Chomsky's Other Revolution

It's often been said that Chomsky is to linguistics what Einstein is to physics. His 1957 treatise, Syntactic Structures, initiated the so-called Chomskyan Revolution; in that book, Chomsky proposed a new linguistic theory which defined language as an innate human faculty hard-wired into our brains. Consequently, in Chomsky's view, there is a kind of "universal grammar" underlying all languages. Imagine that an alien came to Earth and observed the way we humans communicate with each other. According to Chomsky, this alien would perceive all languages on Earth as pretty much the same, with only superficial variations distinguishing, for example, English from Chinese.
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