Avram Noam Chomsky

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Born: 7 December 1928, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Chomsky was born to immigrant Jews, his father from Ukraine and his mother from Belarus. His father was a professor of Hebrew and Noam gained his first understanding of linguistic history from reading drafts of his father's books. They were a rare Jewish family in a predominantly Catholic and anti-Semitic neighborhood, Chomsky remembers German neighbors having beer parties to celebrate the Nazi occupation of Paris. After graduating from Central High School in 1945 he entered the University of Pennsylvania and earned a BA (1949), MA (1951), and Ph.D. (1955), although some of his doctoral work was done on a Harvard fellowship. He married fellow linguist Carol Schatz in 1949, they were married until her death from cancer in 2008. After gaining his doctorate he immediately joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became a full professor in Modern Languages and Linguistics in 1961, and is still teaching there. As a linguist he challenged existing thought, believing that language is inherent in humans. (Fish swim, birds fly, people talk.) In 1967 he publicly opposed the Vietnam war and has been a critic of US government policy ever since, describing himself as an anarcho-syndicalist and libertarian socialist. He has written a staggering number of books on linguistics, even more on political subjects, and has been given honorary doctoral degrees by three dozen universities in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. When not traveling to lecture on politics, Chomsky lives at Lexington, Massachusetts.

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