Two linguists engage in a dialogue about Chomsky’s language theory. They are completely at odds, but will they grow closer?

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Noam Chomsky’s influence on linguistics in the last half century is probably greater than that of any other linguist. At the age of 94, he is giving a lecture (online) at Aarhus University on February 10, 2023. On the occasion of the event, Peter Bakker and Ken Ramshøj Christensen, both from Aarhus University, sat down to discuss the significance of Chomsky’s generative theory. Both are educated within the theory, but where Peter Bakker abandoned his ‘faith’ in the model several decades ago, Ken Ramshøj Christensen still works within Generative Grammar (abbreviated below as GG). Many years ago, Peter Bakker was thesis supervisor for Ken Ramshøj Christensen’s MA thesis, which was about GG and aphasia. Ken Ramshøj Christensen (KRC)

Reading other people’s letters for the good of science. What the ‘early years of phonology’ can teach us now

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In order to trace the history of ideas, we can turn to a number of resources. Sometimes, it is through a scholar’s public words: acknowledgements or references. The latter – in the form of footnotes (Grafton 1997) or indices (Duncan 2021) – have been argued to be where the true academic allegiances and challenges are set out and displayed. However, sometimes the networks of information exchange and influence can be searched for fruitfully in private documents. It is precisely such private documents which make up the resource used in the book From the early years of Phonology. The Roman Jakobson – Eli Fischer-Jørgensen correspondence 1949-1982, edited by Viggo Bank Jensen and Giuseppe D’Ottavi.

From the early years of Phonology

The introduction opens with the question …

Eli Fischer-Jørgensen (1911-2010)


Lingoblog continues to provide you with suggestions for your summer readings on various linguistic topics. This week we have found a biography of language researcher Eli Fischer-Jørgensen (1911-2010).

In January 1999, a few years after I had moved to Denmark, I was astounded to come across an interview in the Danish weekly Weekendavisen with the renowned Danish phonetician Eli Fischer- Jørgensen (henceforth EFJ) and marveled: She is still alive! Having made her name in publications as early as the first half of the past century, in the interview EFJ still appeared intellectually unabated, and full of new writing plans yet. She even remarked that she hoped soon to finish a major work on a special liturgic form of Danish!

In …