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The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of Th [Paperback]

Charles Yang
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

13 July 2010
A child's very first word is a miraculous sound, the opening note in a lifelong symphony. Most parents never forget the moment. But that first word is soon followed by a second and a third, and by the age of three, children are typically learning ten new words every day and speaking in complete sentences. The process seems effortless, and for children, it is. But how exactly does it happen? How do children learn language? And why is it so much harder to do later in life? Drawing on cutting-edge developments in biology, neurology, psychology, and linguistics, Charles Yang's The Infinite Gift takes us inside the astonishingly complex but largely subconscious process by which children learn to talk and to understand the spoken word. Yang illuminates the rich mysteries of language: why French newborns already prefer the sound of French to English; why baby-talk, though often unintelligible, makes perfect linguistic sense; why babies born deaf still babble -- but with their hands; why the grammars of some languages may be evolutionarily stronger than others; and why one of the brain's earliest achievements may in fact be its most complex. Yang also puts forth an exciting new theory. Building on Noam Chomsky's notion of a universal grammar -- the idea that every human being is born with an intuitive grasp of grammar -- Yang argues that we learn our native languages in part by unlearning the grammars of all the rest. This means that the next time you hear a child make a grammatical mistake, it may not be a mistake at all; his or her grammar may be perfectly correct in Chinese or Navajo or ancient Greek. This is the brain's way of testing its options as it searches for the local and thus correct grammar -- and then discards all the wrong ones. And we humans, Yang shows, are not the only creatures who learn this way. In fact, learning by unlearning may be an ancient evolutionary mechanism that runs throughout the animal kingdom. Thus, babies learn to talk in much the same way that birds learn to sing. Enlivened by Yang's experiences with his own young son, The Infinite Gift is as charming as it is challenging, as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking. An absorbing read for parents, educators, and anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of that uniquely human gift: our ability to speak and, just as miraculous, to understand one another.

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The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of Th + Analysing Sentences (Learning About Language) + Introducing Phonetics and Phonology
Price For All Three: 56.96

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (13 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451612990
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451612998
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Charles Yang teaches linguistics and psychology at Yale University. Trained as a computer scientist at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, he has written extensively on children and language and contributes articles to The London Review of Books, among other literary publications. He lives in Delaware with his wife, a frequent research collaborator, and young son, a frequent research subject.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars BOOK THE INFINITE GIFT 24 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My daughter uses this book to aid her with her studies at Uni. She informs me that so far it has been invaluable to her. Much cheaper than High Street Book Retailers very pleased with this purchase.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yanguage 28 Dec 2012
By meeps - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Charles Yang makes all the convolutions of Mentalism and Structuralist ideas understandable and clear in such a way that allows you to read other more convoluted books and articles with more ease. If you don't leave this book as a Generativist, you didn't read it right.
5.0 out of 5 stars Language is an infinite gift and Yang explains it infinitely well! 22 Jun 2013
By Rameez Rahman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really learned a lot from this book. I think this is the first book
that I have read, which explains in layman terms all the revolutionary
stuff that has been happening in linguistics for the last 50 years.

A must read for anyone interested in understanding how languages
function inside our brains, and how children acquire their particular
native language.
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