12 Apr 2002 chalst   » (Master)

tk: The anti-Chomsky article is incompetent. I am not a linguist (my wife is though), and certainly no fan of Chomsky, but I have no difficulties finding reams of falsehoods and fallacies in this article. Just a few of the worst, to where I couldn't face reading anymore.
  • Chomsky abandoned the TGG theory in the late 1980s in favour of his minimalist program. It's really astonishing for the article simply to omit mentioning this -- were the authors perhaps unaware of this. His book on the program has been around since 1995.
  • Most of the earlier points are devoted to ridiculing a view Chomskians don't hold, namely that linguistic competence is exhausted by a description of the syntactic constructions of language.
  • Point 7, poverty of the stimulus ``It is clear that those who make such a claim have never even once seriously studied the behavior of infants or remotely bothered to consider what babies actually experience in their daily lives.''. The underdetermination of response by stimulus is widely held, not just by Chomskian linguists, but across most of the field of cognitive science, and by almost all developmental psychologists. Why do the authors, neither of whom are psychologists, think they are experts who don't they provide arguments here?
  • Point 8: innateness of language: my wife (who is a linguist, also not a Chomsky fan) reckons most non-Chomskians agree language is innate. Linguistics as a whole recognises this as a controversy.
  • Point 9: do the authors seriously assert that there are a finite set of sentences that humans are capable of grasping? Perhaps they would care to enumerate them?
  • Point 10: Chomskians do distinguish between first language acquisition and later language acquisition.
Wow, pretty bad going. But apparently the authors win all their fights on sci.lang, so they must be right anyway!

I think we've got to wait a bit before a really good exposee of what is wrong with the Chomsky cult appears. I'm afraid this isn't it. At least they didn't resort to the `self-hating jew' argument... no wait, there it is in point 35. *sigh*

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