Louder Than Words by Benjamin K. Bergen
The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

Whether it’s brusque, convincing, fraught with emotion, or dripping with innuendo, language is fundamentally a tool for conveying meaning—a uniquely human magic trick in which you vibrate your vocal cords to make your innermost thoughts pop up in someone else’s mind. You can use it to talk about all sorts of things—from your new labradoodle puppy to the expansive gardens at Versailles, from Roger Federer’s backhand to things that don’t exist at all, like flying pigs. And when you talk, your listener fills in lots of details you didn’t mention—the curliness of the dog’s fur or the vast statuary on the grounds of the French palace. What’s the trick behind this magic? How does meaning work? In Louder than Words, cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen draws together a decade’s worth of research in psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience to offer a new theory of how our minds make meaning. When we hear words and sentences, Bergen contends, we engage the parts of our brain that we use for perception and action, repurposing these evolutionarily older networks to create simulations in our minds. These embodied simulations, as they're called, are what makes it possible for us to become better baseball players by merely visualizing a well-executed swing; what allows us to remember which cupboard the diapers are in without looking, and what makes it so hard to talk on a cell phone while we’re driving on the highway. Meaning is more than just knowing definitions of words, as others have previously argued. In understanding language, our brains engage in a creative process of constructing rich mental worlds in which we see, hear, feel, and act. Through whimsical examples and ingenious experiments, Bergen leads us on a virtual tour of the new science of embodied cognition. A brilliant account of our human capacity to understand language, Louder than Words will profoundly change how you read, speak, and listen.
 

About Benjamin K. Bergen

See more books from this Author
Benjamin Bergen is an Associate Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at the University of California, San Diego, where he directs the Language and Cognition Lab. Bergen is an active researcher in cognitive linguistics and cognitive science, with over 40 publications and 60 presentations in the two fields. He is regularly invited to lecture in the U.S. and abroad. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, New Scientist, and Science News. Bergen lives in San Diego, California.
 
Published October 30, 2012 by Basic Books. 311 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Louder Than Words

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Similarly, Bergen shows that the use of metaphor and idiom to express abstractions also depends on visualization and the language of embodiment, from descriptive language such as “swallowing pride” and “grasping meaning” to idiomatic expressions like “you see what I mean” or “let's shine some lig...

Sep 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Louder Than Words: The New Sc...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

This is a breezy exploration of a theory of meaning, positing that we understand language by simulating in our minds the experiences that are being described to us. This theory of “embodied simulation

Sep 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Louder Than Words: The New Sc...

Reader Rating for Louder Than Words
82%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 33 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×