Comprehensive coverage

Evidence disproves Chomsky's theory of language learning

Noam Chomsky revolutionized linguistics, but many of his ideas, including the way he explained the acquisition of language, do not stand up to the test of evidence, and new theories are taking their place

New evidence brings about a paradigm shift in the field of linguistics. Illustration: pixabay.
New evidence brings about a paradigm shift in the field of linguistics. Illustration: pixabay.

By Paul Ibbotson, Michael Tomasello, the article is published with the permission of Scientific American Israel and the Ort Israel Network 12.01.2017

  • Noam Chomsky is one of the giants of today's linguistics. He is particularly famous for his well-known theory of universal grammar that he introduced in the mid-20th century.
  • Chomsky's idea that grammatical patterns are hardwired into our brains is now in doubt because empirical studies have not produced evidence to support it.
  • The theory has undergone several modifications to account for unusual cases that conflict with its original assertions. These changes were a retreat from the ambitious pretensions of the original theory.
  • Alternatives to universal grammar offer the possibility that during their language learning, children use general cognitive abilities and their ability to read other people's intentions.

For almost half a century, linguistics was dominated by the idea that our brains have a pre-prepared mental template for learning grammar. Noam Chomsky from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). But recently, more and more neuroscientists and linguists are abandoning Chomsky's "universal grammar" theory following new studies that examined many different languages ​​and found out how children learn to speak and understand the languages ​​of the communities in which they live. These studies do not support Chomsky's assertions.

From the new studies, a completely different picture emerges, according to which children's first language learning is not based on grammatical structures that are ingrained in their minds in advance. Studies show that young children use different types of thinking, which are not exactly linguistic, such as the ability to divide the world into categories (people or objects, for example) and to understand what relationships exist between things. These mental capacities, together with the special human ability to perceive the messages that others intend to convey, are the conditions that allow the existence of language. The new findings show that in order to understand how children and others really learn languages, researchers need to follow different theories than Chomsky's.

This is an important conclusion, because the study of language plays a central role in a diverse range of fields of knowledge, starting with poetry, continuing with artificial intelligence and ending with linguistics itself. Wrong methods lead to results of questionable value. And more than that, no animal uses language in a way that compares to human use of language, so if we understand what language is, we will know a little more about human nature.

The first version of his theory was presented by Chomsky in the middle of the 20th century, and it was integrated into two new trends in intellectual life in the Western world. Computer science was then a young field, and one of Chomsky's main claims was that the language through which humans communicate in everyday life behaves like computer languages, languages ​​that were based on mathematical foundations. His research looked for the computational structure underlying language and proposed a set of procedures that make it possible to construct "correct" sentences. The revolutionary idea was that some software, similar to a computer program, could construct sentences that real people believe to be grammatically correct. This software was also supposed to explain how people construct the sentences they say. The way Chomsky spoke about language found an echo in the hearts of many researchers who in those years accepted with open arms computational approaches to... in fact, almost everything.

While developing his computational theories, Chomsky also proposed the idea that the roots of this computationalism lie in human biology. In the second half of the 20th century, it gradually became clear that our special evolutionary history is responsible for many aspects of our unique psychology as human beings, and in this respect, too, Chomsky's theory was integrated into the ideas that prevailed at that time. His universal grammar was presented as an innate component of the human mental structure. The idea held the promise of uncovering the deep biological foundations of the world's more than 6,000 human languages. The strongest scientific theories, and it should not be said the most beautiful, reveal a hidden unity beneath the diversity visible on the surface, and therefore Chomsky's theory immediately attracted the hearts of many.

But over time, evidence accumulated that did not agree with Chomsky's theory, which has been slowly approaching its death for years. Its dying is so slow for a reason that the physicist Max Planck once explained: old researchers tend to cling to their old ways and do not give up: "Science advances one by one."

The beginning

The earliest incarnation of Universal Grammar was in the 60s and its starting point was the structure underlying "average and standard" European languages, which were also the languages ​​spoken by most linguists who studied them. Thus, the universal grammar software worked on language segments, such as noun phrases ("the nice dogs") and verb phrases ("love cats").

But soon comparisons between different languages ​​began to accumulate that did not fit with this elegant outline. In some of the languages ​​of the natives of Australia, as Warlfry, it turned out that the grammatical elements are scattered in all parts of the sentence. They contained noun and verb combinations that did not have the organized division required by Chomsky's universal grammar framework, and in some of them no verb combinations were found at all.

These "exceptional" cases were difficult to reconcile with the theory of universal grammar, which was built on the basis of examples taken from European languages. Additional doubts about the validity of the idea of ​​universal grammar arose following other unusual cases that researchers of languages ​​faced.ergativity", languages ​​such as the language the basque וUrdu, in which the subject of the sentence functions in a very different way than in many European languages.

