Noam Chomsky: Maverick Linguist
by Revilo P. Oliver
THE Scientific American, May 1990, contains (pp. 40 ff.) an eulogy of Noam Chomsky, the Jewish linguist who is perhaps the best known figure in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although newspapers delight in reporting such statements as his charge that the United States is “a terrorist superpower,” which happens to be correct, whether or not in the sense which he intended, his most significant work has been the elaboration (not invention) of a theory that language is an ability confined to human beings, because the structure of language is inherent in the human brain as specialized by a long sequence of evolutionary development. This is the basis of the “cognitivism” that is supplanting “behaviorism” as an explanation of human conduct.
The theory would imply that language is, after all, an innate faculty. It is therefore as much a criterion of biological species as are anatomical structures or color of skin. It may therefore be an indication of racial and ethnic characteristics, subject to the proviso that human beings can learn to simulate behavior that is not instinctively acceptable. Perhaps we are right in being astonished by the mentality of Chinese, who can master their difficult language even when they are little children!
Strictly applied, the theory would state, for example, that Indo-European languages are varieties of the native language of Aryans, corresponding to the structure of their minds, while Japanese is the native language of the largely Mongolian but hybrid race that has now made their small and poor country the leading industrial nation of the world, the language corresponding to the way in which they naturally think. One has, as I have said, to allow for the human ability to simulate and emulate the conduct of alien races. (On the lowest level, a nigger may be taught to behave in public like a member of a civilized race.) Intellectually, an Aryan may learn Japanese (I knew one who, while in Japan in the 1930s, was editor of a Japanese magazine.) And it is a common observation that some Japanese speak much better English than does the average American, who, even if not naturally slovenly, is a victim of the tax-supported boob-hatcheries.
Languages would thus correspond to the archetypal memory peculiar to each of the major races, and perhaps, with more subtle variations, to ethnic groups within a race. The discovery of archetypal forms was the major achievement of C.G. Jung and will suffice to perpetuate his name. It is indisputable that an individual’s mental processes, his habit of thinking, correspond to the structure of the language in which he thinks. If you examine Japanese, for example, it will be obvious that a Japanese, although he probably has some infusion of Aryan blood diluting the Mongolian and Turanian amalgam, (1) must think in a way that will seem to an Aryan unnatural. The only question is whether that native intellectual process is innate, as Chomsky and the ‘cognitivists’ believe, or is formed by the language the individual learns as a child, as not only “behaviorists” but all who believe that the mind is originally a tabula rasa (e.g., Locke) assume.
(footnote 1. Cf. Liberty Bell, October 1986, pp. 16 f.)
The differences in mentality are obvious to anyone who has had much practical experience with languages. Sanskrit, for example, is thought a very difficult language, and so it is, for it requires the learner to commit to active memory a seemingly infinite mass of tables of sandhi (samdhi), highly complicated and irregular verbs, nouns become frustratingly polysemous, rules for forming compounds, etc., but the basic structure of the language is that of Greek. Indeed, in the time of Max Muller (when every American college that wanted to be respectable had to offer a beginning course in Sanskrit, even if it hoped no one would elect it, it was believed that Greek was a kind of evolved and simplified Sanskrit, which was the original Indo-European language). The structure of Greek, in turn, is like that of German and Latin, which combine to form English. In other words, when you learn another Indo-European language you have only to learn details of inflexion and idiom: the basic syntax is always the same.
When you turn to languages that are not Indo-European, you are confronted by quite different and seemingly “unnatural” modalities of thought. Chinese and Japanese are striking illustrations of this (try reading a literal, word-for-word translation from one of them), but Semitic languages are also alien to you, although Semites are classified as Caucasian and therefore more akin to Aryans than to Mongolians, et. al., and you will at first wonder how it was possible for Semites to read what they had written. One striking difference is in writing. Indo-European languages depend on vowels and consequently all such languages are written in scripts (alphabetic or syllabic) that show vowels. Semitic languages are normally written with only consonants (whence, of course, much hanky-panky in transmitting the text of the Christians’ favorite story-book).
