Conditions on Transformations

"Conditions on Transformations" is an influential linguistics article by Noam Chomsky, published in 1973.[1] In it, Chomsky attempted to formulate constraints on transformational rules used in Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG), a new kind of syntactic theory that Chomsky first proposed in the 1950s. These constraints, or "conditions", helped decrease the number of possible generative grammars, with a goal to account for the process of language acquisition in children.

Chomsky's attempt to greatly constrain the power of transformational rules found a common ground with a new generation of Generativist linguists in Europe, as evidenced by the quote below:[2]

In our opinion, generative linguistics acquired a new momentum in Europe after Chomsky's Conditions on Transformations (1973). This epoch-making paper shifted the interest of linguists from rather arbitrary rules to simple well-constrained rules operating under general conditions. A significant number of members of GLOW have found their common ground in the research programme that grew out of Conditions.


  1. Chomsky 1973
  2. The GLOW manifesto


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