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Every word is a bird we teach to sing : encounters with the mysteries & meanings of language / Daniel Tammet.

By: Tammet, Daniel, 1979-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Hodder, 2018Copyright date: ©2017Description: 274 pages ; 20 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 0340961317; 9780340961315; 9780340961377; 0340961376.Subject(s): Language and languages | Linguistics | Communication | Autistic peopleDDC classification: 402 Summary: Why is the name 'Cleopatra' not allowed in Iceland? Why do clocks 'talk' to the Nahua people of Mexico? And if we are what we eat, are we also what we say? These are just some of the questions Daniel Tammet answers in Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing, a mesmerising new collection of essays investigating the intricacies and profound power of human language. Tammet goes back in time to explore the numeric language of his autistic childhood; he looks at the music and patterns that words make, and how languages evolve and are translated. He meets one of the world's most accomplished lip readers in Canada, learns how endangered languages like Manx are being revived and corresponds with native speakers of Esperanto in their mother tongue. He studies the grammar of the telephone, contemplates the significance of disappearing dialects, and also asks: will chatbots ever manage to convince us that they are human? From the art of translation to the lyricism of sign language, Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing is a fascinating journey through the world of words, letters, stories and meanings, and an extraordinary testament to the stunning range of Tammet's literary and polyglot talents.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

'Full of charm and fascination' The Bookseller

'Would dazzle any storyteller in love with words and their deepest meanings' Amy Tan, author of Joy Luck Club

'A generous book and a beguiling read' Rebecca Gowers

* * * * * *

From the bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day and Thinking in Numbers , a delightful and eclectic exploration of language, and what it can teach us about ourselves and our lives.

Why is the name 'Cleopatra' not allowed in Iceland? Why do clocks 'talk' to the Nahua people of Mexico? And if we are what we eat, are we also what we say? These are just some of the questions Daniel Tammet answers in Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing , a mesmerising new collection of essays investigating the intricacies and profound power of human language.

Tammet goes back in time to explore the numeric language of his autistic childhood; he looks at the music and patterns that words make, and how languages evolve and are translated. He meets one of the world's most accomplished lip readers in Canada, learns how endangered languages like Manx are being revived and corresponds with native speakers of Esperanto in their mother tongue. He studies the grammar of the telephone, contemplates the significance of disappearing dialects, and also asks: will chatbots ever manage to convince us that they are human?

From the art of translation to the lyricism of sign language, Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing is a fascinating journey through the world of words, letters, stories and meanings, and an extraordinary testament to the stunning range of Tammet's literary and polyglot talents.

Why is the name 'Cleopatra' not allowed in Iceland? Why do clocks 'talk' to the Nahua people of Mexico? And if we are what we eat, are we also what we say? These are just some of the questions Daniel Tammet answers in Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing, a mesmerising new collection of essays investigating the intricacies and profound power of human language. Tammet goes back in time to explore the numeric language of his autistic childhood; he looks at the music and patterns that words make, and how languages evolve and are translated. He meets one of the world's most accomplished lip readers in Canada, learns how endangered languages like Manx are being revived and corresponds with native speakers of Esperanto in their mother tongue. He studies the grammar of the telephone, contemplates the significance of disappearing dialects, and also asks: will chatbots ever manage to convince us that they are human? From the art of translation to the lyricism of sign language, Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing is a fascinating journey through the world of words, letters, stories and meanings, and an extraordinary testament to the stunning range of Tammet's literary and polyglot talents.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Writer and linguist Tammet (Thinking in Numbers; Embracing the Wide Sky) takes us on a series of thought-provoking journeys as he probes the depth and intricacies of how language profoundly affects behavior at every social and political level. Through these memoirlike essays, Tammet demonstrates his eclectic approach to an exploration of the richness of language and its profound effect on his own life and those about whom he writes. From his childhood characterized by "high-function" autism, in which he saw language as numeric, to his encounters with and critique of Esperanto, this whirlwind narrative mirrors the author's polyglot talents. The chapter on the Icelandic language is especially compelling as Tammet demonstrates how it became an essential political tool as nationalists sought their independence from Denmark. In spite of the nationalist goal of Icelandic linguistic purity, the grammar has become "malleable" and "words transform the world around us." VERDICT Those interested in language, words, meaning, and sociolinguistics will find this slim volume to be a transforming read. General readers will also find this highly readable work engaging.-Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

"Words have been knots of beauty and mystery as long as I can remember," writes the author of this insightful collection of 15 essays that explore language and its underappreciated nuances. The title, taken from the final line of the essay "You Are What You Say," extols how we "animate words with our imagination" in order to communicate with one another. Tammet (Thinking in Numbers) has high-functioning autism and he relates how, when young, he thought not in words but numbers, each one assigned a different meaning-89, for instance, meant "snow." Although his condition initially made him socially withdrawn, it taught him an appreciation of the different ways in which we confer meaning on words and vocabulary. His essays include personal accounts of his experiences teaching English to Lithuanian students and interacting with psychologists studying speech patterns, a history of the would-be universal language Esperanto, and appreciations of the works of Australian poet Les Murray (himself autistic) and of writers working in the indigenous Nahuatl language of Mexico and Kikuyu language of Kenya. Tammet is generous in his acceptance of many different forms and styles of communication. His essays will be eye-openers for anyone who takes the meaning of words on the printed page for granted. Agent: Andrew Lownie, Andrew Lownie Literary Agency. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Diagnosed with high-functioning autistic savant syndrome when he was 25, Tammet (Thinking in Numbers, 2013) first made sense of the world in numerical terms. His relatively late discovery of words set him on a path to thinking about language in unconventional ways. The essays in this book record some of his personal encounters along linguistic byways including teaching English in Lithuania, translating into French the work of award-winning (and autistic) Australian poet Les Murray, and delving into the history of Esperanto. He meets one of the last remaining speakers of the Nahuatl language in Mexico, the first and only Englishman to be a member of the French Academy, and missionaries working on translating the Bible into Amanab. Other essays consider the work of Iceland's Person's Names Committee (charged with preserving the nation's ancient infant-naming traditions), the richness of American Sign Language, the debate over whether African literature should be written in African languages, and the movement to revive the Manx language on the Isle of Man. A fascinating journey through language and some of its many varied forms and uses.--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2017 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

The author of Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math (2013, etc.) shows us that language is a far more ornately feathered fowl than casual consideration can conceive. Tammet begins with probably the most engaging and revealing section of his entire text: an account of how he, born with "high-functioning autism," learned language, a process involving numbers, colors, poems, and a most fecund imagination. He also shows usmore or less indirectlythe fatuousness of teaching methods that assume and presume that everyone learns in the same way (think: our current obsession with standardized testing). Tammet's directly autobiographical accounts slip into the background as he encourages us to follow him on a kind of intellectual circumnavigation of Planet Language. These chapters cover such subjects as the status of Esperanto, people who write in disappearing languages, political attempts to prevent the language from altering too much, sign language, translation, and conversations with computers. A particularly moving segment involves the study of telephone languagethe grammar, the protocols, the unexpected intimaciesa study that led, in one case, to a staged reading of When Cancer Calls, a performance of transcripts of cancer-related calls among family members. The author sometimes tells us more than we may want to know: the section on Esperanto, are overlong, and some of his fascinations with the details of translation will delight, well, translators. It seems he is often determined to tell us the histories of things at the expense of our patience. But there are many moments of delightful and surprising luminescence. In his section about the telephone, he notes how ordinary words and deep emotion are "the freight of every family's telephone line." "Words, words, words," said Hamletthat brilliant, verbose Dane would find in these pages a most welcome elaboration. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.