Chomsky the linguist vs. Chomsky the activist.

Noam Chomsky's groundbreaking linguistic work characterized human beings as possessing an 'innate grammar' - yielding 'torrential output' in spite of 'poverty of stimulus'. In the other pole of his life, Chomsky has been struggling to enliven this 'innate person' to repudiate authoritarian processes and 'manufactured consent'.

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... Noam Chomsky returned to innate ideas as virtual a priori elements needed to explain the possibility of language. The 1957 notion of a 'universal grammar' included semantic, syntactic and phonological components and an interplay between deep and surface structures governed by transformational rules. These rules characterized and pointed to procedures mediating deep structure and surface structure phrase markers. Sentence meaning (semantic content) is thus derived from the deep structure by 'rules of semantic interpretation', while actual sentences are differentiated by culturally-specific phonetic variables - i.e., the mother tongue one is exposed to as a child. This is the 'universal ...