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With a mixture of erudition and humor, Canadian radio personality Jay Ingram discusses the sociology of talking: the dynamics of conversation, men and women's different propensities for interrupting, and even the proper use of "you know." But he also delves into the mystery-riddled physiology of talking. While we now know that certain areas of the brain seem to control specific aspects of speech—from articulating words to creating meaningful sentences—how do scientists explain the extraordinary case of the young stroke victim who lost only the words for fruits and vegetables? Is it possible that the ability to talk is actually encoded in our genes, as some scientists believe?
From the language roots of North America to the speech differences between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, from modern children creating whole new languages in one generation to Freudian slips, from talking to yourself to speaking in tongues, Talk, Talk, Talk covers the gamut of humankind's most enigmatic and intriguing skill. Impeccably researched, lively and accessible, Talk, Talk, Talk is a book you won't be able to keep quiet about.
Chimpanzees may have opposable thumbs, dolphins may have large brains, but humans still have the distinct advantage of speech. According to some scientists, it was the placement of the Cro-Magnon larynx that allowed a greater variety of vowel sounds (and hence language) and gave our forebears a leg up over Neanderthals. Canadian radio personality Ingram ( The Science of Everyday Life ) traces the evolution of speech from its deepest roots, through the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language, to 19th-century Hawaiian pidgen. But even after humans finally had language, they continued to have trouble using it. Talk, in Ingram's entertaining survey, is not only speech but eye contact, gesture and, of course, sexual dynamics. Covering physiology, history, pathology, psychology and tangential subjects like auditory hallucinations, this is a fascinating beginning book, one sure to get readers thinking about their own verbal interactions and eager to find out more. To that end, it would have been helpful to include a less quirky reading list--the very short one here includes Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear ; Susan Curtiss's scholarly study of the modern wild child Genie; and several titles that Ingram notes are not readily available.