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The language instinct the new science of language and mind (original 1994; edition 1995)

by Steven Pinker

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4,374471,126 (3.99)101
Member:peterveen
Title:The language instinct the new science of language and mind
Authors:Steven Pinker
Info:London Penguin 1995
Collections:Your library, Science
Rating:****1/2
Tags:psycholinguistics, evolutionary psychology

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The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker (1994)

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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Pinker is always a good read, but this updated version clarifies some issues I had with older editions.

Full review @Booklikes ( )
  krazykiwi | Aug 22, 2016 |
I was disappointed a little bit, for I expected a more focused treatment of the relationship of language to its physical basis in the brain. On the other hand, the early chapters are an excellent explanation and introduction to modern linguistics. The excellence of the examples and illustrations suggest these chapters, at least, come from his teaching experience and lecture notes. The later chapters are interesting, as they deal with various aspects of language, but they don't really add up to a coherent exposition of the "language instinct". The chapter "The Language Mavens" is a diatribe against the language pundits of the media, which I thought irrelevant to his thesis.

Nevertheless, the book is chock full of interesting topics in language, and reminded me why I got into linguistics as a grad student. ( )
  KirkLowery | Apr 20, 2016 |
After six months and nine days, I have finally finished this beast of a book. It's hard to say what it is that made this book take so long. At 544 pages, it's hardly the longest book I've recently read. I do have a degree in Linguistics, so I can't say the subject matter was over my head. Maybe it's just that this book is so packed with information, examples, quotes, and evidence that my brain felt a little overloaded every time I picked it up. Because of that, I kept it in my purse, pulling it out over lunch, while traveling, while waiting for friends to show up, so on and so forth, until little by little, I came to the end.

And now that I've finished, I don't really know what to say. Some parts are wonderful - I'm partial to morphology and childhood language acquisition, so I flew through those pages. Other parts barely held my interest, such as the attempted construction of speaking machines. All in all, don't have a strong opinion either way on this book. It's a worthy read for anyone with a strong interest in language or linguistics, but the average person will probably get bored. ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
linguistics, language, cognitive science, linguistic theory, etymology ( )
  chrisr521 | Nov 7, 2015 |
This is a very fascinating read. Pinker argues that language is an innate human instinct, and that our brains have evolved to have certain grammatical structures hard-wired. He gets into all sorts of different sciences - neuroscience, evolutionary biology, anthropology - and brings in a wealth of evidence to back up his ideas.

The book is ostensibly aimed at a general audience, and assumes no prior knowledge of linguistics. However, it digs really deep into a lot of linguistic concepts, and sometimes I found that to be overwhelming and/or tedious and/or more information than I really needed to understand his point. Then again, he also goes into some really long tangents about what Darwin really meant by "evolution" and some other topics that seemed to go on way too long and those were also overwhelming/tedious, so I found myself skimming quite a bit of the book.

Nonetheless, the information in here is fascinating, and Pinker has a nice wry wit and a pleasant writing style, so I enjoyed the book. ( )
  Gwendydd | May 17, 2015 |
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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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060958332, Paperback)

In this classic study, the world's leading expert on language and the mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about languages: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it envolved. With wit, erudition, and deft use it everyday 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 like web spinning in spiders or sonar bats. "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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:58 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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Audible.com

2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140175296, 0141037652

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