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Summary

What is our species' greatest invention? Medicine, computers, space travel? Not even close. The innovation that underlies each of our past achievements and those we still aspire to is language. Language is the ultimate invention of Homo sapiens - one that has allowed us to change the physical and social world around us in every conceivable way, and an invention that has fundamentally changed us, as well. Research has shown that whether we're sighted or blind, hearing or deaf, one or one hundred years old, communication through language is a fundamental part of what it means to be human. 

In 24 fascinating lectures, Dr. Spencer Kelly, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Colgate University, takes us on a fascinating journey into so many aspects of life we take for granted every day: our ability to remember the past and imagine a future, our use of hand gestures and facial expressions in communication, our capacity for storytelling, and so much more. You will explore fascinating questions, such as the origin of the human mind, what makes our communication so much different than other animals, whether or not language itself influences thought, and how babies learn their native language without direct teaching. You will follow along, finding yourself intrigued, surprised, and enthralled by it all because...you possess the power of language.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Language and the Mind

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Interesting and at a good pace

Super informative, a wonderful synergy between psychology, biology, and linguistics. One to listen to more than once to gain a good resolution of understanding. Listening to the professor is much more manageable than reading an in-depth textbook.

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brilliant - inspiring!

An excellent lecturer. He is engaging without trying to be too funny all the time. He explains things clearly and always gives you a balanced view of things. His love of the subject is inspiring!

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Great course pack with info

so easy to listen. fascinating stuff and really well read. if you love languages and how the brain works this is your book

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A hard listen!

I listened to the first 5 chapters, then felt the need to share my experience. The voice of the lecturer is very difficult for me as to listen many hours is very uncomfortable. Pronunciation of French names irritates since this book or lecture is about language, he should know simple rules as French is easier than Japanese, which he often uses/repeats phrases in, becomes also a difficult unwelcome listen.

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Interesting

I enjoyed these lectures. Good pace. Good mix of technical details and more general explanations.

The only thing that irked me isn't to do with the educational content per se, but more to do with how certain aspects were expressed. Kelly seems to fully grasp that the deaf community as a whole are proud of their language/culture etc... Yet he does not afford this consideration for autistic people. We may not have distinct languages as the deaf do, but we have our own ways of communication that are not necessarily "deficits". We too are part of a community that many of us are proud of. Yes we, the "socially inept" can also share a strong connection with our community!

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  • Mike
  • 17-04-20

Well Thought, Well Spoken

In a course entitled "Language and the Mind", I was hoping to see research by Chomsky, Lakoff, and Dehaene. I was not disappointed, and you'll find all this and more here. I was even happily surprised to see Goodale's and Milner's famous Two Streams Hypothesis make an appearance, and not a brief one, being relevant to material from Lecture 14 onward. We even get discussion of work by McWhorter, and Chalmers' and Clark's Extended Mind is used throughout.

Not to say that all said research is taken at face value; Dr Kelly takes a nuanced and balanced approach which I very much appreciate. This is particularly true for his presentation of embodied "vs" representational cognition as related to language. I couldn't be happier with the scholarship or the presentation. Well thought. Well spoken :-)

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  • C_best
  • 30-06-21

Contains very little concrete, usable knowledge.

Not at all what I expected. Professor is obviously very intelligent, likeable, and easy to listen to but I came away with very little, if any, new concrete, usable knowledge. Lectures seemed to follow the format of Theory A says one thing, Theory B says something different. Maybe the answer is ...both? Experiment / Study 1 determined "X", Experiment / Study 2 resulted in "Y" - a contradictory result. Who knows...?

Not helpful. Add to that the professor's obvious dislike of western civilization and I was once again reminded of how increasingly little modern professors who subscribe to critical theory have to offer the world.

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  • Karl Volkman
  • 10-04-21

Another Enjoyable Great Course

I was a poet’s physics kind of a student at college so this course suited me well. At times the science got a bit beyond me but for the most part Professor Kelly does a very good job of delivering his lectures in a way that keeps it accessible and interesting. I am teaching ESL as a retirement vocation and found the material pertinent and informative. If, like me, you are a fan of the Great Courses and you find language fascinating, I recommend to you Language and the Mind.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-02-21

Dissection

It was interesting, yet I struggled with the focus needed for me to make it enjoyable.

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  • Fair Lady
  • 28-07-22

A bit too academic

Well, this is an adaptation of a university course, so I should not be surprised that it’s a little dry. I enjoyed the last few lectures more than the others, since I’m especially fascinated by how language affects thought and culture. I’m less interested in extensive scientific discussion of the structure of the brain and how thought and language are processed neurologically.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-07-22

good

a little bit dry at times but very informative. I think to make it more meaningful some chapters should have been extended to several chapters and this course to about 18 hours. listening to some chapters left the impression that author was in a rush to tell us about as much as possible, yet sometimes he didn't pay attention to making connections leaving some points isolated from the narrative. giving us too many terms didn't help it either: I feel like he should have taken some time to explain basic parts of the brain to make those terms more meaningful. but overall a very good course

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  • Anat
  • 02-05-22

Very interesting

A bit dry, but very interesting. If you’re into psycho linguistics, this is just up your alley.

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  • Alex Sapozhnikov
  • 19-04-22

The science is great

The best great courses entry I've listened to so far. Great references to relevant studies and books.

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  • Tatiana Minina
  • 17-04-22

outstanding book

The lectures look at the language from many different angles I never even thought about. it gave me one more argument to study new languages. Highly recommended.

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  • LOVA
  • 13-04-22

Clear and Engaging Explanations That Are Neither Woke Nor PC

Prof Kelly explains the concepts well and attracts the listeners even though the concepts themselves maybe a bit dull and academic. Nowhere in this course does he shows even a slight hint of how he does not like the so-called “western civilization” whatever that means.

Worth listening to every minute of this brief course, and you WILL learn about others and about yourself that you may have never noticed.