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After six months and nine days, I have finally finished this beast of a book.  It’s hard to say what it is that made this book take so long.  At 544 pages, it’s hardly the longest book I’ve recently read.  I do have a degree in Linguistics, so I can’t say the subject matter was over my head.  Maybe it’s just that this book is so packed with information, examples, quotes, and evidence that my brain felt a little overloaded every time I picked it up.  Because of that, I kept it in my purse, pulling it out over lunch, while traveling, while waiting for friends to show up, so on and so forth, until little by little, I came to the end.

And now that I’ve finished, I don’t really know what to say.  Some parts are wonderful – I’m partial to morphology and childhood language acquisition, so I flew through those pages.  Other parts barely held my interest, such as the attempted construction of speaking machines.  All in all, don’t have a strong opinion either way on this book.  It’s a worthy read for anyone with a strong interest in language or linguistics, but the average person will probably get bored.

Final rating: ★★★☆

[also posted here]

In any case, e lengeege weth e smell nember ef vewels cen remeen qeete expresseve, so we cannot conclude that a hominid with a restricted vowel space had little language.

The Language Instinct | Steven Pinker

English is a zany, logic-defying tongue, in which one drives on the parkway and parks on the driveway, plays at a recital and recites at a play. …George Bernard Shaw complained that fish could just as sensibly be spelled ghoti (gh as in tough, o as in women, and ti as in nation) – and that only institutional inertia prevents the adoption of a more rational, spell-it-like-it-sounds system.

Steven Pinker | The Language Instinct

In the speech sound wave, one word runs into the next seamlessly; there are no little silences between spoken words the way there are white spaces between written words. We simply hallucinate word boundaries when we reach the end of a stretch of sound that matches some entry in our mental dictionary.

Steven Pinker | The Language Instinct