Generative Grammar is a linguistic theory which describes a set of rules to use sequence of words properly to form grammatical sentences. The Generative grammar thus includes the studying particular rules in relation to the syntax and morphology of sentences in a language. Generative grammar is the basis of the study of different grammars such as transformational grammar, tree-adjoining grammar, relational grammar, categorical grammar among others.
Generative grammar exists in different forms and includes transformational grammar basically developed by Noam Chomsky, the U.S. linguist in the mid 1950s. His theory opposed the earlier theories of structuralism by rejecting the idea that each language is different from the other. In fact transformational grammar analyses language on the basis of certain universal tenets in languages. Further the Chomskyan tradition has resulted in specific transformational grammar, influenced greatly by his Minimalist Program. There is no agreement by Linguists on the kind of generative grammar that could be used as the best model to describe natural languages.
Generative grammar sets forth the rules to recognize grammatical sentences in a language and differentiate them from improper sequence of words or ungrammatical sentences in the same language. Besides, Generative grammar outlines the syntactic analysis or structural description for the grammatical sentences of the language which are more precise than the analysis of traditional grammar in terms of parts of speech.
The rules of generative grammar focus on the different components of the language such as syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology. The sentence is represented as a tree having branches denoting the subordinate and superordinate elements rather than just a sequence of words. For example, the sentence, “The cat ate the mouse” would have the branches of a noun phrase(The cat) and verb phrase( ate the mouse) with the branch of noun phrase further being divided into the branches of a determiner(the) and noun(cat) and the verb phrase consisting of the verb(ate) and the noun phrase[ determiner(the) and noun (mouse)].
Transformational Grammar is looked upon as one of the approach to generative grammar which describes a language with the help of transformational rules. It involves logical reasoning to understand fully the meaning of the selected words. As such transformational grammar goes a step ahead of structural grammar which focuses more on the sentence structures used for communication. Apart from the use of correct sentence structure, transformational grammar analyses the words with reference to its underlying thoughts. Transformational grammar employs most of the linguistic tools such as syntax and context to explore the possible meanings of words.
Generative grammar is more of an attempt to formalize the implicit rules that a person uses while speaking his native language. It is due to this inate language rules present I human beings that enables them to learn their native language with minimum effort and time. The rules of generative grammar may appear to be useful only in language studies but the truth is that they have been successfully applied even in the studies on music. Notable musicians such Schenkerian, Fred Lerdahl and Mark Steedman have used the ideas of generative grammar to analyze studies in music theory.