Reading Records

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.


The Return of the Kosher Pig: The Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought by Rabbi Itzhak Shapira

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pages: 335, with glossary, recommendations for related books and even a couple sleeves for notes.
Book on Amazon

Warning: This book is not for the everyday average reader, let alone the average Christian (if there is such a thing.)  Though I argue that this is an excellent book, filled with a plethora of information and details beyond your wildest dreams– a lot of the information goes well above a reader’s head , dealing with traditional rabbinical views, jewish thought & jewish theology that are well beyond the scoop of a “normal read.”

But despite that warning–this book is very intriguing.  It is written by a messianic rabbi *see author above* who discusses how he grew up in  Jewish community in Israel and wants to point from a Jewish prescriptive proof that Jesus was the Messiah found within the Scriptures.  He uses traditional jewish defense and refers to several rabbinical texts to provide proof of his argument about Yeshua (Jesus–he specifically uses this term as he wants to distinguish in this book the Jewish aspects.)

Again I want to emphasize there is A LOT of information in this book. Rabbi Shapira provides several examples of how rabbis interpret certain Messianic scripture, record discussions about the authority, teachings and definition of how Jesus is the claimed Messiah of the Scriptures.  He even refers to rabbis that state truths but then sacrifice their teachings for human agreements to dispute Messianic claims.

There are some claims that go a little beyond standardized thinking… discussions about jewish numerology (there is another term for this but I figured I would simplify it) and how certain messianic affiliated verses add up to the same figured and (as the author argues) gives more support to Jesus as the Messiah.  Thought I do not argue against Jesus as Messiah… I do not think you need every little ounce of defense, including the mystical aspects of belief.  Interesting…but not necessary.

Otherwise, this is an excellent, well documented and informed book about the Messiah in Jewish thought.  Thought it was not written for most believers, I do think any believer could benefit from a reading of this book.

The Atoms of Language: The mind’s Hidden Rules of Grammar by Mark Baker

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Kindle Edition: 276
Amazon Link: The Atoms of Language

For those of you like me who are interested in how language works and functions, this is an excellent book to get started with.  The book makes the analogy that just as there is a periodic table for the elements in chemistry, there is a “table” of sorts that linguists are putting together that can categorize and structure languages of the world.  Baker discusses how linguistics are forming “parameters” that separate languages from others (usually associated with the subject location, verb, placement of words and verb phrases.)  Bakers implies that these parameters help categorize and structure language as a whole more efficiently than country of origin or cultural difference associated with each language.

Mark Baker does an wonderful job of making linguistics readable for the average person–and yet not sacrificing terms, definitions and examples from the field of linguistics.  Examples include associates between Japanese, English, French, a native-american language from the Iroquois, Mohawk, and discusses other unique languages that one may not readily think of when discussing tongues of the world.

A basic knowledge of English grammar and syntax would be necessary for understanding this book, along with perhaps knowledge of another language other than your own since some topics make sense with some bi-lingual knowledge base.