The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Generative linguistics: One of the two components of American linguist Noam Chomsky’s theory of linguistics postulated in Syntactic Structures (1957). Chomsky attempted to account for what he called the “rule-bound creativity” of any given language — that is, the fact that a native speaker who is speaking to another native speaker can utter an original sentence, a series of words that neither has heard in that exact form and order before, but that both of them nonetheless easily understand due to their linguistic competence. Chomsky argued that competence in a given language follows from mastery of a certain set of generative and transformational rules. Thus his theory is termed generative in its attempt to determine the set of rules that accounts for all the possible syntactically correct sentences in any given language. His theory is termed transformational in its belief that a certain set of transformative rules produces a plethora of variations on “kernel sentences” (basic sentences) in the “deep structure” of any given language.