Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar

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The term Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar (GPSG) refers to a grammar formalism which originated in the first half of the 80s. It was developed by G. Gazdar, G. K. Pullum et. al. as an alternative to transformational grammar which dominated research in syntax at that time. GPSG belongs to the class of unification-based grammars.


GPSG is a monostratal formalism: there is only one level of syntactic description and hence, there are no transformations. Each grammar can be (at least in principle) expanded into a simple context-free phrase structur grammar. Some formal problems and the growing conviction that natural languages should be considered as mildly context-sensitive which spread among linguists in the late 80s, led to a drastic loss of interest in GPSG.

Many concepts and ideas formulated within the GPSG framework (ID/LP format, head feature convention) have been incorporated by Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar.

See also


  • Gazdar, G. & G. Pullum, 1992. Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar: A Theoretical Synopsis Indiana University Linguistics Club, Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Pullum, G. & G. Gazdar (1982). Natural languages and context-free languages. Linguistics and Philosophy 4(4), 471-504.
  • Gazdar, G. et al. 1985. Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar. Cambridge, Mass.
  • Shieber, S.M. (1985). Evidence against the context-freeness of natural language. Linguistics and Philosophy 8, 333-343.

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