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The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (P.S.) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. September 2007

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Simply by making noises with our mouths, we can reliably cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other's minds. The ability comes so naturally that we are apt to forget what a miracle it is. Pursuing the ideas of Darwin and Chomsky, Steven Pinker offers a look at why we use language and where this ability comes from. Rather than being an acquired cultural artefact, it is vigorously argued that language is a biological adaptation to communicate information and as such is a system of great richness and beauty. Using examples of the way language is used in daily life from the mouths of children to the pontifications of politicians, Pinker explores this system and our instinct to use it. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

One of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World Today," Steven Pinker is the author of seven books, including How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate—both Pulitzer Prize finalists and winners of the William James Book Award. He is an award-winning researcher and teacher, and a frequent contributor to Time and the New York Times.

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16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Gerald L. Trett am 28. Mai 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
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 Von Ein Kunde am 31. Oktober 1998
Format: Taschenbuch
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 Von K. L Sadler am 22. Mai 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
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, klsst23@pitt.edu
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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Ein Kunde am 12. Dezember 1997
Format: Taschenbuch
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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