An edition of The Infinite Gift (2006)

The Infinite Gift

How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of the World

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Last edited by Open Library Bot
April 24, 2010 | History
An edition of The Infinite Gift (2006)

The Infinite Gift

How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of the World

  • 0 Ratings
  • 2 Want to read
  • 0 Currently reading
  • 0 Have read

A child's very first word is a miraculous sound, the opening note in a lifelong symphony. Most parents never forget the moment. But that first word is soon followed by a second and a third, and by the age of three, children are typically learning ten new words every day and speaking in complete sentences. The process seems effortless, and for children, it is. But how exactly does it happen? How do children learn language? And why is it so much harder to do later in life?

Drawing on cutting-edge developments in biology, neurology, psychology, and linguistics, Charles Yang's The Infinite Gift takes us inside the astonishingly complex but largely subconscious process by which children learn to talk and to understand the spoken word.

Yang illuminates the rich mysteries of language: why French newborns already prefer the sound of French to English; why baby-talk, though often unintelligible, makes perfect linguistic sense; why babies born deaf still babble -- but with their hands; why the grammars of some languages may be evolutionarily stronger than others; and why one of the brain's earliest achievements may in fact be its most complex.

Yang also puts forth an exciting new theory. Building on Noam Chomsky's notion of a universal grammar -- the idea that every human being is born with an intuitive grasp of grammar -- Yang argues that we learn our native languages in part by unlearning the grammars of all the rest.

This means that the next time you hear a child make a grammatical mistake, it may not be a mistake at all; his or her grammar may be perfectly correct in Chinese or Navajo or ancient Greek. This is the brain's way of testing its options as it searches for the local and thus correct grammar -- and then discards all the wrong ones.

And we humans, Yang shows, are not the only creatures who learn this way. In fact, learning by unlearning may be an ancient evolutionary mechanism that runs throughout the animal kingdom. Thus, babies learn to talk in much the same way that birds learn to sing.

Enlivened by Yang's experiences with his own young son, The Infinite Gift is as charming as it is challenging, as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking. An absorbing read for parents, educators, and anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of that uniquely human gift: our ability to speak and, just as miraculous, to understand one another.

Publish Date
Publisher
Scribner
Language
English
Pages
273

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Edition Availability
Cover of: infinitive gift
infinitive gift
june 2006, new york, Scribner
Cover of: The Infinite Gift
The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of the World
June 27, 2006, Scribner
Hardcover in English

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Book Details


Published in

New York

First Sentence

"Chromosomes. Sex. Grasshoppers. "Pick me up, Mommy." This is an odd list, except in the eye of evolution."

Table of Contents

1. The Greatest Intellectual Feat Page 1
2. Mission Improbable Page 11
3. Silent Rehearsals Page 33
4. Wuckoo Page 51
5. Word Factory Page 73
6. Colorless Green Ideas Page 93
7. Twenty Questions Page 127
8. The Superiority of the German Language Page 175
Epilogue. The Infinite Gift Page 217
Notes. Page 219
Glossary. Page 233
Bibliography. Page 239
Acknowledgments. Page 259
Index. Page 261

Classifications

Dewey Decimal Class
401.93 22
Library of Congress
P118.Y359 2006

The Physical Object

Format
Hardcover
Pagination
vii, 273p.
Number of pages
273
Dimensions
8.9 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
Weight
12.8 ounces

ID Numbers

Open Library
OL7927922M
ISBN 10
0743237560
ISBN 13
9780743237567
LCCN
2006044307
Goodreads
92453

First Sentence

"Chromosomes. Sex. Grasshoppers. "Pick me up, Mommy." This is an odd list, except in the eye of evolution."

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History

Download catalog record: RDF / JSON / OPDS | Wikipedia citation
April 24, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Fixed duplicate goodreads IDs.
April 16, 2010 Edited by bgimpertBot Added goodreads ID.
April 14, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Linked existing covers to the edition.
December 14, 2009 Edited by WorkBot link works
April 29, 2008 Created by an anonymous user Imported from amazon.com record.