Noam Chomsky

Biography of Noam Chomsky

Avram Noam Chomsky was an American linguist, philosopher, political scientist and activist, who was born on December 7, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

His parents were the doctor William Chomsky, a scholar of the Hebrew language and a distinguished grammarian and Elsie simonofsky, Hebrew teacher. With this family background, Noam began his studies in philosophy, linguistics and mathematics in University of Pennsylvania. University where he received his doctorate in Linguistics in 1955, although he developed most of his doctoral work in the Harvard University, while working as a researcher.

In 1949, Noam had married Carol Schatz Doris, with whom he had three children: Aviva, Diane, and Harry.

Noam Chomsky was a pioneer in the field of psycholinguistics, when establishing a relationship between linguistics and psychology, from the 1950s. In 1955, he joined the teaching team of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as a professor of modern languages ​​and linguistics, where he worked for fifty-five years.

Subsequently, Chomsky became a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT in 1961, where he is still Professor Emeritus today. Chomsky was a militant of the North American intellectual left and was noted for his opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967.

Throughout his life, Chomsky has maintained a counter-system attitude, being a harsh critic of the foreign policy of the United States and its numerous military forays into the world.

In 2014, he remarried Valeria Wasserman, after being widowed in 2008.

Noam Chomsky is one of the most important language theorists and political activists of the 20th century. Noam Chomsky has received countless Honoris Causa from a host of universities, including London, Chicago, Georgetown, Buenos Aires, Columbia, Pisa, Harvard, and Nacional de Colombia.

Last March, the BBVA Foundation announced that he granted the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the specialty of Humanities to Noam Chomsky, for his contributions to the study of human language.

Chomsky Language Theory

According to Noam Chomsky, there are aspects of human knowledge and linguistic ability that are innate. According to their observations, children learn to speak because language develops naturally in them.

Regardless of the language, children learn to speak any language, because the ability to speak is like a template, a last, into which any language fits.

Chomsky called this universal innate ability: “language acquisition device”And it is what allows children to build sentences with a systematic grammar. Is Chomsky language theory explains that children are able to acquire language skills faster than other skills, mastering basic rules at age four.

Chomsky
argues that the language It has two aspects to consider:

  • The deep structure or tacit logic that all languages ​​have in common and that is not learned, since its domain is genetically determined in each individual.
  • The surface structures which are the rules and structures that we study and learn in each language.

These assertions have made Chomsky’s theory of language highly controversial., because it dusted off the debate about whether language exists in the mind before experience.

His theory differentiates between linguistic competenceOh linguistic performance, that is, between knowledge of rules and structure, and the way the individual uses language in practice.

East linguistic performance o The ability to speak is a human capacity, which has always generated curiosity, because we want to know the implicit logic of language or deep structure. So some say that the language it is part of the mind, a kind of mental organ that grows and develops with external stimuli, better known as linguistic performance.

While others say that, language is a complex structure that combines a certain number of elements (words) and produces countless results (sentences). These results are obtained through the surface structures or syntactic constructions that we learn in school and are what determine the linguistic competencea of the individual.

The great contribution of Chomsky’s language theory was to consider that language is not just a linguistic competence, nor a linguistic performance, but the sum of both abilities. In other words, Chomsky’s theory of language produced the creation of what came to be called the transformational generative grammar. Where the deep structure produces the generation and the superficial structures produce the transformation and together, the language.

This discovery by Chomsky presents us with language as one of man’s most valuable possessions, which other animal species do not have.

This is how language is a quality that makes us beings endowed with free and creative thought, which do not always obey pre-established forms or schemes.

With this definition of language, Chomsky like other thinkers, put man at the center of his interest, above other species. These contributions to the field of linguistics made Noam Chomsky the father of transformational generative grammar.

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