Chomsky: System and the Ideal Speaker–Hearer

  • Feifei Zhou


Trained as a structuralist linguist with Zellig Harris, Chomksy made his name as a revolutionary figure in twentieth-century linguistics by proposing a new model of linguistic description—generative grammar—and eventually a new model of doing linguistic science. While I believe that Chomsky (especially in his later phase) may have moved out of the structuralist camp, it will be argued that he still espouses a reified and systemic view of language. I will in this part investigate how Chomskyan linguistics subscribes to a system view of language and how this view is closely linked to his advocacy of linguistics as a science. By placing language users’ competence at a central place, Chomsky draws attention to the role of human speakers; yet as will be made clear in the following discussions, his idealized scientific model gives rise to and sponsors a constrained and deterministic image of the human speaker.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feifei Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishLingnan UniversityHong KongChina

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