Chomsky, Noam

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Chomsky, Noam 1928-


In the field of linguistics, Noam Chomsky occupies a position close to that held by Isaac Newton in physics during the eighteenth century. Because language is central to being human, Chomsky has also long occupied a foundational role in the cognitive sciences that have burgeoned since the middle of the twentieth century. While Newton had an equally intense and ambitious career as an alchemist and a doomsday Biblical scholar, the politic Sir Isaac kept these careers, largely successfully, a dark secret. Chomsky, however, has published dozens of books and countless articles throughout his life expressing leftist, egalitarian, anarchist views with almost unimpeachable moral authority and meticulous scholarship. Yet Chomsky has insisted that his scientific work in no way supports or proves his political views, other than his insistence that humans, in having cognitive command of a discrete infinity of linguistic structures, are beyond the comprehension of the empiricist behaviorism dominant in mid-twentieth-century American academic circles.

Born in Philadelphia in 1928, Chomsky pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Zellig Harris, a structural linguist who saw linguistics as the compact description of a communitys time-bound finite corpus of utterances (literally, sonic sequences of supposed phonetic atoms). Chomsky completed his graduate work while a Junior Fellow at Harvard University between 1951 and 1954, and he became a professor at MIT in 1955, rapidly advancing to a series of distinguished professorships. His books Syntactic Structures (1957) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), which have made him the most cited living author, soon revolutionized linguistics.

The opening three sentences of Syntactic Structures tersely render his formalized, mentalist, and nativist view:

Syntactical investigation of a given language has as its goal the construction of a device for producing the sentences of the language under investigation. The ultimate outcome of [such] investigations should be a theory of linguistic structures in which the descriptive devices utilized in particular grammars are presented and studied abstractly. One function of this theory is to provide a general method for selecting a grammar for each language, given a corpus of this language. (Chomsky 1957, p. x)

Formally speaking, one cannot describe a human language by listing its sentences, simply because there are an infinite number of them. One must therefore describe a device that would generate these, and only these, sentences. This device would display the knowledge that a competent human speaker of this language has. Language is the device, the internal brain/mind device, not the finite behavioral outputs that this device, coupled with others, produces. Linguistics is thus a branch of psychology.

Behaviorists such as B. F. Skinner thought that knowledge of language consisted of associations between particular words (heard sound sequences). Through repetition, humans learn the sound sequences How are you, I would like a red apple, and I am fine, but not Are you how, Red a like would I apple, Am fine I, and so on. An associative grammar like this is called finite state grammar; it fits well with the empiricist notion that humans learn everything through (sequences of) sensory experience, and it makes no use of dubious abstractions such as noun, pronoun, verb, auxiliary verb, or adjective.

Yet there is massive evidence that people routinely produce new sentences that they have never heard before and that have never been produced in the history of their language. Even if sentences are limited to fifteen words or less, there are literally trillions of different but perfectly grammatical sentences of English. In fact, Chomsky gave a decisive formal proof that no human language could be generated by a finite-state grammar. We simply have to internalize at least a phrase structure grammar that makes use of rules that deal in abstract categories such as noun phrase, verb phrase, noun, pronoun, verb, auxiliary verb, adjective, and so on. Indeed, Chomsky proved that even a phrase-structure grammar is not all that is needed, and that the surface structure of a sentence is not a reliable guide to its deeper features.

Human languages have in common many principles and processes, word forms and structures, and rules and features. What the linguist describes, therefore, belongs to human language as much as to a particular language (abstracting, of course, from the peculiarities of particular idiolects and dialects toward humanly universal cognition). Indeed, every one of the hundreds of human language that has been described makes use of the same phrase-structural concepts of noun phrase, verb phrase, pronoun, verb, adjective, and so on. In the linguistic theory of the last two decades, it appears that a small number of principles and initial parameter settings determine every aspect of grammar that makes a human language and differentiates it from other human languages (a good thing, too, because the human baby seems equally prepared to take on any human language to which it is exposed). Chomsky has speculated that a Martian anthropologist would regard all human languages as essentially the same language.