Following these findings and theoretical linguistic work, Chomsky and linguists who followed his path were forced to make far-reaching changes in the ideas of universal grammar and essentially formulate a new version of the theory. In the new version, formulated in the 80s and called "Principles and Parameters", the only universal grammar of all the languages ​​of the world was replaced by a set of "universal" principles that dictate the structure of the language and that are expressed in different forms in each language. This can be likened to the fact that we are all born with a basic set of tastes (sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami) that maintains mutual relations with cultural, historical and geographical factors that create the differences we find today between cooking traditions in the world. The principles and parameters are linguistic elements that correspond to tastes. It is their interaction with the culture (learning Japanese or English in childhood) that gives rise to the differences found today between the languages. The principles and parameters also define, according to the theory, the array of possible human languages.

In languages ​​like Spanish, grammatically correct sentences are constructed without the need for separate grammatical subjects. For example, in the sentence Tengo zapatos (I have shoes), the one to whom the shoes belong, "I", is not indicated by a separate word but by the "o" at the end of the verb tengo, unlike English where the subject of the sentence, "I", must appear in it ( "I have shoes"). Chomsky claimed that after children are exposed to a few sentences of this type, a certain switch in their brain switches to the "on" position, which means that the subject of the sentence must be omitted, and that from then on they know that they can omit the subject in all the sentences they construct.

The hypothesis was that the "subject omission" parameter also determines other structural features of the language. This idea of ​​universal principles fits to a reasonable degree in many European languages. But it turned out that data from non-European languages ​​do not line up with the updated version of Chomsky's theory. This is how the research that tried to identify linguistic parameters (such as subject omission) eventually led to the abandonment of the second incarnation of the Universal Grammar, because the theory failed to withstand the test of evidence.

Then, in an article in the journal Science in 2002, Chomsky and his partners described a universal grammar that includes one and only one feature: "computational recursion". (This is despite the fact that many of those in favor of universal grammar still prefer the hypothesis that there are many universal principles and parameters.) This new permutation in the theory made it possible to combine a limited number of words and rules to build an unlimited number of sentences.

The number of possibilities is unlimited due to the way the recursion allows combining one combination within another combination of the same type. For example, Hebrew sentences can contain conjunctions on the left ("John hopes that Mary knows that Peter is lying") or in the middle ("The dog, which the boy saw chasing the cat, barked"). Theoretically, it is possible to continue combining such conjunctions or clauses ad infinitum. In practice, when we pile on more and more combinations like in these examples, we gradually stop understanding them. Chomsky thought that the reason for this is not directly rooted in language, but stems from the limitations of human memory. Chomsky's more important claim was that this recursive capacity is the feature that distinguishes language from other types of thinking such as categorization and the perception of relationships between things. Recently he also raised the possibility that this ability originated from a single genetic mutation that appeared 100,000 to 50,000 years ago.

As in the previous times, when linguists actually examined the differences between languages ​​from around the world, they also found counter-examples to the claim that this type of recursion is a feature that must be found in every language. There are languages ​​like the language ofmashed potatoes From the Amazon region, for example, which seems to be able to function without Chomskyan recursion.

Like all linguistic theories, Chomsky's universal grammar tries to achieve some sort of balance. For a theory to make sense, it must be simple enough. In other words, it must predict things that are not part of the theory itself (otherwise it is nothing more than a list of facts). But it also must not be so simple that it cannot explain the things it is meant to explain. Take for example Chomsky's idea that sentences in all languages ​​of the world have a "subject". The problem is that the concept of subject is not a clear category but more like a "family resemblance" between characteristics: approximately 30 different grammatical characteristics define the properties of a subject, in any particular language only some of them exist, and often there is no overlap between the subjects of the sentence in different languages.

Chomsky tried to define the components of the basic toolbox of language - the types of intellectual mechanisms that enable the existence of human language. When any counterexamples were found, there were those who came to Chomsky's defense and replied that the absence of a certain tool, recursion, for example, in a certain language does not mean that the missing tool does not belong to the basic toolbox. And in comparison, not using salt in the cooking of a certain culture does not mean that the salty taste is not part of the basic set of tastes of humans in that culture. Unfortunately, this line of thought makes it difficult to put Chomsky's ideas to a practical test, and in some cases there is almost no way to disprove them. [Then, according to The principle of refutation, their scientific value is questionable - the editors.]

funeral bells

A major flaw in Chomsky's theories is that, when it comes to language learning, they assume that young children are equipped in advance with the ability to construct sentences based on abstract grammatical rules. (What exactly are these rules? It depends on which version of the theory one uses). But studies on the subject have produced a lot of evidence according to which it is already clear that this is not the way languages ​​are acquired in reality. It turns out that language learning in young children begins with learning simple grammatical patterns, and that after that, gradually, the children slowly develop intuitions about the rules behind them.

