Problems and Mysteries in the Study of Human Language

  • Noam Chomsky
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 43)


I would like to distinguish roughly between two kinds of issues that arise in the study of language and mind: those that appear to be within the reach of approaches and concepts that are moderately well understood — what I will call “problems”; and others that remain as obscure to us today as when they were originally formulated — what I will call “mysteries.” The distinction reflects in part a subjective evaluation of what has been achieved or might be achieved in terms of ideas now available. Others see mysteries, incoherence and confusion where to me the issues seem rather clear and straightforward, and conversely.


Common Sense Language Learning Cognitive Structure Language Study Quality Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alston, William P., 1963, ‘Meaning and use’, Philosophical Quarterly 13, 107–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, Stephen R. and Kiparsky, Paul, (eds.), 1973, A Festschrift for Morris Halle, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Austin, John L., 1940, ‘The Meaning of a Word’, published in Urmson and Warnock (eds.), (1961).Google Scholar
  4. Barnes, Jonathan, 1972, ‘Mr. Locke’s Darling Notion’, Philosophical Quarterly 22, 22,193–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beloff, John, 1973, Psychological Sciences: a Review of Modern Psychology, Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Bresnan, Joan W., 1973, ‘Sentence Stress and Syntactic Transformations,’ in Hintikka, Moravcsik and Suppes (eds.), (1973).Google Scholar
  7. Brewer, William F., forthcoming, ‘There is no convincing Evidence for Operant or Classical Conditioning in Adult Humans’, in Weimer and Palermo (eds.), (forth-coming).Google Scholar
  8. Chomsky, Noam, 1965, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, M. I. T. Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  9. Chomsky, Noam, 1966, Cartesian Linguistics, Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Chomsky, Noam, 1968a, ‘Recent Contributions to the Theory of Innate Ideas’, in Cohen and Wartofsky (eds.), (1968).Google Scholar
  11. Chomsky, Noam, 1968b, Language and Mind, Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Chomsky, Noam, 1969a, ‘Quine’s Empirical Assumptions’, in Davidson and Hintikka (eds.), (1969). Excerpted from ‘Some Empirical Assumptions in Modern Philosophy of Language’, in Morgenbesser, Suppes and White (eds.), ( 1969 ).Google Scholar
  13. Chomsky, Noam, 1969b, ‘Linguistics and Philosophy’, in Hook (ed.) (1969).Google Scholar
  14. Chomsky, Noam, 1970, ‘Language and Freedom’, Abraxas, 1, No. 1; reprinted in Chomsky, For Reasons of State, Pantheon, New York (1973).Google Scholar
  15. Chomsky, Noam, 1971, Problems of Knowledge and Freedom, Pantheon, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Chomsky, Noam, 1972, Studies on Semantics in Generative Grammar, Mouton, The Hague.Google Scholar
  17. Chomsky, Noam, 1973, ‘Conditions on transformations’, in Anderson and Kiparsky (eds.), (1973).Google Scholar
  18. Chomsky, Noam, 1974a, ‘Knowledge of Language’, in Gunderson and Maxwell (eds.), (1974).Google Scholar
  19. Chomsky, Noam, 1974b, ‘Dialogue with Noam Chomsky,’ in Parret (ed.), (1974).Google Scholar
  20. Chomsky, Noam, forthcoming, Reflections on Language, Pantheon.Google Scholar
  21. Chomsky, Noam and Halle, Morris, 1968, Sound Pattern of English, Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Chomsky, Noam, Halle, Morris, and Lukoff, Fred, 1956, ‘On Accent and Juncture in English’, in Halle, Lunt and MacLean (eds.), (1956).Google Scholar
  23. Chomsky, Noam, and Katz, Jerrold J., 1974, ‘What the Linguist is Talking About’, Journal of Philosophy 71, 347–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chomsky, Noam and Katz, Jerrold, J., 1975, ‘On Innateness: A Reply to Cooper’, Philosophical Review 84, 70–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Cohen, L. Jonathan, 1966, The Diversity of Meaning, Methuen, London, second edition.Google Scholar
  26. Cohen, L. Jonathan, 1970, ‘Some Applications of Inductive Logic to the Theory of Language’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 7, 299–310.Google Scholar
  27. Cohen, Robert S. and Wartofsky, Marx W. (eds.), 1968, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. Ill, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  28. Cooper, David E., 1972, ‘Innateness: Old and New’, Philosophical Review 81, 465–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Davidson, Donald, and Hintikka, Jaakko, (eds.), 1969: Words and Objections: Essays on the Work of W. V. Quine, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  30. Dougherty, Ray C, 1968, ‘A Transformational Grammar of Coordinate Conjoined Structures’, Ph. D. Dissertation, M.I.T.Google Scholar
  31. Dougherty, Ray C., 1970, ‘A Grammar of Coordinate Conjunction, I’, Language 46, 850–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Dougherty, Ray C., 1971, ‘A Grammar of Coordinate Conjunction, II’, Language 47, 298–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Dougherty, Ray C., 1974, ‘The Syntax and Semantics of each other Constructions’, Foundations of Language 12, 1–47.Google Scholar
  34. Estes, William K., 1972, ‘Reinforcement in Human Behavior,’ American Scientist 60, 723–729.Google Scholar
  35. Fiengo, Robert and Lasnik, Howard, 1973, ‘The Logical Structure of Reciprocal Sentences in English’, Foundations of Language 9 447–68.Google Scholar
  36. Gewirth, Alan, 1973, ‘The Sleeping Chess Player’, Letter, New York Review of Books, 20 (Feb. 22,1973), 38.Google Scholar
