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The Language Instinct Audiobook

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"Pinker writes with acid verve." (Atlantic Monthly)

"An extremely valuable book, very informative, and very well written." (Noam Chomsky)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    damarques Brasília, Brazil 03-29-14
    damarques Brasília, Brazil 03-29-14
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    "Solid book about the nature of language"
    If you could sum up The Language Instinct in three words, what would they be?

    Darwin wins again.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Arthur Morey – was your favorite?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it's 19 hours of audio!


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent book for the lovers of linguistics. And an excellent opportunity for those interested in knowing more about this subject without getting bored.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-29-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-29-14 Member Since 2015
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    "HUMAN LANGUAGE"

    “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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 04-06-13
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 04-06-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Thought provoking and clearly written"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald P. Jane Covington, La USA 10-17-17
    Donald P. Jane Covington, La USA 10-17-17
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    "Willful and Deliberate Extinction of Mankind"

    This book could be the basis for a taught psychological thriller or a science fiction horror story. It describes, in quite explicit detail, the willful and deliberate extinction of mankind. Let me say right here in the beginning that the author does not consider what he describes as the extinction of mankind because he believes that everything that makes us human resides in our brain and that will inevitably be understood, mapped and duplicated in an AI neural network, consciousness included. Therefore he considers the resulting Super intelligent AI, albeit non-biological, as completely human and therefore mankind simply transformed from biological to non-biological. He even uses the theory of evolution to describe the transformation of mankind from biological to biotechnical and finally to completely non-biological. I disagree with him that such a change in mankind has anything to do with evolution because evolution is considered to be a process inherently void of any external or internal construction, direction, or influence by an intelligent agent. His stretch of the term evolution inserts into the normal process of evolution the development and final transformation of mankind from biological to non-biological, which is constructed, directed, and influenced by an external intelligent agent, man.

    The author seems quite comfortable with the process he describes in his book to the point that he has drastically modified his diet to try and ensure that he is alive when the early miraculous stage arrives so he may be technicnologically modified that he might live much longer than normal, and be cured of any biological deficiencies e.g., diabetes. He meticulously details how this process began, because it already has, but also how it will be supported and progressed and accepted by industry, the sciences, philosophies, and the majority of mankind, which is probably why the book is more than 500 pages or over 20 hours of narration. He has thought this out very extensively to the point of not just presenting his ideas but also addressing the critics of either parts of his plan or the entire plan. Furthermore he has not neglected to study and also detail the many societal institutions that are necessary to move this plan along. He notes that they already have thrown their support and money towards the current narrow forms of AI that will lead to the next acceptable stage and so on until it becomes too late to stop or take control of the process.

    There is an irony that pops up very late in the book of which I cannot tell if the author himself is fully aware. For the large majority of the book it is implied that incredible technological advances in the very near future will allow mankind to end many biological problems and diseases that will lead to an almost utopian existence. I want to impress upon you that I am heavily stressing the word "almost" in the previous sentence. The author never even comes close to explicitly expressing a utopian concept. However, and this is where the irony enters, he does stress the phenomenal benefit that this incredible soft AI will have on mankind in all areas philosophical, intellectual, medical, etc. areas of human existence. With the elimination of disease, via Nano-bot technology, various levels of biotechnical humans i.e., trans-humans or "enhanced humans," will continue the march towards a Super intelligent AI, that is, an AI that has not only equaled the intelligence of man but far surpasses the intelligence of man. This Super intelligent AI will be the point of no return, the same as crossing the event horizon of a black hole, which is why the word "singularity" is in the title. It will be fully autonomous able to replicate itself and to improve itself. This leads to the extinction of mankind in that only fully conscious technological AI far smarter than man can ever be will be in existence. However, are you ready for the irony, what his idea ultimately leads to is first the huge benefits to mankind in all areas, then to enhanced humans, and finally to completely technological Super intelligent machines, is a complete new set of problems and diseases, albeit technological diseases, also come into existence. These technological problems/diseases will also be autonomous and self-replicating which will force the new "machinekind" to create technology to fight these threats e.g., Nano-bot autoimmune systems, along with many other technological "medical" and "environmental" protection systems. All the author's idea accomplishes is removing all threats to biological humanity through extinction and replacing it with a completely technological entity with very similar, although completely technological, problems and technological diseases akin to that which it has replaced.

    This book, regardless the very detailed explanations, held my interest all the way to the end. It never became stale, static, repetitious, or dull and never even approached boring. The previous statement is true even though I do not support his so called "transformation" of man from biological to a Super intelligent non-biological entity. Once again the narration was superb and no doubt added to holding my interest in this lengthy material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Cronk 07-18-17 Member Since 2015
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    "You really have to be into language"

    I'm a big fan of learning all things tied into language and still this book took a lot to get through. He touches on all aspects, some of which I didn't think about and some I didn't care. The core of the book was very interesting but it really dragged on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jennifer R. Corbett DC 07-02-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Narrator is thoroughly mind numbing"

    The subject and content is fascinating. The narrator makes me want to scrape my nails down a chalkboard just so I have something interesting to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin 02-05-17
    Justin 02-05-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Phenomenal, Witty, and Unpretentious Introduction"

    Pinker's The Language Instinct remains accessible and relevant to anyone wanting to learn about language. He incorporates humor and deep knowledge of cognitive science to paint a clear picture of how and why the mind uses language. He dispels ridiculous myths and also points out the colorful expression the English language has to offer. Absolutely a must-read for anyone who wants to know or thinks they know about language and linguistics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Pike Indiana, USA 12-17-16
    G. Pike Indiana, USA 12-17-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Excellent book!"

    This book should be essential reading for writers of fiction and creators of constructed languages.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Coppolella Albert100 11-23-16
    John Coppolella Albert100 11-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    "An interesting comic and literally ingenious angle"

    Loved it. The author cleat and headgear on, barrels into the snakepit of language origins, acquisition, and evolution. I enjoyed this jaunt and will review the work here again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mapache New York 09-01-16
    Mapache New York 09-01-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Pinker is brilliant."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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