Thus, small children initially utter only simple grammatical combinations with a concrete meaning based on specific word patterns: "Where is X?"; "I want X"; "Another X"; "This is X"; "I do X"; "Put X here"; "Mom does X"; "do X"; "Throw X"; "No X"; "Sit on the X"; "Open X"; "Here is X"; "X is broken". Later, children combine these early patterns into more complex patterns, such as "Where's the X that mommy made?"

Many proponents of universal grammar agree that this is a correct description of early grammatical development in children. But they hypothesize that the next stage of development, in which more complex structures appear, reflects the maturation of the cognitive capacity that uses Universal Grammar and its abstract grammatical categories and principles.

For example, most universal grammar approaches assume that children construct question sentences according to a set of rules based on grammatical categories such as "What (subject) happened (verb) to (object)?" Answer: "She (subject) lost (verb) something (object)". If this assumption is correct, one can expect that at a given developmental stage children will make similar errors in the same types of sentences. But the errors children make do not fit this prediction. In question sentences in English, for example, there is a difference between the correct word order in indicative sentences and in question sentences: in indicative sentences the subject comes before the verb, but in question sentences the verb comes before the subject. In the early stages of language development, many children mistakenly construct question sentences with certain verbs in the word order appropriate for indicative sentences, where the subject should come before the verb (why he can't come? instead of why can't he come?). But at the same time, those children can use the correct word order in question sentences containing auxiliary verbs (what does he want?‎).

Experiments testing this have shown that children construct correct question sentences using certain question words and auxiliary verbs (usually with the words they have more experience with), while at the same time continuing to construct grammatically incorrect question sentences with other (often less common) question word and auxiliary verb combinations. .

The main reaction of the followers of universal grammar to such findings is that children do indeed master grammar, but that other factors may impair their use of it and thereby blur the true nature of their grammar and disrupt the study of "pure" grammar that Chomskyan linguistics assumes. The factors that hide the grammar underlying children's language include, according to them, immaturity of memory, attention and social skills.

But the Chomskyan interpretation of children's behavior is not the only possibility. Memory, attention and social skills do not necessarily hide the true state of grammar; It is possible that they actually play a central role in the construction of the language. For example, a recent study signed by one of us (Ibbotson) examined how children use an unusual inflection of a verb in the past tense (for example, the past form of the verb to fly is flew and not flied. The children who use the inflection correctly will therefore say every day I flew, yesterday I flew). The study showed a connection between the children's ability to use the correct inflection and their ability to suppress or inhibit certain responses that are not a matter of grammar (such as when they are asked to say the word "moon" while looking at a picture of the sun.) Memory, analogies, attention and understanding of social situations may not be Factors that prevent the pure grammar of Chomskyan linguistics from being expressed, but rather factors that explain why language develops as it does.

According to the new, usage-based approach, children are not born with a dedicated universal mechanism for learning grammar, but instead inherit mental abilities similar to a Swiss army knife.

Like the changes made to the theory to reconcile it with data from different languages, and like the argument about the toolbox, the idea that the behavior interferes with the true linguistic ability to be expressed is also an idea that is difficult to imagine how it can be refuted. Retreating to such claims is typical of sinking scientific paradigms that do not rest on a strong empirical foundation. Think, for example, of Freudian psychology and Marxist interpretations of history.

These empirical challenges are not the only difficulties that now make the idea of ​​universal grammar difficult to hold. Psycholinguists who work with children find it difficult to imagine any theoretical process in which children first have the same grammar rules in all languages, and then they understand how a certain language - English or Swahili for example - is related to this set of rules. Linguists call this mystery "the linking problem". the psychologist Steven Pinker from Harvard University made a rare systematic attempt to solve it in the context of universal grammar in reference to the subject of law. But it turned out that Pinker's conclusions were inconsistent with the data from studies of child development, and that they were not applicable to grammatical categories other than the subject. The linkage problem is the central problem that linguists need to solve in order to understand language development in terms of universal grammar. But not only that it has not yet been resolved, but no attempts have been made to deal with it seriously.

