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This Is the Voice

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Beginning with the novel—and compelling—argument that our ability to speak is what made us the planet’s dominant species, he guides us from the voice’s beginnings in lungfish millions of years ago to its culmination in the talent of Pavoratti, Martin Luther King Jr., and Beyoncé—and each of us, every day. Along the way, John Colapinto shows us why the voice is the most effi Beginning with the novel—and compelling—argument that our ability to speak is what made us the planet’s dominant species, he guides us from the voice’s beginnings in lungfish millions of years ago to its culmination in the talent of Pavoratti, Martin Luther King Jr., and Beyoncé—and each of us, every day. Along the way, John Colapinto shows us why the voice is the most efficient, effective means of communication ever devised and why speech is the single most complex and intricate activity humans can perform. He travels up the Amazon to meet the Piraha, a reclusive tribe whose singular language, more musical than any other, can help us hear how melodic principles underpin every word we utter. He heads up to Harvard to see how professional voices are helped and healed, and he ventures out on the campaign trail to see how demagogues wield their voices as weapons.


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Beginning with the novel—and compelling—argument that our ability to speak is what made us the planet’s dominant species, he guides us from the voice’s beginnings in lungfish millions of years ago to its culmination in the talent of Pavoratti, Martin Luther King Jr., and Beyoncé—and each of us, every day. Along the way, John Colapinto shows us why the voice is the most effi Beginning with the novel—and compelling—argument that our ability to speak is what made us the planet’s dominant species, he guides us from the voice’s beginnings in lungfish millions of years ago to its culmination in the talent of Pavoratti, Martin Luther King Jr., and Beyoncé—and each of us, every day. Along the way, John Colapinto shows us why the voice is the most efficient, effective means of communication ever devised and why speech is the single most complex and intricate activity humans can perform. He travels up the Amazon to meet the Piraha, a reclusive tribe whose singular language, more musical than any other, can help us hear how melodic principles underpin every word we utter. He heads up to Harvard to see how professional voices are helped and healed, and he ventures out on the campaign trail to see how demagogues wield their voices as weapons.

30 review for This Is the Voice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X would like a non-smear lippy for my mask

    Naturally I'm interested in this from the evolutionary viewpoint, given all the recent books I've read by Neil Shubin (Your Inner Fish etc) and the equally marvellous Edward O. Wilson. So now we've got passed nodules-on-the-vocal-chords - the author (lived with it), Adele the singer (cured), Julie Andrews (not cured, sued) we're onto how language developed from emotions. This was unexpected: if the amigdala is stimulated in cats or monkeys, loud hissing and growling sounds of exactly the same pr Naturally I'm interested in this from the evolutionary viewpoint, given all the recent books I've read by Neil Shubin (Your Inner Fish etc) and the equally marvellous Edward O. Wilson. So now we've got passed nodules-on-the-vocal-chords - the author (lived with it), Adele the singer (cured), Julie Andrews (not cured, sued) we're onto how language developed from emotions. This was unexpected: if the amigdala is stimulated in cats or monkeys, loud hissing and growling sounds of exactly the same profile are produced. And so it would seem that our emotive calls - pleasureable ones like orgasmic moans and cries, distinctly non-orgasmic ones (!) like pain, hitting your finger with a hammer for instance, excited screams like entering an empty dark room and turning on the light when everyone shouts happy birthday, have their roots in the lower animals, are part of our evolutionary make up. I think this is why we recognise the cries of an unhappy puppy, the growls of an angry dog, why a cat will stop at the sound of a crying child, why any mammal calling out in pain gets our attention. These sounds come from the lower animals and all of us recognise them in each other. The author writes of babies whose first reaction to the noise and light of a delivery room is that first cry. In babies born with anencephaly - no brain, only a brain stem, they have a perfectly normal response to pain showing that response comes from the oldest parts of the brain. And so, says the author, these sobs, cries, laughter and other involuntary sounds, led to speech. With all this evolutionary stuff, I'm finding the book fascinating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    For my book about my five senses, I've been thinking a lot about talking, listening, and silence. I found this account fascinating. For my book about my five senses, I've been thinking a lot about talking, listening, and silence. I found this account fascinating.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ilya

