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The Language Instinct: How The Mind Creates Language (P.S.) [Kindle Edition]

Steven Pinker
4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (37 Kundenrezensionen)

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From Publishers Weekly

A three-year-old toddler is "a grammatical genius"--master of most constructions, obeying adult rules of language. To Pinker, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology psycholinguist, the explanation for this miracle is that language is an instinct, an evolutionary adaptation that is partly "hard-wired" into the brain and partly learned. In this exciting synthesis--an entertaining, totally accessible study that will regale language lovers and challenge professionals in many disciplines--Pinker builds a bridge between "innatists" like MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, who hold that infants are biologically programmed for language, and "social interactionists" who contend that they acquire it largely from the environment. If Pinker is right, the origins of language go much further back than 30,000 years ago (the date most commonly given in textbooks)--perhaps to Homo habilis , who lived 2.5 million years ago, or even eons earlier. Peppered with mind-stretching language exercises, the narrative first unravels how babies learn to talk and how people make sense of speech. Professor and co-director of MIT's Center for Cognitive Science, Pinker demolishes linguistic determinism, which holds that differences among languages cause marked differences in the thoughts of their speakers. He then follows neurolinguists in their quest for language centers in the brain and for genes that might help build brain circuits controlling grammar and speech. Pinker also argues that claims for chimpanzees' acquisition of language (via symbols or American Sign Language) are vastly exaggerated and rest on skimpy data. Finally, he takes delightful swipes at "language mavens" like William Safire and Richard Lederer, accusing them of rigidity and of grossly underestimating the average person's language skills. Pinker's book is a beautiful hymn to the infinite creative potential of language. Newbridge Book Clubs main selection; BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Pinker, a respected cognitive scientist at MIT, has given the nonstudent a bridge into the interesting yet still controversial world of linguistics and cognitive science. Here, under a rather heavy Chomsky influence, Pinker discusses, among other things, how language evolved, how children acquire and develop language skills, and why the English language and its spelling aren't as nonlogical as such critics as George Bernard Shaw have claimed. Written for popular consumption, Pinker's discussions of such complicated arguments and theories as the various, disputable universal grammars and languages of thought, Quine's gavagai, and the world of morphemes and phonemes are all painless to read. Examples are clear and easy to understand; Pinker's humor and insight make this the perfect introduction to the world of cognitive science and language. Highly recommended for all academic libraries and for public libraries with solid psychology and philosophy collections. Caroline Andrew


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15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Against the Relativist Grain 28. Mai 2000
I believe that some of the later reviews of "The Language Instinct" accurately reveal what generally is wrong with the positions taken here by the academic linguists who dismiss the book. Nobody points to the real problem behind these dismissals: not one of these linguists is willing to address the questions that lie at the heart of Chomsky's work in generative grammar and that instigated his work. These questions are (see p. 22, paperback ed.), and they are brilliant questions, never before asked: 1. How can we account for the fact that every human utterance is "is a brand-new combination of words?" 2. How do children, too young for formal instruction, master the essential grammatical structure of their native language? Chomsky's answer came to be generative grammar. The linguists, trapped by the Social Science Model they embrace, do not address these questions because they cannot and have no satisfactory explanation to put in its place. Until they can provide a different theory as powerful as Chomsky's they have no argument, only quibbles.
Yet having said that, I wonder whether Pinker is as successful as the enthusiastic reviews claim. Two kinds of comments, recurrent themes, as it were, suggest this. One criticism is that he presents speculation as fact. I can find not one example in 430 pages. One of the pleasures of reading this book (and it's a rare pleasure these days!) is Pinker's extremely careful use of language and his great care in weighing evidence, pointing out what is fragmentary and inconclusive but suggestive, and in telling us where he is speculating outright (as in chaps. 11 & 13). Why some reviewers misread so badly is related, I believe, to the second kind of objection.
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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Entertaining, but deceptive 31. Oktober 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Pinker sure is an engaging writer, and his varied pop culture references demonstrate that he is no dry academic. But beware that he also makes a living on misrepresentating "facts." For example, he discusses a deaf child with deaf parents, claiming that the child, whose parents learned Ameslan late in life, used his "language faculty" to correctly deduce the "right" grammar from his parents faulty data. This is highly misleading: in fact, the child still showed a good amount of error, and there was a strong correlation between the percentage of ungrammatical utterances from his parents and the child's. The higher their error rate, the higher the child's. So all the study really showed was that brains are excellent at finding patterns in a mess of data, *not* that the alleged LAD is a factor in fixing the child's syntax, as suggested by principles & parameters theory. But you won't get the whole story from Pinker. In fact, you get what seems to be a purposefully misleading one.

