The New Grammarians' Funeral: A Critique of Noam Chomsky's Linguistics

Overview

This is probably the sharpest consideration of Chomskyan linguistics yet to appear. Ian Robinson argues that it is important to recognise Chomsky's positive achievement as a definition of the domain of traditional syntax in the context of an adherence to traditional grammar. But this strictly limited achievement offers no basis for many of the claims made for linguistics. Chomsky's views of language as a whole are narrow and conceptually confused; his psychology is based on the predication of unnecessary ...

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Overview

This is probably the sharpest consideration of Chomskyan linguistics yet to appear. Ian Robinson argues that it is important to recognise Chomsky's positive achievement as a definition of the domain of traditional syntax in the context of an adherence to traditional grammar. But this strictly limited achievement offers no basis for many of the claims made for linguistics. Chomsky's views of language as a whole are narrow and conceptually confused; his psychology is based on the predication of unnecessary entities; and the central ambition to make linguistics a natural science is deeply misconceived. The common reader will find the argument clear and invigorating. The study of language necessarily interests philosophers as well as linguists: so the ordinary person with no more than an interest in poetry or speech may feel himself disadvantaged as an amateur. On the contrary: it is by the common reader that the discussion of language is finally judged, and Mr Robinson speaks for the central common sense of speakers and readers of language and literature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Mr Robinson stands for the wholeness of language, and for the unity of language with the totality of human thought, feeling and being, both individual and social.' Times Higher Education Supplement

' ... a magnificent example of a contemporary David taking on Goliath, and it strikes me as being just as surprisingly successful as the original.' New Society

'To employ a word now outmoded, Ian Robinson has very ably defended the spirit of language and literature against the idolaters of the letter.' Books and Bookmen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521293167
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Preface to the 1978 impression; Works by Chomsky; 1. 'The science of language'; 2. Chomsky's grammar to the rescue; 3. The limits of transformational-generative grammar; 4. Chomsky's temptations and falls, or the strange tale of (i) The acquisition device; (ii) Code; (iii) Linguistic universals; 5. The wild goose chase of meaning out of language: Chomskyan semantics I: universal concepts; 6. Chomskyan semantics II: making propositions (i) Sense and logic; (ii) Reference; (iii) Absolute meaning; (iv) The super-language; Note: Chomsky's mistakes; 7. Linguistics and philosophy: Chomsky's failure with Wittgenstein; 8. Linguistics and everything else; 9. 'The science of language' revisited; Index.

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