Fiche de lecture l'instinct du langage

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Book Summary

The Language Instinct
by Steven Pinker

Steven Arthur Pinker was born on September 18, 1954 in Montreal, Canada. He is specialized in cognitive psychology and famous for his workas an author, given his books are universally welcome both by scientists and general audience. We have to highlight the fact that his studies gave the biological basis to Noam Chomsky’s grammarconcept. He studied children’s language development, this way he brings up the notion of language instinct determined by natural selection. Pinker taught cognitive science at the MIT (Massachusetts Instituteof Technology) before teaching at Harvard since 2003.
The main point of this book is to demonstrate that language is not a human invention. According to Pinker, it can not be taught, and it is notgranted: it’s instinctive.
In order to prove it, he introduces a common language which is called Mentalese.
Mentalese is universal: everybody thinks the same way, we all use the same symbols for thesame ideas, but we express them differently. Thoughts come first, before words; that’s why concepts exist even before the creation of the word. For instance, S. Pinker gives us the example of theNewspeak of George Orwell where some words such as Freedom are banned but the notion still remains. Thus, a mental life is independent from language. He asserts human being can instantly transmit aconcept from a mind to another.
Then, he defines language duties and their working process. So we learn that…
Speaking a language means one can translate mind language into sequences of words and viceversa.
S. Pinker shows the language complexity explaining all the grammatical rules. These structures are so impregnated in our minds; we can’t conceive a sentence with tremendous grammatical mistakes,we can’t process it. It’s instinctive to mankind and explains why very young children already know the basic grammar rules.
S. Pinker agrees with Darwin’s evolution theory and assesses that people...