jeudi 15 octobre 2009

Chomsky: Not so Revolutionary After All?

This article argues that the reason Chomsky's theory took off as much as it did is that he presented it at the right place and the right time. It's true that the 60s and 70s were a revolutionary period, as much in the US (counterculture movement) as in Québec (la Révolution tranquille) and across Europe (mai 68 in France, for example).

Simply put, Chomsky's initial revolutionary idea was that the system of rules inherent in a language allows it to generate or produce (rather than just mimic) all kinds of utterances, both basic and complex. But as time went on, a complementary idea arose, according to which the language faculty (innate in every human being) left to itself would invent all sorts of strange things. And so it has to be firmly kept in place by systems of rules which prevent each language from going into certain directions.

To read (or re-read): all of my books on linguistics.
To write: all these linguistic ideas and theories I have in my head (but that I want to clarify by reading more).

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