    Satisfying and unsatisfying in almost equal measure. I make my living with my voice, think about the voice more than most (I like to think). What's more, I am a big fan of one earlier piece by Colapinto: his lengthy New Yorker story on the Piraha of the Amazon, who (maybe) cannot count past two in their language (one, two, many — there is a spirited debate about whether this is so, and what it means.) The good: PROSODY. A word I barely knew before I read this book. It is the musicality of speech, Satisfying and unsatisfying in almost equal measure. I make my living with my voice, think about the voice more than most (I like to think). What's more, I am a big fan of one earlier piece by Colapinto: his lengthy New Yorker story on the Piraha of the Amazon, who (maybe) cannot count past two in their language (one, two, many — there is a spirited debate about whether this is so, and what it means.) The good: PROSODY. A word I barely knew before I read this book. It is the musicality of speech, which enables us, it seems, to converse with other humans without interrupting them. It is the reason you want foreign-language, subtitled TV series to be at full volume even if you don't understand the words. Though we are mostly not conscious of it, all human speech is inflected with these essential elements that help us to absorb it better: rhythm, tone, and texture. Prosody lets us understand each other, express ourselves, and relays tons of other information beyond the actual content of the words. A robot voice, with no prosody, is not nice to listen to. Colapinto does a really good job of summarizing the social-psych-linguistic-brain science around speech and cognition, how prosody is acquired starting in infancy, and so on. I am grateful to him for wading through a lot of academic-scientific lit that was probably not fun to read. The bad: the section on powerful speeches and speechmakers. Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan, Obama. And oh yeah, Hitler. Colapinto's observations here are totally pedestrian. I would much rather have gotten up close with some lesser-known figures who have contributed something to our understanding of the voice, like the 80-something year old woman who lives in "Orkney, Scotland," as Colapinto calls it, and is known around the world as a guru for fuller vocal self-expression. He mentions her twice, only in passing. In general, the book feels like a breezy tour of some things Colapinto learned about the voice, rather than something deeply considered. At several points he basically admits his own confirmation bias in approaching the research on the voice. With that, here are two really interesting things I learned: - humans are the only species in which the female voice and the male voice are strongly differentiated (dimorphism.) - it is only around puberty that humans develop the ability to calibrate their breathing to their speech (hence the endearing tendency of kids to run out of breath mid-sentence.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Phenomenal Discussion, Perhaps Marred by Blatant Political Preferences In The Closing Chapters. This was a truly phenomenal discussion of all things related to the human voice: its physiology, evolutionary development, and impact on all areas of human life. However, the ultimate "taste" of the book will likely be more based on whether the reader agrees with the author's fawning over former US President Barack Obama and blatant disregard of current US President Donald Trump. Even in these section Phenomenal Discussion, Perhaps Marred by Blatant Political Preferences In The Closing Chapters. This was a truly phenomenal discussion of all things related to the human voice: its physiology, evolutionary development, and impact on all areas of human life. However, the ultimate "taste" of the book will likely be more based on whether the reader agrees with the author's fawning over former US President Barack Obama and blatant disregard of current US President Donald Trump. Even in these sections of the book, however, where Colapinto is discussing the actual voices of the two men and how they are created and perceived, the book continues its phenomenal look at an oft-overlooked topic. The "YMMV" bit is more concerned with where the author steps away from a strict analysis of the voice and instead veers into editorializing over which man is preferred and why. Still, ultimately a well written and researched book, and very much recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    “For now, anyway, we remain the only entities, animal or machine, capable of blending emotion and language in a single vocal sound wave.” Colapinto, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, writes a compelling analysis of the functions of our