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Ascent of Babel - 97 edition

Ascent of Babel (ISBN10: 0198523777; ISBN13: 9780198523772)
ISBN13: 978-0198523772
ISBN10: 0198523777

This edition has also been released as:
ISBN13: 978-0198523789
ISBN10: 0198523785

Summary: The brain holds some 10 billion neurons, an truly amazing number. But taken one at a time, there is nothing amazing about a nerve cell. If you stimulate one, it will stimulate other neurons to which it is connected. And that is all that a neuron does. And yet arising from this great mass of simple cells is every one of our mental faculties, including perhaps the most marvelous of all, our use of language. How do neurons take tiny vibrations on the ear drum and someho
w capture meanings about the world? How does the brain understand written words and how does it form a reply? In The Ascent of Babel, psycholinguist Gerry Altmann offers a state-of-the-art look at what we now know about the miracle of language.

Here is a wide ranging, engaging tour of how we use language. Altmann begins even before we are born, revealing that the fetus in the last trimester is already listening to the language of its parents and that, within days of birth, it can distinguish its parents' language from other languages. He discusses the incredible progress the child makes in language recognition (expanding from 100 words at age one to some 60,000 words by adulthood) and he looks at the neural activity involved in language perception, revealing for instance that the pattern of neural activity evoked by a sentence like "the bald man ate a big fish" is probably quite similar to that evoked by actually seeing a bald man eat a big fish. There is an illuminating section on spoken language, highlighting some of the differences between various tongues (English has some 12,000 syllables, for example, while Japanese uses fewer than 120, which explains why Japanese words tend to have many syllables). Altmann shows how errors we make when speaking--such as malapropisms and spoonerisms (garbled utterances such as "The lord is a shoving leopard")--can tell us much about how we plan and execute a spoken sentence, and he explores what happens when the brain misfunctions, as it does in aphasia, dyslexia, and other forms of language deficit, such as Pure Word Deafness (where patients can read, write, and speak normally, but can't understand words spoken to them). Finally, in one of the most intriguing sections of the book, the author provides a fascinating account of recent experiments in artificial neural networks, describing how scientists simulate neuronal activity on a computer, and explaining why their results seem to provide an alternative to the theories of Noam Chomsky about innate structures in the brain.

The Ascent of Babel is a journey of discovery, illuminating how, through the workings of the brain, we use language to reach out and touch each other's minds. Up to date, authoritative, and engagingly written, it will be must reading for everyone curious about the mysteries of language or of the mind.
  • Ranges from language recognition in the human fetus, to brain disfunctions such as aphasia and dyslexia, to the most recent experiments in artificial neural networks



...show more
Summary: The brain holds some 10 billion neurons, an truly amazing number. But taken one at a time, there is nothing amazing about a nerve cell. If you stimulate one, it will stimulate other neurons to which it is connected. And that is all that a neuron does. And yet arising from this great mass of simple cells is every one of our mental faculties, including perhaps the most marvelous of all, our use of language. How do neurons take tiny vibrations on the ear drum and somehow capture meanings about the world? How does the brain understand written words and how does it form a reply? In The Ascent of Babel, psycholinguist Gerry Altmann offers a state-of-the-art look at what we now know about the miracle of language.

Here is a wide ranging, engaging tour of how we use language. Altmann begins even before we are born, revealing that the fetus in the last trimester is already listening to the language of its parents and that, within days of birth, it can distinguish its parents' language from other languages. He discusses the incredible progress the child makes in language recognition (expanding from 100 words at age one to some 60,000 words by adulthood) and he looks at the neural activity involved in language perception, revealing for instance that the pattern of neural activity evoked by a sentence like "the bald man ate a big fish" is probably quite similar to that evoked by actually seeing a bald man eat a big fish. There is an illuminating section on spoken language, highlighting some of the differences between various tongues (English has some 12,000 syllables, for example, while Japanese uses fewer than 120, which explains why Japanese words tend to have many syllables). Altmann shows how errors we make when speaking--such as malapropisms and spoonerisms (garbled utterances such as "The lord is a shoving leopard")--can tell us much about how we plan and execute a spoken sentence, and he explores what happens when the brain misfunctions, as it does in aphasia, dyslexia, and other forms of language deficit, such as Pure Word Deafness (where patients can read, write, and speak normally, but can't understand words spoken to them). Finally, in one of the most intriguing sections of the book, the author provides a fascinating account of recent experiments in artificial neural networks, describing how scientists simulate neuronal activity on a computer, and explaining why their results seem to provide an alternative to the theories of Noam Chomsky about innate structures in the brain.

The Ascent of Babel is a journey of discovery, illuminating how, through the workings of the brain, we use language to reach out and touch each other's minds. Up to date, authoritative, and engagingly written, it will be must reading for everyone curious about the mysteries of language or of the mind.
  • Ranges from language recognition in the human fetus, to brain disfunctions such as aphasia and dyslexia, to the most recent experiments in artificial neural networks



...show less

Edition/Copyright: 97
Cover: Paperback
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Published: 05/28/1999
International: No

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1999 Paperback Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not include cd-rom or ac ...show morecess codes. Customer service is our top priority! ...show less
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1998 Paperback Minor Shelfwear. The cover is a little tatty and torn. Good Reading/ Reference copy, Good condition is defined as: a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All of the ...show more pages are intact and the cover is intact and the spine may show signs of wear. The book may have minor markings which are not specifically mentioned. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** ...show less
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Enzinger, Andrea 1999 Trade paperback Good. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 272 p. Contains: Illustrations.
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