From Wikipedia, A BNF specification is a set of derivation rules.

The post Term for a non-word consistent with derivation rules on this site also uses this term.

Google returns a lot of results, here is one of them, just using without explaining what it is.

Could someone give an easily understandable explanation of this term?

  • They're the rules which govern how languages derive words from other words. For example, in English you add -able to turn a verb into an adjective.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 19, 2020 at 7:57
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it is not a question about linguistics. I understand it as a question about formal languages as in Theoretical Computer Science described by BNF. Sep 19, 2020 at 8:53
  • Derivation rules describe the (possibly recursive) hierarchical structure of well-formed sentences (in natural languages) or, more generally, sequences of tokens (in formal languages such as programming languages). Simply speaking, they describe word order and (to some extent) head-argument relations.
    – Atamiri
    Sep 19, 2020 at 10:51
  • @jk-ReinstateMonica Did you notice the post on this site I linked?
    – JJJohn
    Sep 19, 2020 at 11:34
  • @JJJohn There are multiple meanings for the term "derivation rules". The derivation rules used in BNF are different from the derivation rules that turn "take" into "taking"; the latter is definitely linguistics, but the former tends to fall under computer science instead (even if linguists do make use of them).
    – Draconis
    Sep 19, 2020 at 19:37


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