The Years of Talking Dangerously
By Geoffrey Nunberg
(PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781586487454, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 4, 2009
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There has never been,” Nunberg writes, an age as wary as ours of the tricks words can play, obscuring distinctions and smoothing over the corrugations of the actual world.... Yet as advertisers and marketers know, our mistrust of words doesn’t inoculate us against them.” These are the years of talking dangerously, and Nunberg is a sure guide to the pitfalls. With illuminating intelligence and devastating humor, Nunberg decodes the changing syntax of Time Magazine, explains why grammar buffs are drawn to sarcasm, and deftly unpacks the telling phrases of our national conversation, from progressive to elite to changenot to mention national conversation itself.
Geoffrey Nunberg is a linguist who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information and is the former chair of the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel. His commentaries on language and politics have appeared regularly in the Sunday New York Times and on NPR’s Fresh Air.” The author of Going Nucular, Talking Right, and The Way We Talk Now, Nunberg lives in San Francisco, California.
“Full of fun little moments that should delight language mavens…. It’s the kind of book that you read, absorb, and then think about for a while afterward.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[B]y paying attention to the changing nature of our common language, Nunberg has made it possible for us to feel less imprisoned by the idioms of the day, and perhaps more capable of creating (or at least laughing at) the idioms of tomorrow.”