Death Sentences: How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language

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Gotham Books, May 4, 2006 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 173 pages
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A brilliant and scathing polemic about the sorry state of the English language and what we can--and must--do about it.

Do you ever leave work wondering whether all of the words exchanged between you and your colleagues in emails and meetings actually had any meaning? You spend the day touching base and networking, workshopping and impacting, strategizing and implementing, going forward with your key performance indicators. No wonder you are exhausted when you leave the office!

Even as English spreads around the globe, the language itself is shrinking. Our vocabularies are increasingly trimmed of subtlety and obscure words are forbidden unless they qualify as economic or business jargon. The constant pressure in our society to be efficient and productive is working like a noose around the neck of the English language.

Don Watson is one of Australia's foremost writers and intellectuals. In Death Sentences, he takes up the fight against the pestilence of bullet points, the scourge of buzzwords, and the dearth of verbs in public discourse. He encourages us to wage war against the personal mission statement and the Powerpoint essay and to take back our language from the corporate wordsmiths and marketeers. BACKCOVER: Praise for Don Watson¬'s Death Sentences:

¬“Don Watson has written a fine and necessary book. Any citizen who neglects to read it does so at his or her peril.¬”
¬–Lewis H. Lapham, editor of Harper¬'s Magazine

"[a] marvelous polemic..."
¬—forbes.com

¬“¬…captures the powerlessness and frustration we feel when confronted by meaningless words delivered with authority.¬”
¬—Los Angeles Times Book Review

¬“Watson makes an eloquent, elegant, and sometimes scathing case for taking back language from those who would trip it of all color and emotion and, therefore, of all meaning.
¬—Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist)

¬“¬…many lessons and insights in this book¬…¬”
¬—Leigh Buchanan, Harvard Business Review

¬“[Watson is] always clear and precise, even when exposing the verbal pollution that passes for wisdom in the public realm.¬”
¬–Toronto Star

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About the author (2006)

DON WATSON is one of Australia¬'s best-known writers and public intellectuals. For more than twenty-five years he has written books, essays, and reviews for the stage and television. He was for part of his life a political satirist and for another part a political speechwriter, including four years with Paul Keating, the former Labor prime minister. His 2001 Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM was a #1 national bestseller and a multiple award-winner. He lectures widely on writing and language.

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