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Noam Chomsky: Fake Linguist
Right Wing News (blog of conservative John Hawkins) ^ | 2002 | Marc Miyake

Posted on 03/15/2003 4:29:32 AM PST by ultimate_robber_baron

Pariah Against A Prophet

By Marc Miyake, Amritas.Com


Many conservatives regard Chomsky as a linguist who falters out of his field. Unfortunately, they are giving Chomsky too much credit. Chomsky's linguistics are as warped as his politics.

As someone with a PhD in linguistics, I think I am qualified to judge his professional credentials.

Prior to Chomsky, linguists engaged in a lot of data collection to understand the diversity of human language. I'm vehemently anti-PC, but in this case, I think the word 'diversity' is justified. There's a lot out there, and someone's got to catalog it.

However, Chomsky rejected this approach. He wanted to look into something 'deeper' (academese for 'pretentious and nonexistent'). So he invented something called 'universal grammar' which is somehow programmed into us at birth. Now it is obvious to anyone who's studied a foreign language that there is no such thing as 'universal grammar': there are a lot of differences between any two languages' structures. How does Chomsky account for these differences? He claims that we formulate 'deep structures' in our heads using 'universal grammar'. Then we use 'transformations' to change these (invisible, nonexistent) 'deep structures' into 'surface structures' (which are what we actually say and write). There are innumerable problems with this. For starters:

1. Where did this 'universal grammar' come from, and how did it end up becoming part of our biology? Not many Chomskyans are interested in evolutionary biology. 'Universal grammar' simply IS. (I myself suspect that there may be a universal grammar sans scare quotes, but I doubt that it has much in common with Chomskyan 'universal grammar'.)

2. How can we see this 'universal grammar' and 'deep structures' if they are hidden behind 'transformations'?

3. How can we see the 'transformations'?

4. How can any child learn the 'transformations' (which are extremely complex and often counterintuitive, even to university graduate students in linguistics)?

Since no one can see 'universal grammar', 'deep structures', or 'transformations', one can imagine ANYTHING and create a maze of rules to convert ghost forms into what is actually being said and written. The Chomskyan approach to grammar is oddly English-like, even though many languages are UNlike English. This has absurd but dangerous consquences:

1. As a friend of mine pointed out, Chomsky, the enemy of "AmeriKKKa", is actually an ethnocentric advocate of imposing an English-like structure on all of the languages of the world.

Imagine if some professor said that there was a 'universal religion' programmed into us at birth. What if this person were, say, Buddhist? How would he explain the diversity of faiths around the world? He would say that all deities are 'transformations' of the 'underlying Buddha', all religious codes (e.g., the Ten Commandments, Sharia) are 'transformations' of the 'underlying dharma (Buddhist law)', etc. But, you then ask, how could a Muslim knowing nothing of Buddhism be an 'underlying Buddhist'? The professor would answer: 'Underlying religion' just IS.

Ridiculous? But that's how Chomskyans approach language.

2. This (let's be frank) *junk science* is very convenient for lazy academics who do not want to do real research but want to appear 'profound'. Chomskyans compete to create 'deep structures' that are the furthest from reality and the most complex 'transformations' possible. Never mind that neither of these non-entities can be depicted or tested except in a circular manner: "This transformation Z exists because it is needed to change deep structure X to surface structure Y. Deep structure X exists because if you take surface structure Y and undo transformation Z, you can see X underneath." I know of NO hard science (e.g., neurological) evidence for any of this. But the jargon sure looks impressive. This site parodies Chomskyan obscurantist writing by generating unreadable prose worthy of the master himself:

http://rubberducky.org/cgi-bin/chomsky.pl

3. The combination of junk science and junk politics has made Chomsky an attractive - and unstoppable - juggernaut in the academic world. Academics - mostly left-wing to begin with - agree with his politics and assume his linguistics are as 'good'. Linguists who reject the Chomskyan paradigm such as myself are often either marginalized or shut out of the profession entirely. And not a few of Chomsky's linguistic opponents agree with his politics, I'd bet. I am the only linguist I know of who rejects both.

