Chomsky, Noam


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Avram Noam Chomsky, (born Philadelphia 1928), American linguist, writer, educator, and political activist, is one of the founders of transformational, or generative, grammar, an original system of linguistic analysis.
Chomsky was introduced to the study of linguistics by his father, a Hebrew scholar who worked within the framework of historical linguistics. The early stages of Chomsky's theories of language appear in his University of Pennsylvania PhD dissertation, 'Transformational Analysis' (1955). After receiving his degree, he taught modern languages and linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, becoming a full professor in 1961. In 1966 he was appointed Ferrari P. Ward professor of foreign languages and linguistics and Institute Professor in 1976.
Chomsky views language as the result of a universal innate facility and considers his ideas concerning language to be related to those of the 17th-century Rationalist philosophers.
Chomsky also became known for his opposition to US involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. He delivered many lectures and wrote books and numerous articles expressing his political views on several social and economic issues including American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), The Political Economy of Human Rights, (2 vols, 1979), and Towards a New Cold War (1982).
Among Chomsky's major publications on grammatical theory are Syntactic Structures (1957), in which he set out his theory of transformational grammar; Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965); Cartesian Linguistics (1966); The Sound Pattern of English (with Morris Halle, 1968); Language and Mind (1968; enlarged edn, 1972); The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory (1975); and Reflections on Language (1975). Language and Responsibility (1979) discusses the relations of language and politics, the history of ideas and science, and the ramifications of generative grammar. His later books, including Pirates and Emperors (1986), On Power and Ideology (1987) and Language and Problems of Knowledge (1988), further examine those subjects.