Chomsky and Wittgenstein: A short Reflection

By Ramaswamy R Iyer
Economic & Political Weekly, 2 November 2013

As the subject of this article is outside my usual beat of water-related issues, let me begin on a personal note. In the late 1940s and early 1950s – before I accidentally stumbled into central civil service – I studied and later taught English language and literature at Elphinstone College, Mumbai. Among other things, I developed a deep interest in linguistics, phonology, philosophy of grammar, and so on. In 1949, I was introduced to Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein’s work by my friend (the late) K J Shah, a student and friend of Wittgenstein’s, who had just returned from Cambridge, and that philosophy became a lifelong interest. That was the route through which I came to Noam Chomsky