Happy Birthday, Professor Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, born in Philadelphia on 7 December 1928, is one of the most prominent linguists of the twentieth century, whose contributions in that field have been fundamental in the development of computer sciences.
One of the most cited scholars alive, the “father of modern linguistics” believes that language is innate: we are born equipped with a pattern to which the various existing languages adapt. Language rules are influenced by experience and learning, but the capacity for language exists with or without environmental influences. A conclusion that led him to break off from psychological currents like functionalism and behaviourism.
In addition, Chomsky is a social critic, political analyst and a strong human rights activist.

Five quotes:

“Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”

“There is a noticeable general difference between the sciences and mathematics on the one hand, and the humanities and social sciences on the other… In the former, the factors of integrity tend to dominate more over the factors of ideology. … You can lie or distort the story of the French Revolution as long as you like, and nothing will happen. Propose a false theory in chemistry, and it’ll be refuted tomorrow.”

“It is only in folk tales, children’s stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used wisely and well to destroy evil. The real world teaches very different lessons, and it takes willful and dedicated ignorance to fail to perceive them.”

Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.”

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”

“Il linguaggio è un processo di libera creazione; le sue leggi e i suoi princìpi sono fissi, ma il modo in cui vengono usati i principi della generazione è libero e infinitamente vario. Anche l’interpretazione e l’uso delle parole implica un processo di libera creazione “.

“C’è una notevole differenza tra le scienze e la matematica da un lato, e le scienze umane e sociali dall’altro. ….. . Nelle prime, i fattori di integrità tendono a dominare maggiormente sui fattori di ideologia…Puoi mentire o distorcere la storia della Rivoluzione francese finché vuoi, e non succederà nulla. Proponi una falsa teoria in chimica e domani verrà subito confutata.”

“È solo nei racconti popolari, nelle storie per bambini e nei giornali di opinione intellettuale che il potere è usato saggiamente per distruggere il male. Il mondo reale insegna lezioni molto diverse e ci vuole un’ignoranza caparbia e zelante per non riuscire ad accorgersene.”

“Il cambiamento e progresso sono molto raramente dei doni che provengono dall’alto. Essi sono il risultato delle lotte dal basso.”

“Se credi che non ci sia speranza, farai in modo che non esista alcuna speranza. Se credi che ci sia un istinto verso la libertà, farai in modo che le cose possano cambiare, allora è possibile che tu possa contribuire a creare un mondo migliore”.

[Image from Wikimedia Commons]

72 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Professor Chomsky

  1. I’m not a linguist by any means, but it seems that Chomsky was right when he said language is a process of free creation because language and it’s rules are not like the rules of, say, physics. Language is an intangible art. Physics is confined by matter.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Se presumi che ci sia un istinto di libertà, che ci siano opportunità per cambiare le cose, allora c’è la possibilità che tu possa contribuire a creare un mondo migliore.
    vangelo per me, grande uomo che tu hai ben ricordato, ciaooo luisa

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I studied language so I’m aware of the prominence of Chomsky’s works in the language field. However, it’s my first encounter with the five quotes. Thank you for another important and insightful post. 🌸💜

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Anch’io l’ho conosciuto all’università, linguistica non rientrava nel piano di studi ma avevo una professoressa di letteratura inglese che lo citava spesso… Bellissime le citazioni, molto efficaci… un gran bel mondo quello delle parole, del loro uso e significato!
    Un bacio grande 🌸 Buona Immacolata!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. However, he is also another “useful idiot” for China, having launched the :Progressive International” along with other leftists. “The Progressive International says it wants to “defeat a rising authoritarian nationalism”, yet it has aligned itself uncritically with the Qiao Collective, a vehicle for the promotion of Chinese imperialism combined with the sort of authoritarian nationalist groups that the Progressive International were ostensibly founded to oppose. The Qiao Collective brooks no criticism of the CCP and either denies the persecution of Uighur Muslims, or portrays their oppression as a function of legitimate “anti-terrorism” policy by Beijing.”

    What they say and how they behave, especially for Chomsky in regards to his history of real facts and not opinions, and for some others like Naomi Klein, are far distant from the impression they like to give.

    Liked by 1 person

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