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16 July 2007

Steve's New Book

If I haven't been forced to sell my car and my laptop just to pay for food by then, I have now put 27th September into my calendar (along with 2nd September (Keanu's birthday) and 21st September (my Indian summer holiday)) because Steve Pinker's new book, Stuff of Thought: Language as Window into Human Nature is published then.

I am a big Pinker fan: one of the highlights of my current job was receiving an email from him as he is on the editorial board of the journal for which I work, along with (according to his CV) the Board of about 30 other journals). I devoured all of his books and as many of his papers as I could get my hands on during my undergraduate years but now that my Athens account has been dead for almost a year, I have been forced to re-read The Language Instinct (yet again!) and How the Mind Works. The Amazon synopsis is as follows:

"The Stuff of Thought" is an exhilarating work of non-fiction. Surprising, thought-provoking and incredibly enjoyable, there is no other book like it - Steven Pinker will revolutionise the way you think about language. He analyses what words actually mean and how we use them, and he reveals what this can tell us about ourselves. He shows how we use space and motion as metaphors for more abstract ideas, and uncovers the deeper structures of human thought that have been shaped by evolutionary history. He also explores the emotional impact of language, from names to swear words, and shows us the full power that it can have over us. And, with this book, he also shows just how stimulating and entertaining language can be.


Basically, it sounds like an extension of The Language Instinct but given that is one of the best written and most popular linguistics books ever, who says you can have too much of a good thing?



2 comments:

  1. "The Stuff of Thought" is an exhilarating work of non-fiction. Surprising, thought-provoking and incredibly enjoyable, there is no other book like it - Steven Pinker will revolutionise the way you think about language. He analyses what words actually mean and how we use them, and he reveals what this can tell us about ourselves. He shows how we use space and motion as metaphors for more abstract ideas, and uncovers the deeper structures of human thought that have been shaped by evolutionary history. He also explores the emotional impact of language, from names to swear words, and shows us the full power that it can have over us. And, with this book, he also shows just how stimulating and entertaining language can be."

    This sounds quite a joyful reading, and something I'd be interested in, I've never heard of this person, but I want to know more?

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  2. Steve Pinker is a Harvard-based cognitive scientist who studies language and the mind: how we acquire language, how we use it and how it is represented in the mind/brain. There is some information about his current research here (http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/research/index.html) but if you're interested, I'd recommend his most famous book, The Language Instinct, which is very detailed but also very accessible (it's very well written and with plenty of analogies) if you don't know much about the field.

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