You’re All Talk is a book about just what it sounds like – talking, language and its ties to our identities. Sociolinguist Rob Drummond takes us through how we perceive others (and ourselves) through the way we talk, offering a fascinating dive into the world of accents, slang and code-switching.
It may seem like a complicated topic, but You’re All Talk is far from a dry, technical book. With its almost conversational prose and witty interjections, it makes for a light read. It’s also broken up into shorter sections you will whizz through. If you’re entering into the field of linguistics for the first time, it’s the perfect overview of what makes this subject just so fascinating. Though the language enthusiasts may find it a little too broad, its anecdotes and case studies combined with Drummond’s skillful writing still make for an enjoyable time.
Though the book may feel like a light read, the author does not hesitate to tackle the ‘darker’ side of language alongside the funny side. Drummond explores the way language can be used to gatekeep and uphold power structures, and how just as it can be used to indicate our personal identities, it can be used to suppress them as well. Drummond gathers a wide range of perspectives on language, discussing how accents can be linked to discrimination and how certain vocal features can be judged more harshly in women than men. It’s refreshing to see these issues discussed so candidly.
There are parts of this book I recommend you do not read in public. You will find yourself wanting to sound out words, test an accent, try out a vocal fry. For a book it’s remarkably interactive, and once you’re done it will be tempting to apply what you’ve learnt to real life, to spot when you style switch and listen to not just what people are saying, but how they’re saying it. It will make you question things you thought you knew, and perhaps make you reconsider your criticism of kids these days’ slang.
Engaging, thoughtful and above all a good time, You’re All Talk is a fascinating read I would recommend for any soon-to-be linguist. I enjoyed every moment of it – even the ones where I looked like an idiot repeating the same word with different sounds.