Chomsky, Noam
 
 
(b. 1928-. Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1955). He is widely acknowledged to have inaugurated the ‘cognitive revolution’ in psychology with his review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. In this review, Chomsky argued persuasively that language acquisition could not be explained with the resources of the classical theory of conditioning, and required the positing of innate representational structures governed by rules.
 

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From the time he received his Ph.D., Chomsky has been on the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is widely acknowledged to have inaugurated the ‘cognitive revolution’ in psychology with his review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. In this review, Chomsky argued persuasively that language acquisition could not be explained with the resources of the classical theory of conditioning, and required the positing of innate representational structures governed by rules. Chomsky views the understanding of language as genetically determined and developing comparably to other bodily organs. Because the human brain is preprogrammed by a ‘language acquisition device,’ humans generate sentences the grammar of which is universal. For Chomsky, learning a language is both species-specific and species-uniform: only humans have the capacity for language acquisition, and all languages share a common underlying logical structure. Thus the logic (or logical syntax) of all languages is the same. Terming the logical structure deep structure, Chomsky holds that it is not learned. The language that human beings must learn is a surface structure - phonetic sounds or the sentence uttered. Chomsky’s psycholinguistics is labeled generative transformational grammar, a system that integrates both surface and deep structure. Among his numerous publications are the following influential books: Syntactic Structures (1957), Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Cartesian Linguistics, Language and the Mind, and Studies on Semantics in Generative Grammar.
 
 
Tadeusz Zawidzki