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  • 12/6/2003

Noam Chomsky


Noam Avram Chomsky was born inPhiladelphia,Pennsylvania on December 7, 1928. He received his early education at Oak Lane Country Day School and Central High School, Philadelphia. He continued his education at theUniversity of Pennsylvania where he studied linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. In 1955, he received his Ph. D. from theUniversity ofPennsylvania; however, most of the research leading to this degree was done atHarvard University between 1951 and 1955. Since receiving his Ph. D., Chomsky has taught atMassachusetts Institute of Technology, where he now holds the Ferrari P. Ward Chair of Modern Language and Linguistics. Noam was married to Carol Schatz on December 24, 1949 and has two children.
Chomsky has made his reputation in linguistics. He learned some of the historical principles of linguistics from his father, William, who was a Hebrew scholar. In fact, some of his early research, which he did for his Masters, was on the modern spoken Hebrew language. Among his many accomplishments, he is most famous for his work on generative grammar, which developed from his interest in modern logic and mathematical foundations. As a result, he applied it to the description of natural languages. As a student, Noam was heavily influenced by Zellig Harris, who was Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. It was Chomsky’s sympathy to Harris’s political views that steered him toward work as a graduate student in linguistics.
Noam has always been interested in politics, and it is said that politicshas brought him into the linguistics field. His political tendencies toward socialism and anarchism are a result of what he calls "the radical Jewish community inNew York." Since 1965 he has become one of the leading critics of U.S. foreign policy. He published a book of essays called American Power and the New Mandarins which is considered to be one of the most substantial arguments ever against American involvement inVietnam.
Chomsky is much respected and has been honored numerous times in the academic arena. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of London and the University of Chicago, as well as having been invited to lecture all over the world. In 1967, he delivered the Beckman Lectures at theUniversity of California at Berkeley. In 1969, he presented the John Locke Lectures at theUniversity of Oxford and Sherman Memorial Lectures at theUniversity of London.

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