The Reading Instinct

At the beginning of his book The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker demonstrates the amazing power of language with an example. He writes:

The [language] ability comes so naturally that we are apt to forget what a miracle it is. So let me remind you with some simple demonstrations. Asking you only to surrender your imagination to my words for a few moments, I can cause you to think some very specific thoughts:

When a male octopus spots a female, his normally grayish body suddenly becomes striped . . .

Cherries jubilee on a white suit? Wine on an altar cloth? Apply club soda immediately . . .

When Dixie opens ...

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