Review: Chomsky for Beginners

Chomsky for Beginners
Chomsky for Beginners by David Cogswell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a linguistics student, reading about Chomsky reminds me that even a practitioner on the humanities could make a significant contribution on how we run our world. Chomsky’s linguistics (which has thankfully become a standard on how we are doing the discipline) focuses less on describing language phenomena but on explaining things related on how humans are able to use language. He seeks a scientific pursuit of understanding the human language, and so his thoughts on the subject are clear-cut, unlike many philosophers and literary theorists with their obscure jargon and confusing reasoning. His theory on universal grammar sheds light that we humans are endowed with a special ability to create things. Our behaviors are not determined only by our environment. We have the creative ability to do things. And so, in facing our world where injustices prevail and ordinary people are driven out from contributing to their community, we have the means within ourselves to initiate change. The government may deceive us and mislead us, but we can learn about their tricks.

I cannot say whether the book correctly introduces or misrepresents Chomsky’s ideas since I have not read a single book written by him. The way it delivers his massage, though, is engaging and thought-provoking. Language and literature students should try to learn from his example.

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