A general method for selecting a grammar for each language, given a sample corpus, would also be the knowledge a human child brings to the samples of a language to which the child is exposed. A vast body of evidence about child language development has persuaded nearly all linguists and cognitive scientists that the human child is preprogrammed with a language acquisition device. To give an example from personal experience that is familiar to investigators of language learning, the two-year-old daughter of this author, Casey, exploded into using auxiliary verbs and tag negations over the space of two weeks, saying I am going, I cant, Susan isnt here. All of the auxiliary verbs came in at virtually the same time, and Casey tag-negated only those verbs, no others: She never said I eatnt, I gont, Susan walknt, or The cat grabnt the bird. She also said I amnt and I am going, amnt I. No one around Casey ever said amnt, but she went on happily using the construction, and it wasnt until she started school two years later that she realized no one else talked that way. Of course, Casey was doing what comes naturally. In some sense, she (or some part of her brain/mind) knew what auxiliary verbs and regular verbs were, and she knew that you could tag-negate (put nt after) auxiliaries but not after other verbs. She also never said I am going, arent I, because she knew that am is a singular verb, that are is a plural verb, and that I, being a singular pronoun, could not take a plural verb (are).

Now, of course, Casey had never heard the English words noun, verb, auxiliary verb, tag-negate, pronoun, plural, or singular. Nonetheless, she (or some part of her brain) knew perfectly well the word kinds that these English words name, just as a monolingual speaker of Urdu knows what nouns, pronouns, and verbs are, although he may have no idea what spoken label (in Urdu or English) to use for these perfectly familiar word kinds. It is this sense of knowing, of linguistic competence, that linguistics now clearly emphasizes.

But how did Casey know about these things when no one around her ever tried to explain them to her? The linguists answer is that hearing something is an auxiliary verb or a pronoun is just like seeing that something is a red ball or a small animal. So Casey, just like any other human child whether in a literate or tribal community, identified the different word kinds present in her environment, although no one was explicitly coaching her to do this. She recognized that auxiliary verbs, but not other verbs, could be tag-negated, so she said I amnt, just as she said I cant or He isnt, because she saw that am was an auxiliary verb, and so could be tagged with nt. Speaking and hearing a natural language is a competence acquired naturally (in the first several years of life), while reading and writing requiresunfortunatelyyears of effort and explicit instruction. Similarly, our basic visual/motor competencies come to us naturally in our first years. Our recently burgeoning cognitive sciences attend to this central aspect of being human, the characteristic competencies or faculties that make us homo sapiens.

Chomsky maintains that his work in linguistics, and cognitive science generally, have virtually no connection with his political and moral viewsviews for which he claims no expertise, although he has published countless articles, books, interviews, and commentaries on political and moral matters. He claims no professional expertise in such matters because he believes that no one really has such expertise. To Chomsky, political and moral matters can and must be understood by all citizens, not just by elites or would-be professional apologists for elites (or, more particularly, corporate wealth and power). Chomsky rose to public attention (and the Nixon White Houses enemies list) for his opposition to the Vietnam War, although his subsequent opposition to U.S. imperialism more generally, particularly in the Middle East, and his criticism of the U.S. media bias have muted his ability to address the U.S. public. Hence, Chomsky and his political and moral views are better known outside of the United States. It should be said that Chomsky has consistently maintained that U.S. behavior, as a dominant world power, is no worse than previous dominant world powers, such as Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Imperial Rome.


Barsky, Robert. 1997. Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton.

Chomsky, Noam. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Leiber, Justin. 1975. Noam Chomsky: A Philosophic Overview. New York: St. Martins Press.

Justin Leiber

Chomsky, (Avram) Noam

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CHOMSKY, (Avram) Noam

(b. 7 December 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), linguist and outspoken critic of the Vietnam War.

Chomsky grew up in depression-era Philadelphia, the eldest son of Hebrew scholars William Chomsky and Elsie Simonofsky. His mother wrote children's books and his father, who had immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine in 1913 to avoid conscription in the tsar's army, taught at two local colleges. By age ten Chomsky's interest in both linguistics and politics became clear when he proved himself able to read proofs of his father's book on thirteenth-century Hebrew grammar and wrote an editorial for his school newspaper lamenting the rise of fascism in Spain.

After graduating from Philadelphia's Central High School in 1945, Chomsky matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania, where he found a mentor in Zellig Harris, a linguistics professor and political activist. He graduated with a B.A. degree in linguistics in 1949. That year he also married Carol Schatz, with whom he eventually had three children. In 1951 Chomsky earned his M.A. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, and began his doctoral studies at the same institution with a three-year fellowship from the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. As he pursued his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Chomsky became intensely interested in the unfolding situation in the Middle East, hoping that a bi-national Arab-Jewish state could be negotiated. For six weeks in 1953 he and his wife lived on an Israeli kibbutz, but he was uncomfortable with the ideological rigidity of the experiment, he later said, and returned to the United States to complete his doctoral studies. In 1955 Chomsky earned his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and accepted a position as assistant professor of modern languages at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). By 1961 he had been promoted to full professor.

