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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

4.1 (571 )
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4.1 (476 )
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  •  
    Adu 06-22-15
    Adu 06-22-15
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    "Includes brief updates on each chapter."
    Any additional comments?

    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 (And it seemed that there wasn't much, of the 1994 material, that was really outdated.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    John 05-24-15
    John 05-24-15 Listener Since 2009
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    "makes me want to read more from Steven Pinker"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    words 01-11-15
    words 01-11-15
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    "nice background - field has advanced since publish"

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Samuel Aldrich Yokota AB, JP 12-17-14
    Samuel Aldrich Yokota AB, JP 12-17-14 Member Since 2017

    Samuel Aldrich

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    "Overly Detailed"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RI in Canada 11-07-14
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    "Too much detail in the middle"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-05-14
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-05-14
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    "Great Listen. Recommended it to everyone."
    If you could sum up The Language Instinct in three words, what would they be?

    It was a great book. I am a speech therapist so my interest in this topic would probably be greater than other listeners. It can not be stressed enough, the ability to use language is such a driving force, its is what makes is human. Why wouldn't everyone want to know more about it? The fair use doctrine get a bit bruised in the Great Courses on the same topic by borrowing so heavily from this book. I would recommend using this as a great source.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Language Instinct?

    I really like his viewpoint when discussing how monkeys have DNA that is 99% identical to human. His discussion on evolution was insightful. It really put it in prospective.


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

    IT was Fine. His frontal lisp (distortion of "s") was noticeable but not a distraction. I only mention it because others made a big deal about it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was a book I did not want to stop listening. But I am unique in my appreciation of his book. I think the average person who is interested in the topic would really like it. It get a bit boggy around chapter four. It's readability level might require someone to possess an undergraduate or graduate degree.


    Any additional comments?

    It does listen like a text book but is that bad?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Outback Archaeologist Australia 02-16-14
    Outback Archaeologist Australia 02-16-14 Listener Since 2008
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    "Narrators MUST Do Their Homework"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I'd originally read The Language Instinct about ten years ago, so I knew what to expect. My feelings about the book haven't changed - I think throwing out the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis completely and Pinker's ridiculous attack on the social sciences weaken an otherwise excellent book. I was pleased to see that this new version includes updates with the latest research.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Arthur Morey’s performances?

    Morey's performance was average at best. When reading a technical/academic text like this, mispronunciations of terms and the names of Amazonian and Australian Aboriginal peoples is unforgivable. 'Warrrlll-pearee' for Warlpiri (prounounced wall-PREE)? Really?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Riona Johannesburg, South Africa 06-21-13
    Riona Johannesburg, South Africa 06-21-13
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    "Interesting but more technical than expected"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This is a long book, and I found myself skipping forwards through sections as it does become quite technical in parts - more so than I expected.

    having said that, it is full of information, interesting anecdotes and case studies, but some of it is difficult to listen to (as opposed to read) given how complex the detail in parts


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick 05-22-13
    Rick 05-22-13 Member Since 2003

    Rick

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    "Books on language are best on audio"

    This is a reissue of a classic book from 1994. Arthur's reading is well paced with a calm manor allowing the listener to follow some intense sentence diagrams without the expected PTSD flashbacks from Mrs. Thomas' 8th grade English class. It is an enjoyable book, an interesting subject, precisely written, read well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Blake Portland, OR, United States 04-14-13
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Dense, slow, dry, technical and totally brilliant"

    I'm kind of conflicted about this book. On one hand, I had some serious difficulty managing to slog through it. Even in his more recent books, Pinker has a hard time making his information tell a story that holds the reader's interest (to his credit, he's gotten a little better in his last couple of books). This being an earlier work, you get to see him take nerd to a level you might not even realize existed without much in the way of charm or readability. His ability to get way too involved in over analyzing the mist insignificant details is both what makes him so fascinating and at the same boring beyond measure.

    With all that said, sometimes people are in the mood for actually understanding something. Nonfiction books are supposed to be educational, but too often they are dumbed down and simplified, which can be quite unsatisfying. Sometimes slogging through difficult material can give greater rewards than books that spoon feed and smooth out the edges. Sometimes the tangents that analyze minute details satisfy curiosities that might otherwise linger. Pinker certainly "leaves no stone unturned", as the cliché goes. The result is that I really feel like I learned something instead of reading fluff or unbalanced ideology. Pinker does spend a little too much time getting into the nerd version of pissing matches with his contemporaries, but this isn't the worst example of this I've seen from him.

    I've gone back and forth on whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I guess it's one book that can fit all over the rating scale for different reasons. But I am very glad I read it, and other people who like to get to the bottom of things will too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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