Model-theoretic grammar

Geoffrey K. Pullum Generative grammar Grammar
Advertisement - You can get this game from STEAM

Model-theoretic grammars, also known as constraint-based grammars, contrast with generative grammars in the way they define sets of sentences: they state constraints on syntactic structure rather than providing operations for generating syntactic objects.[1] A generative grammar provides a set of operations such as rewriting, insertion, deletion, movement, or combination, and is interpreted as a definition of the set of all and only the objects that these operations are capable of producing through iterative application. A model-theoretic grammar simply states a set of conditions that an object must meet, and can be regarded as defining the set of all and only the structures of a certain sort that satisfy all of the constraints.[2] The approach applies the mathematical techniques of model theory to the task of syntactic description: a grammar is a theory in the logician's sense (a consistent set of statements) and the well-formed structures are the models that satisfy the theory.

Examples of model-theoretic grammars

The following is a sample of grammars falling under the model-theoretic umbrella:


One benefit of model-theoretic grammars over generative grammars is that they allow for gradience in grammaticality. A structure may deviate only slightly from a theory or it may be highly deviant. A generative grammar, in contrast "entail a sharp boundary between the perfect and the nonexistent, and do not even permit gradience in ungrammaticality to be represented."[5]


  1. ^ Pullum, Geoffrey Keith; Scholz, Barbara C. (2001). "On the distinction between generative-enumerative and model-theoretic syntactic frameworks" (PDF). In de Groote, Philippe; Morrill, Glyn; Retor, Christian (eds.). Logical Aspects of Computational Linguistics: 4th International Conference. Springer Verlag. pp. 17–43.
  2. ^ Pullum, Geoffrey Keith (2007). "The evolution of model-theoretic frameworks in linguistics" (PDF). In Rogers, James; Kepser, Stephan (eds.). Model-theoretic syntax at 10 – Proceedings of the ESSLLI2007 MTS@10Workshop. Trinity College Dublin. pp. 1–10.
  3. ^ a b c d Müller, Stefan (2016). Grammatical theory: From transformational grammar to constraint-based approaches. Berlin: Language Science Press. pp. 490–491.
  4. ^ Christiansen, Henning. "CHR Grammars with multiple constraint stores." First Workshop on Constraint Handling Rules: Selected Contributions. Universität Ulm, Fakultät für Informatik, 2004.
  5. ^ Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2013). "The Central Question in Comparative Syntactic Metatheory: The Central Question in Comparative Syntactic Metatheory". Mind & Language. 28 (4): 492–521. doi:10.1111/mila.12029.