Here's my childish challenge to generative grammar:
Could anyone give me an analysis of Russian sentence Мама мыла раму. (Mom washed the (window) frame.) from the point of view of modern grammar theories (Generative Grammar, Head-First Grammar, Construction Grammar, etc.)?
The background: The sentence is learned by the Russians in their elementary school as an example of the free word order in Russian. Indeed, since the subject and the direct object are morphologically marked (Мама мыла раму.) the sentence is understandable for all the possible word permutations: SVO, SOV, OVS, OSV, VOS, VSO.
SVO may look like a more natural word order in the stand alone phrase, but one could easily think of the contexts where any of the alternative word orders will be more appropriate (topicalization?).
I assume that the analysis in terms of Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG) would postulate a derivation tree based on the SVO order [S [NP Мама] [VP мыла [NP раму]]], and then add the permutation rules to accommodate the alternative word orders. Hence is my critique of TGG:
- Occam's razor: the explanation seems by far more complicated than the intuitively obvious relations between the verb, the nominative subject and the accusative object.
- There is no obvious reason to postulate one word order in comparison to others.
- Postulating an initial word order breaks the "universal" nature of TGG, as it is more suitable for the analysis of languages with a fixed word order, such as English, than for synthetic languages like Russian (German seems like an intermediate case, where the subject and the object can be swapped, but the verb is always second.)
As I mentioned previously I am interested in seeing the analysis done by somebody knowledgeable. If my reasoning seems naïve - the more I would like to learn why/where.
Note Thank you for the interesting feedback. However the question itself is a request for actual analysis of a typical SVO sentence in an inflected language, such as Russian. And not necessarily from the point of view of TGG.
Further challenge Just to spice the things up, let us add a word: "Мама мыла раму мылом." (Mom washed the frame with a soap.)