My greatest debt, both intellectual and personal, is to Noam Chomsky. Without his work, and inspiration, my career would have been radically different, and this book would obviously not have existed. In addition, he has made time over the years to talk and correspond with me, despite the overwhelming pressures of his innumerable other commitments. When I sent him the pre-final version of the manuscript, he replied with some sixty pages of comments and suggestions. If I have still misrepresented him in any way, he is not to blame. It has been a privilege to work in his shadow.
A number of colleagues and friends have discussed all or parts of the contents of this book over the five years or so that I have been preoccupied with it: Stefanie Anyadi, Misi Brody, Robyn Carston, Ray Cattell, Teun Hoekstra, Rita Manzini, Milena Nuti, Ianthi Tsimpli, Hans van de Koot, Nigel Vincent, and especially Annabel Cormack and Deirdre Wilson. Needless to say, they are not to be taken to agree with what I have written, nor to be blamed because I have sometimes failed to take their advice. Closer to home my family – Amahl, Ivan, and Saras – have inspired and supported me with sage advice, heartfelt encouragement, and good food.
Part of the work for this book was carried out while I was in receipt of a British Academy research grant, which was matched by a comparable period of sabbatical leave from University College London. I was also granted travel expenses by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at UCL to visit Chomsky at MIT. I am grateful to the Academy and to the College for their support, and to my colleagues for shouldering my duties while I was away.