This is a review of the 2010 Kindle edition of the book published by HarperCollins e-books. Without a doubt Pinker has written a five-star book that is both eye-opening and enjoyable. Out of appreciation to the author, I deducted only one star for errors in the Kindle edition. Since Pinker's book was originally published back in 1994, and by a different publisher, it seems conceivable that HarperCollins did not have a digital text and had to resort to scanning with OCR or some kind of not completely successful conversion process. How else to explain errors like those below? (Not a complete list, but what I thought to highlight as I read through.)
• that had seemed passé concern with topics (“that had seemed passé; concern with topics”) • opiuminduced “(opium-induced”) • painti (not i on the end, but subscript 1) • S -> then S (apparently this should be “S -> if S then S”) • mittengrabben. 1st (“mittengrabben. Ist” [letter i, not number 1]) • put xin the (“put x in the”) • @@@ (no telling what this should be, but previously it appears as “m” with an acute accent) • big nourish things (“big nounish things”) • Astem (surely Pinker wrote “A-stem” or subscripted “stem”) • Astemaffix (as above) • fell to thinking, and chunk. (“fell to thinking, and thunk.”) • out-Sally-Bided Sally Ride (“out-Sally-Rided Sally Ride”) • VP -> VNP(PP) (“VP -> V NP (PP)”) • Steven Tinker’s (even the author’s name is not immune) • King Ethelbuld (“King Ethelbald”) • a sad and urgent more. (“a sad and urgent note.”) • A1 Galaburda (“Al Galaburda” [letter L, not number 1]) • and would not into nothing (“and would rot into nothing”) • something in he world (“something in the world”) • analyze the verb to broadcasts (“analyze the verb to broadcast as”) • No one would say give In break (“No one would say give I a break” [with the words after "say" in italics]) • person off gender (“person of gender”) • trout is a kind offish and (“trout is a kind of fish and”) • about twelves times as large (“about twelve times as large”)
In a book with many playful and unusual examples of language, one can’t tell, since the e-book can’t be trusted, whether expressions like “isa” or “American Slurvian” are what Pinker intended, or simply more examples of poor editing. On the positive side, the publisher has evidently cleaned up the Kindle version to some extent, judging from the details in someone else’s 2011 review. Given Amazon’s ability to reach into my Kindle and swap files, I am hoping to find a corrected version of Pinker’s book there soon.