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The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates…

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

by Steven Pinker

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4,877501,446 (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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» See also 102 mentions

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Letto sia in versione inglese che italiana
  AntonioGallo | Nov 2, 2017 |
A classic of popular (and at times, fairly academic) linguistics. The ideal gift for someone with an interest in language who's tired of hearing nothing about it in the mainstream but arguments over "proper" English and word origin fairy tales. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
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 |
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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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