Seuren, P. A. M.
The comparative. In F. Kiefer, & N. Ruwet (Eds.
), Generative grammar in Europe
(pp. 528-564). Reidel: Dordrecht.
No idea is older in the history of linguistics than the thought that there is, somehow hidden underneath the surface of sentences, a form or a structure which provides a semantic analysis and lays bare their logical structure. In Plato’s Cratylus the theory was proposed, deriving from Heraclitus’ theory of explanatory underlying structure in physical nature, that words contain within themselves bits of syntactic structure giving their meanings. The Stoics held the same view and maintained moreover that every sentence has an underlying logical structure, which for them was the Aristotelian subject- predicate form. They even proposed transformational processes to derive the surface from the deep structure. The idea of a semantically analytic logical form underlying the sentences of every language kept reappearing in various guises at various times. Quite recently it re-emerged under the name of generative semantics.
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