voice. From a discussion of his own trouble with a vocal polyp and how it changed him, to the voice as tool and a source of joy, he delves deep into studies of the voice and linguistics, how it develops through our lives, and theories about how and why “For now, anyway, we remain the only entities, animal or machine, capable of blending emotion and language in a single vocal sound wave.” Colapinto, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, writes a compelling analysis of the functions of our voice. From a discussion of his own trouble with a vocal polyp and how it changed him, to the voice as tool and a source of joy, he delves deep into studies of the voice and linguistics, how it develops through our lives, and theories about how and why the human voice is unique among living creatures on earth. Though the bibliography is impressive, Colapinto’s style is not scholarly, but more of a journalistic ramble, touching on the development of the voice in babies and adolescents, the voice in oratory and politics, the differences between the male and female voice (dimorphism), cultural aspects of vocalization, and the emotive beauty of the singing voice. The book was a delightful read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    Last summer, I received an injection of Prolaryn-plus in my vocal cords. It was supposed to compensate for atrophy of my vocal fold muscles, but the effect seemed catastrophic. Suddenly I could only speak in a squeaky falsetto. So, in October, I got a second injection of the same stuff by way of a long needle stuck through the front of my neck. Again, bad luck. That led to a few helpful sessions with a voice pathologist. We moved from North Carolina to Kentucky, and now I have an appointment wit Last summer, I received an injection of Prolaryn-plus in my vocal cords. It was supposed to compensate for atrophy of my vocal fold muscles, but the effect seemed catastrophic. Suddenly I could only speak in a squeaky falsetto. So, in October, I got a second injection of the same stuff by way of a long needle stuck through the front of my neck. Again, bad luck. That led to a few helpful sessions with a voice pathologist. We moved from North Carolina to Kentucky, and now I have an appointment with a voice therapist in Lexington. In the midst of this ordeal, my dear wife presented me with John Colapinto’s book, This is the Voice. At first, I thought the entire book might be about problems like mine, and the first part was, but there’s so much more. The author traces the entire evolutionary development of the voice from the brainstem of a silent lizard and the primitive noise of a lungfish to our Neanderthal cousins to politicians and opera divas. We begin learning how a voice communicates when we’re in the womb, hearing in the final weeks the melody of our mother’s speech. We continue learning in the same way during infancy long before we can say Ma-ma or Da-da. We learn the prosody of our parents, which underlies our native language. Colapinto approaches his study of the voice as a journalist, investigating the phenomenon with fresh, curious eyes. He amplifies the work of linguists whose research has been under-recognized while he challenges the dominance of linguists like Noam Chomsky. I find his arguments stimulating and convincing. My enjoyment of this book might be due to my lifelong devotion to public speaking and singing. However, I believe anyone with vocal cords, lungs, and a pair of ears will also find This is the Voice thought-provoking, entertaining, and informative. It will stick around as a reference on several topics for years to come.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    First heard about this book on a CBC interview on Sunday Magazine. His voice is what caught my attention and his breezy style is what made me go for the audiobook instead of the physical copy. It has made for a very enjoyable number of walks around the neighbourhood! https://www.cbc.ca/radio/sunday/the-s... Loved this book - enough science to root it in evidence and enough anecdotal evidence to give it personality. Loved hearing the author read the introduction and coda as his research into his o First heard about this book on a CBC interview on Sunday Magazine. His voice is what caught my attention and his breezy style is what made me go for the audiobook instead of the physical copy. It has made for a very enjoyable number of walks around the neighbourhood! https://www.cbc.ca/radio/sunday/the-s... Loved this book - enough science to root it in evidence and enough anecdotal evidence to give it personality. Loved hearing the author read the introduction and coda as his research into his own voice problems are the reason for the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt Cannon

