• Question: could we have used our voices for more than speaking once?

    Asked by alevy42 to Suzanne, Nadine, Daniel on 8 Jan 2018.
    • Photo: Nadine Lavan

      Nadine Lavan answered on 8 Jan 2018:

      We still use our voices for lots of other things than speaking! Here are two examples: Babies can’t speak for quite a while but they can definitely cry, laugh and scream. People think that’s because such emotional vocalisations like laughter and crying have actually been around and used for communication in our ancestors before we humans started to speak. There’s even some evidence that we use entirely different parts of our brains when we are producing these emotional vocalisations compared to when we are speaking. And as you might have seen in the Christmas Lectures other mammals laughs – like rats and primates! So, there seems to be some evidence that these emotional vocalisations were something we used our voices for before speech.

      Another example for something we do with our voices is music. Not only singing (anything from opera to rap to pop) where we still use words but also things like beatboxing, which is one of the extraordinary ways in which we can use our voice.