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This Author: Steven Pinker
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Words and Rules by Steven Pinker

Words and Rules

The Ingredients of Language

by Steven Pinker

Title Details

Running Time
1 Hr. 9 Min.
User Rating
  4.0  Stars Based on 1 rating


Why does a three year-old say “I went,” then six months later start saying “I goed”? When you first heard the word “fax,” how did you know the past tense is “faxed”? And why is it that a baseball player is said to have “flied out,” but could never have “flown out”?

After fifteen years of studying words in history, in the laboratory, and in everyday speech, Steven Pinker has worked out the dynamic relationship – searching memory vs. following rules – that determines the forms our speech takes. In one of his final lectures at MIT Pinker gives the ultimate lecture on verbs, in a rich mixture of linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and a surprising amount of humor. If you’ve ever wondered about the plural of Walkman, or why they are called the Toronto Maple Leafs and not Leaves, this lecture provides answers to these and other questions of modern language.

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Words and Rules
Reviewer David McVeigh
 December 19, 2006
Plausible and clear explanation of the origin and persistance of irregular verbs in everyday speech. Surprisingly the verbs which are irregular in English are often irregular in many other languages. Surprisingly none of the new verbs being formed today are irregular, they all follow the standard regular pattern eg I google, I googled.

More Details

  • Published: 2002
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: W015586