Transcript: John Colapinto: What Makes Human Speech So Powerful? | Jun 17, 2021

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of Walter Cronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "What makes human speech so powerful? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING BOOKS TAKE ON A SUBJECT THAT PEOPLE RARELY THINK ABOUT EVEN AS THEY RELY ON IT DAILY. FOR MANY REASONS, JOHN COLAPINTO'S NEW BOOK RISES QUICKLY UP THE LIST OF THE BEST OF THOSE. IT'S CALLED "THIS IS THE VOICE" AND IT'S ABOUT THE EXTRAORDINARY MECHANICS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SOUND MADE BY OUR VOCAL CORDS. AND JOHN COLAPINTO JOINS US NOW FROM THE UPPER EASTSIDE OF MANHATTAN ISLAND IN NEW YORK CITY.

John is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short curly gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a black suit and a blue shirt. A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is black, with the word "voice" surrounded by soundwaves.

Steve continues IT'S NICE TO MEET YOU. HOW ARE YOU DOING?

John says LIKEWISE, STEVE. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Steve says I WANT TO TAKE YOU BACK TO A MOMENT THAT I KNOW WAS, I PRESUME, THE BASIS FOR THIS BOOK AND A REALLY SCARY MOMENT FOR YOU. A LOT OF US TAKE OUR VOICES FOR GRANTED, BUT YOUR VOICE FAILED YOU AT A MOMENT WHEN YOU REALLY NEEDED IT. WANT TO HIT THAT STORY TO US?

The caption changes to "John Colapinto. Author, 'This is the voice.' The New Yorker."

John says YES, ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO, I WAS WORKING FOR ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE AT THE TIME. JANN WENNER, THE OWNER, DECIDED TO PUT TOGETHER A ROCK BAND, AND WE WERE GOING TO PERFORM FOR A HUGE PARTY OF ABOUT 2,000 PEOPLE. LOTS OF THEM CELEBRITIES. UM, I'M AN AMATEUR SINGER. I DON'T REALLY KNOW HOW TO WARM UP MY VOICE. CERTAINLY DIDN'T KNOW BACK THEN AND I OVER SANG IN REHEARSALS AND AS WE TICKED DOWN TO THE ACTUAL DATE OF THE PERFORMANCE, I REALIZED MY VOICE WAS GOING. I COULDN'T GET THE HIGH NOTES AS READILY, AS EASILY. THE POWER WAS SOMEWHAT COMPROMISED AND BUT, WHEN I DID THE PERFORMANCE, I JUST BLEW IT OUT AS HARD AS I COULD AND MANAGED TO DO WHAT I HAD TO DO, BUT IT WAS REALLY AFTER THAT THAT I REALIZED I HAD DAMAGED MY VOICE. UM, I'VE BEEN HOARSE IN THE PAST AFTER SINGING. THIS WAS A DIFFERENT STORY.

Steve says WELL, I GATHER IT WAS SORT OF A SERENDIPITOUS MEETING WITH SOMEBODY IN AN ELEVATOR THAT ACTUALLY PROMPTED YOU TO LOOK INTO WHAT WAS SERIOUSLY GOING ON THERE, RIGHT?

The caption changes to "John Colapinto, @JohnColapinto."

John says CORRECT. I WAS DOING WHAT I TEND TO DO, WHICH IS IGNORE THE PROBLEM. I WAS, I GOT IN MY ELEVATOR. IT WAS A NEW BUILDING THAT WE HAD JUST MOVED INTO. A NICE NEIGHBOUR GOT IN. I SAID WHAT YOU SAY IN NEW YORK, "WHAT FLOOR?" BECAUSE YOU CAN PUSH THE NUMBER FOR THEM AND IT JUST TOOK THOSE TWO WORDS. SHE SAID, "OH, YOU HAVE A VERY SERIOUS VOICE INJURY." AND I TRIED TO SORT OF LAUGH IT OFF AND SHE SAID, "NO, NO, NO. I CAN REALLY SEE. LIKE, YOU ARE DOING THINGS WITH YOUR MUSCLES IN YOUR NECK TO COMPENSATE." UM, SHE ACTUALLY DIAGNOSED THAT I WAS PROBABLY FEELING SOME PAIN IN MY NECK. THE VOCAL CORDS HAVE NO PAIN RECEPTORS. THIS WAS MUSCULAR PAIN FROM OVERCOMPENSATING TO SORT OF TRY TO MAKE THE SOUND WORK. SHE SAID, "YOU KNOW, YOU'RE PROBABLY TIRED." AND SHE SAID BECAUSE ALL OF YOUR BODY, ALL THE MUSCLES IN OUR UPPER BODY SORT OF WORK TO PRODUCE THE VOICE AND THAT'S BY DRIVING OUR DIAPHRAGM AND CONTROLLING OUR BREATHING AND I SAID, "YES, AS A MATTER OF FACT, I'M TIRED ALL THE TIME." SHE SAID, "WELL, YOU KNOW, THIS IS YOUR VOCAL PROBLEM." AND YOU KNOW, I SORT OF BELIEVED IT. I WASN'T SURE. IT'S WHEN SHE HINTED THAT IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE A CANCEROUS GROWTH OF MY VOCAL CORD THAT I WENT TO THE DOCTOR THE VERY NEXT DAY. HE PUT OF LARYNGOSCOPE DOWN MY THROAT THAT HAS A LIGHT ON THE END OF IT AND HE PHOTOGRAPHED MY VOCAL CORDS AND HE DID REVEAL THAT THANK GOODNESS IT WAS NOT A MALIGNANT CANCER OR SOMETHING. INSTEAD, IT WAS THIS SORT OF SCAR TISSUE. THEY CALL IT A POLYP AND IT'S LIKE A LUMP ON THE EDGE OF ONE OF THE VOCAL CORDS. IT'S REALLY FROM BLEEDING. IT'S LIKE AN UNTREATED BLEED INTO THE VOCAL CORD, WHICH I HAD INDUCED BY THIS OVER SINGING.

Steve says AND WHO WAS SHE?

