Gradient well-formedness

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Gradient well-formedness is a problem that arises in the analysis of data in generative linguistics, in which a linguistic entity is neither completely grammatical nor completely ungrammatical. A native speaker may judge a word, phrase or pronunciation as "not quite right" or "almost there," rather than dismissing it as completely unacceptable or fully accepting it as well-formed. Thus, the acceptability of the given entity lies on a "gradient" between well-formedness and ill-formedness. Some generative linguists think that ill-formedness might be strictly additive, thus trying to figure out universal constraints by acquiring scalar grammaticality judgements from informants. Generally, however, gradient well-formedness is considered an unsolved problem in generative linguistics.

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