Fact Check: Is Noam Chomsky dead? Wife shuts down viral reports of the linguist's demise

Chomsky Criticizes U.S. Foreign Policy
Chomsky Criticizes U.S. Foreign Policy at Howard Univsersity (Image via William B. Plowman/Getty Images)

American linguist and activist Noam Chomsky's wife Valeria Wasserman Chomsky shut down rumors about his demise. In a written response to The Associated Press's query about Noam's health on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, Valeria wrote:

"No, it is false."

It all began on June 7, when Media Lens shared a lengthy Facebook post that attempted to shed light on why the professor has not commented on public events, especially the war in Gaza. It cited posts by Bev Stohl, Noam’s longtime assistant at MIT, which revealed Noam was "very unlikely (to) return to the public eye" after suffering a health emergency but did not elaborate on the medical condition.

On Monday, June 10, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo published a report detailing the MIT professor's health troubles. Valeria later confirmed this in an email to ABC News, adding that Noam Chomsky had to be hospitalized in Brazil after a stroke a year ago.

Within the week, rumors about Noam's death began circulating on social media after Jacobin and The New Statesman published obituaries for the activist. News sites like Diario do Centro do Mundo, based in Brazil, also published stories about his death.

However, Noam Chomsky is alive and these reports have since been corrected or taken down.


Following his stroke, Noam Chomsky and his wife Valeria moved to Sao Paulo, where they have owned a residence since 2015

Noam Chomsky is known for his socio-political activism and is called the "father of modern linguistics," with over 150 books to his credit. He was a long-time professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and, in 2017, taught at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona. Chomsky married Brazilian native Valeria Wasserman, his second wife, in 2014. The couple bought a residence in Sao Paulo a year later.

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Per ABC News, following his stroke, they moved to a hospital in Sao Paulo once he could travel. She explained an air ambulance transported him, with two nurses accompanying him.

Valeria told Folha de S. Paulo that the stroke affected the right side of his body and that he had difficulty speaking. She added that a neurologist, speech therapist, and lung specialist visit him daily.

Noam Chomsky has been vocal in his criticism of wars, including the Vietnam War. Valeria explained her husband is keeping up with current topics, including the war in Gaza, adding that he raises his left hand in lament and anger after looking at pictures of devastation occurring.

Valeria told the Brazilian publication she is hoping to move to an apartment near the beach in Rio de Janeiro after she read somewhere that living in a sunny place can help stroke patients.

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Edited by Pradyot Hegde
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