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Famed scholar Noam Chomsky is known for both his groundbreaking contributions to linguistics and his penetrating critiques of political systems.
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His 1951 master’s thesis was titled The Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew.
In 1949, Chomsky married Carol Schatz, a woman he had known since they were both kids. The relationship lasted for 59 years, until she died from cancer in 2008. They had three children together and Schartz worked as an educational specialist in the field of language acquisition in children. For a short time, between Chomsky’s masters and doctoral studies, the couple lived on a kibbutz in Israel. When they returned,
Chomsky continued at the University of Pennsylvania and executed some of his research and writing at Harvard University. His dissertation eventually explored several linguistic ideas he would soon lay out in one of his best-known books on linguistics, Syntactic Structures (1957).
The professorial staff at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) invited him to join their ranks in 1955. He has now worked in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT for over half a century. For his academic pursuits, he has received a multitude of honorary degrees from universities as far flung as the University of Calcutta to the University of Chicago.
Chomsky’s ideas have never been regulated to language alone. His awards for peace and public intellect are just as impressive. In 1967, The New York Review of Books published his essay, "The Responsibility of Intellectuals." In light of the Vietnam War, which Chomsky adamantly opposed, he addressed what he saw as a disgracefully resigned intellectual community, a community of which he was an embarrassed member, with the hope of igniting his peers into deeper thought and action. Weaving between the world of academia and popular culture, Chomsky has gained a reputation for both his linguistic discoveries and his radical ideas.
As a professor, he introduced transformational grammar to the field. His theory asserts that languages are innate and that the differences we see are only due to parameters developed over time in our brains, helping to explain why children are able to learn different languages more easily than adults. One of his most famous contributions to linguistics is what his contemporaries have called the Chomsky Hierarchy, a division of grammar into groups, moving up or down in their expressive abilities. These ideas have had huge ramifications for modern psychology, both raising and answering questions about human nature and how we process information.
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