Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Researchers in writing have expressed disillusionment with transformational-generative syntax over the past decade. Such disillusionment is caused partly by the different research goals and assumptions about language held by researchers in syntax and those in writing, and partly by unrealistic expectations about the pedagogical usefulness of syntactic theory. However, rather than abandoning the study of linguistics, writing specialists may benefit by reexamining the relation between their field and that of linguistics. First, researchers in writing should distinguish more clearly between applied research and pedagogy. Syntactic theory can be used to explain and analyze certain structural phenomena in student writing, even though this theory does not always suggest immediate pedagogical strategies. Second, writing specialists should investigate areas of linguistics other than syntactic theory. Findings from pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and functional linguistics are applicable to the study of how writers adapt discourse to particular audiences, and to the study of how grammatical competence manifests itself in performance.