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Why the Chomskians Are Mistaken
Since the authors have brought forth so many points against these doctrines, they also wish to make it amply clear at this time that they do not believe that there is anything fraudulent about the work of this theorist and his followers. In a sense this is somewhat regrettable, since these theories might be far more interesting and make for more entertaining reading if they were in fact fraudulent. But it should be clear to even the most skeptical commentator that the work of this man is painfully and rigorously honesteven in his various evasions, he in fact appears to be laboring at the outermost limit of his abilities, and his many errors of judgment come from his totally honest failings as a linguist. What we see in this body of work is nothing more or less than the attainments of a drab, earnest polemicist with a tin ear for language.
At this point it may legitimately be asked what the authors of these points hope to accomplish by publishing them. They are under no illusions as to what the likely results of their work may be, as they have seen the bitter attacks over past years lashing out at all who have opposed these doctrines before them. There was a time in the late Middle Ages when an unknown scholar could arrive in Paris, deliver a single lecture, and suddenly have the gates of the universityeven the gates of the citythrown open to him as a conquering savant.
It would be tempting to suppose that the Web and the Internet could function similarly amid today's scholarly world, but this is quite unlikely. The promotion of TGG is not about truth or science or scholarship in any ultimate senseit is an academic turf game, a religious war, a mafia-like struggle for the spoils. Far too many lives and livelihoods depend upon its fortunes for any fair or speedy resolution to occur or for any deep interest in the truth to prevail.
But it is also true that a certain rhythm of fitness rules even in such realms as these. While this particular document may have little real impact in itself, it may nonetheless embolden others to come forth and voice their own misgivings about this crisis in the state of learning. Ideas are born, grow, reach their peak, and then decline again, and in this author's view TGG probably peaked around 1989 and has just as probablybased on numerous statements on specialized Internet newsgroupsbeen going downhill ever since. It is therefore logical to assume that its days may be numbered, even as preparations to crown a new heir apparent continue.
With a bit of luck and over a period of time, it could just happen that the points presented here could serve to renew interest in the study of languageperhaps even of linguisticsand could even help to revive an entire learned profession. The authors truly hope so. A learned professionto expand the cliché just a bitis a terrible thing to waste.
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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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