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Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Robert N. St. Clair


The traditional parts of speech have undergone many changes since their inception among the Roman grammarians. The structuralists found them to be inadequate in accounting for the kinds of grammatical categories that exist among most of the non-European languages in the world. When Chomsky developed his model of transformational grammar, he returned to the issue of the traditional parts of speech. He argued that all languages should have similar parts of speech. The reasons for this assertion is based on his assumption that there are universal phrase structure rules that operate across all languages. The universal parts of speech in the earliest model of his grammar were few in number (NP, Det, AUX, VP, S) but with the passage of time they were expanded to include other lexical and phrasal categories.LEXICAL CATEGORIES N = NounV = VerbAUX = Auxiliary VerbA = AdjectiveADV = AdverbDET = DeterminerDEG = Degree of ExpressionCONJ = Coordinating ConjunctionPRO = Pro Constituent or Pro FormQ = Quantifier PHRASAL CATEGORIES S = Sentence or ClauseNP = Noun PhraseVP = Verb PhraseAP = Adjectival PhrasePP = Prepositional PhraseADVP = Adverbial PhraseQP = Quantifier Phrase THE PROBLEM WITH PHRASE STRUCTURE CATEGORIES Linguists began to notice that there were problems with the aforementioned lexical and phrasal categories. The problem was that they needed another kind of category between lexical and phrasal categories. For the present, this new level will be called the X-Bar category.Phrasal Categories X-Bar Categories Lexical Categories The reason that they needed these new "phrase structure nodes" had to do with the process of pronominalization. This occurs when a Noun or a Noun Phrase is substituted by a pro-form. The man saw Harry (Noun) The man saw him (Pronoun)I like fast cars (Noun Phrase)I like them (Pro Noun Phrase) Linguists discovered that other kinds of constituents are pronominalized. These constituents are neither full noun phrases nor mere lexical phrases, but phrases that are intermediate to these, viz., X-Bar Categories. Consider the example of "very tall" in the following phrase marker:

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