John says YEAH, GREAT. SHE WAS, AS IT TURNED OUT, A VOCAL COACH WITH BROADWAY SINGERS AND ACTORS AND SHE HAD SAID THAT AT THE TIME AND I WENT, "OH, COOL." I DIDN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HER. I LATER LOOKED HER UP AND SHE WAS LIKE THE, ACTUALLY, WHEN I WAS DOING THIS BOOK, I SORT OF THOUGHT, I'D BETTER FIND OUT ANDREA'S CREDENTIALS AND SHE ACTUALLY WORKS WITH A VOCAL COACH WHO WAS WORLD-FAMOUS, KRISTIN LINKLATER, WHO HAS, SHE RECENTLY DIED, SHE DIED LAST SUMMER, AND SHE ACTUALLY HAS LIKE A NETWORK OF VOCAL COACHES AROUND THE WORLD THAT ACTUALLY TEACH SOMETHING CALLED "FREEING THE NATURAL VOICE." AND THAT ALONE MIGHT ALMOST SUGGEST THAT THIS IS ABOUT HER TEACHING PEOPLE TO RELAX AND NOT PUSH THE VOICE, AS I WAS CERTAINLY DOING, UM, BUT SHE ALSO TEACHES ALL SORTS OF METHODS FOR SORT OF BRINGING OUT WHO YOU ARE THROUGH THE VOCAL SINGING AND THAT CONNECTED EXACTLY WITH WHAT I ENDED UP WRITING ABOUT IN THIS BOOK.

Steve says NOW, I KNOW THAT YOU'RE A CANADIAN ORIGINALLY, BUT YOU'VE BEEN IN NEW YORK FOR SEVERAL DECADES, SO I GOTTA HIT YOU WITH THIS TOM SEAVER STORY. YOU'LL KNOW TOM SEAVER, THE FORMER, I MEAN, ALL-WORLD PITCHER WITH THE NEW YORK METS AND I REMEMBER TALKING TO HIM ONCE AND HE SAID, "EVERY TIME I GO TO BED, I'M AFRAID, BECAUSE IF I ROLL OVER ON MY PITCHING ARM AND DO SOMETHING TO MY ARM, THAT'S MY CAREER." AND I WONDER WHETHER YOU FELT THAT SAME EXPERIENCE THROUGH THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE THAT, YOU KNOW, MAYBE THIS IS THE SPEECH, MAYBE THIS IS THE SONG, MAYBE THIS IS THE INTERVIEW THAT I'M GOING TO GIVE AND MY VOICE IS GOING TO GO AND THAT'S IT AND YOU NEED YOUR VOICE TO DO YOUR JOB. DO YOU EVER EXPERIENCE THAT?

John says WELL, YES, IN A SENSE, BUT I ALWAYS KNOW AT THE END OF THE DAY, AS A PRINT JOURNALIST, WHICH HAS BEEN MY MAIN ACTIVITY, THAT, YOU KNOW, WHAT REALLY IS GOING TO MATTER IS WHAT I GET ON THE PAGE, THE "VOICE" THAT I CREATE ON THE PAGE. BUT TO YOUR POINT, I'M NOT WRITING ANYTHING UNLESS I'M DOING A LOT OF INTERVIEWS AND, YOU KNOW, BEFORE ZOOM, I WAS DOING THOSE INTERVIEWS OVER THE PHONE AND, YES, MY FEELING WAS THAT IF I HAD A BADLY DEGRADED VOCAL SIGNAL, THAT WAS REALLY GOING TO EFFECT HOW INTERVIEWS WERE ROLLED OUT. SO, FOR INSTANCE, IF WAS INTERVIEWING SOMEONE, AND I HAVE DONE THIS, A CHILD HAD BEEN KILLED WITHIN A GUN INCIDENT. I WANT TO CREATE EMPATHY, SYMPATHY. I WANT TO SEEM LIKE A SYMPATHETIC PERSON THAT THIS PERSON CAN OPEN UP TO AND SPEAK ABOUT THE WORST TRAGEDY IN THEIR LIFE. NOW, I'M NOT SAYING (VOICE LOWERING) THAT SOMEONE THAT SPEAKS LIKE THIS DOESN'T SOUND SYMPATHETIC, BUT I WAS A LITTLE BIT WORRIED THAT I WAS GOING TO SOUND LIKE EITHER A GANGSTER THAT WAS GOING TO BUMP THEM OFF OR, YOU KNOW, SOMEONE THAT SMOKES SIX PACKS OF CIGARETTES A DAY. I GUESS WHAT I'M SAYING IS, YES, MY VOICE AS A JOURNALIST WAS TREMENDOUSLY AND IS TREMENDOUSLY IMPORTANT TO ME AS ALMOST AN INSTRUMENT OF, IF I CAN SAY SO, SEDUCTION. GETTING PEOPLE TO OPEN UP, TRUST ME, OR EVEN TALK TO ME IN THE FIRST PLACE, SO YES, THERE WAS THAT WORRY.

Steve says YOU AND I HAVE NEVER MET BEFORE AND I MUST CONFESS AFTER READING THE BOOK, I WAS CURIOUS TO HEAR WHAT YOUR VOICE NOW WOULD SOUND LIKE GIVEN THE TRAUMA IT HAS BEEN THROUGH AND I SURE NOTICE YOU HAVE A RASPY VOICE. DO YOU NOTICE IT ANYMORE?

John says YOU KNOW, I DO AND I'M PARTICULARLY NOTICING IT NOW, BECAUSE I WANT MY VOICE TO BE SMOOTH RIGHT NOW, BUT IT CHANGES DAY-TO-DAY. DEPENDING ON WHAT I'VE DONE THE DAY BEFORE. IF I'VE DONE A LOT OF TALKING. IF I'VE DARED TO SING, WHICH I TRY NOT TO NOW, BUT THIS VOCAL POLYP, THIS MASS ON MY VOCAL CORD, IT ACTUALLY BANGS AGAINST THE HEALTHY VOCAL CORD AND CAN MAKE THAT ONE SWELL, SO THEN MY VOICE WILL BE WORSE THE NEXT DAY. IT COULD BE BAD FOR A WEEK DEPENDING ON HOW MUCH ABUSE I PUT MY VOICE THROUGH. NOW, WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT THIS IS ALWAYS, UM, ON MY MIND. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, I WONDERED WHAT I WOULD SOUND LIKE TODAY. I WASN'T ENTIRELY SURE. I'VE BEEN WRITING THIS MORNING, NOT USING MY VOICE MUCH, SO I'M SURPRISED TO DISCOVER, STEVE, AS I SPEAK TO YOU THAT YEAH, THERE'S MORE RATTLE THERE THAN I WISH. HOWEVER, IT UNDERLINES THE POINT OF THE BOOK.

Steve says MMM-HMM. AND YET, YOU HAVE OPTED NOT TO GET THE SURGERY THAT A LOT OF OTHERS HAVE, YES, PLEASE, TAKE A GOOD SIP OF WATER, YOU WILL NEED THAT.

John says OH, YEAH. GOTTA KEEP THEM HYDRATED.

Steve says YOU'VE OPTED NOT TO GO FOR SURGERY, WHICH A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE DONE. A LOT OF FAMOUS PEOPLE HAVE DONE. HOW COME?

