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Chomsky Responds to New Theory of Rochambeau

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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-Ingressive Voiceless Velar Trill, ChomskyA New Game for Every Linguist”, productively and profitably extended the basic theory of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” (also known as “Rochambeau”) to account for several additional types of hand-shape phenomena, while simultaneously proving the linguistic irrelevance of recent attempts to integrate Lizard and Spock hand-shapes into the Theory of Rochambeau.

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-Agentur asked, “What the...?” Ptimality replied, “In short, Rock, Paper, and Scissors are ultimately irrelevant to Linguistic Theory.” There was then an audible collective sigh of relieved comprehension among the reporters present.

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-resolution timescales. Kadigan’s claims were made in the 2000s, thus Chomsky has replied in the 2010s. No need to panic.”

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-shapes are best explained by considering the effects of parsing constraints on Rochambeau performance and competence. How does Professor Chomsky handle such claims?” Ptimality replied, “As Professor Newmeyer made those claims in a press conference in January of 2010, they will not be eligible for response until the 2020s.”

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.

Meet the SpecGram Editors
Linguistics Nerd CampBethany Carlson
SpecGram Vol CLX, No 2 Contents