The late Nicholas Poppe, a Soviet emigre who was a master of Oriental linguistics, had this to say about Chomskyan linguistics in the US (_Reminiscences_, p. 207):

"Unfortunately, _true_ academic freedom, freedom to adhere to a scholarly theory of one's own choice, is often lacking in American universities, and scholars who do not comply with currently fashionable theories have little chance at a university. This makes an American university somewhat like a Soviet university: in the Soviet Union it is Marxism, in the United States it is, say, a currently obligatory method in linguistics."

Poppe does not specify what the "current obligatory method" of lingustics was. It was, and is Chomskyanism. Edublogger Joanne Jacobs was forced to learn it - and she hated it:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/ ...

"Structural linguistics was required for a degree in English at Stanford. I put it off till my last semester; finally I had to take the class. It consisted of uncritical worship of Noam Chomsky. I kept disrupting class by asking questions: Why do we believe this is true? Just because Chomsky says so? How do we know he's right? Why is this class required?"

She asks precisely the right questions. Chomsky is not a scientist. He is a prophet who demands that people believe him. I call him 'Noamuhammad'. Since his claims cannot be proved, they have to be taken on faith.

And too many place their faith in him. Jacobs took her course in the mid-70s. Little has changed in a quarter of a century. Chomskyanism has been the dominant paradigm in linguistics for nearly forty years, and its major competitors share some of its weaknesses. Even if Chomsky's own version of nonsense dies out, others will continue to pump out 'junk science' that contributes little or nothing to language learning, language teaching, or intercultural understanding. And peer review has done nothing to stop the cult of Noamuhammad. Like James Hudnall said:

http://hud.blogspot.com ...

"Science in this day and age has become one big pimp act for government grants ... 'Peer review' is just another word for log rolling. It's as useful as what David Duke thinks of Mein Kampf."

Our tax dollars are funding Chomskyanism.

And linguists like me are paying the price in another way. I have been looking for a professorship in linguistics for four years with very little success - a semester here and a year there amidst countless rejections. I don't attack Chomsky in my cover letters, interviews, etc. but I don't pretend to worship him either. Exile from academia is my reward.

Is Chomsky a double fraud in both science and politics? I honestly don't know. I have never met him and don't want to - the urge to verbally attack him is too strong. Maybe he really believes what he says in one or both fields. But in any case, Chomsky is a troublemaker on two fronts. He is like Lenin and Lysenko rolled into one.

If you liked this editorial, you can read more of Marc's work at Amaravati: Abode Of Amritas.


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We all know that Noam Chomsky is an anti-American who, politically, doesn't know what he's talking about. However, many conservatives concede that he's a great linguist. In reality, he's a lousy linguist too.
1 posted on 03/15/2003 4:29:33 AM PST by ultimate_robber_baron
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
A girl I know said he was a cunning linguist...
2 posted on 03/15/2003 4:39:51 AM PST by genefromjersey (Nunc Carborundum Illegitimati !)
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
Don't count me among those who think he's a great linguist. I have been ranting against his linguistics for thirty years -- not, however, with the brilliance of this article. I am deeply appreciative of the author.

I suspect many Freepers are into computer science, and Chomsky may have contributed to the analysis of computer languages. I have long suspected that this is the underlying reason for the failure of AI.

3 posted on 03/15/2003 4:54:20 AM PST by js1138
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
'Noamuhammed'! He is a vile anti American .Keep your children close.He is the voice of leftist academia.Scary
4 posted on 03/15/2003 4:55:20 AM PST by MEG33
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
Is Chomsky a double fraud in both science and politics? I honestly don't know. I have never met him and don't want to - the urge to verbally attack him is too strong. Maybe he really believes what he says in one or both fields. But in any case, Chomsky is a troublemaker on two fronts. He is like Lenin and Lysenko rolled into one.

Now I have posted this an number of times of FR.

