Words and Rules

Words and Rules : The Ingredients Of Language

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How does language work? How do children learn their mother tongue? Why do languages change over time, making Shakespearean English difficult for us and Chaucer's English almost incomprehensible? Why do languages have so many quirks and irregularities? Are they all fundamentally alike? How are new words created? Where in the brain does language reside?In Words and Rules , Steven Pinker answers these and many other questions. His book shares the wit and style of his classic, The Language Instinct , but explores language in a completely different way. In Words and Rules , Pinker explains the profound mysteries of language by picking a deceptively simple phenomenon and examining it from every angle. The phenomenon,regular and irregular verbs,connects an astonishing array of topics in the sciences and humanities: the history of languages, the theories of Noam Chomsky and his critics the attempts to simulate language using computer simulations of neural networks the illuminating errors of children as they begin to speak the nature of human concepts the peculiarities of the English language major ideas in the history of Western philosophy the latest techniques in identifying genes and imaging the living brain.Pinker makes sense of all of this with the help of a single, powerful idea: that language comprises a mental dictionary of memorized words and a mental grammar of creative rules. The idea extends beyond language and offers insight into the very nature of the human mind. This is a sparkling, eye-opening and utterly original book by one of the world's leading cognitive scientists.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 138 x 208 x 26mm | 394g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0465072704
  • 9780465072705
  • 190,829

Table of contents

1. The Infinite Library 2. Dissection by Linguistics 3. Broken Telephone 4. In Single Combat 5. Word Nerds 6. Of Mice and Men 7. Kids Say the Darnedest Things 8. The Horrors of the German Language 9. The Black Box 10. A Digital Mind in an Analog World
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Review Text

"[An excellent work of popular science."-Thomas Nagel, The New Republic
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Review quote

"A fascinating voyage of discovery."--Sunday Telegraph "Not only does Pinker breathe life into the topic, he makes the reading breathtakingly exciting."--Montreal Gazette "An intellectual joyride."--Globe and Mail "Compelling and revelatory."--Guardian "the book provides a scholarly, persuasive, enjoyable, and eminently readable account of important language phenomena."--Nature "[An excellent work of popular science."--Thomas Nagel, The New Republic
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About Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, a native of Montreal, studied experimental psychology at McGill University and Harvard University. He is a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker conducts research on languages and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, and is the author of eight books, including The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), The Blank Slate (2002), The Stuff of Thought (2007), and most recently The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011).
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Rating details

1,428 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 31% (442)
4 37% (526)
3 25% (361)
2 5% (76)
1 2% (23)
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