The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language | Study Guide

Steven Pinker

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Course Hero. "The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 May 2020. Web. 23 June 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Language-Instinct-How-the-Mind-Creates-Language/>.

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Course Hero. (2020, May 1). The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 23, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Language-Instinct-How-the-Mind-Creates-Language/

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Course Hero. "The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language Study Guide." May 1, 2020. Accessed June 23, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Language-Instinct-How-the-Mind-Creates-Language/.

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Course Hero, "The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language Study Guide," May 1, 2020, accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Language-Instinct-How-the-Mind-Creates-Language/.

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language | Chapter 12 : The Language Mavens | Summary

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Key Takeaways

  • Prescriptive grammar is the "prescription" for how people should talk according to societal rules. Speaking according to the rules and norms of society results from instruction and modeling.
  • Descriptive grammar is how people do talk. It is the type of grammar studied by linguists. Humans need no instruction to know the rules of descriptive grammar; they are innate.
  • Many prescriptive grammar rules are inconsistent with the rules of descriptive grammar.
  • Standard English is no more sophisticated or logical than nonstandard English.
  • "Language mavens" underestimate the innate language abilities within every human being, and they are often ignorant of the rules of descriptive grammar.
  • Language does not decrease in complexity over time despite how it is used in society.
  • While spoken language is innate, written language is not.
  • Although language changes over time, the human mind does not. Therefore, language will continually be regenerated in all its complexity.
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