Chomsky's stature as one of the 1960s' most important philosophical and political theorists grew out of both his work at MIT in linguistics and his opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1957, at age twenty-nine, Chomsky published Syntactic Structures, thus revolutionizing the study of linguistics. The influence of his work not only in linguistics, but in psychology, philosophy, and other fields has been likened to that of Galileo and Albert Einstein in their respective fields. Before Chomsky, most scholars saw language as a learned behavior, a system of habits acquired by imitation and training. Chomsky challenged the dominant behaviorist premise that the mind is a completely blank slate until it is molded, through the senses, by various experiences, and argued that despite the hundreds of languages spoken around the world, human beings share an innate faculty for language. While external stimuli trigger language acquisition, according to Chomsky, the human mind has a creative ability to reorder words into infinite variations of sentence structure and, therefore, meaning. He observed that very young children acquire language rapidly, without formal instruction, and with a minimum of external experiences beyond simply hearing others speak. Here he introduced the concept of generative transformational grammar as an essentially biological constant, suggesting that the meaning of a person's sentences originate in "deep structures" and are transformed within a finite set of rules that can be worked out like mathematical proofs. Although languages sound different to the human ear, the deep structures and the rules by which they are transformed remain the same from one person to another, and from one language to another. There is, in short, a kind of universal grammar innate to all humans. Equally important, the ability to manipulate language in infinite variations requires a level of innovation unique to humans.

Chomsky's theories were both exciting and controversial. In a 1959 review of the leading behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner's book, Verbal Behavior, Chomsky attacked the premise that Skinner could control or anticipate "verbal behavior" through a series of experiments using various stimuli and responses. In Current Issues in Linguistic Theory (1964) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), Chomsky further elaborated on his theories and continued his attack on the behaviorists. In addition to authoring dozens of papers and articles on linguistics, he also wrote a number of other books during the 1960s: Topics in the Theory of Generative Grammar (1966), Cartesian Linguistics (1966), Language and the Mind (1967), and, with Morris Halle, Sound Patterns of English (1968).

During this same period of tremendous scholarly output, Chomsky became a leading figure in the growing anti-war movement. As President Lyndon B. Johnson escalated the Vietnam War in 1964 and 1965, Chomsky quickly gained a reputation, first in the Boston area and then nationally, of being always available to speak at teach-ins and other antiwar demonstrations. He spoke at the First and Second International Days of Protest rallies in Boston (October 1965 and March 1966, respectively), and each time was relieved when police protected demonstrators from violent counter-protesters. Later in 1966 Chomsky called on Americans opposed to the war to withhold a portion of their income taxes until the administration ended the war. Meanwhile, at MIT, Chomsky and literature professor Louis Kampf began teaching a course outside their departments, and on their own time, called "Intellectuals and Social Change." The course covered both contemporary foreign policy and domestic issues and challenged students to consider the role of intellectuals in taking sides on the important questions of the day.

The theme of that course drove several of Chomsky's most influential essays of 1966–1967, in which he challenged other academicians to speak out against the war. In the fall 1966 issue of the Harvard Educational Review, he wrote, "One can only be appalled at the willingness of American intellectuals, who, after all, have access to the facts, to tolerate or even approve of the deceitfulness and hypocrisy [of the administration]." His most influential essay, "The Responsibility of Intellectuals," which appeared in the New York Review of Books in February 1967, moved scores of academicians to act in ensuing months. "It is the responsibility of intellectuals," he wrote, "to speak the truth and to expose lies." Regarding Vietnam, Chomsky implied, intellectuals had been content through the 1950s and 1960s to quietly accept the decisions of foreign policy and national security "experts" in successive administrations. In light of this inaction, Chomsky reminded his colleagues that "no body of theory or significant body of relevant information, beyond the comprehension of the layman… makes policy immune from criticism." He expected them to speak out against what he viewed as an obviously "savage American assault on a largely helpless rural population in Vietnam."

