Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing
A mind-expanding, deeply humane tour of language by the bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day and Thinking in Numbers.Is vocabulary destiny? Why do clocks "talk" to the Nahua people of Mexico? Will A.I. researchers ever produce true human-machine dialogue? In this mesmerizing collection of essays, Daniel Tammet answers these and many other questions about the intricacy and profound power of language.In Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing, Tammet goes back in time to London to explore the numeric language of his autistic childhood; in Iceland, he learns why the name Blær became a court case; in Canada, he meets one of the world's most accomplished lip readers. He chats with chatbots; contrives an "e"-less essay on lipograms; studies the grammar of the telephone; contemplates the significance of disappearing dialects; and corresponds with native Esperanto speakers - in their mother tongue.A joyous romp through the world of words, letters, stories, and meanings, Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing explores the way communication shapes reality. From the art of translation to the lyricism of sign language, these essays display the stunning range of Tammet's literary and polyglot talents.

Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing Details

TitleEvery Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 12th, 2017
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN-139780316353052
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Humanities, Language, Writing, Essays, Psychology

Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing Review

  • Emma Sea
    January 1, 1970
    Requested via library
  • Margaret Sankey
    January 1, 1970
    Tammet, as a person with high functioning autism, defied conventional expectations and turned the workings of his mind to a field in which he could find great advantage--sociolinguistics. Although primarily a novelist, this is a set of essays in which he engages global language: the onomatopoetic words of Nahua in Mexico, the only Englishman in the French Academy, the Icelandic personal names committee, the challenge of translating the Bible for a Pacific tribe that has never seen milk or honey, Tammet, as a person with high functioning autism, defied conventional expectations and turned the workings of his mind to a field in which he could find great advantage--sociolinguistics. Although primarily a novelist, this is a set of essays in which he engages global language: the onomatopoetic words of Nahua in Mexico, the only Englishman in the French Academy, the Icelandic personal names committee, the challenge of translating the Bible for a Pacific tribe that has never seen milk or honey, the dialects of sign language (and its French roots), attempts to keep the Manx language alive, and teaching business English to Lithuanian women in the 1990s.
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  • Amelia Smith
    January 1, 1970
    full review on agreybox: https://tinyurl.com/y8urztzt- I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for honest review. Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing by Daniel Tammet is a non-fiction piece that focuses on our relationship as beings possessing the ability to communicate through language. This relationship isn’t always tended to—how many of us on a daily basis think about the words and the words others use to communicate, especially not just what they m full review on agreybox: https://tinyurl.com/y8urztzt- I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for honest review. Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing by Daniel Tammet is a non-fiction piece that focuses on our relationship as beings possessing the ability to communicate through language. This relationship isn’t always tended to—how many of us on a daily basis think about the words and the words others use to communicate, especially not just what they mean but how they sound, look and feel? In many ways, I felt as though this book asked of me to slow down and find pleasure in the way in which humans communicate.Though it is a book about linguistics, Every Word doesn’t require a previous knowledge or interest in the subject. Not bogged down with linguistic jargon, and thoroughly explained with the jargon arises, Every Word tells stories about language that are accessible and will appeal to a wide audience, which is its strength. Through personal stories and interviews, Tammet weaves together a tapestry on the beauty and frustrations of language, at once a method of connection and a barrier of understanding. It’s a love letter, laden with hopes, fears, frustrations, and the triumph of connection.Tammet’s personal relationship with language is the first subject in his book and it is a necessary beginning as the author experiences language in a way that many people don’t. Identifying on the high end of the spectrum of autism, Tammet’s first experience with language was one that no one else understood. Numbers were his chosen way to communicate and Tammet describes this system and his tumultuous relationship with using English to express himself.The rest of Every Word journeys through many topics, all related to language. Tammet captures the paradox of language in discussing the utopian dream of an easy-to-learn global language of Esperanto and the tragedy (to some more than others) of the disappearance of languages due to cultural imperialism. Here too he delves into the politics of the language of repression and the efforts of native speakers of suppressed languages, like those in Africa, to publish works in their mother tongue. He takes us on a trip to cultures obsessively dedicated with preserving the sanctity of their language in an effort that is both admirable and fool-hardy.I felt that these subjects were handled with respect. Even when Tammet’s position on the topic shows through his writing, he isn’t dismissive of the other side of the arguments presented. With many of these political issues, there’s strong arguments on both sides and I liked that Tammet expressed his own doubts and beliefs without pressuring the reader to agree with him. This is a book for people who love language and for those who don’t already to fall in love with it.
