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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
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
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
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
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)

  • 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