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Linguistics: Generativism

  • By: Gaurav Mathur
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

There have been many approaches to the linguistic study of a language. One of these approaches falls under the rubric of “generativism” or “generative grammar.” Other labels include “transformational grammar,” “government and binding theory,” “principles and parameters approach,” and the “minimalist program,” each one reflecting the evolution of the study of linguistic structure over time.

It is important to understand the main concepts underlying generative approaches, because they have driven much of the early research on sign languages in the 1970s and 1980s and continue to inform some of the ongoing research on sign languages. Note that while Stokoe (1960) was the among the first to carry out research on American Sign Language (ASL), which occured roughly around the same time as the emergence of generative ...

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