnan, and George A.Miller, eds., Linguistic Theory and Psychological Reality, The MIT Press, (pp. 1-59).

Local transformations or base structure

Local transformations or base structure?

  • John was rescued by Mary

    < Mary rescued John (transformation)

  • John was rumoured to be gay

    (*they rumour John to be gay)

  • *A Toyota was had by John

    (< John had a Toyota)

  • Alternative: two base structures

Like so

Like so:

And so

and so

The main problem

The main problem

  • Long distance movement

  • Could not be done away by nontransformational means in the same way as the local transformations

Gazdar 1979 1981

Gazdar 1979 (=1981)

  • Long-distance dependencies without movement by recursive feature-passing

Introducing slash features

Introducing slash features

And so on

And so on

Gpsg generalized phrase structure grammar

GPSG: Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar

  • Let G be a context-free grammar

  • For each rule A -> B C add new rules

    A/D -> B C/D and A/D -> B/D C (metarule)

  • And as well as: X/X -> [e] (for all X) (slash termination)

  • And: S -> XP S/XP (slash introduction)



  • Coordinate Structure Constraint for free

  • No need for Across-the-Board convention

  • Beans, I like but Mary despises.

  • *Beans, I like salad but Mary despises.

Recursive feature passing needed elsewhere in the grammar

Recursive feature passing needed elsewhere in the grammar

  • E.g. [+rel]:

  • The boy who stole the bike

  • The boy whose brother stole the bike

  • The boy whose brother’s girlfriend stole the bike

  • All bikes the colour of the handlebars of which is blue

  • The boy about whose brother we are speaking

A sample tree with feature passing

A sample tree with feature passing

Similarities with slash

Similarities with slash

  • The boy whose brother and whose sister were abducted

  • *The boy whose brother and Jim were abducted

Properties of gpsg

Properties of GPSG

  • Heavy use of features

  • Metarules, next to regular PS rules

  • Later stages: separation of Immediate Dominance from Linear Precedence

  • General feature passing mechanisms:

    Head Feature Convention and Foot Feature Principle

Separating id from lp

Separating ID from LP

  • PP -> P NP (in the car)

  • PP -> P PP (from behind the car)

  • VP -> V NP (drive the car)

  • VP -> V PP (drive into the garage)


    XP -> X, YP (ID) and X < YP (LP)

Gpsg hpsg lfg


And out

And out:

Gpsg hpsg lfg


  • Not all features “count” for coordination, only foot features do

  • Masculine + feminine is OK (la femme et l’homme sont venus)

  • Singular + plural is OK (the boy and the girls are in the yard)

  • First and second person is OK (Me and you, we are a good team)

Later developments

Later developments

  • HPSG: Head-driven phrase structure grammar (1984 – 2005), deriving from the dissertation of Carl Pollard

  • Adopts the idea from categorial grammar that PS-rules can be discarded because the selection information of lexical heads predicts phrase structure

  • Is used frequently in computational linguistics

Lfg lexical functional grammar

LFG: Lexical Functional Grammar

  • Joan Bresnan

  • 1980-2005



  • Two levels of structure

  • C-structure (tree)

  • F-structure (representation of grammatical functions)

  • Mappings between C-structure and F-structure

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