An alternative view

All these clues lead inevitably to the conclusion that the idea of ​​universal grammar is simply not true. True, as long as there are no conceivable alternatives, scientists never give up their favorite theories, even in the face of evidence that contradicts them. But now we have an alternative to the idea of ​​universal grammar, and it is called Usage-Based Linguistics. This theory, in its various guises, claims that grammatical structures are not innate. According to this theory, grammar is the product of human history (the processes that affect the passing of languages ​​from generation to generation) and human psychology (the set of social and cognitive abilities that generally enable generations of humans to learn a language). An even more important interest in this theory is the hypothesis that language mobilizes brain mechanisms that may that were not uniquely developed for this purpose. In this it differs from Chomsky's idea of ​​a mutation in a single gene responsible for recursion.

According to the new, usage-based approach (which contains ideas from the fields of functional linguistics, cognitive linguistics andPattern grammar), children are not born with a universal mechanism dedicated to learning grammar, but instead inherit mental abilities similar to a Swiss army knife: an array of multi-purpose tools such as classification abilities, understanding the communicative gestures of others, and creating idioms. Using these tools, children build categories and grammatical rules according to the language they hear around them.

Noam Chomsky, 2015. Source: Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina.
Noam Chomsky, 2015. Chomsky caused a storm in the linguistic community more than 50 years ago. His idea was simple. At the foundation of language is a set of rules that are inherent in every boy and girl from birth and that are responsible for building grammatically correct sentences at a very young age. Chomsky tried to define these laws and how they work. He thought that without this universal grammar, children would not be able to learn any language. In the years that followed, competing theories gradually emerged. According to these theories, language is acquired from the patterns in which children notice the language they hear around them. source: Ministry of Culture of the Argentine Nation.

For example, Hebrew-speaking children understand the sentence "The cat ate the rabbit", and through the analogy they also understand the sentence "The goat tickled the fairy". By generalization they pass from given examples to other cases. After hearing enough examples of this type, they may even be able to guess who did what to whom in the sentence "The fence is empty, even though some of the words in it are meaningless." In view of the fact that at the word level these sentences do not have much in common, the grammar is necessarily something that they notice beyond the words themselves.

The meaning in the language is obtained from an interaction between the potential meaning of the words themselves (such as the possible meanings of the word "ate") and the meaning of the grammatical structure within which they are placed. For example, even though in the dictionary, the word "sneeze" is an intransitive verb (i.e. a singular verb), suitable for a singular verb (the one who sneezes), if we nevertheless put it into a two-locative structure, that is, one that is capable of receiving both a direct object and an object Indirectly, the result can be "he sneezed on her napkin", where "sneezed" will be understood as a transfer action (that is, he caused the napkin to pass to her). The sentence shows that the contribution of the syntactic structure to the meaning of what is said can be just as strong as the contribution of the words. Compare this to Chomsky's idea that certain levels of grammar are completely devoid of meaning.

The idea of ​​the Swiss army knife also explains language learning without requiring two conditions on which the theory of universal grammar depends. One is a series of algebraic rules for combining symbols - the basic grammar supposedly ingrained in the brain. The second is a lexicon - a list of exceptions that includes all other idioms and unusual phenomena found in natural languages, all of which we must learn. The problem with this two-way approach is that there are grammatical structures some of which are based on rules and some of which are not, such as the sentence "Him, a presidential candidate?!", where the subject (him) appears in the form of a direct object but the parts of the sentence are not arranged in the correct grammatical order. A native English speaker can construct an infinite variety of sentences in the same way: "Her, go to the ballet?!" or "That guy, a doctor?!". The question therefore arises whether such sentences are part of the basic grammar or whether they belong to the list of exceptions. If they are not part of the basic grammar, then each of them should be studied as a separate item. But if children can learn such expressions, some of which are based on rules and some of which are unusual, why can't they learn the rest of the language in the same way? In other words, why do they even need a universal grammar?

In fact, the idea of ​​universal grammar contradicts evidence that children learn languages ​​through social interactions and become accustomed to using sentence structures that develop over time within linguistic communities. In some cases we have good data that show exactly how such learning occurs. For example, relative clauses are a fairly common phenomenon in the languages ​​of the world and often originate from the combination of separate sentences. Thus, you can say, "My brother... he lives in Arkansas... he likes to play the piano". Due to different cognitive processing mechanisms (with names such as "schematization", "habituation", "de-contextualization" and "automation") these combinations develop over long periods into more complex structures: "My brother, who lives in Arkansas, likes to play the piano". They can also gradually turn sentences like, "The road is long... it has no end!" "The road is endlessly long!"

Beyond that, we humans seem to have a special ability to understand the communicative gestures of others, that is, to understand what speakers mean to say. You can say, for example, "the driver sees/hears/picks up/drops off the passengers at the station" but not "the driver waits for the passengers at the station". Recent studies have shown that there are several mechanisms that cause children to limit these types of false analogies. For example, the analogies created by children are not without logic: they will never try to say "the driver eats the passengers at the station". Moreover, if children hear that "waiting for passengers" is often said, this usage curbs the temptation they might have to say "waiting for passengers".

