From Publishers Weekly
In this evenhanded, trenchant and witty academic chronicle, Harris looks at the fierce, acrimonious controversies that have rocked linguistics since the 1950s. At center stage is Noam Chomsky whose search for the innate structures underlying language revolutionized what had been primarily a descriptive, behavioristic science. Chomsky's followers, notably George Lakoff, James McCawley, Paul Postal and Haj Ross, came to view Chomskyan "deep structure" as a barrier to forging a link between sound and meaning. Their work, known as generative semantics, has been denounced by Chomsky as a heresy, but Harris, an English professor in Britain, credits generative semantics with making linguistics a vibrant, pluralistic field by introducing a crop of phenomena and methods which Chomsky had ignored. At the moment "things don't look especially bright" for Chomsky's model of language and mind, opines Harris, who asserts that the embattled, isolated Chomsky has borrowed ideas from his rivals and erstwhile followers.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I enjoyed The Linguistics Wars
immensely. Randy Harris writes with erudition and wit and always succeeds in presenting a balanced view of the controversies that have raged in the history of generative grammar. He made me reconsider a number of positions that I have argued for in my own work; typically, even where I remained in disagreement with him, he made me appreciate a complexity to the issues that I had overlooked."--Frederick J. Newmeyer, author of The Politics of Linguistics
and Linguistic Theory of America
"In this evenhanded, trenchant and witty academic chronicle, Harris looks at the fierce, acrimonious controversies that have rocked linguistics since the 1950s."--Publishers Weekly
"Through his deep and extensive research, Randy Allen Harris has managed to throw new light on the schism in generative linguistics which indelibly colored the period from the late sixties to the late seventies. His insightful account of this period and the major figures involved reveals many new aspects of the disagreements and disputes at issue and the features of fact, theory and personality which underlay them. Future study of this period in linguistics will surely be shaped by this excellent work, which captures very closely the feel of what went on. I am inclined to say that the level of scholarship which the author manifests on nearly every page in many ways puts to shame that of much of the material he deals with."--Paul M. Postal [Note: no affiliation, per author request]
"Highly informative and entertaining....Highly recommended for all libraries, essential for academic libraries."--Choice
"Harris has captured the flavour and fervour of the [linguistic] debates to perfection....[He] has achieved the near impossible: being fair to both sides in a civil war."--Nature
"This is intellectual drama crossed with a Shakespearean history play."--The Sciences