What is Special About Language?

Noam Chomsky, a world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist lectured at the University of Arizona on Feb. 7, 2012, on “What is Special About Language?”

Noam Chomsky is an Institute Professor and a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked for more than 50 years. Chomsky, who according to The New York Times is “arguably the most important intellectual alive,” is credited with revolutionizing the field of linguistics by introducing generative grammar and the concept of a universal grammar, which underlies all human language and is based in the innate structure of language. Beyond linguistics, his work has influenced fields such as cognitive science, philosophy, computer science, mathematics, and psychology.

Noam Chomsky has received numerous awards, including the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, and the Ben Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science. Since the 1960s, Chomsky has been an influential social analyst and critic. He has published numerous books on U.S. foreign and domestic policies, international politics, the media and related subjects. His writings are among the most quoted in today’s world.

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