    This book caught my attention when I stumbled upon it in a book store. Here are some of my main takeaways. Evolutionary theories such as Origin of Species didn't at first try to address human speech or development. Human communication, making complex sounds and annunciations to convey thoughts and ideas is very unique and often under appreciated. The book covered several famous scientists and researchers such as B.F. Skinner and Pavlov. One cool fact I wasn't aware of was that Pavlov also traine This book caught my attention when I stumbled upon it in a book store. Here are some of my main takeaways. Evolutionary theories such as Origin of Species didn't at first try to address human speech or development. Human communication, making complex sounds and annunciations to convey thoughts and ideas is very unique and often under appreciated. The book covered several famous scientists and researchers such as B.F. Skinner and Pavlov. One cool fact I wasn't aware of was that Pavlov also trained dogs not to salivate on the bell, which is arguably more difficult than the mainstream Pavlovian phenomenon we're aware of. More interesting facts from book. - Humans take oxygen in the lungs before speaking. - there is what appears to be a flaw that causes choking, Darwinian theory would consider this a flaw, but when you look closer that anatomical feature that allows food to go down the wrong pipe also allows speech in humans via the larynx. - Neanderthals larynx didn’t descend as far down as humans did. - The birth process is similar to evolution process. - In the womb, as a zygote, we’re more like a fish, breathing in water before we develop to the form when we take out first breath. - Neanderthals could only produce a strict amount of vowels. Researchers did a silicone and computer mode to test. - For purely anatomical reasons Neanderthals speech and vowels were limited. - Neanderthal extinction was due to Homo Sapiens who had better speech and communication. We had better vowels. - language formed around 400,000 years ago due to anatomical developmental reasons coupled with the brain’s development. - The breathing and descent of the larynx combined with the tongue and lips to have all these hundreds of muscles create this under appreciated power of speech. language is an expression of thought. - Parkinson’s dementia - many scientific breakthroughs start as studies of anomalies and abnormalities of human behaviors. - grammar genes were expected, but it was ruled out during a study. - There was a palsy, the basil ganglia, which addresses the fine motor movements of speech. - Speech problems, or grammar, motor control of articulators, the power to tune our voices is all related to the basil ganglia. - FOXP2 gene - we all have 2 copies. one from mom and one from dad. - All family members with shriveled basil ganglia had speech, grammar and learning problems. - Oxford lab found all this during studies. - Wolfgang Enard - was tasks to lead this effort to study FOXP2 - sometime after our species branched off from apes there were two amino acid changes and substitutions in the FOXP2gene. - resulted in a high charged basil ganglia. - Neanderthals FOXP2 underwent the same changes as ours. - The neural pathways to the basil ganglia's were enhanced. - birds and mice also have the FOXP2 gene. - this genetic similarity with birds and humans makes sense. - birds evolved before mammals, basically flying reptiles, dinosaurs. - birds either evolved their FOXP2 by convergent evolution During the Cambrian age - FOXP2 isn’t a gene for language, it is rather more accurately the first gene ever found responsible for the unique specialization of our human voice. - It is the best evidence we have for a species of slow hairless primates made their improbably journey to the top of the food chain. - For Lieberman, the developments of FOXP2 and the basil ganglia are only the latest evidence to support his theory that language, far from being a purely mental phenomenon is a physical act, whose first tracings can be traced back 100s of millions of years to the oldest lung breathing vertebrate ancestor, the lung fish and its voice, regardless of how much like a fart it sounded. - the exigency of survival and reproduction gave rise to speech some 100,000 years ago when a series of random, but advantageous genetic mutations led in our early hominid line to increased control over respiration, to the descent of the larynx, and the powering of the basil ganglia for articulation. All anatomical accidents, selected by nature and the advantages in survival and reproduction that they conferred and which bred a better, language capable brain. - The Voice, thus in Lieberman’s conception played a major role in creating language. - As he once put it, “we talked ourselves into becoming human.” - Noam Chomsky has often expressed indifference to where language came from, dismissing Darwinian selection, but not providing any plausible alternatives. - In a 1999 interview Chomsky said that he might see a role for Darwinian selection aspect to language after all. In 2002 he published a paper on the subject. - His paper caused a major upheaval in the linguistics field. He proposed that speech didn’t develop for communication, but rather for thinking. They focused on the pure cognitive changes that endowed us with the capabilities of speech. - Alone among animals with the ability to think linguistically. - They concluded that this ability emerged due to one operation and one only, recursion. - Recursion refers to our ability to put one idea inside of another. - Thanks to recursion, you can just keep embedding ideas. - The man walked down the street. The man had on a top hat. - becomes - The man with a top hat walked down the street. - Did Chomsky and his colleagues call recursion the only mental link that creates language? - Steve Pinker and Ray Jackendoff argued against Chomsky and said that while recursion was important, it was by no means the only distinguishing factor of voice and language. - Deep in the 37 page paper was a paragraph about the pueraha tribe of only 400 people deep in the Amazon rain forest spoke an unusual language which distinctive factor was it didn’t use recursion. - Daniel Everett, a missionary turned linguist who lived with and studied the Pirahã tribe for 30 years. - He said that instead of saying I saw the dog, at the beach bitten by a snake. They would say. I saw the dog. He was at the beach. He was bitten by a snake. - They lack the recursive ability to embed ideas within ideas and have to spell everything out separately. - The linguist community said that this may be a result of retardation due to inbreeding, which Everett shot down. The tribe regularly refreshes its DNA pool by mating with traders and outsiders often those in the Brazil nut trade. - All evidence shows they’re just as capable mentally as other humans - The inability to use recursion wasn’t a cognitive restraint, but a cultural one. - Goes in and out of experience instead of going away. The candle flicker goes in and out of experience. The person who goes beyond the river goes out of experience. - The missionary said due to the tribes view of experience they couldn’t relate and lost all interest in the story that Jesus died for their sins 2,000 years ago. - Eventually, so did Everett. In the late 1990’s he became an atheist and ceased trying to convert the tribe and focused instead on understanding their unusual language. - The tribe didn’t learn farming skills that are future focused and still used their hunter gatherer skills and remain unchanged over the years. - The immediacy of experience principle shaped their culture and society. - All of this affected their speech and resulted in them not having what Chomsky said was universal in human speech, recursion. - Because the Pirahã only accepts as real what they can see in the here and now, their speech consists of direct assertions. - Abstractions are impossible in the tribes tongue. - Their speech was also based on only 8 consonants and 3 vowel sounds as an 11 letter alphabet compared to our 26. One of the simplest sound systems known. - It’s tonal like Mandarin Chinese to make sounds that can use fewer characters to make more speech. In addition, the book talks about accents which often say something about class and standing in the world. This book is a fascinating study of the human voice. Once you read it, I think you'll have a greater appreciation for the miracle of how effortlessly we as humans communicate. You'll also probably pay more attention to people's voices. It's a good, interesting book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allen Adams

