Customer Review

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 23 July 2008
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This review is from: The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Paperback)
In all honesty, this is the first of Steven Pinker's books that I've read, coming to him roundabout through Noam Chomsky and a couple of other sources. It is a great book though, it has to be admitted, not what you would call a holiday pulp read.

If you don't have a background in linguistics (I don't but have a keen interest) then some of the early chapters about speech parsing, which form the foundation for much to come are (by necessity) fairly technical, and might be slightly heavy going. That said, even these parts are written lucidly and attempt to make the material more accessible to a wider audience, largely with some success.

Inevitably, the most accessible parts of the book come when talking about naming (with a slight crossover with Leavitt and Dubner's excellent Freakonomics) and swearing. There's a nice little sidestep in this chapter when Pinker starts by appearing to be squeamish about introducing the words under discussion before finally laying them out in all their "glory". Another section I found interesting was his critique of some of the alternative theories of language acquisition currently in circulation, where he managed to present many of the competing ideas in as fair a way as I think he could, though it was made clear where his own standpoint was.

If you have an interest in linguistics or some of the psychology surrounding it, then I think this book is one you should have no reservations about purchasing.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Feb 2009 18:05:49 GMT
R. Mayne says:
you are either Pinker himself or were reading a different book to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2010 17:20:37 BDT
ds says:
Seeing as I'm not Pinker, it's clearly the latter
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ds
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Location: Whitby, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,649