5 posted on 03/15/2003 4:59:15 AM PST by js1138
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
This thread will die unless those interested in science threads are pinged. Thanks for posting anyway.
6 posted on 03/15/2003 5:06:45 AM PST by js1138
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
I studied structural linguistics (Chomsky) and other aspects of structuralism in college. Personally, I thought it was very interesting, though I'd certainly agree that structuralism is not "provable," in precisely the way Miyake describes above.

However that doesn't mean that it's not thought provoking or even useful as a way of thinking about the world, in the same manner as philosophy or cultural anthropology.

Yet in the end there is zero relationship between Chomskian linguistics, and the superficial and demented trash he brings to the world of politics.

It's kind of humorous that Miyake is really proposing there's a "deep structure" in the mind of Chomsky. What it is we do not know.

7 posted on 03/15/2003 5:10:50 AM PST by angkor
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
Emperor's clothes bump
8 posted on 03/15/2003 5:11:10 AM PST by tictoc
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
However distasteful you find the fact, Chomsky was and is a brilliant linguist. He is crazed with hating America, is breathtakingly hypocritical in enjoying America's freedoms, is pernicious and brutal in using his position to intimidate students. But, I'm afraid, he's still a brilliant linguist. It's like the other fact--Barbra Streisand was wonderful in "Hello Dolly."
9 posted on 03/15/2003 5:13:36 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: js1138
He is like Lenin and Lysenko rolled into one.

"Now I have posted this an number of times of FR."

It's a great line. Kudos if you thought it up.

10 posted on 03/15/2003 5:14:03 AM PST by Yardstick
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To: js1138
To be honest, I've never been impressed with linguistics in the first place and the fact that Chomsky was supposed to have been the greatest of them was to me roughly equivalent to being the tallest dwarf. I had never realized his theories were so suspect as well.
11 posted on 03/15/2003 5:17:48 AM PST by AmishDude
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: ultimate_robber_baron
Chomsky's fame is a bit like Freud's fame, I think. Freud was the first to popularize the notion that the psyche could be studied in a scientific manner, like any other organ in the body. His theories about psychological development were completely wrong, and have mostly been discarded, but they stuck around for more than half a century because the constipated academic minds were unwilling to challenge the "master's" theories.
13 posted on 03/15/2003 5:25:04 AM PST by Toskrin
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To: angkor
Chomsky is basically theory of computability applied to linguistics. Take a compiler course, or read about typographical number theory, and it's the same thing.

Chomsky contribution was a basis of rigor in an unrigorous field. Even if his theoretical framework is wrong, he can hardly be accused of a soft-headed PC approach to his field.

I took his graduate seminar as an undergrad, and I can confirm that if I didn't know who Chomsky was, I would have had no idea about his politics based on the content of the seminar.

I have also read one of his political books, which was as rambling and self-indulgent as his seminar was focused. If he had been obsessed with, say, vitamin C, he would be just another genius with a cranky streak.
14 posted on 03/15/2003 5:25:14 AM PST by eno_
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
Great post!
15 posted on 03/15/2003 5:25:40 AM PST by RichardW
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
This is an ignorant hit piece by a third rater who has let his politics warp his professional judgment. The questions that he poses that follow from Chomsky's work are excellent and urgent questions. This author could do himself and the world a favor by picking one and devoting his professional life to answering it.
16 posted on 03/15/2003 5:27:45 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: AmishDude
To be honest, I've never been impressed with linguistics in the first place

Your ignorance is showing. I think it was Peggy Noonan who pointed out that the difference between liberals and conservatives is not the difference between liberal ideas and conservative ideas, but rather the difference between avoiding ideas or arguing about them. By being on the other swing of the liberal hinge you are avoiding ideas.

Linguistics is a sound rigorouse and valuable field of study.

17 posted on 03/15/2003 5:32:32 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: AndyJackson
re: Linguistics is a sound rigorouse and valuable field of study. )))

Yeah, and we definitely need more study of grammar!

The linguists' chief claim to fame is the discovery that the Gypsies were of Indic (Sanscrit) origin. Before that, their origins were a mystery.

And it looks like transformational grammar may be helpful in developing, or at least analyzing, computer language.

