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on 15 May 2017
I've had this on my 'to-read' list for many years and have only recently got to it. I read a lot of non-fiction, particularly science and business books. This one, however, while very good was hard work at times. While it's very informative and often challenges the way you think about language it's also laboured at times. It gets into a lot of details and technical information, and the author seems to love quoting long passages from others. With some judicious editing, you could cut one hundred pages or so and rather than lose anything the book would probably be better.
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on 4 April 2017
A well written book, with copious examples, of how language is used and how it is constructed. Pinker doesn't always agree with the status quo, but he gives some good reasons when he doesn't. But these details don't really impinge. The interest for me was in the sheer scope of the book's material. Well worth a punt if you are interested in that subject.
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on 28 May 2017
The condition of the book was excellent. I am very impressed with how fast I recived the item as well. However, the book didn't look the same as the image on this website but that is a minor issues considering how brilliant the condition is and how fast I recieved it. I would reccomend this book for anyone who is looking to go to university and study Psychology or linguistics. This is also on the suggested reading list for Oxford University in the UK.
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on 22 April 2017
Not convinced by his argument. Underestimates human creativity in language acquisition. Part of his arguement seems circular. Very interesting though with many good points and helps to frame the overall argument well.
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on 26 June 2017
I think I received another version but it's a good book
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on 28 May 2017
very good
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on 1 May 2017
A vivid presentation of how the human mind reacts to the language. Through series of varied chapters Pinker creates space for new discoveries about language functions and expresses their relevance. A very enticing read!
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on 17 March 2017
This is such a stimulating book.
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on 17 October 2014
Recommended reading in my psych undergrad degree. Really good, accessible reading. Not like reading a text book!
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on 19 January 2015
This proved to be an unsuspectingly vast book that had me from its premise of language being an instinct than an acculturated, learned trait: an idea more pervasive in the post-behaviorist world that surrounds us today. I am surprised at how new this book's arguments sound considering this is the twenty first year since its publication and the nature vs nurture debate still continue unabated ravaging intellectual pillars with fire and counter-fire. Clearly the think-tank on the other side of the fence has found more takers in the publishing and media world.

After dismantling many of the presumptions of and around "learning" language, I was then enticed by the patient anatomical dissection of language. Seeing words dismantled into syllables and phonemes, sentences into phrases prefixed with verbs, nouns and the vagaries of syntax: all this was my first sail into the great ocean of linguistics and I was glad to have Mr Pinker handling the ropes.

Being bilingual and a casual translator, I am now more able to describe the triple struggle of taking philosophical leaps (easy!), syntatical leaps (difficult) and philological leaps (impossible!) while translating that drains much beauty, wit and intended poetry of the parent language. I am grateful to Pinker for quenching my curiosity about the hidden semantic world of thinking about components of language and grammar. It was also a special delight to see him aligning these with the components of genetics using examples of families with dyslexia and specific language impairment. I was also impressed by his leap into evolutionary psychology where he posits the faculty of language to be an analogous (not homologous!) trait exclusive to humans as evidence corroborating evolution and spends many a page sniggering at the experiments involving adopted chimpanzees being hectored to communicate in sign language.

Before his ultimate essay on the existence of Universal Grammar and Universal People, there is a detour to take the cause of grammar pedants, and while this goes too long despite my shared exasperation with the author, I found myself mostly convinced by his evolution and neuroscience centered arguments for existence of language in all its complexity. Part of the charm is that by using biology in his explanatory models, he brings the world with all its languages and tongues, on one level-playing field and debunks many inter- and intra-cultural myths, legends, biases and prescriptions.

The book is not without his flaws: concepts sometimes overstay their welcome by ten pages too many, and the crowd of interlocking, entwined semi-theses, suppositions and research summaries on language usage and language instinct don't always gel into a cohesive whole. But Pinker writes with vigour, is a man of many ideas and as an introduction to his prolific later works where he expands on many of his theories, the Language Instinct is a good place to start.
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