Language and Problems of Knowledge: The Managua Lectures

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MIT Press, 1988 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 205 pages
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Language and Problems of Knowledge is Noam Chomsky's most accessible statement on the nature, origins, and current concerns of the field of linguistics. He frames the lectures with four fundamental questions: What do we know when we are able to speak and understand a language? How is this knowledge acquired? How do we use this knowledge? What are the physical mechanisms involved in the representation, acquisition, and use of this knowledge?Starting from basic concepts, Chomsky sketches the present state of our answers to these questions and offers prospects for future research. Much of the discussion revolves around our understanding of basic human nature (that we are unique in being able to produce a rich, highly articulated, and complex language on the basis of quite rudimentary data), and it is here that Chomsky's ideas on language relate to his ideas on politics.The initial versions of these lectures were given at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, Nicaragua, in March 1986. A parallel set of lectures on contemporary political issues given at the same time has been published by South End Press under the title On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures.Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT. Language and Problems of Knowledge is sixteenth in the series Current Studies in Linguistics, edited by Jay Keyser.

 

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Language and problems of knowledge: the Managua lectures

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In these "somewhat extended versions'' of lectures originally delivered in Nicaragua in 1986, Chomsky gives the nonspecialist his most accessible statement yet of his thinking on language and ... Read full review

Contents

The Research Program of Modern Linguistics 3 5
35
Principles of Language Structure I
67
Principles of Language Structure II
93
Prospects for
133
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About the author (1988)

Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 7, 1928. Son of a Russian emigrant who was a Hebrew scholar, Chomsky was exposed at a young age to the study of language and principles of grammar. During the 1940s, he began developing socialist political leanings through his encounters with the New York Jewish intellectual community. Chomsky received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. He conducted much of his research at Harvard University. In 1955, he began teaching at MIT, eventually holding the Ferrari P. Ward Chair of Modern Language and Linguistics. Today Chomsky is highly regarded as both one of America's most prominent linguists and most notorious social critics and political activists. His academic reputation began with the publication of Syntactic Structures in 1957. Within a decade, he became known as an outspoken intellectual opponent of the Vietnam War. Chomsky has written many books on the links between language, human creativity, and intelligence, including Language and Mind (1967) and Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin, and Use (1985). He also has written dozens of political analyses, including Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), Chronicles of Dissent (1992), and The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many (1993).

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