Synopses & Reviews
How does language work? How do we learn to speak? Why do languages change? Why do they have so many quirks? What does language reveal about the mind?
Steven Pinker explores the mysteries of language in this original and hugely entertaining book. Pinker uses a deceptively simple phenomenon—regular and irregular verbs—to illuminate an astonishing array of topics: the history of languages, what we can learn from children's grammatical mistakes, the genetic and neurobiological underpinnings of language, and some of the major themes in Western philosophy. The key idea—that language comprises a mental dictionary of memorized words and a mental grammar of creative rules—extends beyond language, offering insight into the nature of thinking. For fans of The Language Instinct and The Stuff of Thought, here is another cornucopia of ideas about language and mind.
“Deliciously erudite.” —William Safire, New York Times Magazine
“A riveting detective story.” —Chicago Tribune
Steven Pinker, author of the landmark bestsellers The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate—and one of the worlds leading cognitive scientists—and offers an eye-opening explanation of how human beings learn and use language in Words and Rules. First published in 2000, Words and Rules remains one of Pinkers most provocative and accessible books, illuminating the fascinating relationship between the brain, the mind, and the how language makes us human.
About the Author
The Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Steven Pinker has been named one of Timemagazine's "Hundred Most Important People in the World Today," and has been awarded numerous prizes for his research, teaching, and books. He is the author of six books, including How the Mind Worksand The Blank Slate(both Pulitzer Prize finalists and winners of the William James Book Prize), as well as Words and Rulesand The Stuff of Thought. He is a frequent contributor to Time, The New Republic, and the New York Times.