The Stuff of Thought
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker
I received this examination copy from the publisher (Viking/Penguin Group, 2007) some months ago, having heard the author speak with Steve Paikin on The Agenda. There, I was entranced. I have picked up this book countless times and cannot get into it. I don't think I'm too stupid: I have several linguistics and psychology courses under my belt; I have a facility with languages; I teach grammar and Latin. But I could not get into the text. I thought it was interesting when Pinker discussed sociological case study results, but everytime he delved into deeper linguistic exploration, something was wanting. For instance, in Chapter Three's discussion of the finer nuances of nativism, I understood the discussion of monomorphemism up to the last 10%, and then he would push the content over the edge to abstraction that just isn't accessible to the layperson. It is a shame, because his areas of study are interesting and I really wanted to keep reading and learning, but after several months, I have given up.
If you have enjoyed this book and feel I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, please post a comment; or let me know if you agree with me.
photo credit: Rebecca Goldstein