About language universals
Thread poster: Jacek Krankowski
Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
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Jan 25, 2003

Noam Chomsky\'s name has been mentioned in several other threads. I was impressed by his language universals theory back in the 1970s when I was working on my thesis in generative phonology. More about the language universals:

http://www3.oup.co.uk/eltj/hdb/Volume_49/Issue_02/freepdf/490196.pdf

http://www.excite.co.uk/directory/Science/Social_Sciences/Language_and_Linguistics/Comparative_Linguistics_and_Typology

http://www.lingate.8k.com/demet.html



Noam Chomsky is a distinguished professor of linguistics at M.I.T. and author of many (dissident) books on international politics. I came across a book in which this enfant terrible\'s \"politics and linguistics are presented as derived from essentially the same philosophical traditions, with an interest in the uniqueness and creativity of each individual at the heart of Chomsky\'s concerns\":

http://www.t0.or.at/scl/scl1/msg03036.html

http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2002-10-18/pols_feature3.html



There is even CHOMSKY, an unmoderated discussion list intended as a resource for both intellectuals and followers of his political ideas and scholars doing research on Noam Chomsky\'s contribution to linguistics.

http://www.t0.or.at/scl/scl1/msg02328.html


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 04:33
Member (2003)
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Re: About language universals Jan 25, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-01-25 18:03, jacek wrote:

Noam Chomsky\'s name has been mentioned in several other threads. I was impressed by his language universals theory back in the 1970s when I was working on my thesis in generative phonology. More about the language universals:

http://www3.oup.co.uk/eltj/hdb/Volume_49/Issue_02/freepdf/490196.pdf

Noam Chomsky is a distinguished professor of





For reasons known only to you, you neglected to mention invaluable contribution to linguistics made by Carl Marx, Joseph Jugashvilli and the rest of the pack...
[addsig]

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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
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TOPIC STARTER
A reply Jan 26, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-01-25 21:27, uldis wrote:

For reasons known only to you, you neglected to mention invaluable

contribution to linguistics made by Carl Marx, Joseph Jugashvilli and the

rest of the pack...





Luckily, Chomsky\'s contribution to linguistics, when it was made, could be

easily separated from his contribution to ideology, which seems not to be

the case of the forefathers you mention. Still, not everybody being aware

of their successes in the field, perhaps you could quote some examples of

their linguistic thinking, for purely historical purposes?



Although Chomsky\'s original transformational-generative grammar project was

abandoned, the idea itself of language universals is very much alive.

For instance the Department of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut

advertises its Ph.D. Program as follows: \"Syntax. Working within the

framework of Chomskian transformational-generative grammar, we are concerned

with the syntactic structure of human language. Through detailed

investigation of particular languages, we seek to discover the basic

structural properties of language in general, and the parametric ways in

which languages can differ. Among our major interests are syntactic

universals, the interaction of syntax and semantics, and the formal

properties of syntactic systems. This work is directed at such questions as

how knowledge of grammaticality and sentence relatedness is represented, and

what the constraints on human language are that make it possible for a child

to acquire such knowledge.\"



Let this be just one reason why Chomsky who once opened a \"window on the

mind\" is still so often quoted in the field of linguistics, contrary to the

names brought up by you.



P.S. Chomsky, in a documentary

on his life and work, stated that, although he has sought a connection

between his linguistic theory

and his political activism, which centers on manipulation of public opinion

by the press, he has found

none.

http://www.bcs.org.uk/siggroup/nalatran/mtreview/mtr-9/mtr-9-6.htm



[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-26 12:06]

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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 04:33
Member (2003)
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Hmmm Jan 26, 2003

The pack I mentioned, undoubtfuly, has influenced languages as such much more than Chomsky ever will. Also, they have expressed their infallible views on all things imaginable, save coupling habits of elephants. In this respect honorable Chomsky is doing his best to catch up, but he stands no chance…



But, if seriously, I have allergy to all things from pink to red, and therefore theses things include Mr. Chomsky. I have read much from him (had to), came to conclusion, that he is unscrupulous demagogue (from which follows that he despises his readers, judging them to be brainless fools, unable to think for themselves), just in the best traditions of his ideological forefathers.


