Talking Facts
Talking Facts

39 Conversational Facts about Talking

By Nathan James, Associate Writer
Published August 14, 2018
  • Human speech predates written language by tens of thousands of years. No one knows exactly how old spoken language is.[4]
  • Though it's a common belief that women talk more than men, the evidence is inconclusive. One recent study found that women say about 13,000 more words per day than men, while another found no substantial difference.[3][13]
  • Synonyms for the word "talk" include speak, utter, say, tell, phrase, discourse, allocute, discourse, and orate.[4][18]
  • John Moschitta Jr. was the world's fastest talker for decades. Famous for his appearance on Micro Machines commercials, he could say 583 words a minute and form syllables five times faster than average speakers.[23]
  • Talking requires the use of dozens of muscles in the lips, throat, and tongue, but speaking in a normal tone is no more tiring than sitting in silence.[8]
  • Approximately 50 million people worldwide suffer from stuttering, an involuntary repetition of sounds that impedes speech.[25]
  • Dr. Nicholas Emler, a British psychologist, has argued that up to 80% of average conversations consist of gossip. He claims that gossiping is an essential part of our humanity.[1]
  • Talking Facts Gossip
    No matter the time, place, or culture, people can't help themselves...

  • Research shows that most individuals spend 60% of their conversation time talking about themselves. This number jumps to 80% while conversing on social media.[30]
  • Physical muteness is the inability to speak, and it can be caused by many underlying conditions, such as damage to the throat or vocal cords, neurologic conditions, or degenerative diseases. It is extremely rare for people to be born mute.[29]
  • The word glossolalia refers to the sudden ability to speak in a previously unknown language. It is described as a spiritual gift in the Bible.[18]
  • Twentieth-century ethnographers (scientists interested in human cultural organization and behavior) developed "Conversation Analysis" as a way to learn about various cultures through recording and analyzing everyday speech.[17]
  • We are fated to live in a world of talk...In every moment of talk, people are experiencing and producing their cultures, their roles, their personalities.

    - Michael Moerman

  • The proper name for talking in one's sleep is somniloquy.[18]
  • The word Logos in Greek means word, account, or explanation. This root shows up in many English words such as monologue (one speaker), dialogue (two speakers), as well as disciplines of knowledge such as psychology and biology. All of these words are related back to the activities of reasoning and speaking.[18]
  • French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that speech arose not out of need but as a way to express our passions.[22]
  • Biology and evolutionary science suggest that human beings are radically distinct from all other animals in our capacity to use language.[6]
  • Public Speaking Facts
    For many, this is a paralyzing scene
  • Around 25% of people report suffering from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking.[28]
  • Distinctive sounds in a language, such as the sound made by the letter "k" in kale and "c" in cave, are known as phonemes.[18]
  • Psychologist Albert Mehrabian argued that speaking actually makes up a relatively small proportion of communication. He argued that communication is roughly 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% words used.[27]
  • An isolated city in Israel with a high rate of deafness created their own sign language as a way of communicating. Linguists have been studying the community for decades in the hopes of learning more about the fundamentals of human communication.[10]
  • Many people have "phone anxiety," or stress over talking on the phone.[21]
  • The meanings of words in Romance and Germanic languages do not vary based on tone and pitch. Words in tonal languages, such as Mandarin and Hmong, do. In these "tonal languages," the same sound can have up to eight meanings, depending on the way it is said.[16]
  • Famous stutterers from history include Moses, Greek orator Demosthenes, Friedrich Nietzsche, King George VI of England, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe.[25]
  • Talking Stuttering Facts
    Monroe's famous breathy voice resulted from breathing exercises she learned as a child to control her stutter

  • Many educators and older individuals bemoan the loss of "the art of conversation," as technology and social media turns people away from physical human interaction and face to face discussion.[2]
  • The incredible swiftness with which children learn language has led many linguists, such as Noam Chomsky, to argue that our propensity for language is a natural biologic endowment.[9]
  • Children always learn to say "content words" first, like mama, doggie, run, or look. Function words like and or the come later.[9]
  • Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder in which messages from the brain to the vocal muscles do not transmit properly. Those with the disorder usually require help from a speech therapist.[5]
  • Talking Facts Children
    Talking to your children frequently can help them master the skills of speech and language faster
  • Children naturally learn to speak the language they grow up around, whether they are explicitly taught or not.[9]
  • Legend has it that the famed Greek orator Demosthenes cured his stutter by practicing speeches with pebbles in his mouth.[25]
  • Bottlenose dolphins use whistles and clicks to convey basic information to each other, thus "talking" in a very rudimentary way in order to solve problems.[24]
  • Animals like dolphins and primates verbally communicate in order to solve problems and convey basic survival information, but most theorists deny that this constitutes "language" because of their lack of any syntax or abstract rules for putting concepts together via articulated sounds.[6]
  • British people spend a lot of time talking about the weather. In a recent poll, 94% of British people admitted to having a conversation about the weather in the previous six hours.[11]
  • Famed linguist Noam Chomsky has argued that humans possess a biological "language module" that allows the expression of a potentially infinite number of utterances, thoughts, and ideas with a limited set of sounds.[6]
  • Talking Parrot Fact
    But is it language?
  • Many philosophers and scientists in the 17th and 18th centuries believed that spoken language was the chief indicator of rationality. John Locke, hearing of a Brazilian parrot who could speak French, concluded that perhaps there were other rational animals besides us.[15]
  • Parrots are well known for their ability to mimic human speech. One particular gray parrot named Alex was even able to identify and answer a wide range of questions about objects he had become familiar with.[7]
  • Primary progressive aphasia is a rare nervous system syndrome that negatively affects the ability to speak and understand words.[20]
  • Though there are many words in the English language that mean "talk," there is no specific word that captures the activity of receiving language. Listen encompasses more audible phenomenon than spoken language, as do words like comprehend and understand.[4]
  • Since the advent of text messaging, people talk less on the phone. A 2015 study found that the average American sends or receives five times as many texts compared to phone calls.[12][26]
  • Many people pace while talking on the phone. Psychologists believe this may be a sort of coping mechanism to make up for lack of body language and non-verbal cues that normally accompany conversation.[19]
  • Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that mostly affects children. The disorder makes it difficult or even impossible for children to speak in specific settings, such as at school or around new people.[14]
  • Amazing  Talking Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Talking Infographic Thumbnail
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