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  • Published: 2 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784705220
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.99

Now You're Talking

Human Conversation from the Neanderthals to Artificial Intelligence

The fascinating story of our ability to converse from the 'David Attenborough of the acoustic realm' (Observer)

‘A lively, intelligent and persuasive history of speech...Expertly and patiently explained’ The Times

Why are human beings the only animals that can speak? And why does it matter?

If you’ve ever felt the shock of listening to a recording of your own voice, you realise how important your voice is to your personal identity. We judge others – and whether we trust them – not just by their words but by the way they talk: their intonation, their pitch, their accent.

Now You’re Talking explores the full range of our voice – how we speak and how we sing; how our vocal anatomy works; what happens when things go wrong; and how technology enables us to imitate and manipulate the human voice.

Trevor Cox talks to vocal coaches who help people to develop their new voice after a gender transition; to record producers whose use of technology has transformed the singing voice; and to computer scientists who replicate the human voice in their development of artificial intelligence.

Beginning with the Neanderthals, Now You’re Talking takes us all the way to the digital age – with the frightening prospect that we may soon hear ‘Unexpected item in the bagging area’ more frequently than a friendly ‘Hello, how are you?’ in the street.

  • Published: 2 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784705220
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Trevor Cox

Trevor Cox is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford and president of the Institute of Acoustics. He has presented numerous science radio documentaries and has written for the New Scientist. He is an associate editor for an international journal of acoustics, and the author of Sonic Wonderland. Twitter: @trevor_cox

Also by Trevor Cox

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Praise for Now You're Talking

Full of well-I-never insights... A lively, intelligent and persuasive history of speech...Expertly and patiently explained

Laura Freeman, The Times

Fascinating... Illuminating… The book draws on the latest scientific research and is studded with arresting statistics... [Cox] wears his learning lightly... A rewarding read... Cox knows how to make his subject sing. And the narrative is enlivened by colourful anecdotes.

Sebastian Shakespeare, Daily Mail

A brain-pleasing and entertaining read. Cox’s passion for his subject comes through on every page. An entertaining read for anybody.

Abi Jackson, UK Press Syndication

Cox's investigation sweeps from the putative protolanguage of human ancestor Homo heidelbergensis to the likelihood of creative algorithmic discourse.


[T]his is a continually interesting and instructive account of our conversational abilities, and a much needed exposé of our remarkable incapacity to infer anything from each other’s talk.

Harry Ritchie, The Spectator

[A] fascinating examination of how the nature of voices invoke prejudice and preconceptions

Adrian Woolfson, New Statesman

An epic and multi-stranded tale… Cox ably and entertainingly explores the political and cultural dimensions of how we speak

Simon Ings, New Scientist

This is a book overflowing with knowledge, and delight in it

James McConnachie, Sunday Times, **Books of the Year**

Epic… Cox keeps the tone accessible with pop-culture references throughout, revealing Cox’s taste in music and film

James Dacey, Physics World

Filled with remarkable insights and evidence from current research, Cox’s illuminating survey takes the reader on a fascinating journey

PD Smith, Guardian