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The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (1994)

by Steven Pinker

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5,077531,475 (3.99)102
The classic book on the development of human language by the world's leading expert on language and the mind. In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
The classic book on the development of human language by the world’s leading expert on language and the mind.

In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.

Source: Publisher
  Shiseida.Aponte | Jun 24, 2020 |
Very interesting and easy to read! ( )
  gakgakg | May 28, 2020 |
This is a book of 500 pages, counting the index (and a book this long badly needs an index, when it refers on page 400-something to a debunked urban myth mentioned on page 65). The author does go on and on and ON sometimes. Evolutionary theory of language is so unproven and unable to be proven historically, but Pinker certainly employs a lot of verbiage in the attempt.

High spots which may warrant keeping the book on the shelf include the discussion in Chapter 11, pp 334 ff, of ape "language" (basically a hoax, with a lot of self-deception by starry-eyed researchers); the Deaf community has been saying for years that ASL is not what language-trained apes are signing, and it's a relief to see that message validated and confirmed in mainstream popular linguistics... and the discussion centering around page 424 of how research reveals that human children from quite a young age have an innate sense that "living things fall into kinds with hidden essences", i.e. a shaved and painted raccoon is still a raccoon and not a skunk even if doctors operate and put a "sac of really smelly stuff" inside it; and that children are uncomfortable with the idea of a horse that has cow insides and cow parents. This kind of data has definite implications for gender theory in the elementary classroom and its effects on children's cognitive development and mental health. ( )
  muumi | May 17, 2020 |
beautiful explanation of a universal grammar ( )
  kaikai1 | May 10, 2020 |
In this book, Pinker takes his theory on how language is partly genetically encoded in humans and dissects it. It does a great job at showcasing both it's strengths and weaknesses. Each chapter takes a different approach, so the best way to read it is with slight pauses between the chapters so you can digest what it was trying to convey and how it reflects on other topics like natural selection, grammar, art or history.

I was already accustomed with and a fan of Pinker's style and ideas, so there was a lot of confirmation bias for me to enjoy this one (which I'm unapologetic about). There were plenty of ideas in the book I was unaware of and ways of looking at language that I never thought of. I'm pretty satisfied with it since it lead me to update my view on how the mind creates and molds communication. ( )
  parzivalTheVirtual | Mar 22, 2020 |
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For Harry and Roslyn Pinker who gave me language
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I have never met a person who is not interested in language.
As you are reading these words, you are taking part in one of the wonders of the natural world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140175296, 0141037652

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