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  • Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
    January 1, 1970
    Every Word Is A Bird We Teach To Sing is a wonderful collection of encounters, interviews, and experiences which author Daniel Tammet has experienced throughout his life. Daniel has high functioning autism and sees the world, and in particular words and numbers, differently to most of us. Numbers bring about feelings and images, for example, certain numbers are described as heavy, hard, floating, or aggressive. There is a complex pattern when it comes to attaching feelings and colours to words a Every Word Is A Bird We Teach To Sing is a wonderful collection of encounters, interviews, and experiences which author Daniel Tammet has experienced throughout his life. Daniel has high functioning autism and sees the world, and in particular words and numbers, differently to most of us. Numbers bring about feelings and images, for example, certain numbers are described as heavy, hard, floating, or aggressive. There is a complex pattern when it comes to attaching feelings and colours to words and numbers, which I had a hard time grasping sometimes, yet it all works in Tammets mind and it all fits together.See how the T advancesStainSatinSaint(From Every Word Is A Bird We Teach To Sing)Tammet explores not only the English language but that of other countries. He helped Lithuanian women learn English by using poetry; where words bring about feelings. Feelings are something our memory holds on to, something sticks when a phrase or sentence resonates with and it is then remembered forever. Rather than repeating meaningless lines on a whiteboard, Tammet taught English using poetry and genuine, natural conversation. In Iceland, the country works extremely hard to keep the language as it is, with committees to approve names for children and even scouring newspaper print to ensure slang words don’t creep in and become part of the everyday language.Who Should Read Every Word Is A Bird We Teach To Sing?Every Word Is A Bird We Teach To Sing is a brain training book. I found myself fascinated by a language I have spoken all my life and I definitely felt I was learning and gaining a deeper understanding of language. Not only about the intricacies and wonders of the English language, but also understanding what it’s like to live in this world with high-functioning autism. At times it seems a curse, but in Tammets case is definitely a gift he shares with eloquence here.
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  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    A stunning depiction of the depth of human languageDaniel Tammett is an autistic savant, rated at 15th in a poll of the Top 100 geniuses in 2007.By the excellent writing which characterises this book, one would never guess that he views the English Language with discomfort, where synesthesia meant that he understood words in terms of strings of numbers.The book contains fifteen very different chapters, each describing the influences and the ups and downs of his exploration of the words themselve A stunning depiction of the depth of human languageDaniel Tammett is an autistic savant, rated at 15th in a poll of the Top 100 geniuses in 2007.By the excellent writing which characterises this book, one would never guess that he views the English Language with discomfort, where synesthesia meant that he understood words in terms of strings of numbers.The book contains fifteen very different chapters, each describing the influences and the ups and downs of his exploration of the words themselves and their meanings.His overall view is that words themselves have no meaning until they are used in context. Alone, the word 'toast' could have two very different 'meanings'. We animate words through our imagination and hence 'the bird is taught to sing'.It wasn't an easy journey for Tammet as he confronted the closed minds of the psychological researchers who failed to see the depth of his experience of words. One of the words the researchers presented was 'equivocal' and this sparked such a rich and varied experience in Tammet's understanding as evoked in his description, 'A word cool to the touch. The greenness. The Shininess. The coolness. They all came at me simultaneously. The word radiated the sea on a late British summer afternoon – the briny, garlicky smell of the sea – and aroused a momentary nostalgia for the coast'. It also contains all five vowels if you hadn't realised that.This is such an accessible book, rather than the usual studies of psychology, autism and language, each word sings exuberantly, like the birds, and in that song opens up some understanding of the potential of human language. It is an absolute must for anyone interested in linguistics, psychology and/or autism. PashtpawsBreakaway Reviewers received a copy of this book to review
