Noam Chomsky has shaped much of modern thinking. The American professor delivers a different perspective. Here is a list of the best works by Noam Chomsky.
Best works by Noam Chomsky
Born almost 100 years ago, Noam Chomsky is a Jewish-American professor of linguistics, political activist, and philosopher who has shaped much of contemporary thinking. During his illustrious career, he devised fundamental theories on universal grammar while writing extensively about society and politics.
He has written extensively on American foreign policy, mass media, and the Vietnam war. His books on linguistic theory and syntactic structures placed Noam Chomsky at the top of linguistic theory. To this day, he has written more than 100 books, the most pivotal you will find on the list below.
A biography of Noam Chomsky
American linguist Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1928. His parents had fled Russia and Belarus. After working in Baltimore sweatshops, Chomsky’s father graduated from the Gratz College faculty in Philadelphia, and his mother was a teacher and activist.
Chomsky spent his childhood steeped in Jewish culture, learning Hebrew and discussing the fate of the Jewish nation. While his parents leaned toward Democrat politics, other family members introduced him to far-left politics. At age 10, he wrote his first article on the dangers of fascism shortly after declaring himself an anarchist. He then started traveling solo to New York at age 13, where he surrounded himself with Jewish working-class intellectuals.
Three years later, Chomsky enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania but soon became disillusioned. He was about to drop out and move to a Palestinian kibbutz when he met Zeiling Harris, a Russian-born linguist. Captivated, Chomsky resolved to study theoretical linguistics.
On Harris’ recommendation, Chomsky also studied philosophy and mathematics. His studies on semantics, the philosophy of language, and aspects of the theory of syntax soon led to a deep knowledge of language. At that time, his Language Acquisition Device (LAD) theory started forming.
In 1951, he published his Master’s thesis, The Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew. As a junior fellow at Harvard University, he went on to write one of his most famous books, The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory, in which he adopted aspects of Harris’ theories on linguistics. His doctoral dissertation, Transformational Analysis, is a crucial work in the field of linguistics today.
In 1955, Chomsky took up a position as an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT promoted him to associate professor in 1957. Chomsky went on to publish works such as Syntactic Structure and Verbal Behavior before collaborating with Morris Halle in the creation of a new MIT graduate program in linguistics. In 1961 he became a full professor.
Between 1966 and 1976, Chomsky worked at McGill University, holding the Ferrari P. Ward Professorship.
He only retired from the MIT department of linguistics in 2002. MIT continues to feature Chomsky on its website as an institute professor & linguistics professor emeritus.
Chomsky wrote significant works on linguistics, psychology, and computer and cognitive science during his academic rise while pursuing political activism. He wrote an open letter to the British Prime Minister over human rights as recently as last year.
He was also at the center of the Robert Faurisson affair. The French Holocaust denier caused outrage with the publication of his book, in which he disputed the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Faurisson had included a Chomsky essay in the book without his consent.
Chomsky has received many awards and academic accolades, including the Kyoto Prize and the Helmholtz Medal. Today, he is an active contributor to current political and social thinking. His stature continues to span from America and Canada to Europe and beyond.
Pivotal works by Noam Chomsky
The list of books by the Jewish-American author reflects the diversity of Chomsky’s contribution to linguistics, cognitive science, politics, activism, and the study of human nature. Chomsky’s work is diverse, complex, and thought-provoking.
The Minimalist Program (1995)
Published by MIT Press, this book combines four essays and places linguistic theory within cognitive science. The minimalist structure pitches universal grammar as the source of an innate human computational system.
New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind (2000)
Chomsky puts forward the theory that within all human languages, much the same grammar rules exist.
Requiem for the American Dream: (2017)
Chomsky explores financial inequalities in the U.S. over the past 40 years, which he feels bury the American Dream.
Lectures on Government and Binding (1993)
Only in the last 50 years have scientists analyzed how the human brain assimilates and processes language. Chomsky delves into semantics, syntactic structures, and linguistic theory in this essay collection.
Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought (1966)
Defining Cartesian linguistics, Chomsky argues that not only do all languages share a basic grammar, but those common features reflect fundamental brain properties.
Manufacturing Consent (1988)
Chomsky penned this book in collaboration with Edward Herman, and it proved one of the most defining works of our time dealing with the influence of mass media in shaping society’s views.
On Palestine (2015)
Chomsky teamed up with Ilan Pappé to write a compelling analysis of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the dire conditions in Gaza. The book also evaluates the prospects of finding a lasting peace settlement.
Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965)
In this book, the author spells out a concise grammar analysis, dividing it into three parts; a phonological component, a semantic component, and a syntactic component.
Listen to the best books by Noam Chomsky on Speechify
If you enjoy delving into Noam Chomsky’s ideas, you can also enjoy his works as audiobooks on Speechify. The audiobook provider delivers Chomsky in English and 13 other languages across all device types.
Check out The Anti-Chomsky Reader by contributors Peter Collier and David Horowitz, who have compiled a collection of Chomsky essays to pick apart or the many other philosophical works on Speechify.
When you sign up for Speechify Audiobooks today, you will not only receive access to many free public domain titles but also a premium audiobook for free, so you can test the offerings.
What is Chomsky’s main theory?
As he is a linguist, Chomsky’s leading theory relates to language acquisition and use, whereby the human brain has an innate ability to learn and develop language. As people grow older, this capacity grows and deepens.
What are the three theories of Chomsky?
Scholars who have studied Chomsky’s work refer to his three grammar and language theories as generative, transformational, and generative-transformational.
What is the main idea of Chomskyan linguistics?
Chomsky created the concept of the language acquisition device (LAD), a part of the brain that allows small children to absorb, learn, and process grammar and language. He believes all human beings are predisposed to master words, sentences, and ideas away from strict grammar rules.
What is an example of generative grammar?
Generative grammar centers around the idea that people use instinct to judge the grammatical correctness of a sentence. For example:
The woman is tall.
Is tall woman the.
The theory’s proof is simple. Ask a native speaker to pick the grammatically correct phrase, and they will tell you without referring back to grammar rules.
What sentence is an example of a “deep structure”?
Here are two sentences with the same deep structure but different surface structures:
I bought a fast car.
The fast car was bought by me.