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

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PublicAffairs, 2009 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 352 pages
19 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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Review: Going Nucular: Language, Politics and Culture in Confrontational Times

User Review  - Goodreads

A little sprawly. Interesting though. Read full review

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

User Review  - Stefan Castino - Goodreads

A little sprawly. Interesting though. Read full review


Introduction xi
Plastics 3
Caucasian Talk Circles 12
Lamenting Some Enforced Chastity 21
Beating Their Brows 29
When Words Fail 39
It All Started with Robespierre 51
A Couple of Words for Nothing Left to Lose 79
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 Icebox Goeth 238
The Bloody Crossroads of Grammar and Politics 246
There Are No Postmodernists in a Foxhole 275

Well Always Have Kirkuk 92
So Sorry 99
Interested Parties 107
If Its Orwellian Its Probably Not 121
Geezers Gerries and Golden Agers 300
Subject Index 313

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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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