Interesting speech therapy facts:
- Human speech predates written language by tens of thousands of years. No one knows exactly how old spoken language is.
- Though it’s a common belief that women talk more than men, the evidence is inconclusive. One recent study found that women say about 13,000 more words per day than men, while another found no substantial difference.
- Synonyms for the word “talk” include speak, utter, say, tell, phrase, discourse, allocute, discourse, and orate.
- John Moschitta Jr. was the world’s fastest talker for decades. Famous for his appearance on Micro Machines commercials, he could say 583 words a minute and form syllables five times faster than average speakers.
- Talking requires the use of dozens of muscles in the lips, throat, and tongue, but speaking in a normal tone is no more tiring than sitting in silence.
- Approximately 50 million people worldwide suffer from stuttering, an involuntary repetition of sounds that impedes speech.
- An isolated city in Israel with a high rate of deafness created their own sign language as a way of communicating. Linguists have been studying the community for decades in the hopes of learning more about the fundamentals of human communication.
- Famous stutterers from history include Moses, Greek orator Demosthenes, Friedrich Nietzsche, King George VI of England, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe.
- Monroe’s famous breathy voice resulted from breathing exercises she learned as a child to control her stutter
- Many educators and older individuals bemoan the loss of “the art of conversation,” as technology and social media turns people away from physical human interaction and face to face discussion.
- Children always learn to say “content words” first, like mama, doggie, run, or look. Function words like and or the come later.
- Bottlenose dolphins use whistles and clicks to convey basic information to each other, thus “talking” in a very rudimentary way in order to solve problems.
- Animals like dolphins and primates verbally communicate in order to solve problems and convey basic survival information, but most theorists deny that this constitutes “language” because of their lack of any syntax or abstract rules for putting concepts together via articulated sounds.
- British people spend a lot of time talking about the weather. In a recent poll, 94% of British people admitted to having a conversation about the weather in the previous six hours.
- Many philosophers and scientists in the 17th and 18th centuries believed that spoken language was the chief indicator of rationality. John Locke, hearing of a Brazilian parrot who could speak French, concluded that perhaps there were other rational animals besides us.
- Since the advent of text messaging, people talk less on the phone. A 2015 study found that the average American sends or receives five times as many texts compared to phone calls.
- Many people pace while talking on the phone. Psychologists believe this may be a sort of coping mechanism to make up for lack of body language and non-verbal cues that normally accompany conversation.
- Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that mostly affects children. The disorder makes it difficult or even impossible for children to speak in specific settings, such as at school or around new people.
– Adrian F. “The Neuroscience of Everybody’s Favorite Topic.” Scientific American, July 16, 2018.