Noam Chomsky is one of the most widely published and influential thinkers on language and mind. He has consistently maintained that beings are genetically endowed with an language faculty - a set of principles that constitute what he calls the 'Universal Grammar'. Particular languages are generated by specific environmental conditions. This approach to the of languages has been called a 'generative rise' and has revolutionized our understanding of human languages and other cognitive systems.
This book consists of the edited transcript of a lecture, delivered at the University of Delhi in January 1996, where Chomsky reflected on the history of the enterprise and related it to some strikingly novel advances in recent grammatical theory called the 'Minimalist Programme'. Integrating philosophical and conceptual issues empirical research, he sketched some of the issues that have characterized generative grammar in recent years to chart out the agenda for future research in language theory.
The transcript retains the lively, engaging style for which Chomsky is renowned as a public speaker. It reproduces the interesting discussion that followed the lecture, covering the scope of linguistics, language acquisition, and the theory of language and mind. In his extensive responses to wide-ranging questions, Chomsky goes much beyond the issues raised in the lecture itself.
The volume includes extensive clarificatory notes and references and a complete bibliography of Chomsky's publications on linguistics and cognitive theory. While linguists interested in the internal history of generative linguistics will find this an immensely insightful work, it will also be useful for students and general readers wish to gain an introductory knowledge of the discipline, its significance, and Chomsky's contribution.