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Words and Rules Audiobook

Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language

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Audible Editor Reviews

"Deliciously erudite." (William Safire, New York Times Magazine)

Publisher's Summary

Steven Pinker, author of the landmark best sellers The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate - and one of the world's leading cognitive scientists - offers an eye-opening explanation of how human beings learn and use language in Words and Rules. First published in 2000, Words and Rules remains one of Pinker's most provocative and accessible books, illuminating the fascinating relationship between the brain, the mind, and how language makes us humans.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©1999 Steven Pinker. (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

"A riveting detective story." (Chicago Tribune)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Tristan 04-10-16
    Tristan 04-10-16 Member Since 2016

    Urban planner. Environmentalist. Geek.

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    "Amazing how much irregular verbs can teach."

    Wow - I was not expecting this book to offer so much insight on the human mind.

    The book answers a fairly mundane question: do regular and irregular verbs use different brain systems? He says yes. Irregular verbs, such as "go, went, gone" are memorized, like in a list. Regular verbs, such as "walk, walked, walked," are assembled using a rule—add -ed.

    It's not mundane, however, because the regular-irrugular split turns out to be just an example of two systems that are present in everything we do: one works by memorization and association, and one works by abstract rules. Anytime we want to categorize anything (which occurs in essentially any debate or discussion of any kind) we need to understand which system our words are based on. The consequences for how we think about meaning could be far reaching.

    You need to slog through a few chapters before this book picks up, so don't let yourself get turned away. Once he starts revealing the hidden reasons behind why we say "mice trap" but not "rats trap" and many other surprises in our everyday speech, it's pretty darn fascinating.

    I really appreciate that he gets into neuroscience in the later chapters and doesn't treat linguistics as a humanities fundamentally incompatible with other sciences.

    If you're a word or language nerd, you'll love this. If you're just interested in how the human mind works, you might be pleasantly surprised how much understanding human grammar can teach you.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex 01-26-16
    Alex 01-26-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating insight into language"

    and fantastic performance. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. Very insightful and accessible analysis of how our minds acquire and use language as well as the nature of language in general. Loved it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amr 11-20-16
    Amr 11-20-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Hard to follow & boring"

    Disclaimer: this review is subjective and may not be useful for your needs.

    I lasted an hour and a half before quitting this book. I'm someone who likes English but this book was so tedious that I couldn't stick with it even though I hate abandoning a book after I've started.

    The second problem is that the content is hard to follow when presented in audio form because you can't pause and contemplate a structure like you can when the page is in front of you. Pausing the audio and resuming is nowhere near as good. And so it's like trying to process an equation while trying to keep seventeen variables in your head.

    To that point, the book has a lot of illustrations that make it easier to understand the structures being referred to, but this being an audiobook, all you get is the narrator telling you to see the figure in the companion PDF.

    I don't know about you, but I listen to audiobooks specifically in situations when I'm not sitting down and doing nothing else and so repeatedly asking me to pause and fish out he PDF is infuriating.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 02-22-16
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 02-22-16 Member Since 2010

    audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.

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    "Ugh! This is a textbook!"

    This is so not meant for general listening! I have a good grasp on languages and have listened to several linguistic audiobooks that I enjoyed. Imagine an English high school textbook in audiobook form and that's what you have here. This book might be good to read, but it's so not meant to be listened to!!! Could not listen to more than an hour's worth.

    4 of 11 people found this review helpful

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