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Vaijayanthi (VJ) Sarma

Published onApr 19, 2019
Vaijayanthi (VJ) Sarma

I was almost twenty when I first learned of Linguistics and Noam Chomsky. For someone who was in a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature (because of some unexplainable love for language), the one compulsory “paper” in Linguistics was an absolute life-saver—for the first time, even with all the mechanical application of rules that we had to do, I could see language as a functioning system, not just a vehicle for literature. This one course would determine everything I have done since. Noam, thank you for creating a discipline that saved me intellectually and for asking the kinds of questions that still excite me (I don’t think I would be in academics if it weren’t for Linguistics). Thank you for helping create such a vibrant and demanding community at MIT that I was privileged to be a part of. Thank you for your politics too, though I was already at a similar end of the political spectrum, reading what you write and hearing you speak has helped preserve both my sanity and hope for the future in this unequal world. Thank you for all this, Noam, and I wish you a very happy 90th birthday!

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