John says YEAH, AND THE SURGERY IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. I'VE WATCHED IT BEING DONE ON VARIOUS PEOPLE WHEN I DID A STORY ON A VOCAL SURGEON UP IN BOSTON. YOU KNOW, I THINK MY INITIAL REASON FOR NOT DOING IT 20 YEARS AGO WAS THAT I DID NOT FEEL THAT I COULD AFFORD THE SIX WEEKS OF VOCAL SILENCE THAT I WAS TOLD THAT I WOULD HAVE TO UNDERGO. THE WAY IT WORKS IS THAT THEY JUST CAN'T STITCH A VOCAL CORD, IT'S GOT TO HEAL ON ITS OWN. I WAS AT A POINT IN MY LIFE AND CAREER WHERE I JUST COULDN'T AFFORD THAT. NOW, MAYBE I COULD STEAL THAT TIME. UM, BUT I HAVE NOT DONE SO AND I THINK IT'S PARTLY BECAUSE I FEEL AS IF MY VOICE IS, I FEEL AS IF ALL OF OUR VOICES ARE WHO WE ARE. BECAUSE MY VOICE, BECAUSE I'M NOT A BROADCASTER, I FEEL AS IF I CAN HAVE A VOICE THAT HAS THIS PATINA, THAT HAS THESE NICKS AND SCARS THAT INDICATE A LIFE OF MAYBE A LOT OF TALKING, MAYBE SOME RECKLESS SINGING, MAYBE, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE STUPIDITIES THAT I'VE PUT MY VOICE THROUGH. I JUST SORT OF HAVE TO LET THOSE BE, BECAUSE THAT'S WHO I AM NOW AT 62 YEARS OLD.

Steve says INDEED. UM, THE HISTORIAN YUVAL NOAH HARARI. WE HAD HIM ON OUR PROGRAM NOT TOO LONG AGO AND HE MAKES THE POINT THAT IT IS OUR UNIQUE ABILITY FOR LANGUAGE THAT SEPARATES US FROM THE REST OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. LET'S I GUESS GET INTO A BIT OF THE SCIENCE ON THIS, BECAUSE YOU DO IN THE BOOK. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THIS?

John says YOU KNOW, I THINK HE'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, BECAUSE HIS LARGER POINT IS IT'S REALLY LANGUAGE THAT ALLOWED THIS HAIRLESS, SLOW-RUNNING, EASILY PREDATED UPON ANIMAL, US, UH, TO ACTUALLY WIN OUT OVER THOSE CREATURES THAT WOULD KILL AND EAT US AND ELIMINATE US. HOW DID WE DO IT? WELL, WE DID IT BY COOPERATING WITH EACH OTHER IN INGENIOUS WAYS, MAKING UP PLANS FOR INSTANCE IN ORDER TO KILL THAT BIG CREATURE THAT COULD KILL US AND THEN, WE WOULD EAT THAT CREATURE. WE DID IT THROUGH, UM, MAKING PLANS THAT WE SHARED WITH ONE ANOTHER THROUGH SPEECH. IT WAS REALLY THE ONLY WAY THAT WE COULD REALLY OVERCOME THESE OBVIOUS WEAKNESSES OF OUR SPECIES, SO IT'S RATHER EXTRAORDINARY WHAT THIS HAS GIVEN US THE ABILITY TO DO, YOU KNOW, NOT ONLY DO WE MAKE TOOLS, WE MAKE OUR SOPHISTICATED TOOLS THAT WE TEACH EACH OTHER HOW TO MAKE AND THAT WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO USE SO THAT THEY CAN SURVIVE. SO, OUR... OUR LANGUAGE IS CRITICAL TO OUR SURVIVAL, BUT LANGUAGE IS SOMETHING THAT LINGUISTS DESCRIBE AS SOMETHING THAT GOES ON UP IN OUR BRAIN. THE ASSEMBLY OF SENTENCES WHICH WE THEN PUT OUT THROUGH THE VOCAL CHANNEL AND THEN YOU HAVE TO STOP AND SAY, "WAIT! OH, YES! THE VOCAL CHANNEL." WE WERE A SPECIES THAT WAS COMMUNICATING THESE IDEAS, THESE THOUGHTS, THESE LANGUAGE-BASED NOTIONS. HOW? THROUGH OUR SPEECH APPARATUS AND THAT ENDED UP BEING SOMETHING SO IMPORTANT IN MY BOOK, BECAUSE I REALIZED THAT SCIENCE IS NOT TALKED ABOUT. SCIENCE HAS TAKEN VERY LITTLE INTEREST IN THESE SPECIFICATIONS AND REFINEMENTS OF OUR VOCAL INSTRUMENT, LITERALLY OF OUR ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY, AND BIOLOGY FOR COMMUNICATING SPEECH THROUGH OUR MOUTHS AND THAT GETS INTO AN AMAZINGLY, TO MY MIND, INTERESTING NOTION OF HOW, IN FACT, IT WAS THESE CHANGES TO OUR VOCAL APPARATUS THAT CREATED THE LANGUAGE IN OUR BRAIN IN THE FIRST PLACE. IN A FEEDBACK LOOP. WE SORT OF DEVELOPED THESE WAYS OF REFINING OUR, THE WAY OUR MOUTHS AND LIPS MOVE AND THE WAY WE CAN CONTROL OUR BREATH AND THAT, AGAIN, FED BACK INTO THE BRAIN TO CREATE OUR ABILITY TO MAKE WORDS AND SENTENCES.

Steve says LET'S FIND OUT WHAT THE VOICE CAN TELL US ABOUT EACH OTHER AND TO THAT END, I WANT TO READ AN EXCERPT FROM YOUR BOOK AND HERE IT GOES. I'M GOING TO ASK TONY TO BRING THIS UP AND WE'LL ALL

A quote appears on screen, under the title "How do we sound to others?" The quote reads "The enterprise of being human is to carve out a congenial place to occupy in the world, an achievement that we know intuitively depends to a frightening extent on how our voices sound in the ears of others. To alter your voice in ways that conform better to the person you feel yourself to be, or that you wish you were, means changing, fundamentally, who you are." Quoted from John Colapinto, "This is the voice." 2021.

Steve says THAT'S SUCH A FASCINATING CONCEPT. HOW MUCH CAN YOU KNOW ABOUT SOMEBODY JUST FROM HEARING THAT'S SOMEBODY'S VOICE?

