A term introduced into transformational grammar of the mid-1970s to refer to a formal means of marking the place a constituent once held in a derivation, before it was moved to another position by a transformational operation. The position from which the constituent was moved is known as a trace (t marks its place in the representation), which is said to be ‘bound’ by that constituent. The moved constituent and the empty node it leaves behind are co-indexed. For example, in a rule which ‘raise’ the subject of an embedded clause to be the subject of the main clause, the trace t marks the position of the embedded subject, e.g. it is certain [the man to come]→the man is certain t to come. In government-binding theory, a distinction is made between traces of noun phrases moved by NP-movement (NP traces), as in passive and raising sentences, and traces of categories moved by WH-movement (wh-traces), as in wh-questions, relative clauses, etc. The former are anaphors and the latter are variables. The distribution of traces is governed by the empty category principle.
本世紀70年代中期的轉換語法用它來指一種形式手段，它標記一個組構成分在派生過程中通過轉換移至另一位置前占據的位置。組構成分從哪兒移出的那個位置稱作語跡（在表征式中用t表示），按該理論它受那個組構成分的“約束”。移走的組構成分和它留下的空節點有同標關系。例如，一條規則將一個嵌套小句的主語“提升”為主要小句的主語，語跡t就標示嵌套句主語的位置，如it is certain [the man to come]→the man is certain t to come“那個人肯定t會來”。管理與約束理論區分兩類語跡，一類是通過NP-移位留下的名詞短語語跡，如見于被動句和提升句；一類是通過WH-移位留下的某些語類的語跡，即wh-語跡，如見于wh-問句、關系小句等。前者是照應語而后者是變項。語跡的分布受空語類原則的支配。