Darwin wins again.
Steven Pinker explains very clearly the theory of human language as a biological adaptation. And he teaches you a lot of related subjects along the way.
The way Pinker conveys knowledge to the layperson and the specialist at the same time reminds me of Carl Sagan. Pinker's book is very well written and makes you want to read more and more about the subjects involving human language. In contrast, I was reading one of Terrence Deacon's books about language and got stuck with his tiresome writing.
About the narrator, this was the second book I listened with Arthur Morey. Like in "The Better Angels of our Nature" his performance was flawless.
Yes, but it's 19 hours of audio!
Excellent book for the lovers of linguistics. And an excellent opportunity for those interested in knowing more about this subject without getting bored.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“The Language Instinct” explores the origin and mechanics of human language. The author, Steven Pinker, offers more than a dilettante wants to know about language mechanics. But, Pinker offers credible and interesting information about where human language comes from and how it evolves.
There are many digressions in Pinker’s book about mechanics of speech, language dialects, and specific language disabilities. He criticizes some writers for improper use of language and enlightens listeners about the teachings of Norm Chomsky.
Changes in human language, according to Pinker, are an evolutionary inevitability. The complicated process of language creation is always in a state of change.
Pinker delves into dialects of language that differ by population cohort, environmental interaction, and social interchange. Pinker argues for continuation of rule-making in language but discounts belief that rules should not, cannot, or will not change. Pinker infers language rules should keep pace with common understanding and clear communication.
I was initially concerned by the length of this book, being a sign that I was in for a tedious listen. How pleasantly surprised I was by this clearly written and interesting work. Fascinating look at how similar all languages are and how they evolve over time. Pinker shows that for the human species, language is instinctual. Highly recommended.
Pinker is a brilliant Harvard professor whose work is unconstrained by political correctness. This book is witty and insightful, and still current 20 years after first publication.
This is a great book that I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in not only language but science and human nature. But I WOULD NOT recommend listening to it in audio format. It's extremely hard to follow and I almost gave up several times. I'm overall quite happy with Audible, but listening to this book proved to me not only the obvious truth that not all books can be adapted to audiobook format, but that the judgement of whether a book can be adapted or not can be quite subjective. My answer to this question regarding this book is a clear NO, but I'm happy I finished it and I now actually really want to buy the paper version.
Pinker writes well. and for me that's often enough, but his subject knowledge and thoughtful arguments make a technical subject understandable and enjoyable
At the end of the book, there are brief updates, chapter by chapter, on more recent developments. (And it seemed that there wasn't much, of the 1994 material, that was really outdated.)
An excellent explication of evolutionary neo-Chomsky-aniism. A bit tedious in its minutia. Deliberately perhaps, to bring to mind Darwin's seminal work. Well worth a listen if you don't mind sleeping through some of it.
Important background to linguistics and cognitive science wrt language, though readers should follow up with more recent accounts of particular areas of interest (good suggestions in the afterward).