Just baffled

In this cute interview from coursera, Chomsky answers questions like how he got interested into linguistics, with some funny side stories (I didn’t know that he read his father’s dissertation at age 12), along with other general questions about the field.

At the end, however, when asked what he recommends aspiring linguistics students to read, e.g. his own works, he says something that I’ve heard him say a few times already and that always leaves me extremely baffled:

Everything I’ve been saying is a minority opinion. I’m not giving a consensus in the field, and that should be understood. All my life, in fact, I’ve been part of a small minority of linguists that go kind of against the stream. So that has to be taken into account. It’s the way it looks to me, it’s not the way it looks to the field.

From my experience – but either I’m hallucinating or I’ve lived in a bubble with a basically perfect filter – his opinion is the overwhelming majority opinion in linguistics. Most linguistics departments that I know (again, this might be due to some heavy filter) only teach mainstream generative grammar and do if anything rarely mention other approaches apart from maybe their acronyms.

Can someone explain to me what he means? I genuinely don’t understand. He knows that many respectable linguistics departments in the world teach mainstream generative grammar, so cannot mean that. Does he refer to a wider field than I assumed (e.g. cognitive science and not only linguistics). Or does this statement only concern some specific points he makes that are highly debated?

So I really hope someone can explain that to me.


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