A book called The Art of Conversation states its case very clearly in its subtitle: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure. As the Publishers Weekly blurb notes, author Catherine Blyth’s main focus ranges from “small talk to pillow talk, from riotous raconteurs to crashing bores, from flattery to false smiles.”
But Ms. Blyth goes beyond the frivolous to touch on some of the more the substantive aspects of human communication. One of them is at the origin of interpersonal exchange. She looks back at how parents relate to infants, and says:
“Goo-goo”’ is the most important word in the world, because when parents coo at babies, they’re educating them in what behaviorists call “musical companionship.” ...