Words and Rules

  • by Steven Pinker
  • Narrated by Arthur Morey
  • 13 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Steven Pinker, author of the landmark best sellers The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate - and one of the world's leading cognitive scientists - offers an eye-opening explanation of how human beings learn and use language in Words and Rules. First published in 2000, Words and Rules remains one of Pinker's most provocative and accessible books, illuminating the fascinating relationship between the brain, the mind, and how language makes us humans.

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Audible Editor Reviews

"Deliciously erudite." (William Safire, New York Times Magazine)

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What the Critics Say

"A riveting detective story." (Chicago Tribune)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Amazing how much irregular verbs can teach.

Wow - I was not expecting this book to offer so much insight on the human mind.

The book answers a fairly mundane question: do regular and irregular verbs use different brain systems? He says yes. Irregular verbs, such as "go, went, gone" are memorized, like in a list. Regular verbs, such as "walk, walked, walked," are assembled using a rule—add -ed.

It's not mundane, however, because the regular-irrugular split turns out to be just an example of two systems that are present in everything we do: one works by memorization and association, and one works by abstract rules. Anytime we want to categorize anything (which occurs in essentially any debate or discussion of any kind) we need to understand which system our words are based on. The consequences for how we think about meaning could be far reaching.

You need to slog through a few chapters before this book picks up, so don't let yourself get turned away. Once he starts revealing the hidden reasons behind why we say "mice trap" but not "rats trap" and many other surprises in our everyday speech, it's pretty darn fascinating.

I really appreciate that he gets into neuroscience in the later chapters and doesn't treat linguistics as a humanities fundamentally incompatible with other sciences.

If you're a word or language nerd, you'll love this. If you're just interested in how the human mind works, you might be pleasantly surprised how much understanding human grammar can teach you.
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- Tristan "Urban planner. Environmentalist. Geek."

Ugh! This is a textbook!

This is so not meant for general listening! I have a good grasp on languages and have listened to several linguistic audiobooks that I enjoyed. Imagine an English high school textbook in audiobook form and that's what you have here. This book might be good to read, but it's so not meant to be listened to!!! Could not listen to more than an hour's worth.
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- Benoibe "audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-04-2015
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio