Publications

2007
Pinker, S. (2007). The Known World: Review of The Canon. New York Times Book Review.
Pinker, S. (2007). My week: Steven Pinker. The Observer.
Pinker, S. (2007). Strangled by Roots: The Genealogy Craze in America. The New Republic.
Pinker, S. (2007). What the F***. The New Republic.
Pinker, S. (2007). Words Don't Mean What They Mean. Time.
Berent, I., & Pinker, S. (2007). The Dislike of Regular Plurals in Compounds: Phonological Familiarity or Morphological Constraint?. The Mental Lexicon , 2 (2), 129-181.Abstract

English speakers disfavor compounds containing regular plurals compared to irregular ones. Haskell, MacDonald and Seidenberg (2003) attribute this phenomenon to the rarity of compounds containing words with the phonological properties of regular plurals. Five experiments test this proposal. Experiment 1 demonstrated that novel regular plurals (e.g., loonks-eater) are disliked in compounds compared to irregular plurals with illicit (hence less frequent) phonological patterns (e.g., leevk-eater, plural of loovk). Experiments 2–3 found that people show no dispreference for compounds containing nouns that merely sound like regular plurals (e.g., hose-installer vs. pipe-installer). Experiments 4–5 showed a robust effect of morphological regularity when phonological familiar- ity was controlled: Compounds containing regular plural nonwords (e.g., gleeks- hunter, plural of gleek) were disfavored relative to irregular, phonologically-iden- tical, plurals (e.g., breex-container, plural of broox). The dispreference for regular plurals inside compounds thus hinges on the morphological distinction between irregular and regular forms and it is irreducible to phonological familiarity.

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Pinker, S. (2007). Toward a consilient study of literature (review of J. Gottschall & D. Sloan Wilson, "The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative"). Philosophy and Literature , 31, 161-177. PDF
Pinker, S. (2007). The evolutionary social psychology of off-record indirect speech acts. Intercultural Pragmatics. Intercultural Pragmatics , 4 (4), 437–461.Abstract
This paper proposes a new analysis of indirect speech in the framework of game theory, social psychology, and evolutionary psychology. It builds on the theory of Grice, which tries to ground indirect speech in pure rationality (the demands of e‰cient communication between two cooperating agents) and on the Politeness Theory of Brown and Levinson, who proposed that people cooperate not just in exchanging data but in saving face (both the speaker’s and the hearer’s). I suggest that these theories need to be supple- mented because they assume that people in conversation always cooperate. A reflection on how a pair of talkers may have goals that conflict as well as coincide requires an examination of the game-theoretic logic of plausible denial, both in legal contexts, where people’s words may be held against them, and in everyday life, where the sanctions are social rather than judi- cial. This in turn requires a theory of the distinct kinds of relationships that make up human social life, a consideration of a new role for common knowledge in the use of indirect speech, and ultimately the paradox of ra- tional ignorance, where we choose not to know something relevant to our interests.
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The Stuff of Thought : Language as a Window Into Human Nature
Pinker, S. (2007). The Stuff of Thought : Language as a Window Into Human Nature . New York, NY: Viking.Abstract

"A display of fiercely intricate intelligence and
nobody with the least interest in language 
should miss reading it."-The Times (London)

The Stuff of Thought is a revelation. In this exhilarating new book, Steven Pinker analyzes how our words relate to thoughts and to the world around us and reveals what this tells us about ourselves.  How does a mind that evolved to think about rocks and plants and enemies think about love and physics and democracy? Why do we threaten and bribe and seduce in such elaborate, often comical ways? How can a choice of metaphors start a war, impeach a president, or win an election? Why do people impose taboos on topics like sex, excretion, and the divine? What does the peculiar syntax of swearing (just what does the "fuck" in "fuck you" actually mean?) tell us about ourselves? Why do some names thrive while others fall out of circulation? How do we control the amount of information that we absorb? And what good does this actually do us? Pinker answers all these questions and many, many more. He shows us that language really can tell us unexpected and fascinating things about ourselves.

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2006
Pinker, S. (2006). Block That Metaphor!. The New Republic.
Pinker, S. (2006). The Lessons of the Ashkenazim: Groups and Genes. The New Republic. Full Text.
Pinker, S. (2006). Of Chicks and Frogs. Forbes.
Pinker, S. (2006). Yes, Genes Can Be Selfish. The Times.
Pinker, S. (2006). The Blank Slate. General Psychologist , 41 (1), 1-8. PDF
Sahin, N., Pinker, S., & Halgren, E. (2006). Abstract Grammatical Processing of Nouns and Verbs in Broca's Area: Evidence from fMRI. Cortex , 42, 540-562.Abstract

The role of Broca’s area in grammatical computation is unclear, because syntactic processing is often confounded with working memory, articulation, or semantic selection. Morphological processing potentially circumvents these problems. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we had 18 subjects silently inflect words or read them verbatim. Subtracting the activity pattern for reading from that for inflection, which indexes processes involved in inflection (holding constant lexical processing and articulatory planning) highlighted left Brodmann area (BA) 44/45 (Broca’s area), BA 47, anterior insula, and medial supplementary motor area. Subtracting activity during zero inflection (the hawk; they walk) from that during overt inflection (the hawks; they walked), which highlights manipulation of phonological content, implicated subsets of the regions engaged by inflection as a whole. Subtracting activity during verbatim reading from activity during zero inflection (which highlights the manipulation of inflectional features) implicated distinct regions of BA 44, 47, and a premotor region (thereby tying these regions to grammatical features), but failed to implicate the insula or BA 45 (thereby tying these to articulation). These patterns were largely similar in nouns and verbs and in regular and irregular forms, suggesting these regions implement inflectional features cutting across word classes. Greater activity was observed for irregular than regular verbs in the anterior cingulate and supplementary motor area (SMA), possibly reflecting the blocking of regular or competing irregular candidates. The results confirm a role for Broca’s area in abstract grammatical processing, and are interpreted in terms of a network of regions in left prefrontal cortex (PFC) that are recruited for processing abstract morphosyntactic features and overt morphophonological content.

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2005
Pinker, S., & Spelke, E. (2005). A Conversation with Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke. The Science of Gender and Science . Harvard University, Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative. Full Transcript Abstract

The research on mind, brain, and behavior that may be relevant to gender disparities in the sciences, including the studies of bias, discrimination and innate and acquired difference between the sexes.

Collins, F., Pinker, S., Behe, M., & Mohler, A. (2005). Can you Believe in God and Evolution?. Time. PDF
Pinker, S. (2005). College Makeover: The matrix, revisited. Slate .Abstract

What should students be studying in college? No one seems to agree anymore. Slate has taken the occasion to ask an array of prominent academics to tackle the question at the heart of this debate. Click here to read more from our symposium on reinventing college, and here to read more from Slate's "College Week."

Pinker, S. (2005). Morality arises from shared perspectives, not faith. The Independent.
(2005). PSYCHOANALYSIS Q-and-A: Steven Pinker. The Harvard Crimson.

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