I Speak, Therefore I Am: Seventeen Thoughts About Language

I Speak, Therefore I Am: Seventeen Thoughts About Language


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There are no men so dull and stupid, not even idiots, as to be incapable of joining together different words, and thereby constructing a declaration by which to make their thoughts understood.... On the other hand, there is no other animal, however perfect or happily circumstanced which can do the like.—Descartes

Language is more like a snowflake than a giraffe's neck. Its specific properties are determined by laws of nature, they have not developed through the accumulation of historical accidents.—Noam Chomsky

In I Speak, Therefore I Am, the Italian linguist and neuroscientist Andrea Moro composes an album of his favorite quotations from the history of linguistics, beginning with the Book of Genesis and the power of naming and concluding with Noam Chomsky's metaphor that language is a snowflake. Moro's seventeen linguistic thoughts and his commentary on them display the humanness of language: our need to name and interpret this world and create imaginary ones, to express and understand ourselves. This book is sure to delight anyone who enjoys the ineffable paradox that is human language.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231177412
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Andrea Moro is professor of general linguistics at the Scuola Universitaria Superiore (IUSS) in Pavia, Italy. His work has been published in Nature Neuroscience, Linguistic Inquiry, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and his books include The Raising of Predicates (1997), Dynamic Antisymmetry (2000), The Equilibrium of Human Syntax (2012), The Boundaries of Babel (2015), and Impossible Languages (2016).

Table of Contents

Preface: Choice, Then Order, Then Chance, Finally Only Light
1. God
2. Plato
3. Aristotle
4. Marcus Terentius Varro
5. Roger Bacon
6. Descartes
7. Antoine Arnauld and Claude Lancelot
8. Sir William Jones
9. Hermann Osthoff and E. Karl Brugmann
10. Ferdinand de Saussure
11. Bertrand Russell
12. Martin Joos
13. Roman Jakobson
14. Joseph Greenberg
15. Eric H. Lenneberg
16. Niels Jerne
17. Noam Chomsky

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