What is Special About Language?
Why should one be interested in studying language? Noam Chomsky’s answer to this question in part characterizes the importance of his linguistic theories to modern thought. In his view, to truly study language is to study a part of human nature, manifested in the human mind.
What does he mean by this? To begin, one has to understand what Chomsky thinks the nature of human languages actually is, and why it is so interesting.
One of the fundamental aspects of human language, according to Chomsky, is its creative nature. The last sentence (and, in fact, this one) have probably never been produced before in the history of the world.
The same is true for much of what we say every day. So, we do not seem to learn or to speak language by purely imitating other people.
How are we able to judge whether a sentence sounds okay? Can we literally have a list of sentences in our mind against which we check each new sentence we hear? Chomsky argues not, since our brains are finite but English is potentially infinite.