By the fall of 1967 Chomsky's ideas increasingly manifested themselves in the form of political action. In October, in anticipation of the first national draft card turn-in, Chomsky was among the high profile signers of the "Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority," published in the New York Times and other mainstream news organs. The "Call to Resist" cited examples of American war crimes and argued that the war was unconstitutional and violated the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Accords of 1954. As a result, it argued, "every free man has a legal right and a moral duty to exert every effort to end this war, to avoid collusion with it, and to encourage others to do the same."

Chomsky, Kampf, and others then announced the formation of Resist, an antiwar organization made up of older (in other words, beyond draft age) academicians, intellectuals, and others dedicated to supporting draft resisters. As Sandy Vogelgesang has written, Chomsky's strategy in forming Resist aimed to both stop the war and "resolve the larger dilemma of powerlessness which underlay the Vietnam experience." He hoped that the addition of older adults to the resistance movement would raise the economic and political stakes for the government and would make it "impossible for the government to ignore the protesters." For the duration of the war and long after, Chomsky served on the Resist steering committee, playing an active role in raising funds to support various antiwar and social justice organizations and determining which organizations got funded.

Throughout this period student antiwar activists joked that there must have been multiple Noam Chomskys, for he seemed able to appear in many places at once. In late October 1967 Chomsky was arrested with a number of other noted, older antiwar activists such as Dr. Benjamin Spock and the author Norman Mailer at the March on the Pentagon. As he continued to teach at MIT and publish in his field of linguistics, he traveled frequently between Boston and New York City to participate in Resist meetings. He also took part in later draft card turn-ins in Boston churches, and he wrote another influential essay, "On Resistance," that appeared in the New York Review of Books. In that essay he again noted that "by an overwhelming margin it is the young who are crying out in horror at what we all see happening," and the young who were resisting. "It is difficult for me to see how anyone can refuse to engage himself, in some way, in the plight of these young men," he wrote.

In early January 1968 the Justice Department indicted Spock and four others for conspiracy to aid and abet draft resisters. Chomsky was among those listed as an "unindicted co-conspirator," and many in the movement believed the government would soon move to repress even more draft resisters and their supporters. Chomsky's wife returned to school to get her degree, in fact, because the couple expected that he might soon find himself in prison.

Twenty years later The Nation magazine asserted that "if only for the role he played during the Vietnam War, Noam Chomsky should be honored as a national hero." By then the New York Times had famously declared him "arguably the most important intellectual alive today," but wondered "how can he write such terrible things about American foreign policy?" Indeed, the Vietnam War was merely the first chapter in close to forty years of Chomsky's dissent. Of the more than seventy books he has authored, more than half address issues of foreign policy and the media's influence in "manufacturing [the public's] consent" to immoral and unethical government policy.

Chomsky's mark on the 1960s can perhaps best be seen in the Resist papers, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. In addition, the 1990s saw the publication of several books on Chomsky's life and work. The two that best cover the 1960s are Milan Rai, Chomsky's Politics (1995), and Robert Barsky, Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent (1998). Chomsky's own American Power and the New Mandarins (1969) is a compilation of his most important political writings of the 1960s, while his Syntactic Structures (1957), Current Issues in Linguistic Theory (1964), and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965) remain the best sources for understanding his revolutionary contribution to the study of linguistics. Chomsky'smost influential book since the 1960s is arguably Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), coauthored with Edward Herman. For an overview of the man and his work, see David Cogswell, Chomsky for Beginners (1996), and Peter R. Mitchell, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky (2002).

Michael S. Foley

CHOMSKY, (Avram) Noam

views updated May 11 2018

CHOMSKY, (Avram) Noam [b. 1928]. American linguist and political writer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and introduced to philology by his father, a scholar of Hebrew. At the U. of Pennsylvania he studied under the structural linguist Zellig Harris. After gaining his Ph.D. in 1955 (dissertation: ‘Transformational Analysis’), he taught modern languages and LINGUISTICS at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became full professor in 1961. He was appointed Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Foreign Languages and Linguistics in 1976. During this period, he became a leading figure in US linguistics, replacing a mechanistic and behaviouristic view of language (based on the work of Bloomfield) with a mentalistic and generative approach. His linguistic publications include: Syntactic Structures (1957), Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), Cartesian Linguistics (1966), The Sound Pattern of English (with Morris Halle, 1968), Language and Mind (1968, 1972), The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory (1975), Reflections on Language (1975), Lectures on Government and Binding (1981), Barriers (1986). His social, political, and economic works include: American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), The Political Economy of Human Rights (two volumes, 1979). Language and Responsibility (1979) combines his linguistic and social interests by exploring relationships among language, science, ideas, and politics.

