Skip to main content

Noam Chomsky, me, and Esperanto

Mike Jones's picture

Back in the 1970’s, I sent Noam Chomsky, the famous MIT linguist, a letter asking his take on Esperanto. His reply indicated some possible interest (at least, as I recall, on the part of his son), and so I showed his reply to my father, who sent him a letter urging Professor Chomsky to obtain a textbook and other materials and begin learning the language. Chomsky’s reply was, as close as I can recall, “I’m sorry that I cannot meet your expectations, but we all have our priorities. Otherwise life would be impossible.” And that was the end of that. I still have this correspondence, of course, but it is in storage back in the States (and I am in China), but I thought that this tidbit ought to be part of the annals of Esperanto.

Here is the link to the Wikipedia article about him:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky

In dealing with Chomsky, it is a good thing to keep Clarke’s Law in mind:

Clarke’s Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; when he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.
Here is the link to the Wikipedia article on Clarke’s Law:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke%27s_three_laws

At the end of the article, it is noted that Isaac Asimov contradicted Clarke’s Law, as follows:

"When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion -- the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right."

This is cited as a “corollary”, but is really a contradiction, there being no provision for exceptions in Clarke’s Law. Furthermore, notice how Asimov conveniently changed the focus from a single scientist to a group of scientists – like, how could a GROUP of scientists be wrong? Clarke’s Law should be applied to Asimov’s pronouncement: Asimov is declaring that it is impossible that Clarke’s Law could hold in the generality it clearly implies, and so Asimov is probably wrong.

Regards,
Mike Jones
Beijing
28.Jan.2011

by Mike Jones

Contact us / Kontaktu Nin

Contact Us / Kontaktu Nin: eusa@esperanto-usa.org

Landa Kongreso * 2016 July 8 - 11 * Annual Congress

EO Esperanto: La Landa Kongreso okazos en Miamio, FL, Usono, 2016 julio 8-11.
Por aliĝi, vidu: Aliĝilo

EN English: The Annual US Esperanto Congress will be in Miami, FL, USA, 8 - 11 July, 2016.
To sign up, see: Registration

NASK * 2016 jun 28 - jul 7 * Summer Courses

EO Esperanto: La bonega kursaro NASK - Nord-Amerika Somera Kursaro okazos de la 28-a de Junio ĝis la 7-a de Julio ĉe Raleigh, Norda Karolino, ĉe la Universitato William Peace. Por vidi pli da detaloj aŭ aliĝi, kalketu ligilon NASK kaj KTF.

EN English: The excellent North American Esperanto Summer Courses (NASK), will be happening from June 28 to July 7, at William Peace University, in Raleigh, North Carolina. To see more details or sign up, click on NASK and KTF.

Poll

Which NASK is best for you?:
Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes