Nettle, Daniel 1970-

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NETTLE, Daniel 1970-


Born 1970, in London, England. Education: University of Oxford, B.S.; University College London, Ph.D., 1996.


HomeNewcastle upon Tyne, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon St., Oxford OX2 6DP, England. E-mail—[email protected].


London Guildhall University, lecturer; Merton College, Oxford, England, fellow, 1996-99; Open University, lecturer in biological psychology, 2001-03; University of Newcastle upon Tyne, lecturer in biology, 2003—.


Royal Anthropological Institute (council member), Human Behavior and Evolution Society.


Wilde Prize for Philosophy, University of Oxford, 1993; British Association for Applied Linguistics Book Prize, 2001.


The Fyem Language of Northern Nigeria, Lincom Europa (Munich, Germany), 1998.

Linguistic Diversity, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Colin Renfrew) Nostratic: Examining a Linguistic Macrofamily, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (Cambridge, England), 1999.

(With Suzanne Romaine) Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity, and Human Nature, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor of articles to journals, including Brain and Cognition, Human Biology, Cognition, British Journal of Psychology, Human Nature, and Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality.


Happiness: An Introduction to Hedonics.


In Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages Daniel Nettle, a lecturer in biological psychology at Open University, and coauthor Suzanne Romaine explain why half of the world's languages—which amount to some 5,000 to 6,700 languages—will be nonexistent by the year 2100. In Vanishing Voices Nettle and Romaine provide short biographies on the last-known persons to speak various languages. They also provide statistics for the different languages spoken throughout the world, and explain why it is important that these languages are passed on and stay alive. The authors discuss why and how languages disappear. Finally, they provide information on how the extinction of languages can be prevented. Verbatim contributor Steve Kleinedler praised the book, noting that "Nettle and Romaine provide a compelling look at the ways in which languages are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth." "This is a powerfully written and carefully researched appeal to linguists, ethnographers, and the scientific community as a whole to wake up to the dramatic consequences of neglecting the issue of linguistic diversity," commented Jim Walker in a review for Human Ecology.

In Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity, and Human Nature Nettle analyzes mental illnesses and their connection to creativity. He proposes that mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and manic depression, are predisposed and are caused by the same genes that determine creativity. Times Literary Supplement contributor Ray Dolan called it "a very stimulating book."

Nettle told CA: "I am a scientist as well as a writer, but my chief passion is trying to understand how big ideas from science, from ecology, genetics, evolution, and psychology relate to our experience as human beings, and to the social issues that face our world today. I was inspired as a student by the works of Douglas Hofstadter, Richard Dawkins, and Jared Diamond, who wrote serious books about things that mattered but nonetheless spoke in a language people could understand. By trying to apply scientific ideas to the human condition, they had become the great humanist philosophers of our time. They made me want to study human evolution and to write books of my own. I have learned—paradoxically—that you often have to have a deeper understanding of something in order to communicate it to the public than you would in order to communicate to specialists."



Antiquity, December, 1999, N. James, review of Linguistic Diversity, p. 940.

British Medical Journal, July 7, 2001, Iain McClure, review of Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity, and Human Nature, p. 55.

Human Ecology, March, 2002, Jim Walker, review of Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages, p. 145.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December, 2000, Merritt Ruhlen, review of Nostratic: Examining a Linguistic Macrofamily, p. 738.

Library Journal, June 15, 2000, Marianne Orme, review of Vanishing Voices, p. 83.

M2 Best Books, October 2, 2002, review of Vanishing Voices.

Nature, January 18, 2001, Dylan Evans, "Not So Crazy after All," p. 284.

Times Higher Education Supplement, October 5, 2001, David Pilgrim, "A Polluted Puddle of Poetry and Psychosis," p. 32.

Times Literary Supplement, August 31, 2001, Ray Dolan, "Through Cells of Madness," p. 10.

USA Today, January, 2001, Steven G. Kellman, review of Vanishing Voices, p. 79.

Verbatim, winter, 2002, Steve Kleinedler, review of Vanishing Voices, p. 27.

Whole Earth, fall, 2000, review of Vanishing Voices, p. 102.


Open University Web site, (May 9, 2003), "Daniel Nettle."

Oxford University Press Web site, (April 17, 2002).

Red Herring, (April 17, 2002), Peter Rojas, "Examining the Death of Language."