Chomsky originated such concepts as TRANSFORMATIONAL-GENERATIVE GRAMMAR (TGG), transformational grammar (TG), and generative grammar. His definition of GRAMMAR differs from both traditional and structuralist theories, in that he is concerned not only with a formal descriptive system but also with the linguistic structures and processes at work in the mind. He sees such structures as universal and arising from a genetic predisposition to language. Features drawn from mathematics include transformation and generation. As proposed in 1957, transformational rules were a means by which one kind of sentence (such as the passive The work was done by local men) could be derived from another kind (such as the active Local men did the work). Any process governed by such rules was a transformation (in the preceding case the passivization transformation) and any sentence resulting from such rules was a transform. In Chomsky's terms, previous grammars had only phrase-structure rules, which specified how sentences are structured out of phrases and phrases out of words, but had no way of relating sentences with different structures (such as active and passive).

Such earlier grammars were also concerned only with actual attested sentences and not with all the potential sentences in a language. An adequate grammar, however, in his view, should generate (that is, explicitly account for) the indefinite set of acceptable sentences of a language, rather than the finite set to be found in a corpus of texts. Aspects (1965) presented what is known as his ‘standard theory’, which added the concepts deep structure and surface structure: deep or underlying forms which by transformation become surface or observable sentences of a particular language. In this theory, a passive was no longer to be derived from an active sentence, but both from a common deep structure which was neither active nor passive. Comparably, sentences with similar surface structures, such as John is easy to please and John is eager to please were shown to have different deep structures. The standard theory distinguishes between a speaker's competence (knowledge of a language) and performance (actual use of a language), Chomskyan grammar being concerned with competence, not performance.

Subsequent work has concentrated less on rules that specify what can be generated and more on constraints that determine what cannot be generated. A definitive statement of his recent views is Lectures on Government and Binding, in which the theory is GB theory. Government is an extension of the traditional term whereby a verb governs its object, but for Chomsky prepositions may govern and subjects may be governed. Binding is concerned with the type of anaphora found with pronouns and reflexives, but the notion is greatly extended. The traditional notion of case is similarly used, though modified in that it need not be morphological. Such devices can be used to rule out ungrammatical sentences that might otherwise be generated. Barriers (1986) extends GB theory.

Chomsky is widely considered to be the most influential figure in linguistics in the later 20c and is probably the linguist bestknown outside the field. His views on language and grammar are controversial and responses to them have ranged from extreme enthusiasm, sometimes verging on fanaticism, through a sober and reflective interest, to fierce rejection by some traditionalist, structuralist, and other critics. See. CHILD LANGUAGE ACQUISITION, COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE, LINGUISTIC TYPOLOGY, PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, STRUCTURAL LINGUISTICS.

Chomsky, Noam

views updated May 29 2018

Noam Chomsky

American linguist whose theory of transformational or generative grammar has had a profound influence on the fields of both linguistics and psychology.

Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his B.A. (1949), M.A. (1951), and Ph.D. (1955). In 1955, he was appointed to the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has served as professor of foreign languages and linguistics. He has also taught courses and lectured at many universities throughout the world, including Oxford University. Besides his work in the field of psycholinguistics, Chomsky is also well-known as a leftist activist and social critic. He was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War and has remained critical of media coverage of politics. Although Chomsky's work is primarily of interest to linguistics scholars, several of his theories have had popular applications in psychology.

Chomsky was a pioneer in the field of psycholinguistics, which, beginning in the 1950s, helped establish a