Other than that, it's an interesting but not terribly important field. No social science can really call itself "rigorous"...

18 posted on 03/15/2003 5:37:14 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: ultimate_robber_baron

How old is Noam Chomsky anyway?

Isn't he about due to die of old age? This way we could raise a glass, toast his life and bury him and his idiotic anti-American stance.

19 posted on 03/15/2003 5:42:05 AM PST by Malsua
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To: AmishDude
To be honest, I've never been impressed with linguistics in the first place and the fact that Chomsky was supposed to have been the greatest of them was to me roughly equivalent to being the tallest dwarf. I had never realized his theories were so suspect as well.

At this point in history, field linguistics is the one and only endeavor in which a Christian organization (Wycliffe Associates) is recognized as being the best in the world.

20 posted on 03/15/2003 6:02:49 AM PST by TomSmedley
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: ultimate_robber_baron
I've never read much of Chomsky's linguistic theories. I just assumed that they were as muddled as his politics. It took an expert in the field to validate my suspicions. Thank you.
22 posted on 03/15/2003 6:11:33 AM PST by IronJack
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: ultimate_robber_baron
Chomsky's *REAL* game with linguistics isn't to 'discover' an existing universal grammar, rather IMHO is to IMPOSE one.

As Goebbels knew so well, and as Orwell exposed so completely, the totalitarian system requires a "new" totalitarian man, one who is unable to even frame in his own mind a disenting thought.

The Soviets were adept at this, and it shows with the careful grooming of words by the Left(example? how about the neat trick of replacing the word NAZI everywhere with the word FASCIST. Why? Obvious! NAZI stands for National Socialist - by replacing with FASCIST you hide the evidence that Hitler was a rabid SOCIALIST, and in NO WAY a capitalist. If Hitler and Stalin were both SOCIALISTS, gives the movement a bit of bad odor, sort of like everything French, n'est ce pas?).

The EXACT SAME PRINCIPAL is at work with Politically Correct speech. The goal of PC is to make it impossible to even say something that goes against the PC agenda, since the words and concepts themselves no longer even exist. A scary example of the totalitarian attack on freedom of thought...

Kudos for posting this article. It provides a succinct and powerful counter to Chomsky, and was great food for (free) thought...

24 posted on 03/15/2003 6:43:02 AM PST by chilepepper (If at first you don't succeed, skydiving isn't for you!)
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To: DangerMouseDC
Excellent posts!

The search for the 'universal grammar' is appropriate I think. While every cell of my body despises what Chomsky promotes politically, he is right in linguistics to look for the 'deep structure' - even if we disagree that he found it. Not unlike the 19th Century German linguists on the trail of Proto-IndoEuropean.

The idea of a universal grammar is indeed an indirect indicator of something created (Chomsky would pass out if compelled to really confront that notion...).
25 posted on 03/15/2003 6:46:59 AM PST by esopman (Blessings on Freepers Everywhere)
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To: Mamzelle
I am a physcist with degrees from the top 10. I view linguistics as a sound objective field of inquiry. Linguists pose valid hypotheses which are capable of proof through the assembly and analysis of empirical data. And I think it is a lot more rigorous than the social sciences. For instance, grammar within a particular language and melieu is pretty much fixed, varying little from person to person. Except among the ill-educated, for instance, there is little statistical about the rule of subject-verb agreement as to number and person.

Among your arguments you have resorted to putting words in the mouths of others and then beating them over the head for it - a cheap liberal trick. You have resorted to namecalling - another cheap liberal trick. And you have smeared them with false facts - another cheap liberal trick.

I find the question of how the structure of language reflects the organization of the brain to be a fascinating endeavour. I would hope that you do to - or are you one who has no curiosity about the world?

26 posted on 03/15/2003 6:47:22 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: DangerMouseDC
Ahh, the good old days when the Times' communism was coded!)

Brilliant!

27 posted on 03/15/2003 6:49:07 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
bump
28 posted on 03/15/2003 6:49:12 AM PST by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: eno_
Chomsky contribution was a basis of rigor in an unrigorous field. Even if his theoretical framework is wrong, he can hardly be accused of a soft-headed PC approach to his field.

