Noam Chomsky's Contribution to Linguistics - Oxford Handbooks

Subscriber Login

Forgotten your password?

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).
date: 24 November 2015

Abstract and Keywords

This sketch attempts to convey the magnitude of Chomsky’s contribution to linguistics by comparing his initial formulation of generative grammar with his structuralist predecessors’ approach to syntax and then comparing that formulation to the current perspective. In the intervening six decades, Chomsky: (a) constructed a formal theory of grammar and explored its foundations; (b) developed a cognitive/epistemological interpretation of the theory, leading to the biolinguistic perspective; (c) contributed major proposals for constraints on grammars resulting in a significant reduction in and simplification of the formal grammatical machinery; and (d) re-evaluated the theory of grammar in terms of language design, raising the possibility of empirical proposals about the language faculty as a biological entity with properties of economy, simplicity, and efficient computation. In redefining the science of language (a–d), Chomsky has wrought a revolution without precedent in the history of linguistics.

Keywords: transformational generative grammar, conditions on rules and representations, Principles and Parameters framework, I-language, Minimalist Program

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.