5 March 2014
Chomsky Social Learning Theory
Noam Chomsky, born Avram Noam Chomsky, is widely considered to be the father of modern linguistics. His theory of generative grammar has informed generations of linguistic and cognitive researchers. Politically, Chomsky has been active in the discussion of America's foreign and domestic policies since the 1960's. He is also an outspoken critic of the American media, and a prolific author. In fact, according to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Chomsky is the most cited author living today.
Chomsky was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1928 to William and Elsie Chomsky. The family lived in the East Oak Lane neighborhood of Philadelphia, a comparatively affluent area of the city. His was one of the only Jewish families in the neighborhood, with the rest of the population being mostly composed of Irish or German Catholics. As a result of growing up as a local ethnic minority, Chomsky has stated on several occasions that as a child he had a "visceral fear" of Catholics, one that took him a long time to overcome.
He attended high school in Philadelphia before moving on to the University of Pennsylvania where he studied linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. He continued his education and developed his thesis at Harvard University and ultimately received his PhD in linguistics in 1955 from the University of Pennsylvania. He has since been teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As a young man, Chomsky's politics were directly influenced by his family and environment. His father, a professor of Hebrew, was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World party, a political organization formed to secure workers' rights and push back against the wage system of employment. For his own part, Noam became involved in several Hebrew organizations, owing at least partially to his childhood run-ins with Catholic youths, and developed a burgeoning interest in anarchist literature and platforms.
Chomsky is considered one of the most important linguists in the twentieth century. His main contribution in the field of linguistics is the influential "transformative-generative grammar" which is an attempt to describe the syntactical processes common to all human language mathematically (Smith, 1999). Chomsky draws a key distinction between the deep structure and surface structure of languages. He argues that the deep structure, which contains the meaning of a sentence, is not culturally determined but rather "hardwired" in the human brain. The meaning is then converted by a transformation into surface structure, which includes the sounds and words in a sentence. The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is the hypothetical brain mechanism that according to Chomsky explained the acquisition of syntactic…