The Language Instinct, Page 655

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W. Morrow and Company, 1994 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 494 pages
23 Reviews
"Everyone has questions about language. Some are from everyday experience: Why do immigrants struggle with a new language, only to have their fluent children ridicule their grammatical errors? Why can't computers converse with us? Why is the hockey team in Toronto called the Maple Leafs, not the Maple Leaves? Some are from popular science: Have scientists really reconstructed the first language spoken on earth? Are there genes for grammar? Can chimpanzees learn sign language? And some are from our deepest ponderings about the human condition: Does our language control our thoughts? How could language have evolved? Is language deteriorating?" "Today laypeople can chitchat about black holes and dinosaur extinictions, but their curiosity about their own speech has been left unsatisfied - until now. In The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading scientists of language and the 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, how it evolved." "But The Language Instinct is no encyclopedia. With wit, erudition, and deft use of everyday examples of humor and wordplay, Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling theory: that language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution like web spinning in spiders or sonar in bats." "The theory not only challenges conventional wisdom about language itself (especially from the self-appointed "experts" who claim to be safe-guarding the language hut who understand it less well than a typical teenager). It is part of a whole new vision of the human mind: not a general-purpose computer, but a collection of instincts adapted to solving evolutionarily significant problems - the mind as a Swiss Army knife." "Entertaining, insightful, provocative, The Language Instinct will change the way you talk about talking and think about thinking."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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The section on formal linguistics can be heavy going, but otherwise this book is absolutely fascinating. It's everything you've ever wondered about knowing a language, learning a language and having a human brain.

Review: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

User Review  - Donna Woodwell - Goodreads

This was a fabulous overview of linguistics for the non-linguist. Not exactly light reading, though Pinker's dry humor makes it fun. His basic premise is that language is an evolutionary adaptation of ... Read full review

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15
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55
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About the author (1994)

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-born U.S. experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker is the author of several non-fiction bestsellers including: The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007). and The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005 and 2008; in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv, McGill, and the University of Tromsø, Norway. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.

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