Sure he can. Applying an inappropriate and counterproductive paradigm to human language stifles both linguistics and computer science. If you think an analysis of human language that ignores connotation and emotion is actually a study of language, then something's wrong.

Chomshy's linguistics is like Bible Code or the game of casting out nines. It can never be wrong because it is circular. Anything can be fixed by just one more transformation.

Problem is, it sheds absolutely no light on the physical implementation of the mind. It predicts nothing, adds nothing to our understanding.

29 posted on 03/15/2003 6:51:04 AM PST by js1138
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
He claims that we formulate 'deep structures' in our heads using 'universal grammar'. Then we use 'transformations' to change these (invisible, nonexistent) 'deep structures' into 'surface structures' (which are what we actually say and write).

Chomsky is a moron. Surface structures are thoughts, Deep structures are electromagnetic brain waves, and universal grammar is nothing more than the common way in which our synapses interconnect.

Yes, Noam, we all use the same brain cells to generate the same electrical activity which, with repetition, becomes thoughts that are formed differently by people speaking different languages.

Major drug use involved here, I suspect...

30 posted on 03/15/2003 6:52:47 AM PST by ez (Advise and Consent = Debate and VOTE!!)
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To: AndyJackson
Except among the ill-educated, for instance, there is little statistical about the rule of subject-verb agreement as to number and person.

Except that Chomsky predicts that these kinds of rules are embedded in the mind and do not need to be explicitly learned.

31 posted on 03/15/2003 6:54:04 AM PST by js1138
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To: chilepepper
Chomsky's *REAL* game with linguistics isn't to 'discover' an existing universal grammar, rather IMHO is to IMPOSE one

The antidote to liberal ideology is not conservative idiology [sic]. It is rational debate. If you had even passing familiarity with several rather unrelated languages you would also be struck by the similarities in structure between them. For instance, we and the Arabs use prepositions in similar fashion? Why is that? I guess because of fundamental features of human cognition, which is what a "universal" grammar is expressive of. I am curious about the explanation for these things. I presume that you are not. That is fine - but don't count yourself a member of the republic of ideas, even conservative ones.

If one were to believe the great Alan Bloom, the language of the Marxists is a kind of educated German that uses enormously long words that none of the rest of us understand. So, that is the grammar that Noam Chomsky would be trying to impose on us, I suppose. Personally, I have seen no evidence of that.

32 posted on 03/15/2003 6:57:42 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: AndyJackson
My, my. I always love it when a poster trots out his list of virtual degrees on a discussion forum. I'm supposed to be blown away by your CV?

Linguistics is mildly interesting, but of limited application. Sort of like theoretical physics--if there was an eager need for this knowledge there wouldn't be such a glut of unemployed PhDs. As for being linguistics being rigorous, that's only is in comparison to the other social sciences, which themselves verge on seances and astrology.

33 posted on 03/15/2003 6:57:49 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: js1138
I think that his argument is that what has to be learned are the conventions of the particular dialect you are using. I.e. in standard English "we are" vs "we be" (although "we be" has a proper use as the present subjuntive, and given how it is used in those circles that use it, I think may be more correct than most of the pseudosophistates even know.)

I think that Chomsky's real question is, how is it that most people know these things by age 3 without having to have a PhD in linguistics in order to understand it all? It is a very simple question with very profound consequences. But that is often the case with simple questions. Einstein asked a simple question and got the special and general theories of relavitity as a consequence.

34 posted on 03/15/2003 7:02:40 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: chilepepper
Chomsky's *REAL* game with linguistics isn't to 'discover' an existing universal grammar, rather IMHO is to IMPOSE one.

In a way this is true, but it could only serve some political purpose if you think the entire foundation of sythetic languages, computabilty, Turing machines, etc. is not universal and equivalent and interchangable.

As it is, there is no alternative to the way Chomsky imposed a framework on what had been a branch of philosophy - there is no other consistent symbolic system for describing linguistics, and there are good reasons to think there can't be.