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  • Auderoy Lin
    January 1, 1970
    FAV QUOTES:The world was made up of words. But I thought and felt and sometimes dreamed in a private language of numbers.Sixty-one two two two two elevenOne hundred and thirty-one forty-nineAs sounds and social currency, words could not yet hold me.All literature, I finally realized with a jolt, amounted to an act of translation: a condensing, a sifting, a realignment of the author’s thought-world into words.I had more than one book in me. And each of my subsequent books...was different. Each ta FAV QUOTES:The world was made up of words. But I thought and felt and sometimes dreamed in a private language of numbers.Sixty-one two two two two elevenOne hundred and thirty-one forty-nineAs sounds and social currency, words could not yet hold me.All literature, I finally realized with a jolt, amounted to an act of translation: a condensing, a sifting, a realignment of the author’s thought-world into words.I had more than one book in me. And each of my subsequent books...was different. Each taught me what my limits weren’t. I could do this. And this. And this as well.Enthusiastic students don’t make good dunces.For the director, poetry was only a side effect of language, peripheral; for me it was essential.Grammar and memory come from playing with words, rubbing them on the fingers and on the tongue, experiencing the various meanings they give off.Assurance rejuvenated them, made their skin shine. I had never seen the women look as beautiful as they did then.Every voice carries certain personality traits—the tongue-tiedness of one; of another, the overreaching vowels. Every voice, in preferring dinner to supper, or in pronouncing this as dis, betrays traces of its past. But vocabulary is not destiny. Words, regardless of their pedigree, make only as much sense as we choose to give them. We are the teachers, not they. To possess fluency, or “verbal intelligence,” is to animate words with our imagination. Every word is a bird we teach to sing.Reality responds to language. Reality is polyglot. Humans in conversation update and modify social reality from moment to moment.
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  • Joshua
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: The review is based on an ARC I got through a Goodreads giveaway."A joyous romp through the world of words, letters, stories, and meanings. Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing explores how communication shapes the reality we live in. From the intricacies of translation to the lyricism of sign language, these essays display the range of Tammet's literacy and polyglot talents."These paragraphs from the back of the book, in my opinion, best sums up what this book is about.This collect Disclaimer: The review is based on an ARC I got through a Goodreads giveaway."A joyous romp through the world of words, letters, stories, and meanings. Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing explores how communication shapes the reality we live in. From the intricacies of translation to the lyricism of sign language, these essays display the range of Tammet's literacy and polyglot talents."These paragraphs from the back of the book, in my opinion, best sums up what this book is about.This collection of essays by Daniel Tammet starts off in the best place to start; his journey with language from his youth in England to his adult life in Paris.He does not shy away from topics of language, but embraces them from the view of a person who loves language and cannot stop themselves from diving in as deep as he can; while managing to cast a wide net as well. Each essay jumps into a new linguistic topic. Each one looking at aspects of a different language and the oddities and intricacies of each.I could not put put this book down. Each page filled with just the right words for the job, even if that word is not in a language one can read (thankfully for us poor monoglots, translations are very often provided.). The topics written about, and the way they are written about, show just how much of a lover of language that Daniel Tammet is.It was an amazingly engaging work and each essay has something to add. Daniel Tammet truly taught every bird in this book to sing.
