The Language Instinct, How the Mind Creates Language
Steven Pinker, 1994

Chapter 1. An Instinct to Acquire an Art
[You and I belong to a species with a remarkable ability [to] shape events in each others brains with exquisite precision.] [Thinking of language as an instinct inverts the popular wisdom.] [But one of Darwin's followers, William James, ... argued that we have all the instincts that animals do, and many more besides; our flexible intelligence comes from the interplay of many instincts competing.] [So the story in this book is highly eclectic, ranging from how DNA builds brains to the pontifications of newspaper language columnists.]

Chapter 2. Chatterboxes
[There are Stone Age societies, but there is no such thing as a Stone Age language.] [The crux of the argument is that language is universal because children actually reinvent it, (Pinker's emphasis) generation after generation.] [The language that results when chilren make a pidgin their native tongue is called a creole.] [Bickerton notes that ... when English speaking children say

they are unwittingly producing sentences that are grammatical in many of the world's creoles.] [Let's do away with the folklore that parents teach their children language.]

Chapter 3. Mentalese
[People simply assume that words determine thoughts.] [Think about it. We have all had the experience of uttering or writing a sentence, then stopping and realizing that it wasn't exactly what we meant to say. To have that feeling, there has to be a "what we meant to say" different from what we said.]

Chapter 4. How Language Works

Chapter 5. Words, Words, Words

Chapter 6. The Sounds of Silence

Chapter 7. Talking Heads

Chapter 8. The Tower of Babel

Chapter 9. Baby Born Talking -- Describes Heaven

Chapter 10. Language Organs and Grammar Genes

Chapter 11. The Big Bang

Chapter 12. The Language Mavens

Chapter 13. Mind Design


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