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Noam Chomsky

(1928 - )

Chomsky, Noam, in full AVRAM NOAM CHOMSKY (b. Dec. 7, 1928, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.), American linguist and political activist who founded transformational-generative grammar, an original and highly influential 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. He studied under the linguist Zellig S. Harris at the University of Pennsylvania and earned bachelor's (1949) and master's (1951) degrees there. The early stages of Chomsky's theories of language appear in his University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. dissertation, "Transformational Analysis" (1955). After receiving his degree, he began teaching modern languages and linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955. He became a full professor there in 1961 and was appointed Ferrari P. Ward professor of foreign languages and linguistics in 1966.

Chomsky set out his theory of transformational grammar in Syntactic Structures (1957), a book that revolutionized the development of theoretical linguistics. In this work he broke with the dominant structural school, which held that language is essentially a system of syntactical and grammatical habits established by means of training and experience. Chomsky, by contrast, argued that human beings have an innate facility for understanding the formal principles underlying the grammatical structures of language. It is this innate capacity that explains how young children, after hearing the speech of their elders, are able to infer the grammatical rules underlying ordinary sentences and then use those rules to generate an infinite number and variety of sentences that they had never heard before. 

In analyzing the innate ability to construct these "generative grammars," Chomsky distinguished between two levels of structure in sentences: "surface structures," which are the actual words and sounds used, and "deep structures," which carry a sentence's underlying meaning. People are able to create and interpret sentences by generating the words of surface structures from deep structures according to a set of abstract rules that, though limited in number, allow for unlimited variation. Chomsky called these rules "grammatical transformations," or "transformational rules." He argued that these rules are basically the same in all languages and correspond to innate, genetically transmitted mental structures in human beings.

Chomsky's work virtually defined the methods of linguistic analysis used in the second half of the 20th century. His assertions about humans' innate knowledge of language have not been widely accepted, however. Chomsky's other books on linguistics include Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), Cartesian Linguistics (1966), The Sound Pattern of English (with Morris Halle, 1968), Language and Mind (1968; enlarged ed., 1972), The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory (1975), and Reflections on Language (1975). Language and Responsibility (1979) discusses the relation of language and politics and the ramifications of generative grammar. His later books, including Language and Problems of Knowledge (1988), further examine those subjects.

Chomsky also became well known for his opposition to the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War during the late 1960s and early '70s. His books criticizing American foreign policy and the role played by giant corporations and the mass media include American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), Towards a New Cold War (1982), Pirates & Emperors (1986), On Power and Ideology (1987), Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (1989), and World Orders, Old and New (1994).

촘스키 (Avram) Noam Chomsky 1928. 12. 7 미국 펜실베이니아 필라델피아~ . 미국의 언어학자·작가·반전(反戰)운동가. 독창적 언어분석 체계인 변형생성문법의 창시자 가운데 한 사람이다. 촘스키는 아버지로부터 언어학의 기초를 배웠는데, 그의 아버지는 역사언어학의 테두리 안에서 히브리어를 연구하는 학자였다. 촘스키의 언어이론의 초기 단계가 나타나 있는 것은 그가 펜실베이니아대학교에 제출한 〈변형 분석 Transformational Analysis(1955)이라는 박사학위논문이다. 1955년 이 논문으로 박사학위를 받은 그는 매사추세츠공과대학(MIT)에서 근대어와 언어학을 가르쳤고 1961년 교수가 되었다. 1966년에는 페라리 P. 워드 기금의 외국어 및 언어학 교수로 임명되었고 1976년에는 석좌교수가 되었다. 촘스키는 언어를 인간이 보편적으로 타고난 능력의 결과로 간주하고, 자신의 언어관이 17세기 합리주의 철학자들의 사상과 관계가 있다고 생각했다. 촘스키는 1960, 1970년대에 걸쳐 미국의 베트남 개입에 반대한 것으로 유명하다. 그는 많은 강연을 했고 〈미국의 힘과 새로운 관료들 American Powea and the New Mandarins(1969)·〈인권의 정치경제학 Political Economy of Human Rights(2, 1979)·〈새로운 냉전을 위하여 Towards a New Cold War(1982)를 비롯해 다양한 사회·경제 문제에 관한 자신의 정치적 견해를 표현하는 많은 논설을 썼다. 촘스키가 문법이론에서 발표한 주요저서로는 변형 문법이론을 제시한 〈통사적 구조 Syntatic Structures(1957)·〈통사론의 여러 측면 Aspects of the Theory of Syntax(1965)·〈데카르트파 언어학 Cartesian Linguistics(1966)·〈영어의 음 구조 The Sound Pattern of English(모리스 할과 공저, 1968)·〈언어와 정신 Languages and Mind(1968)·〈언어학 이론의 논리적 구조 The Logical Structure of Linguastic Theory(1975)·〈언어에 관하여 Reflections on Language(1975) 등이 있다. 〈언어와 책임 Language and Responsibility(1979)은 언어와 정치의 관계, 사상과 과학의 역사, 생성문법의 세부 추이에 관한 탐구에 이르기까지 다양한 분야를 포괄하고 있는 책이다.

