Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Chomsky interview

I finally read Richard Klin's interview with Noam Chomsky in January Magazine, available here. It's about the man and politics, not linguistics. If you read about Chomsky regularly, a lot is familiar, but there are always little tidbits. Nonetheless, it's worth a read. Check out this:
There has not been much examination of Chomsky’s actual writing style. One could argue that much of its effectiveness is owed to a welcome lack of jargon or windy polemic. There is a sort of just-the-facts approach that not only isn’t dry but veers toward the colloquial.
Among linguists, his style is constantly discussed, precisely for its dense and difficult character. And Chomsky is well aware of the contrast:
The eschewal of rubric is a conscious effort to eliminate “complexity and obscurity .... If I’m writing about, say, technical linguistics, it’s not easy reading ... the clinical articles are going to be for people who know about them. When you’re writing about human affairs, there’s no technical knowledge.”
Self-awareness is good. I'm not convinced that any writing in linguistics needs to be as tough to read as his work, but ...

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