The Linguistics Wars is a colloquial term for a protracted academic dispute in American generative linguistics, stemming from a falling-out between Noam Chomsky and some of his early students and colleagues, which took place mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. Linguists such as "Haj" Ross, George Lakoff, and James McCawley proposed an alternative theory of generative semantics, which essentially flipped Chomsky's theory on its head by focusing on semantics rather than grammar as the basis of Chomsky's concept of deep structure. While Chomsky and other generative grammarians argued that meaning was derived from the underlying order of the words being used, the generative semanticists cited the meaning of the words as giving rise to their order.
Eventually, generative semantics spawned an alternative linguistic paradigm, known as cognitive linguistics, which attempts to correlate the understanding of language together with the biological function of specific neural structures. Whereas generative semanticists operate on the premise that the mind has a unique and independent module for language acquisition, cognitive linguists deny this. Instead, they assert that the processing of linguistic phenomena is informed by conceptual deep structures and - more significantly — that the cognitive abilities used to process this data are similar to those used in other non-linguistic tasks. Much of this work is published today under neurolinguistics.
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... Linguistic Wars arose from the falling out of Noam Chomsky's early students who decided to focus on Chomsky's concept of conceptual deep structure as having a central role in ... Eventually, generative semantics spawned an alternative linguistic paradigm, known as cognitive linguistics, which attempts to correlate the understanding of language together with the biological ... Instead, they assert that the processing of linguistic phenomena is informed by conceptual deep structures—and more significantly—that the cognitive abilities used to process this data are similar to those ...
... The Linguistics Wars is also the title of a 1993 book by Randy Allen Harris on the topic (ISBN 9780195098341) ... certain theories have been evolved with important features influencing modern-day linguistics theories ...
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“Fortunately art is a community efforta small but select community living in a spiritualized world endeavoring to interpret the wars and the solitudes of the flesh.”
—Allen Ginsberg (b. 1926)