Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Aug 21, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 320 pages
4 Reviews
This original, entertaining, and surprising book investigates verbal blunders: what they are, what they say about those who make them, and how and why we've come to judge them.Um... is about how you really speak, and why it's normal for your everyday speech to be filled with errors—about one in every ten words. In this charming, engaging account of language in the wild, linguist and writer Michael Erard also explains why our attention to some blunders rises and falls. Where did the Freudian slip come from? Why do we prize "umlessness" in speaking—and should we? And how do we explain the American presidents who are famous for their verbal stumbles? Full of entertaining examples, Um... is essential reading for talkers and listeners of all stripes.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - amaraduende - LibraryThing

This wasn't as entertaining as I'd hoped. Many of the chapters went on crazy tangents that never related back to the main point. Not adorable tangents like Bill Bryson. I'm talking tangents where you go "what the hell am I reading again?" Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - atiara - LibraryThing

The material was interesting but the book dragged. Could have used less repetition. The book includes more than most people would ever want to know about the topic. Read full review


The Life and Times of the Freudian Slip
Some Facts About Verbal Blunders
What We uh Talk About When We Talk About uh
A Brief History of Um
Well Spoken
The Birth of Bloopers
Slips in the Limelight
Fun with Slips
President Blunder
The Future of Verbal Blunders
Recommended Reading
A Field Guide to Verbal Blunders
Slips Versus Disfluencies

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About the author (2007)

Michael Erard, a graduate of Williams College, received an M.A. in linguistics and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas. His articles about language have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Science, Seed, The Texas Observer, and many other publications. His website is He lives in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Maine.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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