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Noam Chomsky at University of Stuttgart

Noam Chomsky was in Stuttgart on 24.03 to deliver a lecture on "Phrase Structure Grammar" - don't ask what that it.  I wasn't aware of the technical nature of the lecture hence fought fever and made my way to the Univ. Stuttgart into a lecture-hall of 300, already fully packed some 15 minutes before start.

Can an Eagle that Flies also Swim?

As soon as it was made known the lecture was on Linguistics, I lost hope of taking much back, but Noam's opening example grabbed my attention.  Notice the sentence..

Can an eagle that flies also swim?

This is a perfectly simple sentence at first look, but our implicit knowledge of the eagle's primary ability to fly is note-worthy.  Wouldn't we understand this sentence differently if we knew of a species of eagles that also swam?

Some other provocative thoughts...
  1. Is Aristotle's definition of language - Language is sound with a meaning, accurate?
  2. Is language a property of the individual, or that of a society?  
    • Kids acquire language even before they understand culture
  3. Everything that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood :)
  4. Does such a thing as "language of thought" exist?


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