The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind

Front Cover
Penguin, 2000 - 548 pages
Simply by making noises with our mouths, we can reliably cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other's minds. The ability comes so naturally that we are apt to forget what a miracle it is. Pursuing the ideas of Darwin and Chomsky, Steven Pinker offers a look at why we use language and where this ability comes from. Rather than being an acquired cultural artefact, it is vigorously argued that language is a biological adaptation to communicate information and as such is a system of great richness and beauty. Using examples of the way language is used in daily life from the mouths of children to the pontifications of politicians, Pinker explores this system and our instinct to use it.

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User Review  - mrgan - LibraryThing

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. Read full review

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User Review  - Razinha - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

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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