Stephen Pinker on Language and Human Relations

Been re-watching some of the RSA Animate videos and came across this great one by Steven Pinker. I don’t always agree with his analysis or for that matter all of the conclusions he makes, but to my mind he continues to make a serious contribution to our understanding at a very deep level of what it is to be human.

In this video he turns his attention to the role of innuendo in human relations. His hypothesis is that even obvious innuendos are useful devices for maintaining fictional relationships as they are based on ‘individual knowledge’. Direct speech provides a different level of understanding, what Pinker calls ‘mutual knowledge’, and on this basis relationships are either maintained or nullified.

Made me think that one big advantage of living in Scotland is that most of the time you know exactly where you stand – for good or for bad.

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