Brian Feldman's Reviews > The Science of Language: Interviews with James McGilvray

The Science of Language by Noam Chomsky
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's review
Mar 15, 14

bookshelves: biology, linguistics
Read from April 11 to May 03, 2012 — I own a copy

This is a wonderfully-thought-provoking book; its small page count belies a great deal of dense discussion about all matters linguistic. If you have ever considered linguistics to be too insular and humanistic rather than properly scientific, perhaps the reasons for that can be found within. There are certainly some instances of jargon that will not be understandable to the average reader, but overall, this is a very approachable book for a topic that has been turned difficult for countless years.

When I finish this book, I am left wondering, "What about the other forms of language? What about computer programs, meant to be executed logically but also meant to be re-read by humans and understood? What about dancing, which can at the same time be both transcendental and tell a story, as with hula or burlesque?" I would love to see discussion evolve further from where it went in this book. Do not expect to breeze through this one, especially if you stop to read through the considerable appendices.

I think that where Chomsky attempts to simplify everything into Merge operations, I would attempt to cast theory in terms of Merge, Split and Delay. Information would be mapped as waveform and therefore a Split -> Delay -> Merge subsystem could either amplify or reduce a Concept (Chomsky's notion of primitive, I forget the term that he chose to use for describing i.e. "tree" or "river") or create a new virtual concept, or more likely both at once.

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Reading Progress

04/25/2012 page 70

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