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Book Review: Your Voice Speaks Volumes: It’s Not What You Say but How You Say It

Brittany Hochstaetter


In her recent book, Your Voice Speaks Volumes: It’s Not What You Say but How You Say It (Oxford, 2019), Professor Jane Setter of Reading University takes a deep dive into the mechanics and history of human speech and considers the cultural impact of the voice, including its role in discrimination, criminal investigations, and shifting identity. The theme running throughout all the chapters is that the voice is powerful and not to be underestimated in human relationships. Setter writes, “Expectations of how people should or will sound when they open their mouths to speak play a role in relationships, in our society, and in how well people get on in our society” (p. 85). Setter’s thesis is precisely her title, “Your Voice Speaks Volumes,” and she supports this premise through the seven chapters . Setter is descriptive rather than interventionist in her approach, however, and communication teachers or professionals may find themselves longing for more pragmatic suggestions. This book is not by any means a guide. Curious instructors may enjoy learning the answer to whether regional dialects are still more negatively perceived and why a person might have a different speaking versus singing accent, but the book’s most practical value for communication centers may be found in its ability to enhance our perspectives on human vocal power.


Voice, Public Speaking, Identity

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Communication Center Journal