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CHOMSKY, Noam Avram (1928- )
By Zolt?n Gendler Szab?
Noam Chomsky was born to Dr. William (Zev) Chomsky and Elsie Simonofsky in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928. His father emigrated to the United States from Russia. William was an eminent scholar, author of the study Hebrew, the Eternal Language (1957), as well as numerous other works on the history and teaching of Hebrew. Noam entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1945. There he came in contact with Zelig Harris, a prominent linguist and the founder of the first linguistics department in the United States (at the University of Pennsylvania). In 1947 Chomsky decided to major in linguistics, and in 1949 he began his graduate studies in that field. His BA honor's thesis Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew (1949, revised as an MA thesis in 1951) contains several ideas that foreshadow Chomsky's later work in generative grammar. In 1949 he married the linguist Carol Schatz. During the years 1951 to 1955 Chomsky was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows, where he completed his PhD dissertation entitled Transformational Analysis (1955; published as part of The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory in 1975).
Forthcoming in the Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960 ed., Ernest LePore, Thoemmes Press, 2004.