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January 07, 2009



It is doubtful whether ‘the Chomskyan paradigm is on its last legs’. It is true that Chomsky’s influence in linguistics is less strong than 10 or 15 years ago. However, some of the main critics accept the best known idea of the Chomskyan paradigm - the idea that there is an innate language faculty. See, for example,

Jackendoff, R. and S. Pinker (2005), The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language (Reply to Fitch, Hauser, & Chomsky), Cognition, 97(2), 211-225.

Available here:


As far Everett’s claims about Piraha are concerned, it is far from clear that they are sound. See the following for some discussion:


The idea that there is an innate language faculty is not the only feature of the Chomskyan paradigm. Hence, even if his idea turns out to be untenable, linguistics will still show considerable Chomskyan influence.

Mick H

Interesting. Thanks for the links.


Just linked to your great review on my own. Funnily enough, as I trawled the web, yours was the only other one apart from mine that had anything even vaguely negative to say about Everett's writings. I think I may have made up for that lack all by myself!

My review is at


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