On Friday the 10/02, Noam Chomsky will give a lecture at ViGør at Aarhus University. This is a wild announcement, not only because he will be doing it from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean via Zoom at the ripe old age of 94, but also because this means it will be possible to hear the arguably most famous and debated linguist in the world talk about his theories live in the Nobel Auditorium at the University of Aarhus.
Even if you’ve only dipped your toe in the world of linguistics, it’s almost impossible to not have heard of Noam Chomsky. He received a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955 and has since published numerous groundbreaking theories. Of these, his most famous contribution is definitely his founding of Generative Grammar, which is a theory that claims all human languages are shaped by some innate universal rules. Even though it’s been more than 50 years since Chomsky proposed Generative Grammar, it’s still the subject of much debate. But despite his massive effect on the field of linguistics, Chomsky is far from exclusively being a linguist. Through the years, he has also worked with philosophy, cognitive science, history and political activism.
When our class began our studies at the BA in linguistics, we too started hearing the name Chomsky everywhere. We learned that he has had a substantial effect on the field of linguistics. We also learned that there is a general disagreement with Chomsky’s theories among the teachers of linguistics University of Aarhus. But somewhere along the way, we realized that we didn’t quite understand why.
What was it about what Chomsky wrote, that made linguists with different opinions on his work feel so strongly about it, that they refuse to sit next to each other in university canteens around the world to this day?
It was for this reason that Nina Vad Thomsen, 4th semester student and secretary of ViGør, decided to take matters into her own hands and contact Chomsky, to ask if he’d be willing to give a talk at ViGør.
The rest is history.
The lecture has the heading “The Miracle Creed and the Strong Minimalist Thesis”.
The doors will open at 17:40, and Chomsky will be on Zoom at 18:00. After Chomsky has spoken, there will be time to ask him questions. If you want to do this, all you have to do is write your question in a comment on a post which will be up before the lecture on ViGør’s Facebook-event for Friday. Depending on how many questions are asked, we might not have time for all of them, but we will do our best to make it through as many as possible.
If you are unable to be there on the day, in Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej, in Aarhus, but don’t want to miss the event, it is also possible to watch it from home. A link to Zoom will be posted on the Facebook-event, so everyone who is interested can attend. Participation is free of charge.
Whether one agrees with Chomsky’s ideas or not, this is without a doubt a unique opportunity to both hear him explain his theories and to personally ask him the questions that might be on your mind.
Móeiður Vigfúsdóttir is a 4th semester student of linguistics at the University of Aarhus. Here, she is also a member of the linguistics student organization ViGør, which hosts linguistically relevant events such as talks by guest speakers or social activities, weekly on Fridays in Aarhus.