terça-feira, 2 de fevereiro de 2010

New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind

(Noam Chomsky)

One area where Chomsky is pessimistic about the reach of scientific understanding is the characterisation of our use of language as opposed to our knowledge of language. His work over the past half century has opened up the study of our “competence” (to use the term now replaced by “I-language”), but how we put that competence to use in our performance is still largely a closed book, perhaps a mystery.This is not to deny that we have made progress in understanding how humans process the sentences they hear. All of the following have provided some understanding: experimental and theoretical studies of language perception and language production; insights from language acquisition and language change; and the analysis of brain function in normal and pathological subjects. There are even preliminary insights into how we interpret particular utterances in context, but we are still as far away as René Descartes was from knowing why someone chooses to react to a picture with 'how beautiful', or 'it reminds me of Bosch', rather than by silence.

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