reading, writing technique

The Kingdom of Speech

31 August 2016  The Kingdom of Speech, Tom Wolfe’s new book that came out yesterday, is must reading for any writer who ever wondered about their most important tool.

It’s easy reading. So easy, in fact, that you can easily suffer its scholarly detail and deep insights into evolution and linguistics and even forgive the historically accurate but unflattering portraits of those who created modern “truths.”

You may never have asked yourself, seriously, why is the North American Apache cosmogony exactly like the big bang theory (I certainly never had) but once you “get it,” you’re now ready to spend some quality time with Darwin’s dog to learn why celebrated linguists like Noam Chomsky wrongly believed recursion sentences (like this one) prove language evolved naturally within humans.

It is a rare quality of great writers that they give their reader understandings they never had before and cannot explain without reciting from the book. So I’ll contain my excitement and merely recommend that you, as a writer, experience The Kingdom of Speech for yourself.

One thing I can say is that I will never again look at words the same way.


6 thoughts on “The Kingdom of Speech

  1. mimispeike says:

    Sounds like a must read for me. Will maybe help me explain how Sly came to talk people talk. I’ve done a good job at that already, but more would be even better.

    More is always better in my book (not my literal book, although that holds true also; here a figure of speech) in case you haven’t noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GD Deckard says:

    It is worth reading. Only 169 pages, hard cover. It’s a fun romp and in the end you learn something fundamentally new about human speech, based on field research right up into this year, 2016. Entrenched linguists may hate Wolfe but I (as a writer) found the new information liberating.


  3. mimispeike says:

    I love the range of topics here. This site is a damn interesting place.

    There is a book, An Incomplete Education, that has been published for probably thirty years now. It purports to offer all the knowledge you would get out of a college education. Or, at least enough to make you sound reasonably educated at a cocktail party. It’s informative and hilarious at the same time. This site is my Incomplete Education.

    That book, I leaf through it every time I see it in a store. The best edition by far was the first one, that I gave away as a Christmas present. I should have kept it for myself.

    Why don’t we have more participation here? Taste is down the tubes. The level of marketing sophistication on Facebook makes me shudder. One author (is my guess), pretending to be a reader of (seems to be) a lesbian thriller/romance, says: Ladies! I’m not into F/F, but you won’t believe how hot this is!

    I’ll be for sure reading that right after I finish the bio of Oliver Goldsmith.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Mimi, if you ever spot a copy of “The Encyclopedia of Ignorance,” grab it! In that book, the editors interviewed top scientists in many fields and asked them to write a 2 or 3 page article on what they didn’t know that interested them the most. The results are fascinating glimpses into future knowledge.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sounds like a great encyclopedia. Though one has to take into account that what interests them may not be what gets the funding. It took a long time for Chomsky’s views to be challenged, partly because they became the main paradigm for research, funded accordingly.

        Liked by 1 person

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