Pinker graduated from Montreal's McGill University in 1976, reading experimental psychology, then completed a PhD in that field at Harvard, in 1979. (He has spent the rest of his professional life in the neighbourhood of Harvard, moving to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then back to his almer mater.)
1. I really don't like the phrase alma mater, I would never use it myself unless perhaps mildly satirically...
2. This is conceptually the mistake--i.e. the mistaken interpolation of an "r"--my brothers and I made when we were little, due to our mother's English accent! I think I made it less, because I learned how to read sooner; but really we all thought that the long yellow fruit that you peel from the top was called a "bernarner," and for many a year I believed that there was a mud-colored tint mysteriously known as "car key" (khaki).
3. This is also related to the notorious question of "cockney rhymes". On which note, I offer up Andrew Lang's poem on the topic (these are the first three stanzas):
Though Keats rhymed "ear" to "Cytherea,"
And Morris "dawn" to "morn,"
A worse example, it is clear,
By Oxford Dons is "shorn."
G-y, of Magdalen, goes beyond
These puny Cockneys far,
And to "Magrath" rhymes--Muse despond! -
"Magrath" he rhymes to "star"!
Another poet, X. Y. Z.,
Employs the word "researcher,"
And then,--his blood be on his head, -
He makes it rhyme to "nurture."
Ah, never was the English tongue
So flayed, and racked, and tortured,
Since one I love (who should be hung)
Made "tortured" rhyme to "orchard."
Unkindly G-y's raging pen
Next craves a rhyme to "sooner;"
Rejecting "Spooner," (best of men,)
He fastens on LACUNA(R).
Nay, worse, in his infatuate mind
He ends a line "explainer,"
Nor any rhyme can G-y find
Until he reaches Jena(r).