Chomsky: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
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Noam Chomsky is one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth-century. His work in linguistics, philosophy and political theory has spanned six decades, and has been met with critical acclaim and controversy in equal measure. This book is an introduction to Chomsky's theoretical writings, but also a critical engagement with his work. Chomsky: A Guide for the Perplexed covers every aspect of Chomsky's thought, from transformational grammar to political dissent. John Collins shows how Chomsky's linguistic theory, philosophy and politics are all connected, and by so doing helps the reader to understand this key thinker's massive contribution to twentieth-century thought. The book examines: the different faces of Noam Chomsky; transformational grammar; Chomsky's opposition to behaviorism; government and binding theory; the minimalist program; and libertarian socialism.
language and seeks, ultimately, to explicate notions of grammatical and ungrammatical as applied to particular languages. Semantics covers questions of meaning. Pragmatics, somewhat more loosely, covers questions of how speakers use language. To sanction this four-way division is not to presume that there are sharp boundaries between the respective areas of investigation that any adequate overall theory must respect; rather, the division simply marks out phenomena that, prima facie, can be
as data and not with our intuitions about what language is. Chomsky, then, presents GLT, as reflected in particular grammars, as being about our ‘large store of knowledge about . . . language and a mass of feelings and understandings that we might call “intuitions about linguistic form”’ (LSLT, p. 62), or, more simply, our ‘intuitive sense of grammaticalness’ (LSLT, p. 95). In other words, linguistic theory has as its primary data source our ‘knowledge’ which enters into (but by no means
attempted to derive (5) via (AUX MORPH), the best we could produce would be (6) Bill T may have-en be-ing sleep, for we have no PSG rule that allows us to generate the dependent forms been and sleeping. 2.2 Felt relations If we are to construe a grammar for L as being theory-like, then we clearly want it to capture generalizations like those that characterize the English auxiliary system. It is not enough for a grammar merely to produce a structural description for each sentence. From
constraints on syntactic theory and, moreover, it appeared that grammaticalness and syntactic transformations were not determined by properties associated with ‘meaning’. Given this, it was perfectly rational for Chomsky to query why a 79 CHOMSKY: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED grammar – a theory of sentence structure – should be built on the conception of meaning as opposed to assuming that it must be. Chomsky’s ‘autonomy thesis’, as discussed in Chapter 2, has been needlessly misunderstood; it
as being selected by such features. Without a head, we are simply stipulating that, say, phrases of a certain kind are what we shall call ‘sentences’. It is surprising that Chomsky was stuck with rules such as (17) for nearly twenty years, until he (KoL) made the natural rectification. 174 DEVELOPMENTS IN SYNTAX (18) a. CP → C IP b. IP → NP I VP Here, CP is a complementizer phrase and IP is an inflectional phrase. These two rules resolve the problems with (17). CP is headed by C and IP is