Edited by Émilie Aussant and Jean-Michel Fortis
[Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 127] 2020
► pp. 157–170
Fifty years after its publication, it is timely to return to Noam Chomsky’s Cartesian linguistics to explore what this controversial text accomplished, what it didn’t accomplish, and for whom. I begin with the context of midcentury American linguists’ historical consciousness into which Cartesian linguistics initially appeared, then review responses to the book by (first) philosophers and historians of linguistics, and (second) generative linguists versus linguists not associated with generativism, especially those in the United States. I evaluate whether the book achieved Chomsky’s own goals, then close by calling attention to an emerging second life of Cartesian linguistics, beginning around 2000.
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