A couple other minor quibbles. First, the phrase structure grammar Pinker tentatively outlines is like none I've ever seen, or that any linguist would accept. I suspect that's because Pinker was trying to make PSG look more presentable and "natural" than the real thing. Then there's his statement: "Language is no more a social construct than walking." Basically, he uses this outrageous and unsupported comparison to toss out any functional or social aspect of a theory of language. This all stems from the rationalist ideal of social theories completely divorced from the environment they take place in.

Of course, for a staunch supporter of the Cartesian Chomsky, also at MIT, none of this is really surprising.
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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Stephen Pinker is a scream! 22. Mai 2000
I find it hard to believe sometimes that Stephen Pinker teaches at MIT. You mean some scientists do actually have a sense of humor? Anyone who reads this book had better have a great sense of humor, a love of the absurd, and a desire to really understand language. I'm in Science Education, not linguistics, but because I am deaf and studying how deaf people learn, it ends up with a lot of linguistic study in it. Usually the books from this lot of scientists are mind-boggling hard to get through, but not Mr. Pinker. If he teaches like he writes, then he must be a heck of a teacher! Mr. Pinker is also one of the few linguists who aren't devoted to ASL studies who includes information about American Sign Language that makes it clear that it is a real language in its own right. That alone would endear Dr. Pinker to the Deaf culture. This books takes all those difficult concepts concerning the innateness of language, and conveys them to the layman in an easy-to-understand way. He is never patronizing and always funny. I enjoy reading the book, which I often have to do since I use it in my papers a lot. To say Dr. Pinker's book is brilliant is a statement of fact. It's too bad some scientists in other fields couldn't take a cue from him and get a sense of humor! Karen L. Sadler Science Education, University of Pittsburgh,
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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Interested in science? You *must* read this book. 12. Dezember 1997
Von Ein Kunde
If you like lucid, entertaining, highly informative books on science, written by the scientists themselves, you must read this book. This is one of those books that makes me want to raid its bibliography, to learn so much more in greater detail. Not that Pinker doesn't provide detail. It's just that the subjects are so fascinating, and he surveys so many of them. I all of a sudden want to know more about aphasics, sign languages, hominid evolution, Chomskyan grammars, child development, "creole" languages, patients with Williams syndrome, evolutionary psychology, bonobos, and, believe it or not, the evolution of elephants. I am also eager to find rebuttals to his primary thesis--that language is an instinct of humans--precisely because he makes such a convincing case. A book that both William F. Buckley and Noam Chomsky can praise has got to be exceptional.
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Die neuesten Kundenrezensionen
5.0 von 5 Sternen sehr gut
Ich habe das Buch einige Male gekauft und verschenkt. das spricht für sich. Ich werde noch mal kaufen und verschenken.
Vor 18 Monaten von Dr. Maria Brockmann veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen Lesenswert Untertreibung des Jahres
Das Buch ist nicht nur in einer "ruhigen Minute" lesenswert. Pinkers evolutionsbiologischer Ansatz zum Spracherwerb gibt die Linien vor, an denen entlang die... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 22. Februar 2001 veröffentlicht
3.0 von 5 Sternen Durchaus lesenswert
Pinker geht die themen semantik und linguistik hier aus einer sehr erfrischenden sicht an. dadurch verliert er natürlich teilweise an wissenschaftlicher klarheit. Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 28. November 2000 veröffentlicht
4.0 von 5 Sternen An accessible approach to a difficult topic
I've had a long running interest in language acquisition and the study of linguistics, and have read many of the original works by authors like Chomsky. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 29. Mai 2000 von M. H. Bayliss
4.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating and entertaining book--convinces you he's right!
I have a strong interest in how language develops, and am fascinated with the debate about whether language is instinctive or learned. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 26. April 2000 von Suzanne Amara
4.0 von 5 Sternen When a "scientist" refuses to see what he sees
The Language Instinct is really well-written and enjoyable ... particularly if you are interested in linguistics and how people communicate and speak. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 14. März 2000 von Dial911book
4.0 von 5 Sternen engaging but polemical
This book is a good presentation of basic linguistics, theoretical and empirical, for the general reader. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 5. Februar 2000 von SeanG
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Wonderful Book
I have a ten year old daughter who is struggling to speak and so, when I saw an interview with Dr. Pinker on PBS, I was inspired to pick-up his book. It's been life-changing. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 4. Februar 2000 von "gstdsuz"
2.0 von 5 Sternen This is wit?
Perhaps it's a brilliant overview pushing speculation as fact, but I stopped reading after the introduction and skimming the first chapter. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 31. Januar 2000 von Eric H. Roth
4.0 von 5 Sternen beautifully written
I'm sorry I can't offer a better opinion on the accuracy of this book, which did seem to have something of an agenda when I read it. I'm not a linguist. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 23. Januar 2000 von Yoon Ha Lee
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