Scarlett Sims's Reviews > The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker
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Mar 16, 11

bookshelves: leisure, non-fic, science, scholarly
Read from February 26 to March 16, 2011 — I own a copy

I originally bought this book as supplemental reading for one of my linguistics classes, but didn't read the whole thing at that point. Then I saw Steven Pinker speak and so when I found this book at my parents house I decided to give it a go.

In the past, I have been known to down-rate scientific books if they are outdated. I am definitely interested in reading some of Pinker's more recent stuff but this book was great. I think one of his biggest strengths as a writer, speaker, and scholar is his knowledge of what people are interested in reading. While putting forth a serious theory (and I do classify this as science because of its basis in evolutionary biology) he uses humor and interesting examples to illustrate his points.

This book is geared to the non-specialist. There is a glossary in the back and lots of information that will be familiar to anyone who has taken an intro to linguistics class. I would like to read a book that takes the opposite view (if there is a recently written one--I really don't know about current developments in cognitive sciences); Pinker is pretty convincing but I don't like to hear only one side of a story.

One of my favorite chapters in the book was where he talks about "language mavens" and speaks out against prescriptive grammar. I used to be really into grammar and correcting people but a few years ago when I became a meta-snob (my own personal term meaning a snob about not being a snob) I stopped doing that so I enjoyed his criticism of "standard grammar."
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03/02/2011 page 160
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