Harry van der Hulst

Jan 20, 2024

A Mind for Language

An Introduction to the Innateness Debate

Cambridge University Press 2023

How does human language arise in the mind? To what extent is it innate, or something that is learned? How do these factors interact? The questions surrounding how we acquire language are some of the most fundamental about what it means to be human and have long been at the heart of linguistic theory. 

Harry van der Hulst's book A Mind for Language: An Introduction to the Innateness Debate (Cambridge UP, 2023) provides a comprehensive introduction to this fascinating debate, unravelling the arguments for the roles of nature and nurture in the knowledge that allows humans to learn and use language. An interdisciplinary approach is used throughout, allowing the debate to be examined from philosophical and cognitive perspectives. It is illustrated with real-life examples and the theory is explained in a clear, easy-to-read way, making it accessible for students without a background in linguistics. An accompanying website contains a glossary, questions for reflection, discussion themes and project suggestions, to further deepen students’ understanding of the material.

Madhumanti Datta completed her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California, USA.

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Madhumanti Datta

Madhumanti Datta completed her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California, USA. Her primary research area is the syntax of human languages, focussing on what possible and impossible structures in human language tell us about how linguistic structures are built, how meaning is represented and about the knowledge of grammar that speakers of a language intuitively possess. She is interested in issues surrounding language, both from the social and cultural perspective and from the biological perspective of language as a window into human cognition.

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