What is Language?
Every five years the International Permanent Committee of Linguists (CIPL) organizes The International Congress of Linguists (ICL). The Société Suisse de Linguistique (SSL) hosted the 19th congress in Geneva. The theme was The Language-Cognition Interface. Noam Chomsky gave this jocular keynote address in which he marches through evolving definitions of terms in the field of linguistics.
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. His contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” The New Statesman calls him “the conscience of the American people.” He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 93, he is still active; writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, his latest are Consequences of Capitalism, Chronicles of Dissent and Notes on Resistance.