    https://www.themaineedge.com/style/sp... How much thought have you given to your voice? Not the way it sounds, mind you. We’re not talking about the words that you might say or the notes that you might sing, but rather the actual voice itself. The physiological and neurological underpinnings of how we as human beings are able to harness its many complexities. If you’re at all curious, then you desperately need to sit down with John Colapinto’s “This Is the Voice.” It is a deeply researched and incr https://www.themaineedge.com/style/sp... How much thought have you given to your voice? Not the way it sounds, mind you. We’re not talking about the words that you might say or the notes that you might sing, but rather the actual voice itself. The physiological and neurological underpinnings of how we as human beings are able to harness its many complexities. If you’re at all curious, then you desperately need to sit down with John Colapinto’s “This Is the Voice.” It is a deeply researched and incredibly informative plunge into what proves to be a surprisingly robust topic, one that digs into not just the nuts and bolts of how our voice works, but some ideas about WHY it works the way it does. This unapologetically wonky book is rife with fascinating facts about the origins of human voice, packed with interviews that address the topic from all angles. Through delving into the physical, emotional and cultural connotations of voice, Colapinto illustrates just how vital a part the voice plays in our world – who we were, who we are and who we may yet become. The fundamental idea that this book explores is a simple, yet far-reaching one. Basically, Colapinto argues that the ability to speak – not just to make sounds, but to SPEAK – has been the key to humankind’s evolutionary journey to the top of the heap. That ability to communicate concisely and flexibly is what truly separated us from the pack and allowed for the many developments that led us to our current status. And it all started with a song. Kind of. Colapinto’s fascination with the voice started when he suffered an injury to his own. Specifically, he was the singer in a band and he overdid. When he tried to push through, his condition worsened. By the time he finally went to see a doctor, years later, the damage was done – a node on his vocal cords that could only (maybe) be fixed via a risky surgery. What followed was the deepest of deep dives, a wide-ranging and sprawling investigation of the voice from a variety of angles. We learn about the lungfish, whose move from the sea to the land proved to be the kickstart of the development of the larynx. We learn the differences between the vocal apparatuses of other primates and our own. We’re given insight into great debates – scientific debates driven by linguists like Noam Chomsky in the middle of the 20th century and the famed Lincoln-Douglas political debates from a century earlier. We meet a reclusive Amazonia tribe whose language helps us understand the inherent musicality of our words. We learn about regional accents and vocal fry. And we’re part of a conversation about the weaponization of the voice by demagogues, including their ability to command and control through rhetorical tone and tricks. Not to mention the fact that a person’s voice can communicate far more than the content of their words – not just meaning, but gender, class, mood and so much more. Now, all of this information could have become overwhelming – there’s a lot here. But rather than succumbing to the granular, Colapinto manages to strike the balance between informational conveyance and entertaining engagement. There’s a conversational quality to “This Is the Voice” that makes connecting to the work very easy, even as we venture into heady notions like evolutionary biology and Universal Grammar; the layman is never lost, as sometimes happens when science writers relegate craft to the back burner. Again – this is all intended to show that our voice is what allowed us to build and maintain the civilization in which we live. It’s a heady concept, this notion that our voice is the reason we are where we are as a species. And yet … Colapinto certainly puts forward a strong argument. It makes sense that an intricately-controlled, scalable medium of communication would be an advantage, but for so many of us – certainly for myself – the voice is something that we take for granted. As a performer, someone who relies heavily on the quality of my voice, it’s wild to think that I’ve never given much consideration to its wider importance. “This Is the Voice” is a prime example of quality popular science, striking that ideal balance between informative and entertaining. It embraces the wide-ranging aspects of its subject matter, digging in wherever necessary and capturing the reader’s curiosity. But it’s also an engaging read, thoughtful and funny and finely crafted. Books that accomplish this combination are few and far between, but John Colapinto has definitely written one that does just that. “The human voice is the organ of the soul.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book provides an intriguing perspective on a faculty most of us take for granted: our voice. Author John Colapinto quickly dives into not only the voice and its uses, but how it has been considered in both historical and current research in a diverse set of areas which include both human and non-human communication, the role of voice in evolution and much more. Colapinto kicks off the book with a story about his own voice and how a singing role in a rock band impacted his voice not only for This book provides an intriguing perspective on a faculty most of us take for granted: our voice. Author John Colapinto quickly dives into not only the voice and its uses, but how it has been considered in both historical and current research in a diverse set of areas which include both human and non-human communication, the role of voice in evolution and much more. Colapinto kicks off the book with a story about his own voice and how a singing role in a rock band impacted his voice not only for music but other aspects of his life. His own story is a good hook on exploring the many uses of our voices. I could easily relate, since I use my own voice for casual conversation, singing, teaching and for many other aspects of my life. