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Generative linguistics is a school of thought within
that makes use of the concept of a generative
grammar. The term "generative grammar" is used in different
ways by different people, and the term "generative linguistics"
therefore has a range of different, though overlapping,
Formally, a generative grammar is defined as one that is
fully explicit. It is a finite set of rules that can be
applied to generate all those and only those sentences
(often, but not necessarily, infinite in number) that are
grammatical in a given language. This is the definition
that is offered by Noam
Chomsky, who invented the term 
, and by most dictionaries of linguistics. It is important
to note that generate is being used as a technical
term with a particular sense. To say that a grammar generates
a sentence means that the grammar "assigns a structural
description" to the sentence.
The term generative grammar is also used to label the approach
to linguistics taken by Chomsky and his followers. Chomsky's
approach is characterised by the use of transformational
grammar – a theory that has changed greatly since it
was first promulgated by Chomsky in his 1957
Structures – and by the assertion of a strong linguistic
(and therefore an assertion that some set of fundamental
characteristics of all human languages must be the same).
The term "generative linguistics" is often applied to the
earliest version of Chomsky's transformational grammar,
which was associated with a distinction between the "deep
structure" and "surface
structure" of sentences.
Noam (1957,2002). Syntactic Structures. Mouton
de Gruyter, 13.
Noam (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. MIT
Published - November 2008