  37. Glass, Andrea Velletri, Gazzaniga, Michael S., and Premack, David, 1973, ‘Artificial Language Training in Global Aphasics’, Neuropsychologia 11, 95–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Goodman, Nelson, 1951, The Structure of Appearance, Harvard, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  39. Goodman, Nelson, 1969, ‘The Emperor’s New Ideas’, in Hook (ed.), (1969).Google Scholar
  40. Graves, Christina, Katz, Jerrold J., et ah, 1973, ‘Tacit Knowledge’, Journal of Philosophy 70 (7 June 1973), 318–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Greenfield, Patricia Marks, Nelson, Karen, and Saltzman, Elliott, 1972, ‘The Development of Rulebound Strategies for Manipulating Seriated Cups: A Parallel between Action and Grammar’, Cognitive Psychology 3, 291–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gunderson, Keith and Maxwell, Grover, (eds.), 1974, Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science, vol. VI.Google Scholar
  43. Haldane, Elizabeth S. and Ross, G. R. T., (translators), 1955, The Philosophical Works of Descartes, Dover, Vol. I.Google Scholar
  44. Halle, Morris, Lunt, Horace, and MacLean, Hugh, (eds.), 1956, For Roman Jakobson, Mouton, The Hague.Google Scholar
  45. Harman, Gilbert and Davidson, Donald (eds.) 1972, Semantics of Natural Language, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  46. Hintikka, K. J. J., Moravcsik, J. M. E., and Suppes, P. (eds.), 1973, Approaches to Natural Language, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  47. Hiz, Henry, 1973, ‘On the Rules of Consequence for a Natural Language’, The Monist 57, 312–27.Google Scholar
  48. Hook, Sidney, (ed.) 1969, Language and Philosophy, N.Y.U., New York.Google Scholar
  49. Jackendoff, Ray, S., 1969: ‘Some rules of semantic interpretation in English,’ Ph. D. Dissertation, M.I.T..Google Scholar
  50. Jackendoff, Ray S., 1972, Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar, M. I. T. Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  51. John, E. Roy, 1972, ‘Switchboard versus Statistical Theories of Learning and Memory’, Science 177 (Sept. 8, 1972), 850–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Luce, R. Duncan, Bush, Robert R., and Galanter, Eugene (eds.), 1963, Handbook of Mathematical Psychology, vol. II, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  53. Miller, George A. and Chomsky, Noam, 1963, ‘Finitary Models of Language Users’, in Luce, Bush, Galanter (eds.), (1963), vol. I I.Google Scholar
  54. Morgenbesser, Sidney, Suppes, Patrick, and White, Morton, (eds.), 1969, Philosophy, Science, and Method: Essays in Honor of Ernest Nagel, St. Martin’s Press, New York.Google Scholar
  55. Nottebohm, F., 1970, ‘Ontogeny of Bird Song: Different Strategies in Vocal Development Are Reflected in Learning Stages, Critical Periods, and Neural Lateralization’, Science 167, 950–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Parret, Herman (ed.) 1974, Discussing Language, Mouton, The Hague.Google Scholar
  57. Peters, Stanley, 1972: The Projection Problem: How is a Grammar to be Selected?’, in S. Peters (ed.) (1972).Google Scholar
  58. Peters, Stanley, (ed.) 1972, Goals of Linguistic Theory, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.Google Scholar
  59. Pylyshyn, Zenon W., 1973, ‘The Role of Competence Theories in Cognitive Psychology’, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 2, 21–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Quine, W. V., 1953, From a Logical Point of View, Harvard, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  61. Quine, W. V., 1960, Word and Object, MIT Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  62. Quine, W. V., 1968, ‘The Inscrutability of Reference’, Journal of Philosophy 65, 185–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Quine, W. V., 1969a, ‘Reply to Chomsky’, in Davidson and Hintikka (eds.), (1969).Google Scholar
  64. Quine, W. V., 1969b, ‘Linguistics and Philosophy’, in Hook (ed.), (1969).Google Scholar
  65. Quine, W. V., 1972, ‘Methodological Reflections on Current Linguistic Theory’, in Harman and Davidson (eds.), (1972).Google Scholar
  66. Quine, W. V., 1974, The Roots of Reference, Open Court, La Salle.Google Scholar
  67. Reber, Arthur S., 1973, ‘On Psycho-Linguistic Paradigms’, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 2, 289–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schwartz, Robert, 1969, ‘On Knowing a Grammar’, in Hook (ed.), (1969).Google Scholar
  69. Searle, John, 1972, ‘Chomsky’s Revolution in Linguistics’, New York Review of Books 18 (June 29, 1972), 16–24.Google Scholar
  70. Searle, John, 1973, ‘Reply to Gewirth’, New York Review of Books 20 (Feb. 22, 1973), 38.Google Scholar
  71. Selby-Bigge, L. A. (ed.) 1902, Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume, second edition, Oxford (1902).Google Scholar
  72. Suppes, Patrick, 1969, ‘Stimulus–response theory of Finite Automata’, Journal of Mathematical Psychology 6, 327–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Suppes, Patrick, 1973, ‘Semantics of Natural Languages’, in Hintikka, Moravcsik and Suppes (eds.), (1973).Google Scholar
  74. Urmson, J. O. and Warnock, G. J. (eds,), 1967, J. L. Austin: Philosophical Papers, Oxford.Google Scholar
  75. Vendler, Z., 1972, Res Cogitans, Cornell, Ithaca.Google Scholar
  76. Weimer, W. B. and Palermo, D. S. (eds.), forthcoming, Cognition and Symbolic Processes Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Noam Chomsky 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noam Chomsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUSA

Personalised recommendations