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the role prosody plays in how we learn our own language skills as a child, but also can limit our ability to extend our learning in other ways such as developing second language skills as an adult. Prosody is a kind of sing-song rhythm which all languages have. The characteristics of prosody affect not only our learning, but how effective our speaking may be for uses such as public speaking, communicating with our friends and family and speaking other languages. Here he uses Barack Obama as an example of a public figure who has had several speeches that reached people in a powerful way, but in which he used approaches that are often found in the expression of preachers and even poets (think Amanda Gorham). I love hearing about connections between different parts of our lives and this book is chock full of them. The concept of motherese, which is a way that mothers help to instill language skills in their children through constant use, simplification and repetition, brought back memories of how I talked with my own children during their infant days and also how we often will speak in this direct but effective way in communicating with our pets. Parts of this book have the feeling of reviewing a survey of research on language and communications, but Colapinto is a skilled writer and knows how to create multiple narratives and keep the momentum going. I recommend this book to anybody who wants to learn more about the connections between our voices, the rest of our amazing bodies and how we have evolved to have the unique communication skills we possess as humans. Our voices are a gift and this book can help us appreciate that point and perhaps encourage us to take better care of this bounty.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “This is the Voice,” by John Colapinto (Simon and Schuster, 2021). Colapinto (who is basically a writer, not a scientist) argues that it is the presence of the voice that made humans the dominant species on earth. No other animal comes close to being able to communicate the way we do. Even the Neanderthal, with their larger brains, did not have the anatomy to speak. They couldn’t control pitch the way we do; their larynx, Colapinto says, had not descended from just below the jaw, and thus didn’t “This is the Voice,” by John Colapinto (Simon and Schuster, 2021). Colapinto (who is basically a writer, not a scientist) argues that it is the presence of the voice that made humans the dominant species on earth. No other animal comes close to being able to communicate the way we do. Even the Neanderthal, with their larger brains, did not have the anatomy to speak. They couldn’t control pitch the way we do; their larynx, Colapinto says, had not descended from just below the jaw, and thus didn’t have the power and versatility of ours. Colapinto also examines accents and dialects; code-switching; the evolution of language. Noam Chomsky gained fame and influence because of his theory of language: we are all born with a sense of grammar and how language should be constructed. Colapinto demolishes that argument. He says language is learned, and learned by imitation and observation, by the way babies pay such close attention to the sounds around them, especially the way their mothers speak to them. He explains why baby-talk is high-pitched: babies can’t hear the lower pitches yet. He examines the remarkable ways we can understand words and sentences. After all, speech is a constant flow; there is no break between words. How do we know when one word stops and another begins? Through millisecond observations of nuances in pitch and pause. He explains why Black English is a true language even if its rules are not those of standard American English. There is a difference between “he be workin’” and “he workin.” The first means he has a job; the second means he is at work at this moment. He talks about upspeak (beginning with Moon Zappa’s 1982 hit “Valley Girl”). He talks about the origins of that snooty English accent known as Received Pronunciation. He describes the importance of accent in signifying social class: Saleswomen at Saks, Macy’s, and S. Klein have different accents betokening the status of their customers. He talks about how language is used for leadership, starting with Cicero’s catalog of rhetorical devices. It goes on and on, revelation after revelation. Colapinto is an excellent writer; his language is precise and elegant. I may buy this book. https://www.simonandschuster.com/book...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    An excellent look at the biology and implications of our voice. It starts with the delicate and fragile nature of our vocal cords, and how they develop in our lives. Infants cannot actually vocalize because the larynx is placed too high at first to make it possible for them to breathe and nurse at the same time. Debates about whether language is inate or learned are resolved by showing the intense interaction parents, especially mothers, have with their children. I loved the information about la An excellent look at the biology and implications of our voice. It starts with the delicate and fragile nature of our vocal cords, and how they develop in our lives. Infants cannot actually vocalize because the larynx is placed too high at first to make it possible for them to breathe and nurse at the same time. Debates about whether language is inate or learned are resolved by showing the intense interaction parents, especially mothers, have with their children. I loved the information about language itself. It was interesting to learn of a tribe in the Amazon that speaks a language without past tense or the complexity to express an idea-within-an-idea.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book was so fascinating; I was learning so much and was excited about the topics presented, until I got to chapter 7. There it became so riddled with opinion, blatantly misleading and dishonest information, that despite the fact that the rest of the book was so interesting and presumably well researched, I couldn't give it higher than two-stars. Such a disappointment. I think I'd still recommend this book but maybe suggest you avoid chapter 7, unless you're a Trump-hating, Obama-sycophant l This book was so fascinating; I was learning so much and was excited about the topics presented, until I got to chapter 7. There it became so riddled with opinion, blatantly misleading and dishonest information, that despite the fact that the rest of the book was so interesting and presumably well researched, I couldn't give it higher than two-stars. Such a disappointment. I think I'd still recommend this book but maybe suggest you avoid chapter 7, unless you're a Trump-hating, Obama-sycophant like the author clearly is, then you'll probably love every word in all it's seething prosody (audiobook).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This was a book for review, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I will say it was an interesting read. Colapinto writes in a good mix of common parlance for laypeople and scientific terminology for those wanting more. I will say, though, that it's easy for science writing to use a broad brush to paint broad strokes, and we have to be aware that many people can get lost in the musings on sexual dimorphism, racial accents, etc. This was a book for review, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I will say it was an interesting read. Colapinto writes in a good mix of common parlance for laypeople and scientific terminology for those wanting more. I will say, though, that it's easy for science writing to use a broad brush to paint broad strokes, and we have to be aware that many people can get lost in the musings on sexual dimorphism, racial accents, etc.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maher Razouk

