The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker

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Pages: 525 (everything… so more like under 500 reading) published in 1994 originally. Keep this in mind as some of the technology has advanced massively. Maybe for the 20th anniversary there will be an update with that.

Moving into more linguistic books, this is probably the next most important book that someone should read if studying Linguistics.  It is another topic at the cutting edge of linguistic study.  Pinker believes that language is a human instinct.  He travels into each aspect of linguistics starting with.Syntax and and moving through etymology.  He also indicates that there are some basic inheritant understandings that help define why we park on driveways and drive on parkways.  It is a jam-packed book filled with stories about how language is crated and adapted over time–something unique to explore and to understand. Pinker also includes chapters about phonetics, how speech with works with language and what is known up to the time of publishing about how the brain, language and speech all work together.

The book is a little daunting.  It is not meant for the “lay” reader  and definitely directed towards adults. In fact, I would consider it more for a classroom, as there are sets of text that are more formatted for such structure than for “casual” reading.  (of course your definition of causal reading may include university level text books, who knows?)  There is SOO much material to go through, all related just lots of information.  It would be comparable to get a history and development of AIDS research because its extensive, involves a lot of everyday “unnoticed” actions as well as very medically detailed descriptions.  However, in no way is the topic depressing or disappointing–its interesting to think of how different accents even provide rules and guidelines of how to say “ride’ and “write.”

Overall, 4 stars. Unique material, plenty of information, easy to understand but still an overwhelming amount of details.

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