A Course in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar

A Course in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar

A Course in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar

A Course in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar


"Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar" GPSG has become a major syntactic theory in linguistics and in this volume it receives comprehensive tutorial treatment.; The text assumes an introductory knowledge of syntactic theory and covers all the main constructs of the grammar. A substantial part of English grammar is covered in a precise and formal manner, using numerous diagrams. Recent issues and developments are examined and a final chapter outlines the importance of GPSG to computational linguistics.; This textbook is designed for students of intermediate and advanced courses in syntax and the structure of English, and computational linguistics.


This is a textbook on syntax, an area in which many other monographs and textbooks exist. I believe, however, that the present book has something new to offer, and that it does not simply duplicate material already available. First, it is not a general introduction to syntax: it assumes that the reader has a grasp of constituency, category and other basics of syntactic analysis. Secondly, it is not a survey or comparison of a number of different frameworks. Rather, it presents one specific theoretical approach, though I have also tried to show that much of what is discussed here is of general relevance and interest. Thirdly, it is not about transformational grammar, but instead deals with a non-transformational theory of syntax.

Aside from what it is not, I hope this book also has some positive characteristics. It offers, within the framework of a textbook, an account of a relatively formalized approach to grammar. I have deliberately not attempted to present definitions and so on in a completely formalized manner, but have sought a way of expressing linguistic statements that brings out their purpose and content without too much forbidding terminology and notation. Those who wish for greater formalization can find it in the references cited. in addition, the rules given cover a fairly wide area of English grammar, and this should be useful in itself for grammar writers and others exploring English structure. I firmly believe that Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar (GPSG) currently offers the best framework for presenting a wide-coverage, formalized grammatical description, one that will be useful reading even for those who are interested in other approaches that still fall within the general area occupied by gpsg, i.e. those using features and unification.

Teachers may need to adopt their own approaches to the material presented here, depending on the level of their students and on their previous familiarity with formal syntax. I have found with undergraduates that the ideas of phrase-structure need to be presented at some length before the use of features and feature principles is introduced gradually. For comparable reasons, the book does not include exercises: I feel it is better to leave it to individual teachers to provide exercises that suit their classes.


This book could not have existed without the superb work of Gerald Gazdar, Ewan Klein, Geoffrey Pullum and Ivan Sag in developing the theory of gpsg. I am also most grateful to Harold Somers, for editorial contributions beyond the call of duty, and to Doug Arnold and Roger Evans, who read the text and made a number of helpful suggestions. and I should not forget the students who sat through the lectures on which the book is based, and who helped me to see which parts needed expressing more clearly.

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