In this classic, the world’s expert on language and 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, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution.
The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.
©2011 Steven Pinker (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Pinker writes with acid verve." (Atlantic Monthly)
"An extremely valuable book, very informative, and very well written." (Noam Chomsky)
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.
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).
If you're a English Major or language major in general, you might like this book. Otherwise, you're will to listen will me smashed in by this book's huge list type example methodology.
I'd give it a mixed review. The book has many details at the level of morphemes that are pretty hard to listen to, but I know I'd never have finished the book reading. Some of the data is dated (e.g. genome mapping, brain hemisphere stuff), which does reduce the credibility of some of the arguments. He also seems to be pretty selective in cherry-picking data to support his ideas. Still though, I learned a lot and enjoyed most of it.
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