Book Review: The Architecture of Language

Allison Ventsias

Title: The Architecture of Language
Edited by: Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Bibudhendra Narayan Patnaik, & Rama Kant Agnihotri
ISBN: 019564834X. $37.50.

During a trip to India in January of 1996, Noam Chomsky gave five lectures .  Of those five lectures, one was about his work in language and took place at the University of Delhi.  The majority of the individuals that attended this particular lecture were in the academic field.  This book, The Architecture of Language, documents his lecture and discussion that took place in Delhi, India.

The Architecture of Language was written based on the lecture that took place about Chomsky’s work about the language and mind.  The book is divided in to two sections: Chomsky’s lecture known as the ‘Language and its Design’ and the discussion that took place after the lecture. In the first section of the book, Chomsky talks a great deal about the ‘Minimalist Program’ and some of the assumptions associated with the program, such as how the minimalist program is used as a template for developing a structural theory in the field of linguistics.  After discussing the assumptions, Chomsky talks about the challenges that the minimalist program faces and his thoughts on there being a language faculty that plays a role in language.
The next section of the book is devoted to the discussion that took place following Chomsky’s lecture.  During the discussion, Chomsky answered questions regarding the scope of linguistics, acquisition of language, and theory of language.  When answering questions about the innateness of language, Chomsky defends his claim on the innateness of language and ties in his views on the minimalist program.  Included in his views, Chomsky talks about the therapeutic value of the minimalist program and how individuals are challenged to think about more intellectual issues in their personal life.
In general this book clarifies Chomsky’s views on language and the mind.  The way the book is divided gives the reader insight on what Chomsky delivered to the audience and then gives further explanation based on the questions asked by audience and Chomsky’s answers.  Further clarification is given in the editor’s detailed notes, which is also helpful to the reader.  Any educator or individual interested in linguistics, more specifically, Chomsky’s views and ideas, would find this book worth reading.
Allison Ventsias teaches special education at a high school in Illinois.
ITBE Link - July 2016