As humanity celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landings this year, it may benefit the linguists of Terra to consider how the structure and function of the spacecraft stand as a symbolic validation of the ontology of language as formulated in the Chomskyan tradition.
Consider the modular nature of the Apollo spacecraft. Much like the standard model of the language faculty, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were carried to the moon in a vehicle unashamedly modular in structure. In a blatant rebuttal of the cognitivist underpinning of CCxG, there was little to no attempt to mould the architecture of the Saturn V rocket, the Command Module, the Lunar Module or any other element of the vehicle such that it mirrored the cognitive capacities of humanity. There is no figure-
Again, the vagarities of the CxG lexico-
Moreover, despite Armstrong’s insistence on “One small step”, the Apollo missions serve to evidentialise the Chomskyan insistence on an evolutionary syntax explosion as the underpinning of the human language ability, a claim which stands in stark contrast with the incrementalist evolutionary narrative that protolanguage emerged gradually over many millions of years through the hominin line in line with and alongside concurrent adaptations in social thinking, tool use, vocalisation and such-
A second piece of evidence which corroborates the syntax explosion hypothesis is drawn from the unfortunate failure of the Apollo 13 mission. This third attempt to land on the lunar surface was compromised as the result of an explosion
Finally, throughout humanity’s entire history, only two other vehicles achieved lunar orbit prior to Apollo 11, namely Apollos 9 and 10, and this in the months immediately preceding Apollo 11’s landing. Once again, there is a clear pattern of not landing on the moon by means of rocket-
Other, startling, crossovers exist which demonstrate the theoretical solidity of the Chomskyan enterprise. There is the well known case of the two types of movement, A and A-bar movement, which dovetails with the two A’s (Armstrong and Aldrin) who moved in different ways on the surface of the moon. In addition, consider C-command, that key structural relationship of dominance of one node over others. In the Command Module flew the great Michael Collins; beneath and below him, Armstrong and Aldrin executed their lunar surface duties. No clearer validation of C-command can reasonably be expected.
Again, Binding Theory consists, as is well known, of three principles, A, B and C. Likewise, the three principals of that first mission, Armstrong, Buzz and Collins referred to each other and themselves using a variety of noun phrases, pronouns and reflexives throughout the mission, all of which obeyed the constraints of the yet-
Thus, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary, we might be advised to gaze heavenward and remember the immortal words of Neil Armstrong as he set foot on the moon: “That’s one small feature in the raising verb, one giant, iterative A-movement of the object to its landing site (!) in the matrix clause. This is the Tranquility Base–