Such mechanisms greatly reduce the number of analogies that children can make and limit them only to cases that are consistent with the intentions of the people the children are trying to understand. We all use our ability to read the intentions of others when we understand the sentence "Can you open the door for me?" As a request for help and not as a question about our ability to open doors.

Chomsky left room for "pragmatics" - the way we use language in context - in his general theory of how language works. In view of the great ambiguity of the language, he could not help but do so. But it seems that he attributed to pragmatics only a secondary role compared to the main role played by grammar in his theory. In a way, the contributions of usage-based approaches to our understanding have shifted the debate in the opposite direction: to the question of how far speakers can rely on pragmatics before they are forced to resort to the rules of syntax.

Usage-based theories are far from offering a complete description of how language works. Also, the logical generalizations that children make based on the sentences and combinations they hear are not all that happens when they build sentences: there are generalizations that make sense but are grammatically incorrect (such as "There are two women here"). While children make many logical generalizations that are grammatically incorrect, it turns out that they don't do it very often. It seems that the reason for this is that children are sensitive to the fact that the language community they are in adheres to certain norms and expresses certain ideas only in certain ways. They try to find their way among the various influences, which is evident in the fact that children's language is characterized by both creativity ("There are two openers and two tables here") and obedience to grammatical norms ("There are two openers and two tables here"). Linguists trying to develop theories based on language use will have a lot more work to do before they can describe the interactions between these forces in children in a way that accurately explains the course of language development.

Looking ahead

At the time when the Chomskyan paradigm was proposed, less formal approaches dominated linguistics. The new approach was a turning point that brought attention to all the cognitive complexities involved in being able to speak and understand a language well. While such theories allowed us to see new things, they also hid other aspects of the language from our eyes. Dissatisfaction with completely formal approaches such as universal grammar is growing today among many researchers - linguists and scientists from related fields. This theory also has difficulty standing up to empirical tests. The opinion of many researchers today is not comfortable with pure theoretical analyzes when we have at our disposal a large body of data (large parts of which are even accessible and online) that can be analyzed to put theories to the test.

There is no doubt that the paradigm shift has not yet been completed, but it seems to many that a breath of fresh air has entered the field of linguistics. New and exciting discoveries are expected to come from detailed studies of the many languages ​​that exist in the world - how they are similar and how they differ from each other, how they change throughout history, and how children's mastery of one or several languages ​​develops.

Universal grammar seems to be in its last days. The usage-based linguistic research that takes its place can break new empirical ground toward understanding the learning, use, and historical development of the world's 6,000 languages.

About the writers

Paul Ibbotson - Lecturer in language development at the British Open University and lives in England.
Michael Tomasello - Co-director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. His latest book, A Natural History of Human Morality, was published in 2016 by Harvard University Press.

for further reading

29 תגובות

  1. Neurolinguistics

    As neurophysics replaced Newton's physics, so neurolinguistics replaced Chomsky's linguistics.

    Newton believed that there exists in physical reality an imaginary idea called gravity, and Chomsky believed that humans naturally create languages ​​with fixed syntax

    Newton misled the physicists for 300 years, and Chomsky misled the linguists for 80 years.

    Neurolinguistics is free and has no fixed syntax or certain grammar rules.
    Neurolinguistics is simple and self-explanatory, and it is based on a person's natural knowledge.

    Neurolinguistics develops in the identification of organs in the human body, which allow him to speak. (throat, mouth, tongue)

    Throat, mouth, and tongue are a natural piano of 22 notes

    A natural piano belongs to a person with natural knowledge

    The person with natural knowledge invented for himself a language based on 22 sounds, which the natural piano produces.
    And this is how the process of creating a language is described.

    A silent person with natural knowledge touches a block of ice, and miraculously a clear natural knowledge comes to him.

    The silent man decided to give a name to this clear natural knowledge, which came to him miraculously, following
    His hand touching a block of ice.

    This silent person is a person with a natural knowledge inherent in him, and he knew that his natural piano can provide sounds, which can be used as the name of
    The aforementioned natural knowledge.

    This silent man chose a short name, which derives from two notes of his natural piano, the sound of K and the sound of R

    And so it happened, that the combination of the two sounds (cold) became the name of a natural knowledge, which comes to man following contact with a block of ice.

    This is where the creation of human language begins, which is the language of names of natural information.

    All the conditions of creation are found in the silent person.
    Ingenuity is inherent in the silent person, natural knowledge is inherent in the silent person, and the natural piano is part of the silent person's body.
    Anyone can easily learn this language.
    This language requires the person who wants to learn to make an act of touching a block of ice, like the silent person,
    After that, the learner will come to the two cold sounds of his natural piano, and he will know that this is the name of the natural knowledge that came to him, following contact with a block of ice.