John says WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S AMAZING. I THINK WE KNOW SO VERY MUCH. NOW, WE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SAY HOW TALL THEY ARE, WE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SAY, I DON'T KNOW, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE CAN SAY ARE THINGS VERY OFTEN LIKE WHERE THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN BORN AND RAISED, BECAUSE WE'RE HEARING THINGS IN ACCENT. UM, WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO DETECT AND THIS CAN, YOU KNOW, MAKE SOME PEOPLE FEEL BAD. WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO DETECT SOMEONE'S LEVEL OF EDUCATION. YOU KNOW, PEOPLE THAT WENT TO TONY PRIVATE SCHOOLS OFTEN HAVE A PARTICULAR CRISPNESS TO THEIR ARTICULATION THAT WAS KIND OF DRUMMED INTO THEM FOR INSTANCE. UM, WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO HEAR IF SOMEONE IS A LITTLE BIT HOSTILE, SOMEWHAT COMPETITIVE. WE MIGHT HEAR IF SOMEONE IS KIND OF A BIT OF A SEDUCTIVE, SEDUCING KIND OF PERSON. SO, IN OTHER WORDS, WE'RE PICKING UP A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT, SORT OF IN A GESTALT WAY FROM SOMEONE'S VOCAL SIGNAL, BUT ALSO IN SPECIFIC MOMENTS WE'RE HEARING THINGS. FOR INSTANCE, WHETHER OR NOT SOMEONE IS FRIGHTENED AND TRYING TO COVER IT UP OR WHETHER OR NOT THEY'RE HOSTILE AND TRYING TO COVER IT UP. NOW, SOMEONE MAY BE LISTENING TO ME NOW AND THINKING, "OH, GEE, HE'S MAKING SOME AWFULLY GRAND CLAIMS FOR THE VOICE," BUT IF YOU ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT MOMENTS IN YOUR LIFE WHERE YOU REALIZE, "OH, I WAS PICKING UP SO MANY," YOU REMEMBER THAT FIRST DATE WHERE YOU REALIZE YOU WERE GETTING SO MUCH FROM THAT PERSON'S VOCAL SIGNAL. I HAVE A MOMENT IN MY BOOK WHERE YEARS AGO, I WAS LISTENING TO THE NEWS ABOUT THE MELTDOWN OF THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE WORLD AND THE FACT THAT I WAS SUDDENLY AFRAID THAT WE WERE GOING TO BE LIVING, YOU KNOW, ON ONE OF THESE NEW YORK, YOU KNOW, SUBWAY GRATES, AND I WAS TERRIFIED, AND MY NINE-YEAR-OLD SON ARRIVED HOME. HE COULDN'T SEE ME, BUT I CALLED OUT TO HIM THE WAY I DO EVERY DAY WHEN WE GET HOME. I SAID, "HI, JOHNNY!" AND HE SAID, "WHAT'S WRONG?" I WAS TRYING TO KEEP OUT OF MY VOICE THIS FEAR THAT I WAS FEELING, HE DETECTED IT IN AN INSTANT. SO, I JUST THINK OUR VOCAL SIGNALS IS GIVING US AWAY A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT AND EFFORTS TO DISGUISE IT AND TO BE A DIFFERENT PERSON THAN WE REALLY ARE CAN ACTUALLY SOUND PHONY. IT CAN WORK AGAINST US.

Steve says WELL, AT THE RISK OF EMBARRASSING MYSELF HERE, WHAT DOES MY VOICE TELL YOU ABOUT ME?

John says WELL, I THINK YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WITH KIND OF A CRISP, VERY GREAT, WITTY FINE ARTICULATION. THAT TELLS ME THAT YOU ARE WELL EDUCATED, WELL-READ. YOU HAVE A VOICE THAT INVITES PEOPLE TO ANSWER YOU. YOU ARE NOT AN AGGRESSIVE, UM, MANSPLAINING PERSON THAT'S JUMPING IN AT EVERY INSTANT. YOU DON'T SOUND LIKE YOU'RE GONNA BE THAT WAY. YOU SOUND LIKE YOU MIGHT'VE SPENT YOUR LIFE MAKING YOUR LIVING BEING CURIOUS ABOUT PEOPLE. ASKING WELL-TARGETED QUESTIONS IN A WELL-ARTICULATIVE VOICE THAT INVITES A PERSON TO GIVE A RESPONSE. UM, SO I WOULD SAY THOSE THINGS IMMEDIATELY JUMP OUT AT ME.

Steve says YOU CAN ALSO TELL THAT I DON'T "PAWRK MY CAR AT HAWVARD YAWRD," SO YOU KNOW WHERE I'M NOT FROM, RIGHT?

John says YEAH, I THINK I KNOW WHERE YOU'RE NOT FROM. I SHOULD'VE LOOKED UP WHERE YOU'RE FROM, SO I COULD HAVE SOUNDED LIKE INCREDIBLY GOOD AT BEING ABLE TO PICK UP GEOGRAPHIC VOICES, BUT I'M TOO STUPID TO HAVE DONE IT.

Steve says I THINK I WAS BORN ABOUT AN HOUR AWAY FROM WHERE YOU WERE BORN. ARE YOU FROM TORONTO ORIGINALLY?

John says I AM, I AM.

Steve says YEAH, I'M FROM HAMILTON ORIGINALLY.

John says I WOULD HAVE SAID THAT. YEAH, FANTASTIC. I WOULD HAVE SAID I THINK WE SOUND LIKE TWO CANADIAN GUYS SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER, BUT YES.

Steve says COULD YOU KNOW THE CRAZY THING, JOHN? WHEN I WAS, I'M A MASSIVE RED SOX FAN, SO I WENT TO BOSTON UNIVERSITY SO THAT I COULD BE CLOSE TO FENWAY PARK AND A YEAR OF LIVING IN BOSTON, I CAME HOME AND DURING JOB INTERVIEWS, I'M LIKE 22 YEARS OLD AT THE TIME. DURING JOB INTERVIEWS, I REMEMBER ONE PERSPECTIVE EMPLOYER SAYING TO ME, "WHY WOULD WE HIRE SOMEBODY FROM THE UNITED STATES, FROM NEW ENGLAND, WHEN WE CAN HIRE PEOPLE FROM CANADA?"

John says OH, WOW.

Steve says ONE YEAR OF LIVING IN BOSTON AND I CAME HOME TALKING ABOUT THE "NAWTH END OF QUINCY MAWKET." AND THIS KIND OF THING.

John says YES.

Steve says UH, HOW AND WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN?

