Monday, September 17, 2007

Steven Pinker's TED talk

Following up on Scott's post last week about Steven Pinker's new book, The Stuff of Thoughts: Language as a Window into Human Nature, here's a link to the talk that Pinker gave at TED earlier this year, as a preview of his book. See what you think.

I haven't read the book, but this talk was interesting in light of the recent spat between Pinker and George Lakoff, based around a review Pinker wrote last year of Lakoff's book Whose Freedom?: The Battle over America's Most Important Idea, and Lakoff's response. Are Pinker and Lakoff really that far apart in their conceptualizations of how language and metaphor are linked in the mind? That's for someone smarter than me to decide, but you can check out some responses to the Pinker vs. Lakoff debate here, here and here. Or Google up some more.


grabloid said...

I really enjoyed the part of this talk about (as Pinker puts it) "The part of language/communication that we expect the listener/receiver to do." (Or maybe it was "The part of conversation that the listener has to do.")

(Just a couple of thoughts...)

This (obviously) is one place where language and (mis)communication can become extremely difficult. The listener/receiver can easily misinterpret or misunderstand something, the person communicating might be deceiving, etc. How do we determine what is really going on? What are the intentions of the communicator? I'm thinking that we might get into this a little bit more in depth when we read Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium is the Massage".

(This could also lead into a discussion about advertising, propaganda, news, etc.)