[addsig]


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kterelak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:33
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Chomsky 20 years later Jan 26, 2003

Panie Jacku!

You would be truly surprised if you could see what Chomsky and his followers came up with in the late 1990\'s when I struggled with my MA thesis on Chomsky and his ideas, this time in syntax. I was not sure whether it was still linguistics or perhaps we dealt with some new programming language. Anyway at that time I was impressed by the complexity and elegance of his theory.

Regards


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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
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Chomsky's limitations Jan 26, 2003

And I am now talking about Chomsky the linguist, not the dissident. In the last link I provided above, in the context of machine translation, they say: \"Chomsky\'s solution is unsatisfactory since it does not allow for fundamental ambiguity.\" [In fact, his language universals did not even allow for language-specific parameters, if I remember correctly.] \"We need a flexible grounding of language that allows for social interaction at the core of language... [B]efore computers will have a chance of performing as well as humans on

dynamic general language, they will at least have to avoid the assumptions of objectivism, allow for fundamental ambiguity, handle dynamic metaphor, become much more flexible, and become an

agent, recognizing other people as agents (which involves being based on a non-algorithmic approach)... [F]urther work on fully-automatic high-quality machine translation of unrestricted text is a waste of time and money unless the issues in this paper are carefully addressed. If we ever reach a breakthrough in natural language processing which allows for the handling of dynamic general language, it will not be based on any extension of current techniques in machine translation. The electric light bulb did not result from research and development on the candle... Fully-automatic high-quality machine translation of unrestricted text will be a truly surprising, unpredictable

breakthrough and therefore is not expected in the foreseeable future, even though it may come at any time...



We should not complain about the heavy requirements I have imposed on an approach that could handle general language at human levels of performance. In 1984, many of us reviewed the vision of the world presented by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and were thankful that things were not as bad as he had predicted, at least outside the Soviet Bloc in the Free World. I had occasional contact with people on the other side of the Iron Curtain

and heard horror stories of oppression heaped upon those who dared think on their own in a way that opposed the government then in power.\" [By the way, uldis, when Chomsky talks about \"Manufacturing Consent,\" he precisely means the Soviet-style manipulation.] \"In Orwell\'s world, the Party had invented Newspeak, a deliberately restricted language in which it was impossible to think thoughts that

were not approved by the Party. Now ten years later, we have seen the Iron Curtain fall. If all language suddenly could be treated like domain-specific language, then a new and far worse Iron Curtain would, in Orwellian fashion, forever keep us from thinking truly new thoughts and we would become machines trapped in the prison of objectivism.\"


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:33
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Could the moderator please stop this rant? Jan 28, 2003

It is obviously about politics and not about linguistics -- and very offensive.

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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
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Reply Jan 28, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-01-28 01:34, uldis wrote:



1) I gather, you, though of Polish name, speak of yourself as of being \"the

other side of the Iron curtain\". That explains a lot. Including your

naivety.



2) You are calling Chomsky a \"dissident\". Dissident to what



3) he deems his readers stupid animals, incapable of thinking at all.



4) O the other hand- I can start right here discussion of Schiclegruber\'s

paintings





Hi there,



1) No personal comments, say the rules of this site, especially since I made

no value judgements.



2) Dissident = diagreeing, esp strongly or rebelliously, with an opinion or

group (Longman\'s English Dictionary)



3) I think we have now got a pretty much balanced view of Chomsky, between

my links and your cellar holdings, so I am afraid we have to stop here.



4) No, I am afraid you cannot as this forum is about linguistics and they will not tolerate any other discussion here.





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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 21:33
SITE FOUNDER
Linguistics. Not politics. Jan 28, 2003

No politics in the forums, folks. This is a politic-free zone.



I\'m closing the thread.


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