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Forty-Four Reasons
Why the Chomskians Are Mistaken

Reasons 2—4

2. Another unforgivable oversight of these would-be theoreticians has been their total obliviousness to the sheer physicality of language. Indeed, language is not merely a set of phonetic fragments or syntactic tricks but comes to us as the joyous expression of the entire human body, its posture, its culturally based habits of breathing, its socially moulded mode of movement, its reactions to different climatic factors, all of which can—and do—play a remarkably large part in the character of the language spoken by any given people.

3. The equal obliviousness of these tone-deaf technicians to the rhythmic, euphonic, and musical aspects of language, and how they are inextricably linked to a people's chosen mode of verbal expression.

4. The sheer reductionism of these theories. The last two arguments dealt with major aspects of language overlooked by this blinded and otherwise sensorially challenged set of doctrines. But such oversights are the least of it—from the very beginning, the TGG outlook has been grounded in a rigorous and self-righteous form of reductionism, condemning it over the years to a rapidly worsening form of tunnel-vision. By rooting themselves in this reductionism, these zealots have been able to diminish what they call the study of linguistics, conveniently for them as they imagine it, to an ever decreasing number of aspects, and to exclude from this sharply delimited field of study almost anything which they can possibly claim lies beyond it.

If Chomsky—as one observer would have it—"has rarely been defeated on his own ground," it is because he has prepared this ground—or battle terrain—in excruciating detail, carefully limiting its exact dimensions and entrance or exit points, and placing his mines, machine guns, and artillery in precisely the right places. But in so doing he has also drastically excluded large portions of the total topology of language, including many of its most important aspects. Yank this ground out from under him, and one quickly uncovers an eminently vulnerable target caught totally off balance, desperately lurching to find cover.

But despite their unceasing efforts to draw the wagons into an ever smaller circle around the campfire, the forces of TGG have still failed to provide an adequate explanation even of what little remains in their self-chosen purview, as we shall see in the following examples. In a sense, it is as though they have diagrammed themselves into a corner and cannot for the life of them find their way out again.

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This piece is Copyright © 2000
by Alexander Gross, with specified
portions Copyright © 2000 by
Sergio Navega. It may be
reproduced for individuals and for
educational purposes only. It may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
money-making) purpose without
written permission from the authors.
All Rights Reserved.

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