Noam Chomsky's first book on syntactic structures is one of the first serious attempts on the part of a linguist to construct within the tradition of scientific theory-construction a comprehensive theory of language which may be understood in the same sense that a chemical, biological theory is understood by experts in those fields. It is not a mere reorganization of the data into a new kind of library catalogue, nor another specualtive philosophy about the nature of man and language, but rather a rigorus explication of our intuitions about our language in terms of an overt axiom system, the theorems derivable from it, explicit results which may be compared with new data and other intuitions, all based plainly on an overt theory of the internal structure of languages; and it may well provide an opportunity for the application of explicity measures of simplicity to decide preference of one form over another form of grammar.
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I hugely admire his work. However, the way he views language is not palpable to me. Isolating a language in great detail, in my humble opinion, would lead us to a mass of linguistic confusion. In sum, it is unputdownable in a way.
My absolute intellectual-political idol. I loved Syntatic Structure since I first read it back in the 1970s. It is a marvel of clarity and depth, combined with insight into the really important issue, which in this case is the very essence of humankind. It is hard to decide who deserves more admiration -- the revolutionary linguist-mathematician Chomsky or the Chomsky the revolutionary social critic.
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