The Language Instinct: How The Mind Creates Language (P.S.) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Language Instinct Paperback – Oct 26 2000


See all 21 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback, Oct 26 2000
CDN$ 31.86 CDN$ 0.01

Join Amazon Student in Canada



Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 2000 edition (Oct. 26 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060958332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060958336
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #501,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
As you are reading these words, you are taking part in one of the wonders of the natural world. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on Oct. 13 2002
Format: Paperback
Steven Pinker's best-known book has some wonderful chapters, some so-so chapters, and a few that damage the credibility of the rest. Chapter 6 on how the sounds of spoken languages are formed is itself worth the price of the book. Chapter 2 on the grammatic differences between languages is fascinating. Chapters 4, 5, 7 and 8, which talk about grammar and its role in determining meaning, are well-meaning but become repetitive and obvious. When talking about Artificial Intelligence he is ill-informed and unaccountably pessimistic about future advances in the field. In Chapters 3 and 9 he proposes a "language instinct" and in chapter 10 a "grammar gene," but both hew to discredited Chompskian models and don't even try to establish any mechanism. In chapter 11 he dismisses the whole field of non-human communication in toto, citing such Christian apologists as Herbert Terrace. Instead he sets up a series of straw men, claiming that because that apes cannot master advanced grammar in human languages (undisputed), somehow this makes their mental processes unworthy of study. This contradicts his earlier claim, in chapter 3, that mental processes can exist quite independently of grammar and language. He apparently never even considers that non-human grammar may differ from ours. Worse, he doesn't even mention non-primate language research! 12 is a vitriolic dismissal of all his critics, and 13 falls into the common trap of describing evolution as "wanting to build" this or that, a common convention for which he could be excused if this were his only failing.
Throughout, Pinker maintains a breezy, readable tone full of pop-culture references - which unfortunately becomes infuriating when it's obvious he doesn't know what he's talking about.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
By glen cochrane TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 5 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading this from a language teacher's point of view, it's a great read. The book offers plenty to think think about, and even quite a few discussions about language that I've brought into the classroom for more advanced students interested in the topic of language.

Some of the grammatical sections near the beginning, although interesting, are quite logically spelled out, making for a more text book, dry reading. I would say, though, that Pinker does a nice job of explaining some of the misconceptions behind certain perspectives on the nature of language.

Later on in the book, there are quite a few enjoyable chapters and interesting insights into language. I didn't approach this book from an academic, or research perspective...so there might be legitimate concerns from the serious linguist angle. As a pleasure read, the book presents language with a lot of insights, igniting questions and thoughts in my own head, despite being long-winded in parts.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Danny Iny on June 12 2006
Format: Paperback
Steven Pinker has written a fascinating account of how language works; how we, as listeners, process the sounds that make up words and sentences in a way that allows us to extract meaning. The book is clear, entertaining and very accessible; Pinker's writing style is witty and engaging.

My appreciation of the book is not only as a reader and enthusiast of language, but also as a writer; despite having been writing for years, and having studied numerous books on writing style and technique, it is "The Language Instinct" that positively impacted my writing more than anything else that I've read; an understanding (at least a partial one - I'm no expert) of the way your words will be parsed by the brain of your reader can be very valuable in one's attempt to write clearly and well.

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning something new, and being entertained in the process.

Danny Iny

Author of "Ordinary Miracles - Harness the power of writing and get your point across!" (ISBN 1-4116-7252-6)
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Paperback
Insightful, interesting, and far-reaching. For a book on language, Steven Pinker has a lot of general information to offer, whether psychological, neurological, biological, or otherwise. He explores the idea of whether language is a biological instinct, like reproduction and predation are, albeit a more cerebral instinct than those others. Drawing on evidence from a number of psychologists, neurologists, linguists (namely, Noam Chomsky), and anthropologists, Pinker offers convincing support for the language instinct.
Prior to reading, I was warned that the chapters on descriptive grammar rules were torture, a linguist's overzealous and methodical approach to something that has become a complex science, but I actually really enjoyed those chapters... despite being a little harder to digest than the rest of this well-written book, Pinker's down-to-earth approach gives readers the basics and then branches out on them in a manageable and surprisingly interesting way. And this is what sets his books apart: he writes in an entirely accessible manner and has the talent to keep any reader interested.

Even when tackling the really big questions, Pinker keeps a steady and objective pen. I recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in just how and why humans learn language: the proposed answers are absolutely fascinating.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Product Images from Customers

Most recent customer reviews

Search


Feedback