    في الواقع ، إنها مفارقة فلسفية ذات أبعاد كونية أن الصوت الوحيد على الأرض الذي لا نعرفه هو صوتنا. هذا لأنه يصل إلينا ، ليس فقط من خلال الهواء ، ولكن من خلال الاهتزازات التي تمر عبر الأنسجة الصلبة واللينة لرأسنا ورقبتنا ، والتي تخلق ، في القشرة السمعية لدينا ، صوتًا مختلفًا تمامًا عما يسمعه الآخرون. يتضح الفارق الصارخ في المرة الأولى التي نستمع فيها إلى تسجيل صوتي لنا : ("هل هذا ما أبدو عليه حقًا؟ أطفئه!") . John Colapinto This Is the Voice Translated By #Maher_Razouk في الواقع ، إنها مفارقة فلسفية ذات أبعاد كونية أن الصوت الوحيد على الأرض الذي لا نعرفه هو صوتنا. هذا لأنه يصل إلينا ، ليس فقط من خلال الهواء ، ولكن من خلال الاهتزازات التي تمر عبر الأنسجة الصلبة واللينة لرأسنا ورقبتنا ، والتي تخلق ، في القشرة السمعية لدينا ، صوتًا مختلفًا تمامًا عما يسمعه الآخرون. يتضح الفارق الصارخ في المرة الأولى التي نستمع فيها إلى تسجيل صوتي لنا : ("هل هذا ما أبدو عليه حقًا؟ أطفئه!") . John Colapinto This Is the Voice Translated By #Maher_Razouk

