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

by Steven Pinker

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4,457481,100 (3.99)102
Recently added byRazinha, IRCLometg, NikkiMiller, Agamotto, rajivaggy, TJ0513, private library, mwallien, cnrenner
Legacy LibrariesTerence Kemp McKenna
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Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
This is listed as one of the New Scientist Top 25 Most Influential Popular Science books. The thesis is solid...the execution burdensome. Here's a thought: make a point; reinforce a point; if at that point you feel the need to keep talking, show the reader where in the footnotes or appendix all the repetitious extras can be found.

Pinker spends an enormous amount of time talking about language grammar and the English language in particular, none of which have anything to do with why language is instinctual. It would have been a lot more tedious if I hadn't just listened to John McWhorter's lectures on The Story of Human language. The parallels could not have been coincidental...both relating elements of language development, grammar structure, proto-languages...but McWhorter wasn't talking about instinct. He was talking about language. Pinker undermines his case with all the side trips down linguist lane. Focus on instinct, not on the idiosyncrasies of a hodgepodge tongue.

Pinker could have made his point very well in 100 pages. I admire succinct conveyance of knowledge. Pinker sure has a way of complicating concepts with extraneous details. I didn't admire this book. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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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)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140175296, 0141037652

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