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Pinker’s (1994) The Language Instinct

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Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science
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Linguistic nativism; Noam Chomsky; Psycholinguistics; Steven Pinker on language; Steven Pinker on universal grammar


A popular science text in evolutionary psycholinguistics asserting the innateness of language in humans and the theory that grammar reflects the linguistic organization of the mind.


The Language Instinct is a wide-ranging book on language by cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. The book gives an account of how the brain acquires and understands language and addresses various topics in linguistics and evolutionary psychology, such as the existence of universal features of language and the possible genetic basis of linguistic ability in humans. Throughout the book, Pinker asserts that the science of language can provide key insights into human cognition.

Pinker argues for a “nativist” view of language development, whereby the ability to acquire language is innate. On this view, humans possess a “mental module” specifically dedicated to...

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Correspondence to Ava Kiai .

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Kiai, A. (2018). Pinker’s (1994) The Language Instinct. In: Shackelford, T., Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-16999-6

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