Read Words and Rules: The Ingredients Of Language by Steven Pinker Free Online
Book Title: Words and Rules: The Ingredients Of Language|
The author of the book: Steven Pinker
Edition: Basic Books
The size of the: 815 KB
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Date of issue: July 14th 2015
ISBN: No data
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Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 6.4
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Steven Pinker's work is generally very readable, and so he has become something of a champion popularizer of linguistics and all the fun, quirky, nifty tidbits of knowledge that come with the field. Unfortunately, he also does two things that annoy the hell out of me:
1) He writes from a controversial position as if it were the only view,
2) He had one good idea a few decades back, and has proceeded to spin it out into a small cottage industry involving a number of volumes and essays; in reality, he wrote one book six or seven times.
Words and Rules is, in my mind, the most fun of the lot, mainly because it introduces some pretty fundamental linguistics concepts in clear, accessible language and effectively blows the mind of the lay reader. What could be better than that? Other books, like The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate delve more deeply into his affiliation with Noam Chomsky's ideas of Universal Grammar and the innate human tendency toward language production, or the dubiously named/conceived "Language Acquisition Device." I recommend these latter two only in conjunction with critical, post-Chomsky work on universalism and language development.
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Read information about the authorSteven Arthur Pinker is a prominent Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science. Pinker is known for his wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, and most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.
He was born in Canada and graduated from Montreal's Dawson College in 1973. He received a bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from McGill University in 1976, and then went on to earn his doctorate in the same discipline at Harvard in 1979. He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a year, then became an assistant professor at Harvard and then Stanford University. From 1982 until 2003, Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and eventually became the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. (Except for a one-year sabbatical at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995-6.) As of 2008, he is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard.
Pinker was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy's 100 top public intellectuals in 2005. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Newcastle, Surrey, Tel Aviv, McGill, and the University of Tromsø, Norway. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. In January 2005, Pinker defended Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, whose comments about the gender gap in mathematics and science angered much of the faculty. On May 13th 2006, Pinker received the American Humanist Association's Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.
In 2007, he was invited on The Colbert Report and asked under pressure to sum up how the brain works in five words – Pinker answered "Brain cells fire in patterns."
Pinker was born into the English-speaking Jewish community of Montreal. He has said, "I was never religious in the theological sense... I never outgrew my conversion to atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious cultural Jew." As a teenager, he says he considered himself an anarchist until he witnessed civil unrest following a police strike in 1969. His father, a trained lawyer, first worked as a traveling salesman, while his mother was first a home-maker then a guidance counselor and high-school vice-principal. He has two younger siblings. His brother is a policy analyst for the Canadian government. His sister, Susan Pinker, is a school psychologist and writer, author of The Sexual Paradox.
Pinker married Nancy Etcoff in 1980 and they divorced 1992; he married Ilavenil Subbiah in 1995 and they too divorced. His current wife is the novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. He has no children.
He is currently working on an upcoming book about the evolution of human morality, specifically focusing on "the historical decline of violence and its psychological roots" as stated by the author himself on the Harvard website.
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