Lots of fascinating insight about the inner workings of the mind and deeper underlying logic in language. One interesting thing Pinker explains is the non obvious underlying logic that explains some grammatical irregularities; many irregularities obey consistent rules when you look one or two layers deeper into the logical functional categories of words or grammatical topologies. One of the great features of Pinker's writing is his precision and clarity in explaining complex ideas. You may have to listen back to some sentences a couple of times to parse all the info in it, but you'll find that his explanations are quite comprehensive, precise and concise. No sloppy metaphors or hand waving explanations here, just very satisfying "precision english."
I was excited about this book because I am a self-avowed "word geek", but ended up disappointed. This is really a philosophy book, with (sometimes) interesting reflections on how the brain and human nature affect the languages we speak.
While this would be a great book to read for an academic course, in my mind Pinker's writing did not possess the story-telling ability required to make the academic details of what he was explaining seem intuitive or compelling (a la "Blink" by Gladwell or "Freakconomics" by Dubner & Levitt).
The book does get more enjoyable after the first hour or two (I almost didn't make it), but the material covered there seemed less novel (e.g., the cycles of baby's names has been covered many times over in the pop-psychology genre).
This is a book that requires concentration. Pinker's discussion is highly technical, but very interesting.
Clear, articulate voice.
I am a retired Histology Technician. My time is spent caring for my grandchildren, my dog, cat, and blue & gold macaw.
I was very much looking forward to hearing more from Steven Pinker since having earlier listened to The Better Angels of Our Nature. Thank goodness I had not purchased The Stuff of Thought before having bought The Better Angels. I cannot find fault with either the narration or the writing of the book itself, but, can only say that this is more like a text book or thesis than I would have expected from my previous exposure to Mr. Pinker's work. This, I am afraid, was much too academic for me and though it imparted much about language and our learning and comprehension of the spoken word it simply bored me to no end. The author did not offer the insight and easily understood format which I expected. Still, I have nothing but praise for the oblivious research and knowledge Mr. Pinker brings to his work.
I did not get beyond the first hour of listening to this book. While the subject matter is very interesting to me, and it was written in a fashion to be easy to understand, as well as the narrator was doing a good job ...it should be read. It is enough like a text that listening just doesn't cut it.
I found the subject matter very interesting and thought that I would find relevant and relatively easily understandable information on what the topic purports to present. Unfortunately, I found this book very difficult to follow. I felt the writer spoke from his ivery tower of academic literature and never bothered to dissect the subject and explain it to an interested reader. I essentially lost my interest half-way through and didn't finish the book.
This book might be interesting to somebody studying linguistics. I tried a few times to come back to it, but my eyes just start glazing over after about 10 mins. Couldn't make it to the second half.