Your Voice Speaks Volumes: It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It

ISBN : 9780198813842

Jane Setter
256 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Oct 2019
Send mail
  • Reveals the kinds of judgements we make about others' voices without even noticing
  • Explains why English has such a wide range of accents - and accent prejudices
  • Illustrated throughout with personal anecdotes and current examples from the media


Why do we speak the way we do, and what do our voices tell others about us? What is the truth behind the myths that surround how we speak? Jane Setter explores these and other fascinating questions in this engaging introduction to the power and the science of the voice.
The book first takes us on a tour of the sounds in our language and how we produce them, as well as how and why those sounds vary in different varieties of English. The origins of our vast range of accents are explained, along with the prejudices associated with them: why do we feel such loyalty to our own accent, and what's behind our attitudes to others? We learn that much of what we believe about how we speak may not be true: is it really the case, for instance, that only young people use 'uptalk', or that only women use vocal fry? Our voices can also be used as criminal evidence, and to help us wear different social and professional hats. Throughout the book, Professor Setter draws on examples from the media and from her own professional and personal experience, from her work on the provenance of the terrorist 'Jihadi John' to why the Rolling Stones sounded American.

1: Babies, children, fish, and sound patterns
2: The Watling Street divide: Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and accent prejudice
3: Men can't make their voices sound sexy, and other gems
4: 'Gahaad save our Queen!' Professional and performance voices and accents
5: Your voice is your witness: forensic speaker analysis in criminal investigations
6: Transgender speech and synthesized voices
7: The tip of the iceberg

About the author: 
Jane Setter is Professor of Phonetics at the University of Reading and a National Teaching Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. She has published widely on phonology in second language Englishes and emerging varieties, and among children with speech and language disorders. Professor Setter is a regular commentator in the British media on issues relating to English pronunciation, speech features, and attitudes to accents and appeared as an expert on programmes such as The Alan Titchmarsh Show and Duck Quacks Don't Echo.

"This book had me hooked ... sprightly and informative." - James McConnachie, The Sunday Times

"Setter applies phonetic analysis to a range of aspects of daily life in a way that is approachable to a wide audience." - Megan Storey, Library Journal

"Jane is excellent at making linguistics, particularly phonetics, crystal clear for the uninitiated. She uses that talent to great effect in her first book for the general public... This book is an important instrument for fighting accentism and other linguistic prejudice in the UK. It might make a nice gift for that person in your life who says they "care deeply about the English language", but really what they mean is "I like to judge other people's use of the English language"." - Lynne Murphy, Separated by a Common Language

"Innovative, informative, and full of human warmth. Jane Setter brings a personal perspective to the subject that is both insightful and moving." - David Crystal

"Drawing on her two distinct areas of expertise -phonetics and rock singing- Jane Setter offers a fascinating and approachable account of the human voice and what it can say about us to the listener." - John C. Wells, Emeritus Professor of Phonetics, University College London

"A fascinating and thorough exploration of some of the key processes, functions and perceptions of spoken language. Professor Setter manages to provide accessible explanations of quite complex linguistic topics and brings them to life by relating them to entertaining examples from her own personal and professional experience. A great introduction to the area." - Dr Rob Drummond, Reader in Linguistics, Manchester Metropolitan University

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.