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. 21 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 21, 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 21, 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 21, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Language-Instinct-How-the-Mind-Creates-Language/.

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language | Chapter 2 : Chatterboxes | Summary

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Key Takeaways

  • All humans have language; no "mute tribe" has been found.
  • All language is complex, which lends support to the notion that language is instinctive, rather than learned through culture.
  • Children continually "reinvent" language even in the absence of instruction, need, or intelligence. It simply happens, suggesting that language is universally complex.
  • The use of creole by children in pidgin-speaking communities is an example of complexity emerging where none existed beforehand. A pidgin is a language used for communication between speakers of different languages for a specific purpose, often trade. A pidgin has a simplified grammar, a limited vocabulary, and no native speakers. A creole is a language that has developed from a pidgin to become a community's native language. It has a complex grammar and a full range of vocabulary.
  • When deaf children born to hearing parents have no access to language, they have difficulty acquiring language of the proficiency of a native speaker, lending support to the belief that there is a critical window of development for language learning.
  • Noam Chomsky reasoned that since children can correctly form questions that they have not previously been exposed to, the human brain has some innate means of learning language.
  • Victims of Broca's aphasia, who suffer damage to a specific part of the brain, lose language ability. This loss provides evidence that language is an instinct because instincts map onto specific places in the brain.
  • Studies of those with language proficiency but other cognitive deficits lend support to the notion that language is separate from intelligence.
  • The right genes and the correct functioning of specific parts of the brain are necessary to be proficient with language. Other factors, such as culture and education, are not necessary for complex language use.
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