Jim al-Khalili talks to Steven Pinker, a scientist who’s not afraid of controversy. From verbs to violence, many say his popular science books are mind-changing. He explains why toddlers say “holded” not held and “digged” rather than dug; how children’s personalities are shaped largely by their genes and why, he believes the recent rioters had plenty of self-esteem. Huffduffed from http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/tls
Also huffduffed as…
With Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.
Chair: Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA
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.
How can a choice of metaphors start a war, impeach a president, or win an election? How does a mind that evolved to think about rocks and plants and enemies think about love and physics and democracy? How do we control the amount of information that we absorb? And what good does this actually do us?
Join Steven Pinker as he tries to answer these questions and many more, unlocking the hidden workings of our thoughts, our emotions and our social relationships and showing us that language really can tell us unexpected and fascinating things about ourselves.
Steven Pinker discusses the interplay of language and the mind and how psychological processes have shaped the English language.
The best stuff is about using Google’s enormous database of word-from-books to track how language evolves over time, in particular the gradual erosion of irregular forms in English (keep/kept and drive/drove) in favour of their regular counterparts (beep/beeped and jive/jived).
Which you WILL want to follow up with a visit to Google Ngrams - http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/ - essentially Google Trends but with all written words in the English language for the last 1,000 years (instead of all search terms in the last ten years).
Riots and looting that began in north London have spread to other English cities. Jonathan Freedland, Dave Hill and Stafford Scott discuss the causes of the worst civil unrest in a generation â and how…