    The name of natural knowledge is chosen arbitrarily,
    And any combination of sounds can correspond to this.

    The combination of sounds (ham) was chosen to be the name of a natural knowledge that miraculously comes to the person approaching the fire. The combination of the sounds חם was also chosen just like that.

    This is how human language is created, based on natural knowledge that comes to humans, following actions they do in reality.

    The first language of humans is the language of names of natural information that comes to humans following an actual act they do. (touch, feel, smell, see, jump, taste, and more)

    Humans have natural pianos and natural knowing.
    That is why humans easily invented language.
    Language is invented in actions, not in words.
    This is the secret of human language on one foot, actions and natural knowledge, not syntax, not grammar, and not sweet potato.
    Expansion - in the publications of A. got upset

  2. The era of scientific revolutions based on "natural knowledge" has arrived.

    It is about a linguistic revolution that discovered the secret of human language.
    And it is also about a geometric revolution, which discovered a new geometry.
    And it is also about a physical revolution, which discovered a new physics and a new universe.

    Computers will never be able to speak human language, because computers have no natural knowledge.

    A. Asbar

  3. kayrsr soze
    The computer you are using is running software. The software is written in a programming language. Chomsky is responsible for much of the structure of programming languages ​​today.

  4. Miracles. What is the connection between my reporter and Chomsky?
    The man didn't invent Hebrew, the grammar, the syntax... actually he didn't invent anything (except for the hate speech about Israel).
    His studies, it turns out, are built on the musings... and his inflated ego.
    So forgive me miracles, not giving an iota of credit to this hate monger.

  5. Miracles,
    Chomsky did not say that there is a natural order to words. He made several interrelated claims: the language is native, by virtue of heredity. The primary language is what is in a person's mind, the language of communication is a derivative of the primary language. The syntax, as well as the pronunciation, derive from a computational system found in the brain and do not depend on the words. Language did not develop in a recognized evolutionary process, but resulted from a small mutation that occurred less than a hundred thousand years ago in a single person, giving him the advantage of intelligence and therefore spreading. And other claims with a similar approach.
    All of Chomsky's claims are incorrect. That's why comparing him to the greats of science like Einstein is fundamentally unfounded.

  6. A. Ben Ner
    In your words, proof of mathematical behavior. Example: I love you. There are permutations (permutations) of the combination x+y+z in an abstract algebraic structure (abstract algebra) where there are subalgebras with commutative (exchange) in the order of appearance in each subalgebra. x+y+z~x+z+y~y+x+z and so on, where ~ denotes equivalence. The uniformity that will identify the same algebraic group between the secondary branches is the operations +, * between a component called a noun, an adjective, a verb, etc.
    Avi: Take your sentence and put it in google translate, which is an artificial intelligence robot that is built on natural language (both Chomsky and others) and you will get: "As if there was a situation as pleasant as if" - a quite logical sentence in English, quite close to what the child in kindergarten meant Although cheeky. This is an illustration of having a Chomsky based machine and artificial intelligence that understands your sentence syntactically.

  7. Chomsky is being judged wrongly. He is a distinguished professor emeritus at MIT, which is awarded to only a few. His influence is enormous: in linguistics: generative grammar, universal grammar, Chomsky's hierarchy, in the development of artificial intelligence software, in psychology, mass communication, philosophy of science. There is evil here on the part of non-stupid people on the site whose opinion I respect, that no one subjects their arguments to scientific criticism. Chomsky is like Einstein in physics. As a human being he is unsympathetic, if we had to filter out all unsympathetic scientists we would be ignoring crucial contributions to science. His research has stood the test of science hundreds of times. A work like his in only one field - would have given glory to another scientist. There is still a long way to go to collapse Chomsky's theories. They will not collapse in my opinion, but will be updated. They have already been updated. Artificial intelligence is integrated into natural language. Although there are rules, it is possible to arrange the words in a sentence with many degrees of freedom, and it is possible to incorporate a non-deterministic but probabilistic learning algorithm. A bit similar in my opinion to the equivalent of separate non-Euclidean geometries (there are at least 11) and in abstract algebra that unites them all as an algebraic structure.

  8. The fact is that language changes faster than the invention of theories.
    It's interesting how Chomsky analyzes a sentence that every child today understands like:
    "As if there is a situation in the circle as if..."

  9. A. Ben Ner
    What Chomsky is saying is that there is a natural order to words - and in the case you gave the natural order is "I love you".