John says WELL, IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, UM... VOICE SCIENCE TELLS US THAT WE ARE MOST MALLEABLE TO PICKING UP AN ACCENT WHEN WE ARE BABIES. WHEN WE ARE FIRST BORN. THAT SHOULDN'T SURPRISE US. THERE'S THAT SORT OF WINDOW WHERE HUMAN BEINGS ARE DEVELOPING ALL SORTS OF STUFF BECAUSE THEY'RE JUST HAVING TO LEARN SO FAST, BUT THE FACT THAT A 22-YEAR-OLD IS STILL PICKING UP SHADINGS OF ACCENTS REALLY IS NOT THAT SURPRISING TO ME AT ALL. UH, YOU'LL ALSO NOTICE THAT IT DIDN'T STAY LOCKED INTO YOUR NEURO-CIRCUITRY. REALLY WHAT'S HAPPENING WHEN WE'RE BABIES AND PICKING UP AN ACCENT IS WE'RE ACTUALLY CARVING PATHWAYS, NEUROPATHWAYS IN THE BRAIN. IN THE MOTOR CENTRES ACTUALLY, SO THAT WHEN WE SPEAK, WE ARE SAYING "PARK." INSTEAD OF "PAWRK." IF WE HAPPENED TO BE CANADIAN AND NOT FROM MASSACHUSETTS. UM, SO, BUT... YOU KNOW THAT IMPRESSIONABILITY. THE FACT THAT AT 22, ONE IS STILL CREATING ONESELF. ONE STILL HAS TO BE, IN A SENSE, UM... RECEPTIVE AND REACTIVE TO THEIR ENVIRONMENT IN ORDER TO SURVIVE SO THAT WHEN YOU WERE IN THE UNITED STATES, IN ORDER TO GET ALONG AND GO ALONG, IT WOULD'VE MADE A LOT OF SENSE FOR YOU TO BE PICKING UP THOSE SHADINGS AND THEN CARRYING THEM INTO JOB INTERVIEWS LATER IN CANADA, BUT THEN AGAIN, LOSING IT, BECAUSE IT'S NOT WIRED IN AS IN A HARDWIRED WAY AS IT WAS OBVIOUSLY FOR YOU GROWING UP IN HAMILTON HEARING YOUR PARENTS AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU SPEAKING.

Steve says FASCINATING. CAN YOU TELL? I KNOW YOU TOOK... SO FAR, WE HAVEN'T GOT TOO, TOO CONTROVERSIAL IN SOME OF THE THINGS WE'VE TALKED ABOUT AND I WANT TO GET MORE CONTROVERSIAL NOW AND SINCE YOU RAISED THIS IN THE BOOK, LET'S DO IT. CAN YOU TELL SOMEONE'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION FROM THE WAY THEIR VOICE SOUNDS?

John says IT'S VERY INTERESTING, BECAUSE LINGUISTS DO, THEY INVENTED THE TERM, IT'S NOT MY TERM, "GAY VOICE." AND A LOT WERE, A LOT OF THEM WERE GAY LINGUISTS BACK IN THE '90S THAT WERE VERY, VERY INTERESTED IN LOOKING AT WHY THE VOCAL SIGNAL EXISTS THAT CAN SOMETIMES TELL US THAT SOMEONE IS GAY. SOME PEOPLE THAT SPEAK THAT WAY MAY INDEED BE GAY AND LAB TESTS TELL US THAT, YOU KNOW, A TREMENDOUS PERCENTAGE ARE WHEN YOU GET PEOPLE LISTENING AND SAYING, "OKAY, IS THAT PERSON GAY OR NOT?" BUT IT'S BY NO MEANS 100 percent. IN OTHER WORDS, PEOPLE CAN HAVE THOSE SPEECH FEATURES WITHOUT BEING GAY. BUT AGAIN, A PREPONDERANT TEND TO BE. SO, THE QUESTION IS WHERE ON EARTH WOULD THAT BE PICKED UP? AND, YOU KNOW, SO PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, SCIENTISTS WENT THROUGH THESE CONTORTIONS FOR A LONG TIME SAYING, "WELL, MAYBE, YOU KNOW, IT'S WHATEVER IT IS THAT HAS MADE THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION TOWARDS MEMBERS OF THE SAME SEX. YOU KNOW, MAYBE THAT'S A BIOLOGICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECT OF THEIR MOTOR-CIRCUITRY FOR THEIR SPEECH THAT MAKES THEM SOUND GAY. THAT SEEMS TO ACTUALLY BE NONSENSE LIKE SO MUCH ELSE ABOUT THE WAY WE TALK, IT SEEMS TO BE LEARNED, SO I GUESS, STEVE, WHAT I'M SAYING IS WE HAVE TO TAKE A GRAIN WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. ALL OF THESE THEORIES ABOUT "GAY VOICE," BUT I THINK WE WOULD BE LYING TO OURSELVES IF WE DIDN'T ADMIT THAT THERE SEEMS TO BE A VOCAL SIGNAL THAT WE HEAR THAT MAKES US SAY THAT PERSON MIGHT BE GAY.

Steve says WELL, LET'S CONTINUE TO KEEP IT REAL, BECAUSE YOU TALK ABOUT THIS IN THE BOOK AS WELL. YOU TALK ABOUT A "BLACK-CCENT." A WAY OF SPEAKING THAT SOME BLACK PEOPLE EMPLOY.

John says YES, THE ANSWER IS I THINK THAT THERE ARE THESE LITTLE FRILLS THAT WE CAN HEAR IN VIRTUALLY EVERY BLACK PERSON, BUT I THINK THERE'S NO DENYING THAT THERE IS AN INNER-CITY SOUND OF BLACK SPEECH THAT LITERALLY CAN BE BEAUTIFULLY TRACED AS COMING DOWN FROM SLAVES WHEN THEY WERE ORIGINALLY KIDNAPPED AND BROUGHT HERE AND HAD TO WORK OUT A PIDGIN STYLE OF SPEECH AND THEN A CREOLE AS IT'S CALLED. AND THEN, EVENTUALLY, THEIR OWN SPEECH. IT'S BLENDING ALL OF THESE AFRICAN ELEMENTS FROM THEIR OWN PAST WITH SPEECH THEY HEARD SPOKEN BY WHITE INDENTURED SERVANTS THAT WORKED ON THESE FARMS THAT WERE BROUGHT OVER FROM ENGLAND, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT. SO, YOU'VE GOT SORT OF LOWER-CLASS BLACK ENGLISH ACCENTS. I MEAN, IT'S JUST AN AMAZINGLY QUITE BEAUTIFUL AND COMPLEX SOUND THAT IS BEING CREATED THAT WE'RE HEARING TODAY IN SPEECH. IT'S REMARKABLE.

Steve says YOU MENTIONED MY FAVOURITE SINGER OF ALL TIME ON PAGE 148, SO I AM GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT MR. SINATRA HERE.

