Noam Chomsky: the Renown Linguist and Scientist


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Noam Chomsky who is a noted linguist has contributed immensely to the field of linguistics, cognitive science, philosophy, history and social criticism. He postulated the transformational generative grammar for which he obtained his PhD. His book titled, Syntactic Structures that was published in 1957 brought a turning point in the scientific study of language and established him as the pioneer of modern linguistics. He currently holds the post of Laureate Professor and Institute Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona and Massachusetts Institute of Technology respectively. Noam Chomsky is also a staunch advocate of socialist libertarianism and revolutionary syndicalism. Besides being the grand old man of linguistics, he is also politically active and a principal critic of United States foreign policy, neoliberalism, and Israeli-Palestinian frictions. More so, he is an accomplished author who has written many books on general issues, linguistics, and politics. But who exactly is Noam Chomsky and what is he known for? For a lowdown on the famed thinker and his prominent works, scroll further.

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Who is Noam Chomsky

The influential scholar was born as Avram Noam Chomsky on the 7th of December, 1928 in the East Oak Lane vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. His father, Zeev William Chomsky, an immigrant from Ukraine in 1913, was an American scholar of Hebrew. He served as the faculty president and faculty chairman of Gratz College (a Jewish teacher training institution) and later became a professor of Hebrew at Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. His mother, Elsie Chomsky (née Simonofsky) was an activist and instructor born in Babruysk, Belarus. Noam Chomsky was brought up along with his younger brother, David Eli Chomsky in Philadelphia and was indoctrinated with Left Zionist ideologies of Ahad Ha’am.

Still on the subject of who Noam Chomsky is, the American national is an alumnus of Oak Lane Country Day School (an independent school for preschool and elementary-aged children), located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and Central High School, Philadelphia where he was a member of many groups and clubs. He also schooled at Hebrew High School, Gratz College where his father was a lecturer. Following his graduation from high school in 1945, the adept author enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania and majored in Philosophy and Linguistics. He further obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees in linguistics from the same university after conducting his doctorate dissertation at Harvard University as a Harvard Junior Fellow.

What is He Known For

Among diverse things that can be accredited to Noam Chomsky, he attained global recognition for his works in the scientific study of language, books and political activities. Through his doctoral dissertation in 1955, Noam Chomsky introduced the ideology of transformational generative grammar and also suggested a novel approach to the study of sentence structure (syntax) that was based on symbols and rules through his innovative book on language titled, Syntactic Structures.

Following his obtainment of doctorate degree in linguistics in 1955, he kicked-started his career as a linguist by working as an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the same year through the help of his learned colleague, Roman Jakobson. There, his job entailed working on a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the use of software to translate text or speech from one language to another and teaching a course in philosophy and linguistics.

As a scholar of remarkable erudition, his contributions in the study of language soon earned him the post of a professor at MIT and visiting professor at Columbia University. His meteoric rise to fame came about after his reexamination of B. F. Skinner’s book, Verbal Behavior which he argued that humans are born with ingrain cognition of linguistic characteristics by which language is formulated against Skinner’s behaviorist approach to the study of mind and language through mimicking of what they hear.

Noam Chomsky who is also renowned for his numerous publications in linguistics and politics which are over one hundred, has writing credits on linguistics which includes Three Models For the Description of Language (1956), The Logical Basis For Linguistic Theory (1962), Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965), and The Minimalist Program (1995). Also, his political writing credits includes American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), Counter-Revolutionary Violence – Bloodbaths in Facts & Propaganda with Edward S. Herman (1973), The Political Economy on Human Rights, Volume 1: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism with Edward S. Herman (1973), and Yugoslavia: Peace, War, and Dissolution (2018). He is being cited as the most-quoted living author because of his numerous political publications.

Noam Chomsky also attained fame as a fellow of many prestigious institutions including the Linguistic Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, British Psychological Society, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, among many others. He has been honored with Sydney Peace Prize, Carl-von-Ossietzky Prize, an induction into IEEE Intelligent System’s Al’s Hall of Fame and many other awards.

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