The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language


By (author) Steven Pinker

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 496 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 198mm x 24mm | 200g
  • Publication date: 30 March 1995
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140175296
  • ISBN 13: 9780140175295
  • Illustrations note: glossary, index
  • Sales rank: 32,899

Product description

Steven Pinker's "The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind" is a groundbreaking study of language's origins as an evolutionary adaptation. How do we 'know' how to speak? In his landmark book Stephen Pinker shows how language is part of our genetic inheritance rather than a cultural creation. From the DNA that builds our brains to the pontification of newspaper columnists, Pinker destroys the myths about language - that children learn to talk by copying their parents, that grammatical standards are in decline, that English defies logic - revealing the innate human instinct to communicate that we are all born with. "Reading Steven Pinker's book is one of the biggest favours I've ever done my brain ...highly accessible to the general reader yet at the same time seminal for professionals ...exhilaratingly brilliant". (Richard Dawkins). "An extremely valuable book, very informative, and very well written". (Noam Chomsky). "Brilliant...Pinker describes every aspect of language, from the resolution of ambiguity to the way speech evolved ...he expounds difficult ideas with clarity, wit and polish". ("Observer"). "Dazzling...Pinker's big idea is that language is an instinct, as innate to us as language is to geese. ..Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker's investigations". ("Independent"). Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for cognitive Neuroscience at MIT. Pinker has been awarded research prizes from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, graduate and undergraduate teaching prizes from MIT, and book prizes from the American Psychological Association, the Linguistics Society of America and the "Los Angeles Times". He is the author of "How the Mind Works", "The Blank Slate", "The Better Angels of Our Nature", and "The Language Instinct".

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Author information

Steven Pinker is a best-selling author and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for cognitive Neuroscience at MIT.

Editorial reviews

Language is an instinct. People know how to talk in more or less the same way that spiders know how to spin webs, claims Pinker, in this elegant book about language and its uses. He explains the origins of language and its evolution, the instinctive way we use it, and the relationships between 'proper' languages and slang, pidgins and other 'improper' versions. This is cutting-edge research made accessible for everybody, enlivened by case histories and amusing anecdotes. Science writing at its very best. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

An instinct to acquire and art; chatterboxes; mentalese; how language works; words, words, words; the sounds of silence; talking heads; the Tower of Babel; baby born talking - describes heaven; language organs and grammar genes; the Big Bang; the language mavens; mind design.