My brother handed this book to me a few months back and suggested that it would be right up my alley since I am a writer, an English major, and fascinated with words and language. He was right!
The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker is a great read.
For instance, did you know that “virtually every sentence that a person utters or understands is a brand-new combination of words, appearing for the first time in the history of the universe.”
Here’s another thought…
“We have all had the experience of uttering or writing a sentence, then stopping and realizing that it wasn’t exactly what we meant to say. To have that feeling, there has to be a ‘what we meant to say’ that is different from what we said.”
I’ve collected quite a few passages from this book that I will be adding to my commonplace book. Sorry that I haven’t been updating that site much lately. I plan on getting back to it real soon.
I need to add this book to my Recommended Reads list. Pinker does such a great job of explaining how language works and how it change throughout time. He believes that language is a human instinct and by the end of the book, you probably will too.
I also love how he gives credit to rappers for helping evolve language.
“When given a glimpse into one of these lexicons, no true language-lover can fail to be dazzled by the brilliant wordplay and wit:
from medical students (Zorro-belly, crispy critter, prune)
rappers (jaw-jacking, dissing)
college students (studmuffin, veg out, blow off)
surfers (gnarlacious, geeklifed)
and hackers (to flame, core-dump, crufty)”
He then further adds, “I don’t know how I ever did without… to dis (express disrespect for)”
A language expert that acknowledges hip-hop and its vast influence. How could I not love this book?