new relationship between linguistics and psychology. While Chomsky argued that linguistics should be understood as a part of cognitive psychology , in his first book, Syntactic Structures (1957), he opposed the traditional learning theory basis of language acquisition. In doing so, his expressed a view that differed from the behaviorist view of the mind as a tabula rasa; his theories were also diametrically opposed to the verbal learning theory of B.F. Skinner , the foremost proponent of behaviorism . In Chomsky's view, certain aspects of linguistic knowledge and ability are the product of a universal innate ability, or "language acquisition device" (LAD), that enables each normal child to construct a systematic grammar and generate phrases. This theory claims to account for the fact that children acquire language skills more rapidly than other abilities, usually mastering most of the basic rules by the age of four. As evidence that an inherent ability exists to recognize underlying syntactical relationships within a sentence, Chomsky cites the fact that children readily understand transformations of a given sentence into different formssuch as declarative and interrogativeand can easily transform sentences of their own. Applying this principle to adult mastery of language, Chomsky has devised the now-famous nonsense sentence, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." Although the sentence has no coherent meaning, English speakers regard it as still more nonsensical if the syntax, as well as the meaning, is deprived of underlying logic, as in "Ideas furiously green colorless sleep." (The same idea underlies Lewis Carroll's well-known poem "Jabberwocky" from his Alice in Wonderland.) Chomsky's approach is also referred to as "generative" because of the idea that rules generate the seemingly infinite variety of orders and sentences existing in all languages. Chomsky argues that the underlying logic, or deep structure, of all languages is the same and that human mastery of it is genetically determined, not learned. Those aspects of language that humans have to study are termed surface structures.

Chomsky's work has been highly controversial, rekindling the age-old debate over whether language exists in the mind before experience. His theories also distinguish between language competence (knowledge of rules and structure) and performance (how an individual uses language in practice). Besides Syntactic Structures, Chomsky's books include Current Issues in Linguistics Theory (1964), Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), Topics in the Theory of Generative Grammar (1966), Cartesian Linguistics (1966), Language and Mind (1968), Reflections on Language (1975), Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory (1975), and Knowledge of Language (1986).

Further Reading

D'Agostino, F. Chomsky's System of Ideas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Chomsky, (Avram) Noam

views updated May 29 2018

CHOMSKY, (Avram) Noam

CHOMSKY, (Avram) Noam. American, b. 1928. Genres: International relations/Current affairs, Language/Linguistics, Philosophy, Politics/Government.Career: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, assistant professor, 1955-58, associate professor, 1958-61, professor, 1961-66, Ferrari P. Ward professor, 1966-76, institute professor, 1976-, now retired. Publications: Syntactic Structures, 1957; Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 1964; Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, 1965; Cartesian Linguistics, 1966; Topics in the Theory of Generative Grammar, 1966; (with M. Halle) Sound Pattern of English, 1968; Language and Mind, 1968; American Power and the New Mandarins, 1969; At War with Asia, 1970; Problems of Knowledge and Freedom, 1971; Studies on Semantics in Generative Grammar, 1972; (with E.S. Herman) Counterrevolutionary Violence, 1973; For Reasons of State, 1973; Peace in the Middle East?, 1974; The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory, 1975; Reflections on Language, 1975; Essays on Form and Interpretation, 1977; Human Rights and American Foreign Policy, 1978; (with E.S. Herman) Political Economy of Human Rights, 2 vols., 1979; Rules and Representations, 1980; Lectures on Government and Binding, 1981, 7th ed., 1993; Radical Priorities, 1981; Towards a New Cold War, 1982; Some Concepts and Consequences of the Theory of Government and Binding, 1982; Fateful Triangle: The U.S., Israel and the Palestinians, 1983, rev. ed., 1999; Turning the Tide, 1985; Knowledge of Language, 1986; Barriers, 1986; Pirates and Emperors, 1986; On Power and Ideology, 1987; Language in a Psychological Setting, 1987; Language and Problems of Knowledge, 1987; The Chomsky Reader, 1987; The Culture of Terrorism, 1988; Language and Politics, 1988; Necessary Illusions, 1989; Deterring Democracy, 1991; Chronicles of Dissent, 1992; Year 501, 1993; Rethinking Camelot, 1993; Letters from Lexington, 1993; Language and Thought, 1994; World Orders, Old and New, 1994, rev. ed., 1996; The Minimalist Program, 1995; Powers and Prospects, 1996; Profit over People, 1998; The New Military Humanism, 1999; New Horizons in the Study of Language & Mind, 2000; A New Generation Draws the Line, 2000; Rogue States, 2000; Understanding Power, 2001; Language and Nature, 2002; Hegemony or Survival, 2003. Address: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.

Chomsky, (Avram) Noam

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Chomsky, (Avram) Noam (1928– ) US professor of linguistics. In Syntactic Structures (1957), he developed the concept of a transformational grammar, embodying his theories about the relationship between language and mind, and an underlying universal structure of language. Chomsky argued that the human capacity for language is partially innate, unlike supporters of behaviourism. His ideas greatly influenced psychologists concerned with language acquisition. Chomsky is a consistent critic of US imperialism, and his political works include American Power and the New Mandarins (1969).