《镜子大全》《朝华午拾》分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/liwei999 曾任红小兵,插队修地球,1991年去国离乡,不知行止。

博文

Dad, can you explain Chomsky's X-bar Theory to me?

已有 6612 次阅读 2013-7-30 17:46 |个人分类:Little Stories of Tian Tian|系统分类:教学心得|关键词:Chomsky,grammar,X-bar| grammar, chomsky, X-bar

3am at night, Tanya suddenly asked me this question.  


Curiosity kills a cat, but not a young scholar.  Good question although it is a little difficult to fully explain X-bar theory (or any other Chomsky's theory) at high-school level, but you are special, a linguist by birth (kidding), so let me give it a try.  Some illustration will give you some idea of what it is and what Chomsky intends to do with this theory.


Chomsky is obsessed with mathematical abstraction of linguistic theory and he tries to build his theory that is most general and ultimately uncovers the language universals underlying all human languages.  For this goal, he has this X-bar theory.


Basically, language has different levels of tokens (or units), let us take the nouns as a simple example: (1) basic unit is word (e.g. girl); (2) the next level is group (e.g. beautiful girl); (3) the next next level is phrase (e.g. this beautiful girl).  


Chomsky labels word-level as bar 0; group-level as bar 1; and phrase level as bar 2.  

X refers to noun, verb, or adjective.  

So X in terms of nouns is a Noun (N); X-bar is therefore a Noun Group (NG); X-double-bar is Noun Phrase (NP).

Sounds simple, er? a noun phrase can be diagrammed as follows:


Also see the trees in my following blog for NP (Noun Phrase) "John's car wash" and VP (Verb Phrase, some call it a sentence S, depending on different theorization of syntax) "John washed the car":


This shows that verb tree looks similar to noun tree.  That is exactly what Chomsky wants to achieve: different types of phrases share the same type of structure in diagramming.  By doing this, he goes one step further to abstraction and common universals.  

Chomsky is a very intelligent philosopher and mathematician in addition to a giant of linguistics.  (He is also THE most quoted man in the world and arguably the best known "political dissident" in America.)

Hope it does not confuse you or make you bored.


My bog in Chinese on X-bar theory:

http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-362400-698434.html


English wiki for X-bar theory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-bar_theory





http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-362400-712649.html

上一篇:职业教育vs学术教育
下一篇:【Church - 钟摆摆得太远(3):皮尔斯论】

1 张能立

该博文允许注册用户评论 请点击登录 评论 (1 个评论)

数据加载中...

Archiver|手机版|科学网 ( 京ICP备14006957 )

GMT+8, 2019-11-21 21:54

Powered by ScienceNet.cn

Copyright © 2007- 中国科学报社

返回顶部