John says AH, GREAT!

Steve says ONE OF HIS NICKNAMES BESIDES BEING THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD WAS "THE VOICE." AND I GUESS HE AND BING CROSBY WERE REALLY THE FIRST TWO SUPERSTAR SINGERS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY COULD DO DIFFERENTLY WITH THEIR VOICES WHEN THEY HAD THE POWER OF THIS THING, A MICROPHONE, TO SING INTO. AMPLIFY ON THAT... SORRY ABOUT THE BAD PUN THERE, BUT AMPLIFY ON THAT IF YOU WOULD.

John says YOU KNOW, IT'S LONG ENOUGH AGO THAT I WROTE THE BOOK THAT I CAN'T REMEMBER WHETHER OR NOT I WROTE, WHETHER OR NOT I LEFT IN THE EXTENSIVE PASSAGE ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE ASKING. I THINK IT MAY HAVE BEEN CUT BACK, SO I RELISH BEING ABLE TO TELL YOUR VIEWERS THIS. IT'S UTTERLY FASCINATING. BEFORE SINATRA AND BEFORE, YOU KNOW, BING CROSBY, PEOPLE WERE SINGING, OR I SHOULD SAY BEFORE RADIO BROADCAST AND THE ELECTRONIC MICROPHONE, PEOPLE WERE SINGING WITHOUT ELECTRONIC AMPLIFICATION OF THEIR VOICE. THEY NEEDED TO TRAIN THEMSELVES TO BE ABLE TO SING IN A WAY THAT WOULD REACH THE BACK OF A HALL. AND WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT DOING WAS MAKING SURE YOU SANG ON THE VOWEL, BECAUSE IF YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT, ALL OF THE MELODIC CARRYING PART OF ANY SINGING VOICE ARE THOSE VOWELS. FLY ME TO THE MOON SO, YOU KNOW THAT YOU EXTEND THAT "MOON." YOU KEEP THOSE M, THE M AND THE N VERY SHORT, BECAUSE OTHERWISE, YOU CAN'T HEAR THE VOICE AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM. SINATRA AND BING REALIZED WHEN THEY HAD THIS MICROPHONE THAT THEY COULD GET CLOSE TO, THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO BLOW OUT THEIR VOICE ON THE VOWELS AS MUCH BECAUSE THEY COULD BE HEARD SINGING CLOSE TO A MICROPHONE, THEY REALIZED THEY COULD ACTUALLY HIT THOSE MORE INTIMATE SOUNDS IN SINGING. THE M'S AND THE N'S. THE NASALS AS THEIR CALLED. WHERE THE SOUND IS REALLY COMING OUT OF THE NOSE, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WHEN WE SAY "MMM," WE'RE REALLY JUST DOING THE "BUH" SOUND, "MUH." BUT WE'RE OPENING UP A LITTLE TRAP DOOR AT THE BACK OF OUR NOSE AND MAKING THE SOUND COME OUT OF THE NOSE, SO IT SOFTENS THE "BUH" INTO A "MUH." SO, WHAT DID THAT MEAN? IT MEANT THAT SINATRA COULD SAY... FLY ME TO THE MOON HE COULD HOLD THAT "MMM." I LIKE NEW YORK IN JUNE SORRY FOR THESE IMITATIONS, STEVE, BUT I HAD TO DO THEM.

Steve laughs and says I GET IT.

John says SO, HE'S HOLDING THOSE N'S AND M'S AND IT'S FANTASTIC BECAUSE IT SUGGESTS A KIND OF NUZZLING AND I HAVE TO SAY, KIND OF SEXUAL INTIMACY. YOU KNOW, THIS IS A WAY YOU SING TO SOMEONE WHEN YOU'RE UP CLOSE TO THEIR EAR. BUT IT DID SOMETHING ALSO I REALLY THINK IN SINATRA MORE EVEN THAN IN BING... BECAUSE THE CORRECT WAY OF SING THAT YOU'RE TAUGHT. THE KIND OF ROYAL CONSERVATORY WAY OF SINGING WOULD BE TO HOLD THOSE VOWELS. IF YOU HOLD THE N'S, IT'S GOT KIND OF A SWAGGERY I'M BREAKING THE RULES HERE KIND OF A FEEL. IT REALLY GAVE SINATRA, I REALLY BELIEVE, SOME OF HIS THREAT, SOME OF HIS LIKE, "I'M A BAD BOY." YOU KNOW, "FLY ME TO THE MOON." SO, I THINK ALL OF THAT WAS COMING TOGETHER IN HIM IN PARTICULAR TO PRODUCE THAT AMAZING VOCAL SIGNAL. BUT I DO WANT TO SAY THAT WHAT HE DID WITH THE VOWELS WAS ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. I MEAN, JUST THE TIMBRE OF HIS VOICE, THE FEEL OF IT OF WHAT HE WAS DOING. IT WASN'T JUST THE CONSONANTS. IT WAS THOSE AMAZING SUNG VOWELS AS WELL, WHAT A SINGER.

Steve says IT'S FRANK'S WORLD, JOHN. WE JUST LIVE IN IT. (LAUGHING) THAT'S WHAT THEY SAY. UH, WE ARE GOING TO REMIND EVERYBODY AGAIN THAT YOU ARE, OF COURSE, CANADIAN AND AS YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK, YOU SAY...

Another quote from John's book pops up on screen under the title "Drawing inferences." The quote reads "Today, after more than thirty years living in the United States, I have never lost my oot and aboot, and it never fails to make me feel a bit self-conscious about how my voice is telling strangers something intimate about me."

Steve says I WANTED TO PUT THAT ON THE RECORD, BECAUSE I THINK YOU WROTE IN THE WALRUS MAGAZINE A FUNNY ANECDOTE ABOUT YOUR SON WHO WAS MOCKED BY HIS CLASSMATES IN NEW YORK, OF COURSE, FOR THE WAY HE SAID CERTAIN WORDS THAT SOUNDED A BIT MORE, I GUESS, CANADIAN. THAN NEW YORKISH...

John says YES.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO TELL THAT STORY?

