Deep Structure

NoamChomsky originated DeepStructure, which plays a significant part in NealStephenson's SnowCrash. See TheLanguageInstinct for more on what Chomsky meant - DeepStructure is important for reasons far more significant than its appearance in a NealStephenson novel!


DeepStructure was a component of early TransformationalGrammar theory. Its role was gradually reduced in subsequent revisions of Chomsky's theory until finally being phased out in the nineties. Theoretical syntacticians who work outside of Chomsky's theory have never accepted DeepStructure. Presently, DeepStructure is important only as an interesting fact about the development of modern linguistic theory - which is probably less significant than its appearance in a NealStephenson novel. -- SteveConley


Let's explain it a bit by an example. Let's say that "John loves Mary" and "Mary is loved by John" are synonymous. Their surface syntactic structures are different, however their deep structures are the same. Languages are much more similar at their deep structures than they are at their surface structures.

Really? Where is the evidence for the existence of these deep structures? Where is the evidence Basque and Japanese share deep structure? I don't mean handwaving, I want precisely the evidence Chomsky has so far failed to provide.


DeepStructure is also an expression used by AlanCarter in the ProgrammersStone and ReciprocalityTheory, in a way that is perhaps related but not directly equivalent to Chomsky's usage. It's difficult to precisely define; to get a handle on it, read the ProgrammersStone, TheThirdAge, or this message: http://www.livejournal.com/users/acheron_hades/98323.html. this page said it has been deleted and purged.

-- SteveDodd
CategoryNaturalLanguage

EditText of this page (last edited July 31, 2010) or FindPage with title or text search