On Language

Chomsky's Classic Works 'Language and Responsibility' and 'Reflections on Language'
Narrated by: Fajer Al-Kaisi
Length: 14 hrs and 58 mins
4 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Described by the New York Times as "arguably the most important intellectual alive," Noam Chomsky is known throughout the world for his highly influential writings on language and politics. Featuring two of Chomsky's most popular and enduring books in one omnibus volume, On Language contains some of the noted linguist and political critic's most informal and accessible work to date, making it an ideal introduction to his thought.

In Part I, "Language and Responsibility" (1979), Chomsky presents a fascinating self-portrait of his political, moral, and linguistic thinking through a series of interviews with Mitsou Ronat, the noted French linguist. In Part II, "Reflections on Language" (1975), Chomsky explores the more general implications of the study of language and offers incisive analyses of the controversies among psychologists, philosophers, and linguists over fundamental questions of language.

©1977 Language and Responsibility Flammarion; English translation and revisions of Language and Responsibility 1979 Noam Chomsky; Reflections on Language 1975 Noam Chomsky (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Difficult in audio format

Good, but difficult when commuting to work. I made a ton of bookmarks in this one for later review. As you can well imagine some aspects of this work require the hardcopy, pen and paper, and some quiet time to contemplate.

7 people found this helpful

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Would recommend to accompany written text

Very difficult to follow without prior knowledge. Lots of descriptions of diagrams and mathematics.. difficult to follow without written version. But great material to learn.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It was boring to listen to

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No
It was read in a monotone fashion which made it hard to follow

What did you like best about this story?

It was an interesting concept

What didn’t you like about Fajer Al-Kaisi’s performance?

Very monotone

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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Narrow Minded and Outdated Opinions

I found very little substance here, if any exists to be found at all. I have read books on linguistics before, so for a book called "On Language", a linguistics discussion is what I came for and tried to find. To be honest, I picked this up in the first place because it was recommended to our book club by someone else, and I picked the previous choice, so I was obligated to read this one.

The biggest frustration, was that there was no structure or argument thread throughout at all. This is a collection of interviews Chomsky did and essays he wrote about various topics he found interesting. So while one of his stances might be that one cannot speak about language without speaking about politics at the same time, he does not embody his perspective here at all. While sometimes he talks about some grammar and sentence structure specifics found in the English language, most of the time he rambles on about sociopolitical topics that occurred during his time. Chomsky has a lot of opinions about different things, but fails to back up his claims adequately or to connect his thoughts together into a cohesive argument.

Chomsky's "On Language" also just seems so narrow-minded and outdated. Most of his references are to political swings occurring in the '60s and this book was first published in the '70s. It hasn't aged well, and I am at a lost to see how Chomsky's body of work is still relevant to today at all. He may have been an important member of the intelligentsia in his day, but I expected more from a seemingly respected linguist.

Furthermore, the scope of these discussions was just so limited. All of Chomsky's references are based in recent (for the time of first publication) American events, but the United States is not the only country that speaks English, and English is not even the most-spoken language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is currently the most-spoken language in the world at 1.1 billion speakers, with only 983 million English speakers. For a book titled "On Language", I expected a more intelligent perspective.

I would NOT recommend this to ANYONE. Not worth the time or money. Search elsewhere, anywhere else, for better discussion on language, society, and politics.

2 people found this helpful

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Very dissepointed

Nothing to write about. It is bad..Need to ask for refund. Why it was rated sooo high I do not understand

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Stephen Hawking would have been a better narrator

What didn’t you like about Fajer Al-Kaisi’s performance?

From the half hearted attempt at an unnecessary French accent to the rest of the utterly flat narration, this was a mind numbing treatment of one of my favorite subjects.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Philosophy Democratized??

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The chief irony of this book is that, in the first chapter, Chomsky upbraids the intellectual elite for using language and complexity with the intent of maintaining power over their realm. He suggests that work should and must be accessible to anyone with a desire to learn. He then proceeds with some of the most convoluted, coded and complex material I have ever been exposed to, constantly referencing other linguists and employing terminology which he never bothers to define. In the end, I ended up with empty hands.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Fajer Al-Kaisi?

Almost anyone. He reading style was beyond wooden. What was the producer thinking in casting him??

1 person found this helpful