The Language Game: How Improvisation Created Language and Changed the World
Forget the language instinct--this is the story of how we make up language as we goLanguage is perhaps humanity's most astonishing capacity--and one that remains poorly understood. In The Language Game, cognitive scientists Morten H. Christiansen and Nick Chater show us where generations of scientists seeking the rules of language got it wrong. Language isn't about hardwired grammars but about near-total freedom, something like a game of charades, with the only requirement being a desire to understand and be understood. From this new vantage point, Christiansen and Chater find compelling solutions to major mysteries like the origins of languages and how language learning is possible, and to long-running debates such as whether having two words for "blue" changes what we see. In the end, they show that the only real constraint on communication is our imagination.
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About the Author
Morten H. Christiansen is the William R. Kenan, Jr. professor of psychology at Cornell University as well as a senior scientist at the Haskins Labs and professor in cognitive science of language at the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and has edited four books. He lives near Ithaca, New York.
Nick Chater is a cognitive psychologist who is a professor of behavioral science at Warwick University and has held chairs in psychology at Warwick and at University College London. He has written over 250 publications, has won four national awards for psychological research, and has served as associate editor for the journals Cognitive Science, Psychological Review, and Psychological Science. His previous trade book, The Mind is Flat, won the Association of American Publishers PROSE Award for Best Book in Clinical Psychology, 2018. He lives near Warwick, United Kingdom.