Publication Date: 14/04/2022 ISBN: 9781787633483 Category:

The Language Game

Morten H. Christiansen, Nick Chater

Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publication Date: 14/04/2022 ISBN: 9781787633483 Category:




‘Marvellously clear… playfully persuasive’ Richard Dawkins
‘Full of Fascinating details. A delight to read.’ Tim Harford
‘Highly original and convincing … a delight to read!’ – Daniel Everett


What is language?
Why do we have it?
Why does that matter?

Language is perhaps humanity’s most astonishing accomplishment and one that remains poorly understood.

Upending centuries of scholarship (including, most recently, Chomsky and Pinker) The Language Game shows how people learn to talk not by acquiring fixed meanings and rules, but by picking up, reusing, and recombining countless linguistic fragments in novel ways.

Drawing on entertaining and persuasive examples from across the world the book explains:

* How our short-lived memory copes with the on-rushing deluge of sound that is everyday speech.
* Why it is that language is such a challenge for language scientists but learnt effortlessly by toddlers.
* Why the languages of the world are so spectacularly varied—and why no two people speak quite the same language.
* Why humans have language, but chimps don’t.
* How language gave us a big brain and changed the course of evolution.
* How language doesn’t limit, but does shape, how we think.
*And ultimately, why all we know about language should give us hope.

Christiansen and Chater’s The Language Game draws on a fascinating range of examples to show the way language works, has shaped our evolution and is critical to our future.

Publisher Review

The Language Game is a highly original, convincing story of how humans developed their greatest invention, language. A delight to read, it deserves careful study by anyone interested in the nature, function, and origins of human communication. -- Daniel Everett, author of Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes and How Language Began This book turned everything I thought I knew about language upside down. It's persuasive, full of fascinating details, and an absolute delight to read. -- Tim Harford, author of How To Make The World Add Up Language was the Promethean fire that ignited the human explosion. Its origin is one of the three great mysteries that still tantalise evolutionary biologists. Christiansen and Chater give a marvellously clear explanation of the problem and a generously fair treatment of rival theories, followed by a lively, even playfully persuasive advocacy of their own solution. -- Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene A joyful romp across species and cultures through the ways language is invented and reinvented, peppered with insightful stories you will feel compelled to tell anyone in earshot. -- Barbara Tversky, author of Mind in Motion

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