In this RSAnimate episode, Language As A Window Into Human Nature, Steven Pinker, Canadian-American experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author, reveals how language guides human behavior.
He explains how the statements we make and the messages we communicate follow a set of fundamental, ubiquitous rules that allow us to convey content, intent, purpose, while at the same time establishing or perpetuating relationships between the conversing parties — that the content depends on those relationships, resulting in either overt or veiled forms of expression. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is sometimes the way to go. Other times we need to be more subtle and elaborate when getting our message across. It depends on the situation, which we’re perfectly capable of reading, if we pay attention.