Steven Pinker on What Our Language Habits Reveal

I’ve heard it said more than once that grammar and learning the intricacies of a language can be boring. I guess it’s safe to assume that you don’t think the same way. (At least I hope I am right!)

Earlier this week, I was working on another piece about TED talks. I don’t know if you’re familiar with TED, but the premise is to invite select speakers to speak to a limited audience, with the condition that the talk is focused on something inspiring related to the work the speaker has done. Since its inception in 1984, TED has grown phenomenally. Thousands of talks have been held, not counting those from independent events called TEDx. To learn more about TED, visit their site.

So why did I start a grammar guide entry with TED? While writing that piece, I found myself – unsurprisingly – browsing the immense collection of talks. Just as unsurprisingly, at some point, I was looking at talks related to language and grammar.

When I saw the title “What Our Language Habits Reveal”, I knew I had to watch the talk, and I as I watched and listened, I also knew I had to share it with all of you.

Steven Pinker is a man of many hats: experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. This particular talk of his, given sometime in 2007, takes a look at how our choice of words, sentence structure, and verbs give a glimpse into how we think.

I won’t give you a full transcript of the video, but instead, do take about 18 minutes of your time to watch and listen. I think that the talk will not only help you analyze how you speak but also how you convey your messages in your writing.

Whether you agree or not with Pinker’s assessments, why not share your thoughts with us?



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