Chomsky’s Universe

Harnad, Stevan (2014) Chomsky’s Universe À babord: Revue sociale es politique


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Why is Noam Chomsky such a towering figure in linguistics today? He asked a very simple question that no one had ever asked before, and then discovered that the answer was unexpected and highly complicated. He asked what capacity a language user needed to have in order to be able to learn to use a language (any language) grammatically. This uniquely human capacity to learn language turned out to be universal, yet unfamiliar: it was the very same capacity in every person, for every possible language, but the rules of this “universal grammar” (UG) bore very little resemblance to the rules of ordinary grammar that were already known. By far the biggest surprise, however, was that the rules of UG are unlearnable by trial and error induction, based on what the language-learning child says and hears, unless most of the rules are already inborn.

Item Type: Article
Organisations: Web & Internet Science
ePrint ID: 371580
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2014 03:44
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 07:06
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