Charles Yang

Charles Yang teaches linguistics at Yale and is writing a book about language acquisition in children.

The mastery of the English past tense isn’t a glamorous topic, not these days. That, however, is what Words and Rules is about and, as if to sweep any doubts away, Steven Pinker assures us of the subject’s importance: the study of the past tense is ‘the only case I know in which two great systems of Western thought may be tested and compared … like ordinary scientific hypotheses’. As for his own theory of the tense, it is ‘an opening statement in the latest round of a debate on how the mind works that has raged for centuries’ – this book never runs low on hubris or hyperbole.’‘

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences