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International Journal of Language and Linguistics

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200408 Linguistic Structures (incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)

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The purpose of this paper is to broaden the links to Noam Chomsky, the American linguist in order to show that he is not only a product of his own professors or immediate surroundings, nor from links he willingly made to the 17th-19th century scientists and philosophers but also further back to the Hindu mathematician linguist Panini. Individual studies were made in the past to each of these aspects separately but this paper brings concepts together to form a network of similarity of ideas that stands ultimately in contrast to another reality of understanding, that is, two sets of networks. Panini was a Hindu linguist and the Colonial upsurge in Sanskrit studies brought Westerners in contact with this grammarian. What became clear from this paper is that past history and ideas have a pop-up role to play when scientists are at loss what to do or say in their description of science. The scientist is not working purely empirical but his/her epistemology is subconsciously or unconsciously molded by “prooftext” statements of great minds in the past that aligned with the lifestyle choice of the scientist. Chomsky pulled together in his linguistic description statements from scientists that support his own idea. Understanding Hindu religion better, enabled one to see lines of correspondence with the theory and axioms of Leonard Bloomfield and further, also with that of Noam Chomsky in his design of the Transformational Grammar. Knowing more about Panini and his disciples brought one ultimately to understand the epistemology behind transformational grammars and to realize that the conflict with Traditional Grammar is more than a formal or functional one but rooted deeper in a difference of monotheisitc Judeo-Christian epistemology, on the one side, with deistic philosophies or pantheistic Hindu epistemology on the other.

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Used by permission: IJLL and the author.

Copyright © 2015 Koot van Wyk

International Journal of Language and Linguistics is an open access and double blind peer reviewed international journal published by Center for Promoting Ideas (CPI), USA.

At the time of writing Koot van Wyk was affiliated with Avondale College of Higher Education as a Conjoint Lecturer.