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Savan, a former Village Voice columnist and Pulitzer finalist for her analysis of advertising, is a cultural pessimist in the tradition of Paul Fussell and Neil Postman. Her target here is the "verbal kudzu" of "pop" language: catchphrases and buzz words spread by the media that are, she says, replacing thought with preprogrammed verbal responses. The longer she goes on, though, the more her definition of "pop" expands to include any modern locution she doesn't like, until even words like "agenda" come under attack. As Savan guiltily admits, her own prose is laden with such language, and though she tries to use it ironically, she quickly sails over the boundary separating skillful deployment of a well-chosen cliché or two from annoying repetition of hundreds. Her argument is further weakened by its lack of focus. More often than not, her only proof of a phrase's deleterious effect on society is a list of public utterances. Serious cultural issues occasionally emerge, like the spread of black slang to white society. But overall, this rambling, self-conscious diatribe against what Savan views as the media-marketing complex veers more toward grumbling than strong social critique.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Language mavens rejoice! This new book by three-time Pulitzer finalist Savan is spunky, well reasoned, perceptive, and massively entertaining. It's a nearly encyclopedic catalog of what the author calls pop language: "the catchwords, phrases, inflections, and quickie concepts that Americans seem unable to communicate without." Terms that rely on inflection (Hel-lo?! for example) are well represented, and Savan carefully explains how inflection can change meaning ("whatever" versus "what-ever"). Pop language has increased mightily over the years, the author explains, thanks in large part to the increasing ubiquity of advertising and the resulting clamor for more eye-catching, brain-catching pop phrases (like "Whassup!"). At once an examination of modern pop language--and, by extension, pop culture--and a rumination on our often-mindless acceptance of dumbed-down forms of expression, the book is sure to make readers a little more conscious of what comes out of their mouths. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I found this book to be very poor. The author seemed to have taken a collection of columns and simply thrown them in a "Andy Rooney" blender and had this be the result. Read morePublished on February 16, 2010 by TiminPhoenix
I wanted to like this book more than I did, but I just found a lot of it to be, like, lame! Savan has some good points but she repeats herself so much, drowning every sentence in... Read morePublished on August 30, 2006 by Brian J. Oneill
Leslie Savan's new book on language gives you countless and sudden insights into the linguistic water in which we are all swimming almost all of the time. Read morePublished on December 18, 2005 by W. Rosenthal
If language is our window on the world, Savan's book is an economy size bottle of Windex. With wit and style, and oh-so-much substance, Savan illuminates the secret world of slang:... Read morePublished on November 12, 2005 by Allen St John
This book is must reading for high school teachers and students who need to relearn the English language from the bottom up.Published on November 3, 2005 by Helen
Think of this book as a key to getting a handle on one of the mysteries of contemporary culture and the fast changing use of slang and language.Published on October 22, 2005 by C. Paikert
I can see why right wingers are so afraid of this book: it undermines much of the basis for the language that they use and which perpetuates their kind of society. Read morePublished on October 17, 2005 by Richard Rogers