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On Wednesday, January 7, 2004, at 04:44 PM, David Peterson wrote:

> Andreas wrote:
>
> <<I have zero wish to discuss Chomsky's politics here, but I'd like to
> know why
> you'd think that Chomsky's linguistics, or indeed anyone's linguistics,

Quite - I've never associated any linguistic school with a particular
political
persuasion.

> would
> correlate with rightwingerhood.>>
>
> Just for the simple reason that innate grammar sounds a lot like
> creationism.

Does it? So an intricately designed innate eyeball rules out evolution and
can be
explained only by creationism?

I have heard the Chompskyan 'innate grammar' theory describes as 'Platonic'
  and, indeed, it does more readily suggest Plato to me than Genesis, chap.
2.
But no one to my knowledge has followed it up by suggesting that Chompsky
holds Plato's idea that the knowledge was planted in the human soul before
it become embodied in a human embryo, i.e. Plato's belief in
re-incarnation.

I may have misunderstood Chompskyism, or maybe Pinker mis-represents it -
but my
understanding was that the 'innate grammar' is regarded as the end-product
of
aeons of evolution, just as people like me see the the human eyeball the
result
of the same process.

> Also, transformational grammar can make it look like languages not like
> English are wrong, and need to be fixed to behave more like English,
> underlyingly (whether that was intended or not).

It can - but that is not Chompsky's teaching.  The idea of
transformational grammar, as
I understand it, is to explain how the 'innate grammar' gets mapped to the
surface
grammar of individual natlangs.  If your transformation's not working for
Navaho, then
it ain't Navaho that's wrong - it's your transformation rules.  You need
to do more
thorough introspection!

I hasten to add that I do _not_ subscribe to the transformational grammar
school of
thought.

I think the trouble is that much of 'classical' Chompskyan linguistics was
done simply
by anglophones looking within themselves to discover these
transformational rules; the
thinking was, as I understand it, that as the 'deep structure' was common
to all humans,
it didn't matter too much what surface natlang you began with when you did
your
introspection.  But, I agree, it did give appear to give Chompskyism an
anglocentric slant;
but I do not believe this was intended.  It certainly would run counter to
the thinking
of the political Chompsky.

Ray
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