Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times

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PublicAffairs, Mar 25, 2009 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 352 pages
2 Reviews
The words that echo through Geoffrey Nunberg's brilliant new journey across the landscape of American language evoke exactly the tenor of our times. Nunberg has a wonderful ear for the new, the comic and the absurd. He pronounces that: "‘Blog' is a syllable whose time has come," and that "You don't get to be a verb unless you're doing something right," with which he launches into the effect of Google on our collective consciousness. Nunberg hears the shifting use of "Gallic" as we suddenly find ourselves in bitter opposition to the French; perhaps only Nunberg could compare America the Beautiful with a Syrian national anthem that contains the line "A land resplendent with brilliant suns...almost like a sky centipede."

At the heart of the entertainment and linguistic slapstick that Nunberg delights in are the core concerns that have occupied American minds. "Going Nucular," the title piece, is more than a bit of fun at the President's expense. Nunberg's analysis is as succinct a summary of the questions that hover over the administration's strategy as any political insider's. It exemplifies the message of the book: that in the smallest ticks and cues of language the most important issue and thoughts of our times can be heard and understood. If you know how to listen for them. Nunberg has dazzling receptors, perfect acoustics and a deftly elegant style to relay his wit and wisdom.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - skinglist - LibraryThing

Probably not for the serious linguist, but an entertaining read He pronounces that: "'Blog' is a syllable whose time has come," and that "You don't get to be a verb unless you're doing something right ... Read full review

Going nucular: language, politics, and culture in confrontational times

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Stanford linguistics professor Nunberg suggests using language as a"jumping-off point" to learn more about Americans' evolving values and attitudes in this feisty, humorous collection of essays ... Read full review

Contents

Plastics
3
Caucasian Talk Circles
12
Lamenting Some Enforced Chastity
21
Beating Their Brows
29
When Words Fail
39
Beleaguered Infidel
47
A Couple of Words for Nothing Left to Lose
79
Well Always Have Kirkuk
92
A Date to Remember
155
The Last Refuge of Scoundrels and Other People
163
Rush Limbaughs Plurals
175
For Love or Money
199
As Google Goes So Goes the Nation
227
The Bloody Crossroads of Grammar and Politics
246
There Are No Postmodernists in a Foxhole
275
Geezers Gerries and Golden Agers
300

So Sorry
99
Interested Parties
107
If Its Orwellian Its Probably Not
121

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About the author (2009)

Geoffrey Nunberg is a senior researcher at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University and a Consulting Full Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University. He is chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. Since 1989, he has done a regular language feature on NPR's "Fresh Air," and more recently he has been doing regular features about language and topical issues for the Sunday New York Times "Week in Review."

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