Noam Chomsky revolutionized linguistics in the mid-twentieths century. His views on the nature of language and its acquisition brought a paradigm shift to linguistics akin to the shift Copernican brought at his time on the nature and position of earth, sun and other planets.
Chomsky’s greatest blow was to the cult of evolution and natural selection. He explained language acquisition in a way anti-Darwinian at a time it was revered as a religious dogma.
Skipping over detailed maze of evolution complexities, here I would like to list as bullet items some key axioms of the Universal Grammar theory.
- Language system is unique to human being.
- As such, this system can not be experimented in laboratory and on other animals to investigate details.
- Human -even a child of three years- is able to generate infinite amount of linguistic novel expressions.
- This system is in-built in us and was not evolved through natural selection process.
- Around 80,000 years ago, our ancestors coming out of Africa already endowed with this language system.
- Just 100,000 years earlier, early homos had no clue to language. Hence, this short window of time is not enough for natural selection and must be explained with other theories.
- Most probably a small genetic mutation caused this sudden trait in our ancestor.
- Our language system consists of atoms of word-like lexicons and a mysterious CUP-like Generative Grammer processor. This grammar allows merging lexicon words and building a hierarchy in a recursive manner to generate novel infinite language constructs.
- These hierarchical structure then interfaces with two other systems: first, an internal cognitive system for thinking, planning and etc, and the second is a sensor-motor system to externalize to spoken, visual and auditory organs.
- This internal hierarchical structure in agnostic in terms of word order and other features that are specific to a certain world language. These variations are related to senso-motor system.
- Animals and songbirds have senso-motor system and might have thinking system but they lack this novel CPU that can generate endless novel statements.
For details watch the following lecture by Chomsky.
In later posts I will benchmark these axioms against Quranic verses in search for compliance or otherwise.