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Noam Chomsky
Posted: 20 April 2007 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Thanks again, Larry.  Once again, very interesting.

I can also see why he switched to politics - he writes like a politician: a few sound bytes ("mathematical linguistics” is catchy, imaginitive and impressively forward-looking); not much that can be substantiated; obscure source quotation; and not much in the way of straight fact.  At the end of it, as we’ve been trying to tease out in this thread, exactly what did he say?  Nobody seems to be quite sure.

It sounds, from my extremely limited knowledge, as if he got out while the going was good.  But then, who am I to judge?

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Posted: 21 April 2007 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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He didn’t switch. He still does both.

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Posted: 21 April 2007 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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One thing I never knew was that Chomsky was a switch-hitter. I wonder if his wife has been apprised of the fact.

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Posted: 21 April 2007 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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It’s enough that we’ve skewered each of his theories. We should leave his private life alone, in jest or otherwise.

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Posted: 21 April 2007 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Apparently something about him you know that I do not.

[ Edited: 21 April 2007 08:37 PM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 22 April 2007 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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Huh? Thews wasn’t saying anything about Chomsky, he was saying your joke wasn’t in very good taste, with which I concur.  No offense.

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Posted: 22 April 2007 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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ElizaD - 20 April 2007 08:52 PM

Nobody seems to be quite sure.

Perhaps he falls into that category of writer whose works are “often cited, little read”.  :)

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Posted: 22 April 2007 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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I guess I’ll have to cop to the fact that I’m jealous of Chomsky’s noteriety as America’s most cited author. I’ve always wanted to be wanted but haven’t made it yet to the America’s Most Wanted list, try as I might, though there’s still hope.

(And, somewhat perversely, now that I’ve taken him down a peg in my own mind perhaps I’ll take his works and ideas more seriously. I have an aversion to personages who are held out as the final authority and who are seemingly unassailable.)

[ Edited: 22 April 2007 10:15 AM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 22 April 2007 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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How do you pronounce “Noam”, like “gnome” or “grow ‘em”?

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Posted: 22 April 2007 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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I’m pretty sure it’s the latter (two syllables).

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Posted: 22 April 2007 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Noam? I just met him.

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Posted: 22 April 2007 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Just to add to the general impressions of Chomsky…

Memories of two years of linguistics at Uni where I first got hooked on comparative etymology. Opened new avenues in the mind as yet unexplored. But the class I used to dread was the Tuesday morning and transformational grammar a la Noam.

It was troubling. I was crap at maths so all this stuff that looked like mathematical diagrams and worse to me was enough to freak me out but at the same time the simple, visual comprehensive part of me could see there was the kernel of something, maybe truth, in what he proposed. Overuse of various versions of the root ‘predicate’ in all the texts is all that remains with me now: whenever there was a grammatical tour de force going on in a grammatical stylie, whatever it was was reduced to some ‘predicate’ expression. Might even have been ‘predicative’ or ‘predicatory’. Easy way to square the equation.

In all the years since, I have often mentioned the theory of transformational (or universal) grammar to non-linguists as a possibility worth considering, no more. I wouldn’t broach the subject off my own bat with someone who really understood it, but, after reading this thread, I am less and less worried about that ever actually happening…

(ps sorry to have missed out over the last couple of weeks due to An Act Of Internet Provider emergency)

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Posted: 22 April 2007 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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I Noam of old.

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