Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing: Encounters with the Mysteries and Meanings of Language (Hardcover)
From an early age, Daniel Tammet had an unusual relationship to language. Words became numbers to him; that was how he made sense of the world. As an adult, he was diagnosed as a "high functioning autistic savant." Tammet developed an impassioned attachment to words and languages as he matured. This passion is infectious and one finds oneself drawn into his curiosity and enthusiasm for the arcane. In his hands, language becomes an experiential and physical sensation. This is a beautiful and engaging book. -Greg— From Fall Booknotes 2017
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.
About the Author
"A fascinating journey through language and some of its many varied forms and uses."—Booklist (starred review)
"[An] insightful collection of 15 essays that explore language and its underappreciated nuances... 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."
"A cerebral jaunt though spoken, printed, championed and neglected words....Through Tammet's beautifully written explanations of the way his mind comprehends words (many words -- the author speaks 11 languages), readers may discover trapdoors flinging open in their own brains, revealing head-cocking perspectives on how to get one's point across."
"A book about words and language might sound dry or lofty, but Tammet's writing is lucid, thoughtful and often funny, drawing readers in and leaving us thinking a little differently about language."
—Sarah McCraw Crow, Bookpage
"A delightful, diverse collection of essays. Great fun and the perfect gift for any math-phobic person, young or old." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)—-
"Tammet is a master of gleaning profound insights from seemingly mundane trivia...This is a delightful book." --Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)—-
"Whether or not readers consider themselves mathematically inclined, they will be enthralled. This book will charm just about anyone." --Library Journal (starred review)—-
"How many mathematicians are dazzling storytellers as well? What a joy to read an author whose dexterity with digits is matched by his wisdom with words." --David Eagleman, PhD, neuroscientist, author of Incognito and Sum—-
"Intriguing, provocative - to wrestle with numbers in this way is an adventure." --Lydia Davis, author of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis—-
"Thinking in Numbers is a magnificently, movingly peculiar and wise book." --Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and host of Studio 360—-
"With Einsteinian elegance, Tammet recasts our perceptions of the human experience in this extraordinary collection of essays. His remarkable talent for expression--for enlightening, moving, and transforming his reader--reveals a rare combination of ingenuity and artistry." --David Finch, author of The Journal of Best Practices—-