John says YES, I MEAN, IT WAS RATHER AMAZING, BECAUSE OUR SON WAS RAISED AS AN ONLY CHILD IN A TWO-BEDROOM NEW YORK APARTMENT THAT'S NOT HUGE AND BY HELICOPTER PARENTS. I SORT OF KID, BUT YOU KNOW, WE WERE ON TOP OF HIM, SO HE WAS GETTING THE VOCAL SIGNAL FROM HIS TWO CANADIAN PARENTS BECAUSE MY WIFE IS FROM ALBERTA. HE WAS GETTING IT BIG TIME FROM BOTH OF US AND THAT REALLY MEANT THAT BY THE TIME HE WAS FIVE YEARS OLD AND OFF TO KINDERGARTEN, YOU KNOW, EVEN THOUGH HE WOULD HEAR NEW YORK VOICES ON THE STREET, THE MAIN VOCAL SIGNAL WAS THIS CANADIAN ONE, SO HE GETS TO KINDERGARTEN AND HE'S IN A CLASSROOM OF NEW YORKERS IN A SCHOOLYARD FULL OF NEW YORKERS, AND HE IS SAYING "SORRY." IN THIS PARTICULAR WAY. IT WAS REALLY THE WORD "SORRY." AND HOW CANADIAN IS IT BY THE WAY TO HAVE BEEN APOLOGIZING. I'M SURE HE PICKED THAT UP FROM US AS WELL, BUT THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER STORY. SO, HE WAS SAYING "SORRY." AND HE CAME HOME FROM SCHOOL. NOW, HE CLAIMS HE WASN'T IN TEARS. I'M TELLING YOU, HE WAS IN TEARS, AND HE WAS SAYING, YOU KNOW, "THEY'RE TEASING ME FOR THE WAY I SAY 'SORRY'." AND I NOTICED THE WAY HE WAS SAYING IT, NOW, THE WAY AMERICANS SAY IT, IT WILL BE A LITTLE BIT MORE LIKE "SAWRY." NOW, I CAN'T REALLY DO IT, BECAUSE I'M CANADIAN. BUT THERE'S A LITTLE BIT OF AN A SOUND TO MY EARS. NOW, HE DID NOT, I'M CONVINCED HE DID NOT SET OUT TO LEARN AN AMERICAN'S "SAWRY." IN ORDER TO GET ALONG, GO ALONG. I REALLY BELIEVE IT JUST SMOOTHLY HAPPENED, SO THAT SOON HE WASN'T BEING TEASED AND SOON, I WAS HEARING AN AMERICAN SOUND IN HIS VOICE. IT WAS AN AMAZING EXAMPLE OF HOW REALLY, YOU KNOW, OUR SORT OF... WE ARE NOT COMPLETED AS HUMAN BEINGS UNTIL WE LEAVE THE NEXT AND ACTUALLY GO INTO THE SCHOOLYARD WHERE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF THE SHAPING HAPPENS IN A VERY DARWINIAN CONTEXT. YOU KNOW, IT'S SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. YOU MUST ADAPT TO SURVIVE. THAT'S LITERALLY DARWINIAN NATURAL SELECTION RIGHT THERE.

Steve says HOW OLD IS THAT KID NOW?

John says NOW, HE IS 22.

Steve says AND DOES HE GET HOW HILARIOUS THAT STORY IS TODAY?

John says HE DOES, BUT OF COURSE, HE'S VERY MAD AT ME FOR TELLING IT IN THE BOOK. BECAUSE WHAT RIGHT DO I HAVE TO BE TELLING HIS STORIES? NO, HE DOESN'T REALLY MIND.

Steve says GOOD. YOU MENTIONED DARWIN THERE AND LET'S FINISH UP ON THAT, BECAUSE WE... IT'S INTERESTING, THERE'S NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE BRAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE A POKE AT NOAM CHOMSKY, BUT YOU DO IN THIS BOOK. EVEN THOUGH HE IS A BIT OF A LEGEND. YOU DESCRIBE HIM AS SURPRISINGLY INCURIOUS ABOUT SOME THE CONCLUSIONS HE CAME TO ABOUT LINGUISTICS. UM, WHY DON'T YOU, WHY DON'T YOU CONCLUDE BY REFERENCING THAT AND THEN BRINGING THE WHOLE EVOLUTIONARY ANGLE INTO IT AS WELL.

