Noam Chomsky's current theory, published in 1995, is known as The Minimalist Program and has been presented as his crowning achievement. It argues, familiarly, that there exists a universal grammar that is hardwired, and that, like an efficient machine, this grammar will tend to use the least possible number of constraints (phonetically and syntactically) to produce an utterance. Minimalism has spawned in linguistics an entire research program, despite being fundamentally misguided, according to distinguished linguist and philosopher of language Pieter Seuren. Seuren's accessible and spirited attack argues that the Minimalist Program is deeply flawed. He proposes that it fails to satisfy the basic criteria for sound scientific work, such as respect for data, unambiguous formulations, and falsifiability. Seuren points to the original acrimonious split in the 1960s and 1970s between Chomsky's generative grammar and the alternative generative semantics proposed by his followers, and argues that the latter theory was sounder and unfairly suppressed. Seuren maintains that this suppression--and the cult surrounding Chomsky and Minimalism more generally--has done great damage to linguistics by impairing open discussion of empirical issues and excluding valid alternatives. Chomsky's Minimalism will generate controversy among linguists in its attack on the fundamental assumptions used by an entire generation of researchers.
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2 The Mechanism of the MP under Scrutiny
3 The Language Faculty
4 Questions of Method and Adequacy
5 What Is Functional about the MP?
6 What Is Conceptually Necessary about the MP?
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algorithm answer argument assumptions chapter Chomsky Chomsky’s Chomskyan clause cleft cognitive component computational conceptual necessity constituent construction context counterevidence Creole languages dative derivation Dutch elements embedded empirical English example existential existential quantifier expressed external fact formal function German guage input interface John lexical items lexicon linguistic logical machinery Matrix Mauritian Creole means mediational grammar Minimalist Program modal modularity module Moreover motor-perceptual natural negation notion operator optimal output Paul Postal phenomena phonetic phonological position possible predicate presented presuppositions principle properties question raising random-generator random-generator view realist regard relevant representation result rule satisfy semantic analysis semantic interpretation sense sentences Seuren speaker specific speech act struc subject term surface structure surface-driven syntactic syntax taken tences theory of grammar thought tion transformational transformational grammar tree structures ture underlying ungrammatical universal grammar V-cluster verb X-bar theory