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Syntactic Structures (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-3110172799
ISBN-10: 3110172798
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Chomsky's book on syntactic structures is one of the first serious attempts on the part of a linguist to construct within the tradition of scientific theory-construction a comprehensive theory of language which may be understood in the same sense that a chemical, biological theory is ordinarily understood by experts in those fields. It is not a mere reorganization of the data into a new kind of library catalog, nor another speculative philosophy about the nature of Man and Language, but rather a rigorous explication of our intuitions about our language in terms of an overt axiom system, the theorems derivable from it, explicit results which may be compared with new data and other intuitions, all based plainly on an overt theory of the internal structure of languages; and it may well provide an opportunity for the application of explicit measures of simplicity to decide preference of one form over another form of grammar."Robert B. Lees in: 'Language' "I had already decided I wanted to be a linguist when I discovered this book. But it is unlikely that I would have stayed in the field without it. It has been the single most inspiring book on linguistics in my whole career." HenkvanRiemsdijk

About the Author

Noam Chomsky is Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. David W. Lightfoot is Professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 117 pages
  • Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton; 2nd edition (November 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3110172798
  • ISBN-13: 978-3110172799
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
*Syntactic Structures* is utterly famous, but it is remembered from a fairly great distance; in the sixty years since it was published Noam Chomsky has not only been a celebrity of the American left but an equally central and prolific figure in American linguistics, his academic critics often reduced to some form of "It's not fair, it's just not fair". It would be convenient if his first book were a compact introduction to his scientific way of thinking, and reality obliges in this instance: the main text of the book does not quite reach 120 pages, and if you are relatively sophisticated about imposing formal structures on a language -- if you know how to program, for instance -- you will pick up what Chomsky has to say relatively quickly. (However, if it seems difficult, why not put in a little time and learn why a canonical scientific text is canonical?)

The material can be absorbed *relatively* quickly, for the contents of this short book (culled from lecture notes for undergraduates, but for *Harvard* undergraduates) touch on some fairly abstract and difficult concepts from the formal theory of languages, concepts Chomsky was playing a major role in formulating for all related disciplines at the time. The book begins by studying whether a "finite state machine", a simple automaton which accepts or rejects a proposed formulation based on a simple heuristic, could provide an adequate grammar of a natural language.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frankly, I could not understand this book. But simply because I don't understand this, I don't want to give it a bad rating, so I've given it a high rating to be consistent with the other reviewers. This short book is a classic in linguistics, so I don't want to diminish it's importance.

I learned of Noam Chomsky from reading Steven Pinkleur's, "The Language Instict". He describes Chomsky's work in a much more accessible way, describing a "toy grammar". I've been able to use Pinkleur's toy grammar to analyze German. I use the tree diagrams for sentences, with VP, NP, and PP phrases. It is a great tool for understanding the underlying meaning of sentences.

But Chomsky's work, with all the "X's" and transitive equations is not user friendly... at least to someone on my level.
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Format: Paperback
Although Chomsky later changed his ideas towards linguistics in'Aspects of the Theory of Syntax', but this book is essential in understanding his relation to the Bloomfildean school and is essential for understanding 20'th century linguistics.
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Format: Paperback
In 1993,I was fortunate to inherit this book from my father who used it during his undergrad studies at Columbia University in the 1960s.It was as relevant to my studies of Foreign Language and Lit as it was to my music major dad. It was a terrible blow when it was stolen with my car some ten years later,and indeed I never could bring myself to tell my dad that our precious Chomsky collection was in my trunk. So I was actually tearful when I found it available on Amazon.

One must always stand in awe of the fact that this groundbreaking tome was Chomsky's Bachelor thesis. It is intimidating to me and anyone who gets past the first chapter that a college senior produced this astounding labor.He knows his subject and he knows it well.My entire understanding of syntax,surface structure and deep structure of language began from this work.It made the difference in my study of language and helped me grow from instinctive,intuitive knowledge to reasoned thoughtful understanding of how we communicate with our fellow humans.
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By AR Joshi on January 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a must read for all students of linguistics. linguistic theory has progressed far beyond what Chomsky describes here, but this describes the origins of the theory and the issues that motivated the original analysis, that are still relevant today.
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