Noam Chomsky is rightly regarded as one of the major figures in modern linguistics as the creator of generative grammar, which has transformed the discipline. He is best known to the public, however, as a political activist of anarchistic bent. Apparently, this transcript of "conversations" with French linguist Mitsou Ronat, previously published in France (1977), is intended to bridge these two aspects of Chomsky's prolific career, but the bridge turns out to be a very long one indeed. In the first part, Chomsky discusses the role of intellectuals in formulating and maintaining the dominance of a particular ideology, especially in the U.S. He denies that any special competence is required to intervene in questions of public policy and affairs, seeing all such claims for competence as hierarchically-based justifications for a pseudo-technocratic elite. Chomsky the political activist is therefore simply Chomsky the citizen, while Chomsky the linguist is Chomsky the value-free scientist, and he declines to see any significant connection between the two. In the second part, he discusses the trajectory of his scientific work over the past 25 years, outlining his theories of generative grammar, semantics, deep structure, etc., and offering interesting distinctions between his and related approaches. However, Chomsky's politically-rooted efforts at a critique of ideology lack the theoretical underpinnings of his "neutral" linguistic work, and the differences between Chomsky and Michel Foucault on this score are brought up by Ronat. The only connection between the two Chomskys—and it may be significant—is that his linguistics is part of an effort to establish a scientific basis for making assertions about human nature, and his political activity entails a vision of a future society redesigned to accord with that scientifically-established human nature. This is not an entirely comforting revelation. Although the sections on linguistics and the "human sciences" are rather technical, the juxtaposition of Chomsky's two personas is enlightening, even if no new light is shed on the two subjects themselves.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0394736192

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1978

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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