The Linguistics Wars
Randy Allen HarrisISBN: 019509834X;
In this evenhanded, trenchant and witty academic chronicle, Harris looks at the fierce, acrimonious controversies that have rocked linguistics since the 1950s. At center stage is Noam Chomsky whose search for the innate structures underlying language revolutionized what had been primarily a descriptive, behavioristic science. Chomsky's followers, notably George Lakoff, James McCawley, Paul Postal and Haj Ross, came to view Chomskyan "deep structure" as a barrier to forging a link between sound and meaning. Their work, known as generative semantics, has been denounced by Chomsky as a heresy, but Harris, an English professor in Britain, credits generative semantics with making linguistics a vibrant, pluralistic field by introducing a crop of phenomena and methods which Chomsky had ignored. At the moment "things don't look especially bright" for Chomsky's model of language and mind, opines Harris, who asserts that the embattled, isolated Chomsky has borrowed ideas from his rivals and...
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