  10. Chomsky is the giant meteor that collided with the science of language and destroyed and created a dinosaur of lies. He managed to convince legions of scholars of his nonsense built solely on the basis of his own thinking, without any observation of reality.
    Visit my blog to find out more about Chomsky's nonsense.

  11. I will now bring you proof of the incorrectness of Noam Chomsky's mathematical structural language theory.
    I will start by saying that, from the mathematical structural principle of the language, according to Chomsky, it follows that there is a format in the language that is "correct" in terms of the mathematics of the language and therefore meaningful, and on the other hand there are other formats, which are apparently "incorrect" and therefore meaningless.
    In the language of linguistic mathematics, the meaningful formats are valid possible solutions of linguistic mathematics, while the meaningless formats are not valid possible solutions of the Chomskyan mathematical linguistic equation.
    And below is the proof:
    Force a 3-word sentence that includes:
    1). Noun.
    2). worker.
    3). adjective or noun or verb.
    These three words can be arranged in 6 different arrangements, in the first place, in the second place and in the third place.
    If Chomsky's theory is correct, then it is possible that all these arrangements will have no meaning at all, since they do not constitute a solution of the language equation according to Chomsky.
    But it is possible that some of the possible arrangements will have meaning in the language, being "good" solutions of the language equation, while other arrangements will have no meaning at all.
    My argument is that if Chomsky's theory is correct, then it is possible for some arrangement of the words to be meaningful, but necessarily other arrangements are meaningless, because if all the arrangements have a legal meaning in the language, this necessarily contradicts Chomsky's principle of mathematical legality, which states that only some of the legal solutions And the correct ones of the language equation will count as correct expressions in the language.
    After all, if all the solutions are correct, then the need for the principle of mathematical language that divides legal law into meaningful and illegal and meaningless, is automatically eliminated.
    Well. My argument is that any combination of three words, which are a noun, a verb and a third word which is one of the three: adjective\verb\noun, has a legal meaning in the language.
    For example: take the 3 words "I love you"
    The three words can be written in 6 different arrangements and in all of them the same meaning will be preserved:
    1). I love you
    2). i love you
    3). i love you
    4). i love you
    5). I love you
    6). I love you
    Therefore, as already explained above, the principle of the Chomskyan mathematical legality of language is abolished.

  12. The mind organ we built is made of neurons, just like the elements Google uses to create natural language.
    A lot of words won't change that fact. This artificial intelligence learns from scratch, like a baby, a new language, and manages to decode images and describe them textually with perfect accuracy. This is not an algorithm in which it is written if then. but in machine learning. Our modus operandi, even if not rational, is mathematical.

  13. It is only important to note that the original article was published in September 2016 and resulted in follow-up articles on the subject. In November Jeffrey Leeds published a response article that can be read here:
    And Steven Pinker also gave his opinion shortly after:

  14. For years those "intellectual tyrants" dominated our thoughts and opinions... and in the end it turns out that their work was nothing more than blowing the wind.

    Chomsky, as a humanly poor person, was not supposed to leave a significant mark on history, and now it turns out that this is indeed the case. One who is not able to analyze the situation in the Middle East in an intelligent and unbiased way (or the American perception of their nation's security) can hardly be assumed to be right in other areas.

  15. There is no point in dealing with Chomsky's anti-Semitism or his wealth. Undoubtedly he was a genius in his time and those who studied linguistic theories from the period of the previous decades get the impression that there was a lot of logic in the universal grammar and it just made sense. Those who have learned a language see how the speakers of the language know, simply know, that this is true in their native language, and even when they are asked why did you say that? They don't know why and just say that it feels right to them. Or simply "like this". It is important to note that there is no law of artificial language such as computer languages ​​that are written using an algorithm that manages the legality of the language, like the law of a mother tongue, undergoing processes of natural development connected to time and place and interactions. Indeed, the trend today is to abandon the innate mechanism and speak and investigate how the brain creates connections between individual details (words, language items, parts of speech, etc.) - and puts them into categories. ZA creates legality. Through studying corpora of native languages ​​spoken by children and analyzing their errors, a lot can be learned about language development. It's fascinating how much the children's errors show patterns of language development (mother tongue, not a foreign or second language). The new research belongs to the field of emergentism and is related to cognitive development in the context of heredity and environment (an age-old relationship that cannot be separated nurture / nature). The new research that results from these theories is based on regression analyzes and statistics that teach about brain processes (not innate, Aliba de Chomsky's universal grammar, i.e. Innateness) - but emergently developed. Of course, they do not develop in a vacuum - every child speaks his mother tongue in the environment in which he is exposed and grows up in complete assimilation conditions (assimilated). But the processes that enable the development and acquisition of language on the rules of syntax and grammar and inflections and its vocabulary are made possible through brain cognitive abilities (indeed they are innate because it is known about pathologies in the brain that do not allow language development, and indeed they depend on the environment, as studies on the "wolf children" have proven, that the children who were denied They interacted and lived in total isolation, did not acquire language at the critical age and were unable to acquire it later on as well) but what we are talking about today is a process of a kind of "data mining" in the brain - data mining, the child or his brain finds patterns that repeat themselves (everything is related to the interaction in which he is involved ). He finds patterns and regularities and does it cross-language. Through this whole process, patterns are created that create regularities and generalizations - and from there, the correct "grammar" or "syntax" is created. This process must be during development and interaction and while receiving inputs addressed to the child and of course - through making verbal output that includes errors - because from the errors the child learns, when he makes analogies to the inputs he is exposed to. Sounds very logical and in line with the spirit of the times, what's more, this is possible thanks to technology that enables the study of large corpora of language in measurable, statistical and mathematical ways - engineering (and less "romantic" or "pure" than innate grammar, for all the beauty that was in the Chomskyan theory and how difficult it is to break away from it... Just like from Freud's subconscious). The new models in research today talk about statistical learning. It will be fascinating to see where we will end up in 50 years...

