Aug 15, 2008

Geoffrey Nunberg Discusses George Lakoff's Place in the Linguistics Community

From the Chronicle of Higher Education
August 15, 2008

Who Framed George Lakoff?
By Evan R. Goldstein

George P. Lakoff is falling asleep. It is a bright summer afternoon in San Francisco, and Lakoff is nursing a latte at a small table near the entrance of a bustling, sun-dappled cafe. "This is what happens when you are 67," he explains sheepishly after dozing off midsentence. A stocky man with a wide smile and a well-trimmed white beard, Lakoff doesn't seem tired so much as beleaguered.

For years he's been at the center of some of the biggest intellectual disagreements in linguistics (most famously with Noam Chomsky) and has helped create an important interdisciplinary field of study, cognitive linguistics, that is reshaping our understanding of the complex relationship between language and thought. More recently he has been vying for respect among people notoriously hard to persuade about anything — politicians and their financial backers....

Though there remains some debate about how the linguistics wars ended, Chomsky is widely regarded as having retained his place at the center of the discipline. It's his theories that you'll find today in most linguistics textbooks. "When the intellectual history of this age is written, Chomsky is the only linguist whom anybody will remember," says Geoffrey Nunberg, an adjunct professor at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and a consulting professor of linguistics at Stanford University.


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October 4, 2016