Definition of deep structure in US English:

deep structure


  • (in generative grammar) the abstract representation of the syntactic structure of a sentence.

    Contrasted with surface structure
    • ‘Chomsky's initial proposals, in Syntactic Structures and Aspects, had distinguished between the surface structure of a sentence and the deep structure, from which the surface structure is derived by transformations.’
    • ‘According to his theory, humans produce language through a deep structure that enables them to generate and transfer their own grammar to any other language.’
    • ‘This would have to be the mythical deep structure of linguistics.’
    • ‘The first is ‘universal grammar,’ the Enlightenment belief that the deep structure of language is uniform across languages.’
    • ‘The theory postulates that the two sentences have the same order in deep structure, but the question transformation changes the order to that in surface structure.’


deep structure

/ˈdip ˌstrək(t)ʃər//ˈdēp ˌstrək(t)SHər/