Language As A Window Into Human Nature


Language As A Window Into Human Nature

Cognitive and TED collaboration

About the speaker

Ray Laurence

Steven Pinker is a Canadian experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is also the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. 

The big issue

Why don't we just blurt out what we mean? Why do we veil our intentions in innuendo hoping for our listener to read between the lines and infer our real intent? Why are bribes, requests, seductions, solicitations and threats so often veiled when both parties presumably know exactly what they mean? Steven Pinker delves into the human mind to discover how it turns the finite building blocks of language into infinite meanings.

Read the book

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

Steven Pinker de-mystifies the frankly baffling ways in which humans use metaphor and indirect language to inform, persuade, entertain or manipulate. Why do we so rarely say what we actually mean and how can a misplaced metaphor start a war? Why do some children’s names thrive, while others fall out of use? Steven Pinker looks at how the relationship between words and thoughts can help us understand who we are.

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