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Tom Wasow

Published onApr 19, 2019
Tom Wasow

Noam supervised my dissertation during the height of the Vietnam War (1971–1972). As one of the leading figures in the antiwar movement, as well as the world’s most influential linguist, he was in constant demand as a speaker and as an author. Yet he found time for his grad students. I would drop off drafts of sections of my thesis at his office and, at the same time, book the first appointment I could get with him (usually a week or two later). When I came for my appointment, I would get a full hour with him, with detailed and amazingly helpful comments on the material I had left for him. Having my ideas taken so seriously—by Noam Chomsky, no less—was extremely important in my development as an academic.

In later years, I came to have serious doubts about aspects of the mainstream of work in generative syntax, but nobody shaped my thinking about language and cognition as profoundly as Noam. He was a wonderful mentor, and I am forever grateful to him for the part he played in shaping my life.

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