Sunday, July 15, 2012

BOOK BRIEF: "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker serves as tour guide through syntax and language development to support his most compelling claims that all infants come into the world with linguistic ability and that grammatical rules are senseless, as they are concocted arbitrarily and perpetuated pointlessly.

The Language Instinct launches from the deep structure linguistic  theory of Pinker's MIT colleague, Noam Chomsky, to suggest that language is indeed hard wired in the brain but that it is also learned, evolving over millennia and differentiating through forces of mutation, heredity, and geographical isolation.

The book reviews the function of phonemes, morphemes, words, sentences, and alphabets with a good portion examining syntax and semantics in combination. The insights a casual reader will gain from this book will result only from a careful, sometimes painstaking, study of Pinker's dense prose, which he often peppers with humor.