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The Language Instinct: How The Mind Creates Language (P.S.) von [Pinker, Steven]
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The Language Instinct: How The Mind Creates Language (P.S.) 1 Reprint , Kindle Edition

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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


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2828 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 546 Seiten
  • Verlag: HarperCollins e-books; Auflage: 1 Reprint (14. Dezember 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0049B1VOU
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Screenreader: Unterstützt
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen 37 Kundenrezensionen
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #83.661 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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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,
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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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Format: Taschenbuch
For the educated layperson, this book is the most fascinating and engaging introduction to linguistics I have come across. I know some college students who had received xeroxed handouts of one chapter from this book, and these were students who were just bored of reading handouts week after week... but after reading just a few paragraphs from The Language Instinct, they were hooked, fascinated, and really wanted to read the whole book (and did). I wish I had come across such a book years ago...
If you've wished you'd taken linguistics, and never did, get this book. This one book will do it for you! Pinker is intelligent, but more importantly is a master of illustrative examples for the layperson. However, the text is never "dumbed-down" and can be a challenge to any reader.
I've read some of the other readers' reviews... unfortunately some focus more on applying academic thought-criticisims of his nativist viewpoint. Certainly, if you are coming from an academic bent, yes, I would agree that it would be a gross misrepresentation to say that Pinker presents the definitive state of the art in linguistics, or that all linguists think like he does... in fact, the critical reviewers are right, Pinker is but one linguist in one theoretical camp, the "nativist" camp, i.e. the theory that genes drive language and its acquisition in a task-specific manner. But so what? Pinker's theory is not what drives enjoyment of the book; it's the enthusiasm and skill with which he can introduce any reader to the topic of the study of language! : It's not dry! It's fun!
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Format: Taschenbuch
A well written a quite readable book.
Pinker's (and by extension, Chomsky's) evidence for Universal Grammar has been disputed by professional linguists for decades. Actually, for a thinking individual, coming up with counter-examples - which are sometimes quite easily produced - makes one wonder just how seriously anyone should take the nativist claims. For a short example (since this forum is not meant to be a forum for academic rebutal) on p. 30: Pinker claims a speaker of Standard American English (SAE) would never try the following contractions:
Yes he is! -> Yes he's!
I don't care what you are -> I don't care what you're.
Who is it? -> Who's it?
Pinker hints that one does not find these contractions in SAE since they violate rules of Universal Grammar which are part of the bioligical make-up of the mind! How astonishing, since I always thought the much more simple and elegant explanation would be that one does not contract a word which one wants to emphasize - in the first case, "Yes, he is!" is an affirmation of something previously thought not to be the case, and as such the "is" gets re-affirmed and highlighted.
But of course, I am a speaker of SAE, and didn't find the third example to sound that odd (Who's it?) Since I say it all the time when someone calls and someone else answers the phone and tells me that the phone is for me. Or if the phone isn't for me, I often ask "Who's that?"
I would suggest any reader, who takes the time, can come up with several counter examples on their own. Such as: Where is that? -> Where's that?
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