14. ChomskyAmerican linguist whose theory of transformational or generative grammar has had a profound influence on the fields of both linguistics and psychology.
Chomsky was born in Philadelphia and educated at University of Pennsylvania. In 1955, he was appointed to the faculty of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as professor of foreign languages and linguistics.
He was a pioneer in psycholinguistics, which helped establish a new relationship between linguistics and psychology.
He opposed the behaviorist view of the mind as a tabula rasa and instead proposed the Innateness theory suggesting that certain aspects of linguistic knowledge and ability are the product of a universal innate ability, or "language acquisition device" (LAD), which enables each normal child to construct a systematic grammar and generate phrases. Chomsky argues that the underlying logic, or deep structure, of all languages is the same and that human mastery of it is genetically determined, not learned. Those aspects of language that humans have to study are termed surface structures.
His theories also distinguish between language competence (knowledge of rules and structure) and performance (how an individual uses language in practice).
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Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology
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