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Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English? Lrg Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1412813273
ISBN-10: 1412813271
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It is incumbent upon every individual to read Strictly Speaking at this point in time and in the context of where we are trending word wise. Ed Newman—scholar, wit, raconteur, and stylist—has written a brilliant, curmudgeonly book. It may even be viable.” —Tom Wicker, columnist, The New York Times

 “I have been of the opinion that the English language in America would disintegrate some Sunday afternoon between the beginning of ‘Meet the Press’ and the end of ‘Issues and Answers’ in a presidential election year and during the professional football season. Nothing would be left but a heap of unrelated adjectives and adverbs. On reading Edwin Newman, I am convinced that death and disintegration could come at any time in any place.” —Eugene J. McCarthy, former U.S. Senator, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of Political Science, New School for Social Research

About the Author

Edwin Newman was a longtime correspondent for NBC News. Some of his more famous coverage included the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the Arab-Israeli War, the Vietnam cease-fire, and being the first person to interview Emperor Hirohito (Japan). He has been the host for both Speaking Freely and Today and his other books include A Civil Tongue and Your Public Best.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Large Print; Lrg edition (July 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412813271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412813273
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,502,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew D. Flowers on December 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be standard reading for anybody that attempts to speak or write English. Especially for those producing works for publication (marketing, PR, news, radio, etc.). Newman's wit and experience deliver an excellent journey into why the English language (spoken or written) is the mess it is today.

An easy book to read, it will make many people laugh out loud as they realize the mistakes/humor/stupidity/etc. that dominate modern English.

Get a copy, it's a bargain in used form. Read it and pass along to others to read. Who knows? Maybe if enough people read this book English could be saved from certain demise...

Heck, I'd rate it 6 stars if I could...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
Few books on the use and misuse of language have "Strictly Speaking"'s wit and memorable wisdom. Newman's admirable career with NBC News has given him the narrative glue to hold this wonderfully intelligent and entertaining book together. Newman could probably make better use of these words - but this reader has made the most of Newman's logical, instructive book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Chambers HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've read my old dog-eared paperback copy of Edwin Newman's classic "Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English?" at least half a dozen times. It's definitely a classic that should be in the library of anyone who cares about the English language in both the written and spoken form.

The author sums up his take on the subject in the introduction: Language is in decline. Not only has eloquence departed but simple, direct speech as well, though pomposity and banality have not. Some who share my views on this believe that one of the nation's most pressing needs is an Anti-Thrust Act. ("What is the thrust of your report?") Others believe that if there is one word that expresses the spirit of the age, it is "parameter," a mathematical term now widely misused so that nobody finds himself in the hateful position of having to say "boundary" or "limit."

With only slightly more than two hundred pages (paperback version), Mr. Newman skewers just about everyone in prominent positions in the government (and the private sector, too) who's contributed to the absurdities that have entered the English language. Learn how the phrase "in point of fact" originated, then proliferated, and you'll see a perfect example of how an absurb phrase can become part of mainstream language.

Consider that Newman wrote this book in 1974, almost four decades ago, and it's scary to think how far downhill we've come since then. But Strictly Speaking isn't a heavy, depressing book. It's mostly lighthearted, poking fun as well as criticizing. I wish the book could be brought back in a Kindle edition to make it more available. It's a classic, one that richly deserves to be read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MOTU Review on March 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English? is a 1974 critique of the decline and abuse of the English language by journalist and former NBC News correspondent Edwin Newman. Newman is not an advocate for Standard English for its own sake, and he is not against the natural evolution of language. His biggest complaints are with politicians, members of the media (The New York Times in particular), and those in academia, who deliberately use language to sensationalize, obfuscate, and bewilder. He writes "for a world from which the stilted and pompous phrase, the slogan and the cliché, have not been banished - that would be too much to hope for - but which they do not dominate" (p. 32).

Newman covers various and sundry topics, and the book is organized roughly by category, although he moves quickly from one theme to another without much in the way of transition. Newman gets carried away sometimes, and it seems that he's doing a better job of entertaining himself than he is the reader. For example, his section on the interchangeability of certain names is clever, and the point is taken, but the reader will likely skip pages of his documentation. His delight with his own puns may also be less impressive to the reader. Other sections are inspired - his chapter on sports, in particular.

Politics have not changed much in the 30+ years since Strictly Speaking was published. Newman observes how the elections and political conventions of the sixties and seventies were treated as dramatic, serious, pivotal moments of history - just like now, the candidates treat each election like the most important one ever. And Newman lists the gaffes made by President Nixon, which makes one think that if he were writing this book while George W.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Groothuis on January 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am so happy to see this classic on proper English usage back in print. I read and savored it in college in the late 1970s, and have never forgotten its message: Language matters. Therefore, we should attend earnestly to how we speak and write it.

This message is needed more now than when the book came out thirty-five or so years ago. The Internet and related technologies have cheapened and impoverished language in general.

Some of the examples will be dated for younger readers, but the author's knowledge (lightly worn) and wit will more than make up for any lack in this area.
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