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  • Clara
    January 1, 1970
    Note: Thanks to NetGalley for providing an Advance Reading Copy of this book. All opinions regarding the book are entirely my own.You don't have to a lover of languages to enjoy Daniel Tammet's Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing, but what a delight it is if you are! Tammet grew up in a working class British family and felt like a perennial outsider. He went to college only in his thirties, after being diagnosed with "high-functioning autistic savant syndrome and synesthesia." From childhood h Note: Thanks to NetGalley for providing an Advance Reading Copy of this book. All opinions regarding the book are entirely my own.You don't have to a lover of languages to enjoy Daniel Tammet's Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing, but what a delight it is if you are! Tammet grew up in a working class British family and felt like a perennial outsider. He went to college only in his thirties, after being diagnosed with "high-functioning autistic savant syndrome and synesthesia." From childhood he had a fascination with words, and that interest, along with the lessons learned by being labeled "different" and "unusual" as a child, have made him a populist about words and language:Vocabulary is not destiny. Words, regardless of their pedigree, make only as much sense as we choose to give them. We are the teachers, not they. To possess fluency, or "verbal intelligence," is to animate words within our own imagination. Every word is a bird we teach to sing."Tammet's topics range from Iceland's strict rules to ensure that babies receive proper Icelandic-derived names to the rise and fall of Esperanto. He introduces us to some fascinating languages, including the resurgence of Manx, the original language of residents of the Isle of Man, and the language of phone conversations, codified by two pioneering researchers, and describes his novel approach to teaching English in Lithuania.The longer I read, the more I enjoyed the rich mix of essays that informs our understanding of the vital drive for human expression.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley for the free digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Check out all my book reviews at www.myliterary2cents.blogspot.comPlot Summary: This is a narrative of the author's life. He is a high functioning autistic with some amazing, although unique, linguistic skills. He starts out telling about his life as a boy and his unique language of numbers. The chapters then go on to describe how he acquired more linguistic ability through travel. He explains series of t Thanks to NetGalley for the free digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Check out all my book reviews at www.myliterary2cents.blogspot.comPlot Summary: This is a narrative of the author's life. He is a high functioning autistic with some amazing, although unique, linguistic skills. He starts out telling about his life as a boy and his unique language of numbers. The chapters then go on to describe how he acquired more linguistic ability through travel. He explains series of tests he was put through in order to better understand his unique abilities. He explains numerous word origins that are pretty fascinating. He speaks of translations briefly in one chapter.Notes about the author/writing style: This writer is obviously very brilliant. This is definitely not a "beach read", but is very interesting. Given the uniqueness of how this author learns, all educators should read at least one book of his.What I loved about the book: I loved learning about the author's unique "math language". Every word had a number attached to it. That blows my mathematical brain!What I disliked about the book: There were parts a little too technical and detailed for me.Who should read this book? Anyone who loves words and learning!
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  • Lydia
    January 1, 1970
    This book was as poetic as it was thought provoking. Linguistics is a fascinating field of study. As a layperson to the field, I found this book extremely accessible. I highly recommend it. I was delighted to receive this goodreads giveaway.
  • Carlos Vasconcelos
    January 1, 1970
    3.5Less interesting and too personal, compared to the amazing THINKING IN NUMBERS
  • Kyle
    January 1, 1970
    Can't wait to read this book! Will update when finished.
  • Ashleigh
    January 1, 1970
    review to come on blog on the 29th
  • Bethwyn (Butterfly Elephant Books)
    January 1, 1970
    review here: http://butterfly-elephant.blogspot.co...
  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    Didn't finish.
  • Pixie Alexander
    January 1, 1970
    The music of language, the mutability of words and numbers, I loved his descriptions of those abstractions. Synesthesia. What it would feel like if every sound was an onslaught of abstract meaning to disentangle, each number a suggestion of a thing or a landscape. Awesome.I felt more able to engage in that level of divination myself after reading it. I'm a painter, interested in linguistics: the implications of units of meaning, their mutability, their precariousness and contingencies.... his wo The music of language, the mutability of words and numbers, I loved his descriptions of those abstractions. Synesthesia. What it would feel like if every sound was an onslaught of abstract meaning to disentangle, each number a suggestion of a thing or a landscape. Awesome.I felt more able to engage in that level of divination myself after reading it. I'm a painter, interested in linguistics: the implications of units of meaning, their mutability, their precariousness and contingencies.... his work is in direct conversation with that realm of inquiry. Love it, all his writing and his story.
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  • Lil
    January 1, 1970
    I did not enjoy the style of writing or maybe the story
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