Chomskys Minimalism

Paperback | October 6, 2004

byPieter A. M. Seuren

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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 leastpossible 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 inthe 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 moregenerally--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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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 leastpossible number of constraints (phonetically...

Pieter A. M. Seuren's current position is as Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands. He is also the author of A View of Language (OUP 2002).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 5.51 × 8.19 × 0.71 inPublished:October 6, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195173066

ISBN - 13:9780195173062

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. The Mechanism of the MP under Scrutiny3. The Language Faculty4. Questions of Method and Adequacy5. What Is Functional about the MP?6. What Is Conceptually Necessary about the MP?7. Surface-Driven Elements of Semantic Interpretation8. The Embarrassment of EvidenceReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"The book is really excellent, I think: vitally needed, eminently readable, and right on the mark with its comprehensive and incisive critique of the most influential confidence trick in the history of modern linguistics." --Geoffrey K. Pullum, University of California at Santa Cruz