Language and Human nature
“Language – what kind of insights can we get into thought, emotions and social relations from words and how we use them? I use:
- Grammar as a window into thought.
- Swearing as a window into emotion.
- Innuendo as a window into social relations.”
For Steven Pinker, the brilliance of the mind lies in the way it uses just two processes to turn the finite building blocks of our language into infinite meanings. The first is metaphor: we take a concrete idea and use it as a stand-in for abstract thoughts. The second is combination: we combine ideas according to rules, like the syntactic rules of language, to create new thoughts out of old ones.
Note – This video contains strong language.