  16. In science we have no choice but to separate the person outside of science from the scientist. Obviously there is a limit that what the Nazis did has no scientific justification. Experimenting on humans and defining races is crossing a line. As a gifted Chomsky scientist. As a person we disagree with his opinions and behavior. Heisenberg was a Nazi atomic scientist. But he wrote one of the two formulations of the fundamental equation of quantum physics. Pontrigin was anti-Semitic. But also one of the greatest mathematicians, for example, but not only in optimal control theory.

  17. The only thing Chomsky enriched was his bank account.
    Auto-anti-Semitic is an understatement for him. no wonder ..

  18. It's like saying that Newton's theory is wrong because there are Einstein's theories. And in turn, Einstein's theory of general relativity is incorrect, because there is Eric Worlind's theory in which gravity arises from entropy, and there is an explanation for gravitational contraction and the hologram effect and was tested on about 300,000 galaxies. They complement each other. The theory has been tested in many scenarios, some of which are true. There is natural language, and there is learning - they do not contradict each other. Also in the field of psychology, the theory of universal language had an impact. Weakened a current called behaviorism.

  19. Even if some of his theories are used in computing, it has not yet been proven that this is the method that man uses
    In addition to this, although it is not necessarily, but a person who is extreme in his views, especially his occupation is in the fields of science related to man
    may overlap his "utopian" views on literal reality,
    In certain areas, the very faith of a person changes his ways of acting so that presenting something as a kind of natural law creates a dimension of power of how human society is supposed to behave and can really lead to change,
    I am convinced that he truly believed in his theory but he cannot by definition strive for an objective dimension
    When he comes to analyze anything related to humanity,
    Objective reality at the end has this very annoying thing that always rears its head at the end,
    The question arises, did he waste many years in which he fixed many under his views?
    It has already happened in human history that we were stuck under a certain concept for many years that was wrong
    and was backed by religious politicization of knowledge.

  20. What is said about the visitors is my opinion only and my impression only.
    Google tools and the Iris software that decode the language of the speaker in front of them and produce natural text from decoding an image - are built on so-called natural language. Partly due to the contribution of Noam Chomsky in my opinion. As a person he is not valuable in my view only because he preaches anarchy which is a bad thing in my opinion even if he comes from a good place, and he himself lives as a capitalist with a high standard of living that he can maintain since he made money from the theory. Every civilization is corrupt, but reaching the conclusion that Nasrallah is better than Israel and the USA, went too far and is wrong.

  21. As a person he may be repulsive, and not only because he embraces Nasrallah but preaches anarchism and lives as a capitalist from the money he made from Universal Grammar. Software tools that integrate artificial intelligence on the basis of the language he developed, with great functional success - for decoding language and creating natural language - are built on the theory he developed. Therefore as a mere grammarian he is not entirely wrong. Every theory needs corrections and the authors need publication. That's why they shout gazal gazal, so that the importance of their correction is recognized.

  22. The authors do not reflect a broad consensus but the opinion of the opponents. There is too much support for this theory to be unfounded. At most inaccurate. So whoever makes noise wins and that's what's happening here. They are trying to market to us that Chomsky's theory has failed. By the way, I don't appreciate him a bit as a person, but that's irrelevant.

  23. How, then, do you explain the success of artificial intelligence programs to decode our sentences and build sentences that we understand in our language? The truth is on the way. Our language is not exactly a formal language with a mathematical rule like + *, but it is a mathematical language. Chomsky is not entirely wrong.

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.