The Language Instinct

Front Cover
HarperPerennial, 1994 - Biolinguistics - 494 pages
40 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 but 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.

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Review: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

User Review  - Goodreads

Yes, this book has grammar trees breaking sentences down like you did in school. No, it doesn't hurt that much. Pinker shattered for me the conventional wisdom (for which he partially blames the ... Read full review

Review: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

User Review  - Kevin - Goodreads

Yes, this book has grammar trees breaking sentences down like you did in school. No, it doesn't hurt that much. Pinker shattered for me the conventional wisdom (for which he partially blames the ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Steven Arthur Pinker was born on September 18, 1954 in Canada. He is an experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and author. He is a psychology professor at Harvard University. He is the author of several non-fiction books including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, The Stuff of Thought, and The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award in 1984 and Boyd McCandless Award in 1986 from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award in 1993 from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize in 2004 from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize in 2010 from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. In 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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