The extent to which language is innate is, of course, an important (if, at present, insoluble) problem. Careful writers, undeterred by Jewish terrorism, now use ‘Aryan’ as a racial term, and restrict ‘Indo-European’ to a linguistic term. The distinction is important, for while the native language of Aryans is Indo-European, Indo-European languages are spoken and used by other races, as is painfully apparent now, when many persons of other races have some smattering of English and very few attain an accurate knowledge of it. Conversely, Aryans may use a language that is not Indo-European, a conspicuous example being the Aryans of the Persian Empire, who, for convenience, used Aramac for administrative purposes in dealing with their polyphyletic subjects. But if we consider innate, as distinct from acquired, linguistic structure and hence mentality, it is possible, but not, of course, demonstrable, that ‘Indo-Europeans’ and ‘Aryan’ are synonyms, native language being a function of race.
This problem will, for example, affect estimates of the race of the Sumerians, who certainly show many Aryan characteristics, but spoke and wrote a language that is not Indo-European and appears to be sui generis, despite a few, perhaps coincidental, similarities to some other extinct languages.
Chomsky insists that “we do not learn all the rules of grammar” from formal instruction or by trial and error in imitating users of the language, and that “some fundamental principles of language must already be imbedded in our minds” when we are born.
From prudence or his own tropism, however, he escapes the stigma of “racism” by postulating that “the innate language faculty” is like an electronic assemblage (a computer, for instance), “a collection of switches embedded in a network. All humans are born with essentially the same network, but the switches flip over into different positions — corresponding to different rules of grammar — depending on whether a child learns Swahili or Chinese of English.”
The article expatiates on Chomsky’s political and social activities. He became nationally known as a vehement opponent of the “war” in Vietnam, encouraging students to resist or evade conscription. Whether he knew it or not, he was right, for the sorry débâcle in Vietnam, like the earlier one in Korea, was contrived to kill American youths, infect others with Oriental diseases, begin the impoverishment of Americans by squandering their resources, and complete demoralization of the Army by forcing men to fight under lethal handicaps while giving the enemy strategically and even tactically decisive advantages, and eventually to go down to a planned and humiliating defeat.
Chomsky proclaims that “whatever the establishment is, I’ll be against it.”
According to the article, which is a very good summary, Chomsky distresses “Liberal” pundits by pointing out that they create, “the illusion of dissent while in fact they support the status quo in all but trivial matters.” His observation applies not only to the “Left,” but equally to the professed “conservatives” of today.
He criticized adversely the Holy Land of Israel and even supported the Palestinians, who are being robbed of their country.
You will be amused to learn that the Scientific American tells you that Chomsky’s championship of free speech is shown by the fact that he actually “signed a petition defending the right to free speech of Robert Faurisson, a French historian who has argued that most accounts of the Holocaust are exaggerated.” Readers of the magazine are protected from the horrifying knowledge that Faurisson is one of the intellectually honest and courageous men who have conclusively demonstrated that the “Holocaust” is just the Holohoax, a gigantic Jewish swindle.
What Chomsky himself believes is unknown. He is, however, an intelligent man with a scientific education and, naturally, an atheist, and he must have some knowledge of physics and chemistry. I am sure, therefore, that he privately doubts the story that the tribal deity, old Yahweh, suspended the operation of the laws of nature to enable the Germans to vaporize or otherwise annihilate millions or billions of his own masterpieces.
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The same issue of the Scientific American includes a valuable article, by Dr. Peter Wellnhofer, on the Archaeopteryx, which was, in the Jurassic Age, a transitional form between very small dinosaurs and birds, and hence a perfect illustration of the processes of biological evolution, though the Jesus-jerks have to claim that it was manufactured by old Yahweh to mislead the creatures that he created out of mud and now enjoys tormenting.
Most of you would never have heard of the Archaeopteryx lithographica, if Fred Hoyle, a competent British mathematician and physicist, had not yielded to his compulsive urge to read his name in newspapers and brashly claimed that the fossil in London (he evidently did not know of six others) was a hoax comparable to the Piltdown fraud. (Cf. my note on the latter in this issue.) The indubitably genuine fossils of this strange and long extinct creature (Ovid would have called it a semiavis) constitute one of the most interesting and instructive proofs of biological evolution, and so deserve your attention.
There is also an article on the much touted “greenhouse effect.” The author is honest enough to concede that much of the “scientific” turmoil about it is more political than scientific, but even in the absence of valid evidence that the “greenhouse” is in operation, he naturally concludes that the best thing to do is to agitate for “One World” to avert the dire consequences predicted by computer-juggling “scientists” who hope to see their names in newspapers and perhaps also win some baksheesh. Of the real pollution of the planet, which does imperil life on earth as we know it, there is, of course, no mention. That would displease its and our owners.
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