> Skip to content
Learnability and Cognition, new edition
Steven Pinker
  • Published: 24 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9780262518406
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512
Categories:

Learnability and Cognition, new edition

The Acquisition of Argument Structure



A classic book about language acquisition and conceptual structure, with a new preface by the author, "The Secret Life of Verbs."Before Steven Pinker wrote bestsellers on language and human nature, he wrote several technical monographs on language acquisition that have become classics in cognitive science. Learnability and Cognition, first published in 1989, brought together two big topics: how do children learn their mother tongue, and how does the mind represent basic categories of meaning such as space, time, causality, agency, and goals? The stage for this synthesis was set by the fact that when children learn a language, they come to make surprisingly subtle distinctions: pour water into the glass and fill the glass with water sound natural, but pour the glass with water and fill water into the glass sound odd. How can this happen, given that children are not reliably corrected for uttering odd sentences, and they don't just parrot back the correct ones they hear from their parents? Pinker resolves this paradox with a theory of how children acquire the meaning and uses of verbs, and explores that theory's implications for language, thought, and the relationship between them.
As Pinker writes in a new preface, "The Secret Life of Verbs," the phenomena and ideas he explored in this book inspired his 2007 bestseller The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. These technical discussions, he notes, provide insight not just into language acquisition but into literary metaphor, scientific understanding, political discourse, and even the conceptions of sexuality that go into obscenity.

  • Published: 24 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9780262518406
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512
Categories:

About the author

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is an experimental cognitive scientist. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won many prizes for his research, teaching, and his eleven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Enlightenment Now. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, one of Foreign Policy's 'World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals' and Time's '100 Most Influential People in the World Today'.

http://stevenpinker.com

Also by Steven Pinker

See all

Related titles