How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
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A classic in its field for almost forty years, "The Articulate Mammal" is a brilliant introduction to psycholinguistics. In lucid prose Jean Aitchison introduces and demystifies a complex and controversial subject: What is language and is it restricted to humans? How do children acquire language so quickly? Is language innate or learned? She explains the pioneering work of Noam Chomsky; how children become acclimatized to speech rhythms before birth; the acquisition of verbs; construction and cognitive grammar; and aphasia and dementia. She also considers new topics such as language and evolution and the possibility of a "language gene", bringing the field right up to date.