Reconstructing Chomsky on Language

Recently in class Chomsky’s name came up in discussion as the most widely cited author, but not many students knew his name or why he is so well-known.

The following video outlines Chomsky’s ground-breaking theory of language.

Before you watch the video, discuss with a friend the following questions.

  • What makes human language different from animal language?
  • Is language learned, or are we born with it?
  • How is it possible that small children learn languages so quickly?

Watch the video and then attempt the text reconstruction activity at the bottom of the page.

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What is collocation?

In my last post I set a challenge that required you to understand the concept collocation, but later it occurred to me that you might not understand what it is.

  • We say “Merry Christmas.”
  • We say “Happy birthday.”
  • We never say “Merry birthday.”

There is no grammatical reason why we cannot say Merry birthday. In fact the only explanation is that, well, that’s just the way it is! Welcome to the frustrating world of collocation.

How to define ‘collocation’?

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