35 posted on 03/15/2003 7:05:22 AM PST by eno_
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To: Mamzelle
Actually, there isn't such a glut of unemployed PhDs as you imagine. Second, I am just pointing out, since you wish to debunk linguistics as a serious field of study, that some people in serious fields of study view it otherwise

Much of the linguistics that I have read is every bit as rigorous as the experimental physics research that I am familiar with.

And while I am an experimental physicist, your ignorance about physics is showing as well.

36 posted on 03/15/2003 7:07:03 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: ez
Major drug use involved here, I suspect

You are as bad as all of the other Chomsky detractors. His politics is despicable, but his science is not. If you want to be taken seriously you also need to take seriosly the fundamental contributions to what we regard as modern thoght.

37 posted on 03/15/2003 7:09:29 AM PST by AndyJackson
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To: AndyJackson
You're right.

I could tell it was going to be bad when it started off with the author appealing to the validity of his argument by referring to his Ph.D. Whoopey! I've earned two master's degrees, one in communication with an emphasis in ESL, but that doesn't mean much beyond the fact that I was able to spend money and time for my eduction.

This is a pretty poorly written attack piece.

"Universal grammar" is a fascinating concept! I'm a computer software developer, working on voice applications, and any understanding I can gain on "grammars" and so on is very helpful to my craft.

Weak article....

38 posted on 03/15/2003 7:09:34 AM PST by Theo
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To: TomSmedley
"At this point in history, field linguistics is the one and only endeavor in which a Christian organization (Wycliffe Associates) is recognized as being the best in the world."

Ironically, it's the evangelicals (through Wycliffe and SIL), who are leading the world in the effort to collect, catalogue, and "save" the diversity of languages (and hence, cultures) in the world. This always strikes my funnybone.

39 posted on 03/15/2003 7:09:56 AM PST by cookcounty
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To: Mamzelle
My, my. I always love it when a poster trots out his list of virtual degrees on a discussion forum. I'm supposed to be blown away by your CV? ...

Isn't that exactly what the author of this article did? I agree with your argument, Mamzelle, that propping one's argument up with a reference to one's degrees is weak.

40 posted on 03/15/2003 7:12:50 AM PST by Theo
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
"Unfortunately, true academic freedom, freedom to adhere to a scholarly theory of one's own choice, is often lacking in American universities, and scholars who do not comply with currently fashionable theories have little chance at a university. This makes an American university somewhat like a Soviet university: in the Soviet Union it is Marxism, in the United States it is, say, a currently obligatory method in linguistics."

Many other subjects could be substituted for "linguistics" in the above paragraph, and it would still be true.

41 posted on 03/15/2003 7:13:35 AM PST by Rocky
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To: ultimate_robber_baron
The author wrote:"Imagine if some professor said that there was a 'universal religion' programmed into us at birth...."

The truth is that many of us believe that a Creator in fact **did** create us, and that that Creator put in us a sense that He exists.

Once again, the author *may* have something valid to say, but it's obscured by poor logic, an anti-godly perspective, an appeal to his expertise as a "Ph.D., a subtle arrogance....

42 posted on 03/15/2003 7:17:29 AM PST by Theo
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To: Mamzelle
> Linguistics is mildly interesting, but of limited application.

Yikes! This in a place
where Ayn Rand is respected...
Language is a tool

of cognition. Thought
is language! Understanding
linguistics can help

understand thinking.
Can anything have a more
broad application?!

43 posted on 03/15/2003 7:21:03 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: AndyJackson
We can't afford every "serious field of study" that passes itself off as such. The universities are already a hideously expensive hotbed of fraud and waste and dithering.

Understanding the inner workings of language acquisition is a fine thing...until I see those same linguists trying to prevent immigrant children from learning English due to some hairbrained "sociolinguistic" theory construct--or deconstruct. We've come a long way from the Oxford philolgists like Tolkein--now we have bossy nannies with lofty-sounding degrees formulating policies which should be left to local administrations.

