The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (Penguin Science)

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9780140175295: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (Penguin Science)

Steven Pinker's "The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind" is a groundbreaking study of language's origins as an evolutionary adaptation. How do we 'know' how to speak? In his landmark book Stephen Pinker shows how language is part of our genetic inheritance rather than a cultural creation. From the DNA that builds our brains to the pontification of newspaper columnists, Pinker destroys the myths about language - that children learn to talk by copying their parents, that grammatical standards are in decline, that English defies logic - revealing the innate human instinct to communicate that we are all born with. "Reading Steven Pinker's book is one of the biggest favours I've ever done my brain ...highly accessible to the general reader yet at the same time seminal for professionals ...exhilaratingly brilliant". (Richard Dawkins). "An extremely valuable book, very informative, and very well written". (Noam Chomsky). "Brilliant...Pinker describes every aspect of language, from the resolution of ambiguity to the way speech evolved ...he expounds difficult ideas with clarity, wit and polish". ("Observer"). "Dazzling...Pinker's big idea is that language is an instinct, as innate to us as language is to geese. ..Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker's investigations". ("Independent"). Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for cognitive Neuroscience at MIT. Pinker has been awarded research prizes from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, graduate and undergraduate teaching prizes from MIT, and book prizes from the American Psychological Association, the Linguistics Society of America and the "Los Angeles Times". He is the author of "How the Mind Works", "The Blank Slate", "The Better Angels of Our Nature", and "The Language Instinct".

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About the Author:

Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for cognitive Neuroscience at MIT.

From Publishers Weekly:

A three-year-old toddler is "a grammatical genius"--master of most constructions, obeying adult rules of language. To Pinker, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology psycholinguist, the explanation for this miracle is that language is an instinct, an evolutionary adaptation that is partly "hard-wired" into the brain and partly learned. In this exciting synthesis--an entertaining, totally accessible study that will regale language lovers and challenge professionals in many disciplines--Pinker builds a bridge between "innatists" like MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, who hold that infants are biologically programmed for language, and "social interactionists" who contend that they acquire it largely from the environment. If Pinker is right, the origins of language go much further back than 30,000 years ago (the date most commonly given in textbooks)--perhaps to Homo habilis , who lived 2.5 million years ago, or even eons earlier. Peppered with mind-stretching language exercises, the narrative first unravels how babies learn to talk and how people make sense of speech. Professor and co-director of MIT's Center for Cognitive Science, Pinker demolishes linguistic determinism, which holds that differences among languages cause marked differences in the thoughts of their speakers. He then follows neurolinguists in their quest for language centers in the brain and for genes that might help build brain circuits controlling grammar and speech. Pinker also argues that claims for chimpanzees' acquisition of language (via symbols or American Sign Language) are vastly exaggerated and rest on skimpy data. Finally, he takes delightful swipes at "language mavens" like William Safire and Richard Lederer, accusing them of rigidity and of grossly underestimating the average person's language skills. Pinker's book is a beautiful hymn to the infinite creative potential of language. Newbridge Book Clubs main selection; BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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