A History of Lip-Reading

Say "cheese." This popular photo prompter of the English-speaking world is thought to have begun in British public schools around 1920, though society portraitist Cecil Beaton preferred his subjects to mouth the word "lesbian." Just as perverse, the French often opt for "le petit oiseau va sortir," Spaniards say "patata," while the Japanese have adopted the English term "whisky." As the relator of such delightful trivia, the latest elicitor of the smile is author Angus Trumble, whose A Brief History of the Smile (Basic Books; 226 pages) produces an abundance of them. Begun as a speech delivered to the Royal...

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