Chomsky in Microsoft Encarta

Chomsky, Noam (1928- ), American linguist, educator, and political activist. Chomsky is the founder of transformational-generative grammar, a system that revolutionized modern linguistics. Avram Noah Chomsky was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in linguistics in 1955 under the direction of American linguist Zellig Harris. While still a graduate student, Chomsky held an appointment from 1951 to 1955 as a junior fellow at Harvard University. He joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955 to teach French and German. In 1976 he became Institute Professor of Linguistics at MIT. Chomsky created and established a new field of linguistics, generative grammar, based on a theory he worked on during the 1950s. In 1957 he published this theory, called transformational-generative grammar, in his book Syntactic Structures. Chomsky made a distinction between the innate, often unconscious knowledge people have of their own language and the way in which they use the language in reality. The former, which he termed competence, enables people to generate all possible grammatical sentences. The latter, which he called performance, is the transformation of this competence into everyday speech. Prior to Chomsky, most theories about the structure of language described performance; they were transformational grammars. Chomsky proposed that linguistic theory also should explain the mental processes that underlie the use of language-in other words, the nature of language itself, or generative grammar. Chomsky placed linguistics at the core of studies of the mind. He claimed that linguistic theory must account for universal similarities between all languages and for the fact that children are able to learn language fluently at an early age in spite of insufficient data that has no systematic logic. His contribution to the cognitive sciences-fields that seek to understand how we think, learn, and perceive-emerges from this claim. Of equal importance were Chomsky's arguments that a serious theory of mental processes should replace empiricism, the belief that experience is the source of knowledge, as the dominant model in American science. Chomsky wrote on politics early in his life but began to publish more on the subject during the 1960s in response to United States policies in Southeast Asia. He deliberately scaled back his work on linguistics to dedicate more time to writing about the role of the media and academic communities in "manufacturing" the consent of the general public for U.S. policies. Chomsky also addressed the effects of U.S. foreign policy, and he felt that intellectuals have a responsibility to use scientific method in criticizing government policies that they find immoral and to develop practical strategies to combat these policies. Chomsky's more important publications, in addition to Syntactic Structures, include Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), American Power and the New Mandarins (1967), Peace in the Middle East (1974), Lectures on Government and Binding (1981), The Fateful Triangle (1983) Deterring Democracy (1991), and The Minimalist Program (1995). Contributed By: Daniel Everett "Chomsky, Noam," Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 99.

Deterring Democracy ] Necessary Illusions ] The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many ] Keeping the Rabble in Line ] Rethinking Camelot ] Powers and Prospects ] Year 501 ] Secrets, Lies and Democracy ] What Uncle Sam Really Wants ] Interviews, Debates and Talks ] [ About Noam Chomsky ]



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