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Forty-Four Reasons
Why the Chomskians Are Mistaken

Reason 44

44. The larger reality, both theoretical and practical in nature, that it may in fact be quite unlikely that any view or theory about language can ever hope to resolve the many problem areas raised by this enormous field of study. As stated elsewhere on this website, most human beings die before they can reasonably master even a single language, and only a few are privileged to learn a mere handful of languages on an advanced level. It is well-known among professional translators and interpreters that one can never know two languages equally well for the purposes of speaking, reading, and writing them. There is always some sort of knowledge gap occasioned by the sheer complexity of the task.

Thus, barring some unforeseeable breakthrough in the field of abstract intelligence that totally out-performs and supplants the capacity of the human brain, the ultimate level of insight claimed by purely theoretical linguists may always be open to question, and any generalizations they make may turn out to be purely theoretical indeed—and perhaps even fictitious as well on more careful scrutiny. Besides, assuming such a remarkable breakthrough did occur, we would no longer be speaking of human beings as we know them and would certainly be confronted with an entirely new set of assumptions and operating procedures.

In any case, as is made clear on this website's section devoted to artificial intelligence, the capacity of AI systems to even approach the abilities of the human brain in a number of practical areas—much less excel and supplant them—may prove quite problematic. Precisely who are the programmers who can teach a computer, even in small incremental steps, to reckon—outside of certain inherently limited applications—with what the human brain itself cannot approach knowing?

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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.,
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