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The Language Instinct Summary

4 min read ⌚ 

The Language Instinct SummaryMicroSummary: Aimed at the general public, Steven Pinker’s “The Language Instinct” builds upon Noam Chomsky’s and Derek Bickerton’s theories and presents a cogent argument for a genetically preprogrammed short-termed capacity of the human brain to acquire and use language.

How the Mind Creates Language

Ever wondered how you are able to comprehend this sentence so effortlessly? If not – here’s your chance to. If so – you’ve probably never gone further than Steven Pinker.

And “The Language Instinct” is his magnum opus. Consequently, it’s also one of the ultimate classics in the field.

About Steven Pinker

Steven PinkerSteven Pinker is a Canadian cognitive psychologist and linguist. A psychology professor at Harvard, he is revered among the general population for his ability to convey complex ideas in simple language. He has written such classics as “The Stuff of Thought,” “The Blank Slate,” “Words and Rules,” and “How the Mind Works.”

“The Language Instinct Summary”

We’ve already featured some of the books which have attempted – and sometimes successfully managed – to answer life’s and universes’ most difficult questions. However, none of them tried – let alone succeeded – to explain how human language came to be.

Even though the development of language is rightfully considered “one of the most significant points in human history.”

Well, in “The Language Instinct,” Steven Pinker tries to fill this void. Not only by summarizing other people’s achievements – Noam Chomsky and Derek Bickerton in particular – for the general public, but also by introducing few original and still controversial ideas.

And Pinker decides that the best way to start is by refuting some of the more prevailing theories. Such as, say, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, which you probably know from the movie “Arrival.”

This hypothesis states that language has an effect on your worldview as well, and it has stemmed some self-help movements such as NLP.

However, Pinker shows that it’s scientifically unsound. First of all, it’s not even properly researched by the amateur scientists who postulated; and, secondly, it doesn’t take into account many things, such as creoles and pidgins, or even deaf and mute people.

In Pinker’s opinion, it’s almost the other way around. For humans, language is something evolution naturally produced, since language-usage is inherent to the human nature.

Or, to put it in even simpler terms, it’s an instinct.

This means that we should stop considering language a skill – as we do, for example, writing. There are many societies which didn’t develop writing systems, but none which lacks a language.

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