Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Reading Group Lite

For anyone following the reading group at large, just an update that our next discussion will be a bit on the lighter side – with two of our members travelling, and with me preparing two dissertation-related presentations, this seemed a good time to relax a bit. Our next discussion, therefore, won’t take place until the end of the third week in November, when G. Gollings has offered to get the discussion started online. As mentioned previously, the work is Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct – a very light, fairly easy read that summarises Pinker’s specific take on the cognitive science of language acquisition. I’m personally midway through the book, and I can make two very general comments that will not, I think, pre-empt the “official” reading group discussion:

(1) Unlike our previous selection, this work passes the toddler test. (This may sound like a small matter, but you try reading Austin’s How to Do Things with Words while hiding the book under blankets and behind other books, because your son goes ballistic every time he so much as sees the spine…) My son warmed to this selection immediately, wandering over curious: “Whazzat?”

“That’s a book by Steven Pinker,” I explained, holding out the book for inspection and pointing to the picture of Pinker on the back cover.

“Ahhhhh,” my son said, nodding and giving me a knowing smile, “Tevin Pinkuh! Veeery gooood!”

The side effect of this, of course, is that I’ve now had to read large portions of this book out loud, pausing at regular intervals to share our mutual admiration for the various diagrams inside. “Tri Angles!” my son says helpfully. Triangles indeed.

(2) Much of the material in this book is actually very familiar to me – but this would be because I decided that cognitive science was essential reading while preparing for the birth of my son: after all, how could one possibly parent without knowing knowing this stuff? ;-P

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