  16. 5 out of 5

    CatReader

    I really love the interdisciplinary approach Colapinto took with this book, melding biology, history, sociology, and a dash of personal narrative together. I found this to be a fascinating, near-comprehensive look at the evolution and perception of the human voice, which satisfied every question I had going in.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barrett

    A fascinating book about a subject I take for granted. It's always exciting when a book makes you look at something in a different way as this one does about the voice. I never realized how intricate the mechanics of the voice are and how much power the voice has in society and culture. A fascinating book about a subject I take for granted. It's always exciting when a book makes you look at something in a different way as this one does about the voice. I never realized how intricate the mechanics of the voice are and how much power the voice has in society and culture.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I loved this book so much. A fascinating look at everything related to your voice--anatomy, physiology, evolution, gender differences, accents, singing, vocal injuries, oratory speaking, etc. It was so interesting and very well written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Диана

    If this book doesn't become a bestseller I'd be greatly surprised. If this book doesn't become a bestseller I'd be greatly surprised.

  20. 4 out of 5

    LAWRENCE J GREGG

    Much more interesting than you think Although loaded with heavy science it it tempered with thoughtful analysis and story telling. A really fulfilling and complete nonfiction read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leehome

    a book which cause lots of thinking

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Very interesting book about all things voice: singing, speaking, orating, language, grammar, development, accents, biology, and anatomy. I would definitely listen to this to get the full effect.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark Nelson

    Interesting book, did a good job turning this one topic into a book-length thing

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Ackley

    I would give this book 6 stars if I could. It is a brilliant weaving of the many aspects of the voice and rightly places the voice at the core of human evolution and being. Bravo!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chaitanyaa From Teatime Reading

  26. 5 out of 5

    James

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin Miller

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Webber

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