What methods & resources are available to support one's process of time-efficiently acquiring a deep understanding of transformational grammar? My technical background is that of a computational linguist who had a basic linguistic education but whose education in general was more oriented towards the computational element, i.e. programming, theoretical computer science and mathematics.

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    "Transformational grammar" generally refers to syntactic theory up to somewhere in the mid 70's, following Chomsky's ideology (thus generally not including Lakoff, Ross, McCawley, and also excluding early non gen-sem disaffectees like Brame). Is that what you want? Or do you mean "modern Minimalism"; or do you mean compuationally-oriented declarative theories like HPSG and its descendants?
    – user6726
    Aug 19, 2016 at 19:48
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    I'd say "transformational grammar" includes all the schools that came out of C's ideologies, whether he blessed them or not. Definitely Ross, Lakoff, McCawley, Zwicky, Postal, Morgan, Fillmore, Green, et al were and are transformational grammarians, and indeed did most of the discovering of transformations. And probably the best overview of generative syntax is McCawley 1998.
    – jlawler
    Aug 20, 2016 at 3:02
  • That first sentence is a doozy. What is it you want exactly? A text book or something like that that will help you quickly understand basic transformational grammar? Or is it the varieties of TG and their differences? And since you say you have basic linguistic education, I'm guessing you want intermediate?
    – Mitch
    Aug 29, 2016 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


Given your background, I'd suggest starting with the Chomsky hierarchy, keeping in mind the Peters-Richie result. Also relevant is the demonstration that the classical transformational grammar of English can be reconstructed within context free phrase structure grammar -- see GPSG.

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