Pieces of Minds in Psycholinguistics: Steven Pinker, Kenneth Wexler, and Noam Chomsky A Series of Interviews conducted by Jean A. Rondal

Jean A. Rondal
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 29 Issue 1

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This is the second in a series of three interviews featuring Steven Pinker, Kenneth Wexler, and Noam Chomsky, three giant figures in the field of linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive science. This second interview is with Professor Noam Chomsky. The first interview, with Professor Steven Pinker, appeared in a preceding issue of this journal (Vol. 28, Issue 4, pp. 459–480). The last one, featuring Professor Wexler, will appear in the next issue.

Noam Chomsky is, without a doubt, the greatest linguist ever. His numerous contributions since the early 1950s have revolutionised theoretical linguistics almost completely. They have literally transformed the study, and in many respects even the very notion, of language. In the present interview, Dr. Chomsky speaks of his theories and of some alternative or varying points of view. He specifies his most current conception of language and grammar. Particularly interesting from a historical perspective, Noam Chomsky also speaks of the relationships between transformational grammar and experimental psychology in the 1960s, of his years training with Zeilig Harris in Philadelphia, of the self‐developed ideas that led him to conceive of generative grammar, and of his opposition to Skinner and Skinnerism as well as to Piaget and Piagetianism in the preceding decades.

The interview took place at MIT in May of 1988. It was edited and revised in December, 1992 and in March, 1993. I am very grateful to Noam Chomsky for his time, availability, and most friendly collaboration. One will find, together with the transcript of the interview, a brief sketch of Professor Chomsky's professional vitae, as well as a selected bibliography.

© 1994 International Union of Psychological Science