Something very complicated happens when we speak. Vocal cord vibrations are modulated by the snaky movements of a little appendage called the tongue. Twisting around the mouth cavity, tapping on the roof or on teeth-backs up front, it shapes sounds before they exit the mouth’s mini echo chamber. The hewed-out sounds have travelled a long way from cords to eardrums and then brain. When these sounds at long last go through the brain’s transliteration engine other connotations are spliced in, en route to final meaning. The way we speak reveals a lot about us. Read the transcript or listen to Meghan Sumner, Associate Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University, speak in this Freakonomics podcast. The revelations that other people have about us can be biased. The accent of your speech may cause the person listening to reduce you to a stereotype.
Sometimes, I read Chuck Lorre’s vanity card at the tail end of The Big Bang Theory. The last one was about how much he was influenced by science fiction. Earlier that same day a friend asked me why I didn’t perform all the usual religious acts, as people seem to be doing, mostly unconsciously _ going to temple, church, performing rituals, which are addictively mind numbing and therefore I suppose tranquilising like a drug.