Book Review: The Language Instinct

One of the things I was able to do on my holiday was catch up on some reading. I managed to finally finish a book someone gave me for my birthday, The Language Instinct. A friend gave it to me because they knew I was learning German at the time and thought it’d be a very appropriate read for me.

The book has an interesting premise, surmising that humans have an innate ability for language, much like other animals have other skills that are unique to them. Whilst other animals can communicate, the author describes many bits of research and points of views to help explain how people acquire language. Although the author talks predominantly about English, he does delve into a number of other language examples to demonstrate consistent approaches across people from different cultures.

I found a number of the facts and studies he cites really interesting – such as the ability for young children to formulate a consistent grammar by the time they are only four, even though no one has even taught them explicit rules. And that we lose our ability to learn new sounds and language fairly early, with one theory being that keeping that language learning ability isn’t particularly helpful from an evolutionary sense because we have enough of an ability to communicate. This is a pretty worrying thing about learning languages later in life.

A lot of his book is apparently based on a number of his other books, so now I’m quite keen to read a couple of them including, “How the mind works

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