This article, the first of a two-part study of the Chomskyan revolution, charts the initial stages of Chomsky’s success. His proposals in Syntactic Structures (1957) were very attractive to linguists in the then-dominant program (“Bloomfieldianism”). In particular, (1) Bloomfieldianism had difficulty with syntax, and the transformation was seen as advancing linguistics in that direction; (2) Bloomfieldianism had largely avoided semantics, and the transformation promised new ways to address meaning; and (3), on a metatheoretical level, the Bloomfieldians were very proud of linguistics’ status as a science, and Chomsky argued that grammatical modeling was much the same enterprise as theory construction in chemistry or in physics. Chomskyan transformational grammar had no trouble attracting supporters in linguistics and soon began to generate considerable interest outside as well. The second article, to be published in the summer issue of Perspectives on Science, charts the increasingly belligerent rhetoric of the Chomskyan program, rhetoric that made it clear that the aim was not to advance the current linguistic program but rather to replace it, and which therefore sparked the too-little-too-late resistance of Bloomfieldians in the early sixties.

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