John says YEAH, WONDERFUL. YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING. CHOMSKY TOLD US SOME OF THE MOST FASCINATING STUFF ABOUT LANGUAGE AND TOLD IT TO US IN A WAY THAT WAS SO COMPELLING, EVERYBODY BOUGHT IT. UM, YOU KNOW, HE REALLY SAID THAT LANGUAGE IS THIS ORGAN IN OUR BRAIN. WE'RE BORN WITH ALL OF LANGUAGE KIND OF READY TO BE ACTIVATED IN OUR BRAIN. WELL, I THINK THAT'S TRUE TO AN EXTENT, BECAUSE WE'RE HUMAN BEINGS AND WE CAN SPEAK VOICES CLEARLY THAT WE HEAR CLEARLY SORT OF SET THE VOCAL SIGNAL INTO MOTION AND WE START SPEAKING AS BABIES. BUT, YOU KNOW, CHOMSKY LEFT OUT THAT VOICE PART OF IT. HE WAS MANIFESTLY UNINTERESTED IN HOW THE VOCAL SIGNAL THAT WE HEAR AS BABIES TOUCHES OFF LANGUAGE AND THAT WENT STILL DEEPER. HE WAS MANIFESTLY UNINTERESTED IN HOW LANGUAGE, THAT WHOLE LINGUISTIC THING GOT INTO THE BRAIN IN THE FIRST PLACE. IE, HE DID NOT BELIEVE THAT IT EVOLVED BY NATURAL SELECTION. AND HE, IN FACT, SAID, "LISTEN, WE CAN'T KNOW HOW IT GOT THERE, SO THERE'S REALLY NO QUESTION, THERE'S NO REALLY A POINT IN INVESTIGATING. NOW, HE ACTUALLY SAID AT ONE POINT THAT IT MIGHT BE JUST BECAUSE WE HAVE SO MANY NEURONS THAT ARE PACKED INTO A BASKETBALL-SIZED SKULL. STEVEN PINKER, A HUGE FAN OF CHOMSKY, SAID YOU KNOW, THAT EXPLANATION IS SO BIZARRE. IT'S LIKE SAYING THAT WIND COULD SWEEP THROUGH A JUNKYARD AND ASSEMBLE A 747 JUST BY CHANCE. IN ORDER WORDS, ALL OF THOSE NEURONS ARE NOT GOING TO, YOU KNOW, KIND OF JUST HAPPENS TO LINK UP IN A WAY THAT GIVES US THIS EXQUISITELY COMPLEX THING CALLED LANGUAGE. SO, ACTUALLY, CHOMSKY HAD A RIVAL SCIENTIST WHO WAS INITIALLY A CHOMSKYITE, HE WAS HIS STUDENT. A GUY NAMED PHILIP LIEBERMAN. LIEBERMAN WAS SUSPICIOUS OF THIS NOTION THAT LANGUAGE, AND GET THIS, CHOMSKY SAID THAT LANGUAGE, IT SORT OF DEVELOPED IN US NOT AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION. ALREADY I'M HEARING EVERYBODY GASPING. NO, NOT AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION, BUT AS A SILENT MEANS OF THOUGHT THAT, IN FACT, WE DEVELOP LANGUAGE FOR THINKING OUT IDEAS WHICH WE ONLY THEN DELIVERED THROUGH THIS VOCAL, YOU KNOW, APPARATUS. I MEAN, I JUST HAVE TO SAY, I THINK IT'S KIND OF LUDICROUS. YOU KNOW, IT LEAVES OUT THIS IDEA THAT WE WERE DEVELOPING ALL OF THESE ANATOMICAL CHANGES. WHAT WERE THEY? WELL, I WON'T BORE LISTENERS, BUT OUR LARYNX DESCENDED IN OUR THROATS, SO WE CAN GIVE A FULL-RANGE OF VOWELS. WE ACTUALLY DEVELOPED, I LOVE THIS BIT, THIS INCREDIBLE TURBO-CHARGED MOTOR PART OF OUR BRAIN CALLED THE BASAL GANGLIA THAT ALLOWS ME RIGHT NOW TO BE DOING AN ALMOST BLINDINGLY FAST GYMNASTIC, ACROBATIC THING WITH MY LIPS AND TONGUE WHERE I'M HITTING VERY SPECIFIC TARGETS AT THE BACK OF MY TONGUE WITH THE TIP OF MY TONGUE. WHERE I PUT IT TO SAY "SSS." AND "TE" AND "DE." I MENTIONED THAT TRAP DOOR THAT'S RAPIDLY OPENING AND CLOSING TO MAKE ME SAY "BUH" OR "MUH." I'M DOING THAT ALL IN A STREAM OF SUPER-FAST COMMUNICATION CALLED SENTENCE SPEAKING OR LANGUAGE. WE CAN ONLY DO IT BECAUSE OF A GENETIC MUTATION ON A GENE CALLED FOXP2. I WON'T BORE YOU. BUT WE HAVE TWO OF THESE MUTATIONS THAT WE DEVELOPED OVER THE LAST SIX MILLION YEARS, WHICH IS A BLINK OF AN EYE IN EVOLUTIONARY TERMS. SINCE WE DEPARTED ACTUALLY FROM CHIMPS AS OUR SPECIES BROKE OFF AND DEVELOPED. THOSE TWO MUTATIONS ARE ENABLING TO DO WHAT NO OTHER ANIMAL CAN DO, EXCEPT INCREDIBLY, BIRDS. BECAUSE WE'VE DISCOVERED THEIR FOXP2 IS SIMILAR AND THAT'S WHY MY PARAKEET, WHO I'VE HAD TO LOCK IN MY BATHROOM BY THE WAY, MY PARAKEET CAN ACTUALLY MIMIC MY SPEECH. I GUESS WHAT I'M SAYING IS THAT WE DID DEVELOP, LIKE, SPECIALIZED ASPECTS OF OUR VOCAL INSTRUMENT INCLUDING EVEN OUR BREATHING, BECAUSE WE HAVE TO SLOW DOWN OUR EXHALATIONS AS WE SPEAK OUR SENTENCES ON AN EXHALE THAT NO OTHER ANIMAL DOES. SO, CHOMSKY WAS UNINTERESTED IN THOSE CHANGES. PHILIP LIEBERMAN WAS MANIFESTLY FASCINATED BY THEM AND GAVE THEM ALL OF THESE WONDERFUL INSIGHTS INTO HOW ALL OF THESE CHANGES FED BACK AGAIN INTO OUR BRAIN AND CREATED, IN EFFECT, THIS LANGUAGE ORGAN THAT CHOMSKY SPEAKS OF. I MEAN, HE WAS EXACTLY RIGHT IN SAYING WE HAVE SPECIALIZED AREAS OF THE BRAIN THAT ARE INBORN. I HAD THEM WHEN I WAS BORN, SO DID YOU. BUT REALLY THERE, THEY WERE NOT ONLY ACTIVATED BY OUR PARENTAL SPEECH, BUT THEY WERE CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE BY THESE WONDERFUL CHANGES TO OUR VOICE ALL OF WHICH ENABLES ME TO SAY IN CONCLUSION, REALLY THAT THE VOICE CREATED NOT JUST LANGUAGE, BUT IT MEANS IT CREATED US. AT THE BEGINNING, YOU TALK, WE TALKED ABOUT HOW, YOU KNOW, THIS ABILITY TO TALK ENABLED US TO OUTSMART CREATURES THAT WOULD'VE RENDERED US EXTINCT, SO I THINK I CAN REALLY CONCLUDE BY SAYING OUR VOICE CREATED US AS HUMAN BEINGS AND THAT'S THE SECRET, UH, THEME OF MY BOOK.

Steve says WELL, I AM GRATEFUL FOR THREE THINGS AS WE WRAP THIS UP. NUMBER ONE, I'M GRATEFUL FOR THIS BOOK, BECAUSE I SO ENJOYED IT. IT WAS SUCH A FASCINATING READ. I'M GRATEFUL YOU COULD SPARE SO MUCH TIME FOR US ON TVO TONIGHT, BUT MOST OF ALL, I'M GRATEFUL YOUR VOICE HELD OUT FOR THIS WHOLE INTERVIEW, BECAUSE YOU'VE DONE A LOT OF TALKING OVER THE LAST HALF AN HOUR AND YOU MADE IT, JOHN. YOU MADE IT. WELL DONE.

John says STEVE, CAN I JUST THANK YOU FOR HAVING SUCH A FABULOUS SHOW THAT I WATCH ALL THE TIME DOWN HERE, BECAUSE WHENEVER I DO A STORY, I FIND THAT YOU, IF IT'S ON A SCIENCE SUBJECT OR SOMETHING, I FIND YOU'VE ALREADY INTERVIEWED THE PERSON ON TVO AND SO I GET ALL SORTS OF BACKGROUND THAT MAKES ME SOUND MORE INTELLIGENT WHEN I EVENTUALLY INTERVIEW THEM, SO THANK YOU.

(LAUGHING)

The caption changes to "Producer: Preeti Bhuyan, @PreetiBhuyan."

Steve says THAT IS THE VOICE OF THE AUTHOR OF THIS IS THE VOICE. JOHN COLAPINTO. JOHN, SO GREAT TO MEET YOU AND STAY SAFE AND BE WELL.

John says THANKS. YOU TOO.

Watch: John Colapinto: What Makes Human Speech So Powerful?