Monday, June 18, 2007

A beginning of the end of Chomskyan regime?

By John Colapinto
The New Yorker, April 16, 2007, pp. 118-139

The report by Daniel Everett in Current Anthropology is either revealing or disturbing depending upon your perspective in cognitive science. He claims that, in Pirahã, a language spoken by an indigenous people of Amazonas, Brazil, recursion is not observed. This The New Yorker article quotes the words of Steven Pinker on Everett’s claim, “a bomb thrown into the party.” The article deals with human aspects of the people involved in the investigation and the debate, as well as highly intriguing features of the language and the people who speak it. It is an intellectually entertaining introduction of the issue.

I never pretend to proclaim the end of the Chomskyan theory of language after only reading this 11 page long article in a weekly magazine. But surely something interesting is going on in linguistics!

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