And nattering on about the difference between "transformational" grammar and "generative" grammar is a fine enough hobby. But I'm not enough of a true believer to endow it with much seriousness.

As for there being no glut, I'd like some fries with that.

44 posted on 03/15/2003 7:21:45 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: js1138
I suspect many Freepers are into computer science, and Chomsky may have contributed to the analysis of computer languages. I have long suspected that this is the underlying reason for the failure of AI.

Chomsky did make some very important contributions to CS with his theories on grammars, but as I like to point out, John Backus was working on virtually the same thing at virtually the same time, to the point where it's not at all unreasonable to say that he independently discovered much of what Chomsky did.

I'm not sure that the failures of AI are really traceable to Chomsky, though - I think it's more that the problem has turned out to be much deeper and harder than anyone originally thought it would be. Really, nobody, IMO, has adequately framed the "problem" of artificial intelligence, let alone "solved" it.

45 posted on 03/15/2003 7:23:48 AM PST by general_re (Non serviam.)
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To: cookcounty
Ironically, it's the evangelicals (through Wycliffe and SIL), who are leading the world in the effort to collect, catalogue, and "save" the diversity of languages (and hence, cultures) in the world. This always strikes my funnybone.

I don't see anything "ironic" about that. Evangelicals are a diverse bunch -- from those whose lives are a shambles and who recognize their severe need of a kind and forgiving Savior, to those who are keen on using all their energies and creativity to explore and honor the wonder of what the Lord has created. The father of the modern computer, Pascal, is but one example of many who fit into this second category.

I guess I'm a bit of both: one who daily recognizes my need of a forgiving Savior, and at the same time I'm bent toward using all my energies and creativity to relish the Lord and His creation (which includes the mystery of language)....

46 posted on 03/15/2003 7:24:21 AM PST by Theo
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To: AndyJackson
You are as bad as all of the other Chomsky detractors. His politics is despicable, but his science is not. If you want to be taken seriously you also need to take seriosly the fundamental contributions to what we regard as modern thoght.
-AJ-


On the other hand, a descriptively adequate grammar is unspecified with respect to irrelevant intervening contexts in modern thought.
Furthermore, your earlier analysis of a formative as a pair of sets of features cannot be arbitrary in the requirement that branching is not tolerated within the dominance scope of a complex symbol.
By combining adjunctions and certain deformations, this selectionally introduced contextual feature is, apparently, determined by the system of base rules exclusive of the lexicon. However, this assumption is not correct, since the speaker-hearer's linguistic intuition does not readily tolerate a general convention regarding the forms of the grammar.
To characterize a linguistic level as a subset of English sentences is interesting on quite independent grounds it is not to be considered in determining a parasitic gap construction.
47 posted on 03/15/2003 7:24:26 AM PST by tpaine
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To: js1138
It can never be wrong because it is circular. Anything can be fixed by just one more transformation.

And therein lies the link between his linguistic approach and his politics.

48 posted on 03/15/2003 7:25:25 AM PST by A_perfect_lady (Let them eat cake.)
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To: theFIRMbss
You're confusing, I believe, a system of descriptive phonetic and grammatical analysis with the philosophy of rhetoric. I suspect you think linguistics is something other than what it is. Language is a tool of ideas, and you learn to wield it chiefly from long practice actually composing and using. In metaphor, you don't play a violyn by studying the constuction of the instrument.
49 posted on 03/15/2003 7:26:46 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: ez
Chomsky is a moron. Surface structures are thoughts, Deep structures are electromagnetic brain waves, and universal grammar is nothing more than the common way in which our synapses interconnect.

Do you really believe what you wrote, now that you've had time to re-read it and think about what you wrote? Are you really that much of a materialist? Do you really believe that all we are is a collection of electrically charged pieces of matter, and that there's no meaning beyond what we can touch? What a tragic and uncreative and boring and meaningless and hopeless existence if that's what you believe!

There is more, my friend. There is a Meaning-Giving.

50 posted on 03/15/2003 7:29:09 AM PST by Theo
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