In a move that has shocked the traditional linguistics community, Noam Chomsky has responded directly and in a timely manner to a theoretical attack made by an academic adversary. Phlange Kadigan, Linguistic Gamesman Extraordinaire, in his seminal article “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Computational Linguist, Nasal-
O. Ptimality, spokeswoman for the MIT Linguistics Department, read a statement from Chomsky concerning Kadigan’s paper, and then answered a few questions from the linguistic press corps. Chomsky’s statement, as read by Ptimality, follows in its entirety:
It may be, then, that from the earlier discussion we conclude that Rochambeau cannot be arbitrary in irrelevant intervening contexts in selectional rules. It appears that a descriptively adequate hand-
shape grammar is rather different from the ultimate standard that determines the accuracy of any proposed hand- shape grammar. Note that a subset of Rochambeau hand- shapes is interesting on quite independent grounds, and is unspecified with respect to an important distinction in language use. We have already seen that the natural general principle that will subsume this case cannot be arbitrary in the system of base selection mechanisms exclusive of the hand- shape lexicon. For one thing, any associated supporting element is, apparently, determined by a general convention regarding the forms of the hand- shape grammar. Suppose, for instance, that most of the methodological work in modern Rochambeau Theory appears to correlate rather closely with non- distinctness in the sense of distinctive hand- shape theory. The descriptive power of the base component is to be regarded as an important distinction in Rochambeau use. Summarizing, then, we assume that Kadigan’s fundamental error is in regarding functional notions as categorical, which is not subject to a stipulation to place such constructions into these various hand- shape categories. With this clarification, any associated supporting element is not to be considered in determining problems of hand- shape analysis.
Ptimality then took questions:
Sophronia Legerity of Linguistische Presse-
Felicific Sprachgefühl of Infix Press Service asked, “Why did Chomsky feel the need to reply to Kadigan so quickly? He usually ignores his critics for years, even decades. Why the change? Did Kadigan strike an academic nerve?” Ptimality explained, “As best as researchers at MIT who have been studying Professor Chomsky for several decades have been able to determine, his internal intellectual clock is calibrated on decade-
Janina Kowalska from Pipidówka Llingwistyka Agencja Prasowa asked, “Fritz Newmeyer has recently claimed that his theories have accounted for Rock, Paper, and Scissors all along, and that the functional aspects of hand-
In a follow-up press release, Chomsky, while remaining generally dismissive of Rochambeau Theory, suggested that there may be a nugget of wisdom in it, which would be more readily revealed if “rock”, “paper”, and “scissors” were renamed to “rho”, “pi”, and “sigma”, for the purposes of elevating the level of abstractness in the discourse.