Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean
By Michael Erard
(Pantheon Books, Hardcover, 9780375423567, 287pp.)
Publication Date: August 21, 2007
List Price: $24.95*
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Um… is about how you really speak, and why it’s normal for your casual, everyday speech to be filled with verbal blunders — about one in every ten words. Why do they happen? Why can’t we control them? What can you tell about the people who make them?
In this charming, engaging account of language in the wild, linguist and writer Michael Erard also explains why our attention to some verbal blunders rises and falls. Why was the spoonerism named after Reverend Spooner, not some other absent-minded person? Where did the Freudian slip come from? Why do we prize "umlessness" in speaking? And how do we explain the American presidents who are famous for their verbal blundering?
You’ll have new ways to listen to yourself and others once you’ve met the people who work with verbal blunders every day — journalists, transcribers, interpreters, police officers, linguists, psychologists, among others — and when you’ve learned what verbal blunders tell about who we are and what we want.
A rich investigation of a fascinating subject, full of entertaining examples, Um. . . is essential reading for talkers and listeners of all stripes.