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Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean Paperback – August 12, 2008
New from Tom Wolfe
The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
"...Challenges the reader to think about his or her own speech in an entirely new way." Publishers Weekly
"Mr. Erard's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. He gets you wondering about blundering." Wall Street Journal
"...An absorbing survey of the (mis)spoken word, from ancient Egyptian cases of speechlessness to television bloopers..." O Magazine
"...A fascinating look at those two-letter words we all know and, uh, overuse." GQ
You can feel when an author is enjoying himself, and Erard's survey of these most common of dysfunctions in our dysfunctional society is written with unexpected humor, grace and high spirits." Louisville Courier-Journal
"...A nifty little book." Charleston Post and Courier
“An enjoyable tour of linguistic mishaps. . . . Rewarding. . . . It reveals the dynamic nature of the human mind.”—The New York Times Book Review“Engaging. . . . By focusing on what many of us overlook (or underhear?), Erard has further revealed the complexity and beauty of language. Perhaps he will make all of us both better listeners and, um, better speakers.”—The Seattle Times“A fascinating look at those two-letter words we all know and, uh, overuse.”—GQ“Erard's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. He gets you wondering about blundering.”—The Wall Street Journal“Some people are bird watchers and learn a great deal about the birds they watch. Michael Erard watches word botchers and, in the process, enriches our experience of what language is about and what makes us human. After reading Um…, you'll never hear the thud and blunder of everyday speech in the same way.”—Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English“Who'd have thought that a book called Um could be a page-turner? But Michael Erard's investigtions of "applied blunderology" come to something more than the familiar catalogues of verbal slips and gaffes from the high and the low. It's also a fascinating meditation on why blunders happen, and what they tell us about language and ourselves. At its deepest level, Um is an exercise in the zen of attention, which tunes us in to the revealing noises and pauses that we spend most of our time tuning out.”—Geoffrey Nunberg, NPR commentator“A lascinating fook at yet another revealing instance of human imperfection.”—Kirkus (Starred Review)“Included throughout are hilarious highlight reels of bloopers, boners, Spoonerisms, malapropisms and ‘eggcorns'... His work challenges the reader to think about his or her own speech in an entirely new way."—Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
What do all these "ums" mean? Not anxiety. One of the earliest products of "disfluency research" was that the number of filler words has no correlation with the level of anxiety.Read more ›
Erard, the author, makes his case that verbal errors are part of the language. Just yesterday, I heard a BBC commentary state that 'this is a bridge we will have to gulf'. Erard starts with Spooner (now that you are jawfully loined) and shows the development of a theory of slips of the tongue and other, um, errors.
This is a serious linguistic work. If you enjoy indignation at 'these degenerate days', read D-ck C-v-tt and his ilk.
Ever since a friend of mine asked me at dinner years ago, "when will our waiter soove the serp?", I've been fascinated by the oddities that fly from innocent mouths. Erard categorizes these verbal miscues into all sorts of arrangements and a glossary at the end of the book is helpful in reminding the reader what material has been covered. The author looks at two areas that were of particular interest...how slips of the tongue differ in other languages and cultures and how children handle pauses and perseverations (for example) at various stages of their fluency development.
Erard has a clear and nicely-paced narrative style making "Um" such an enjoyable book. An appealing sequel would be one that comments on the three current presidential candidates and their varying contributions to public discourse, relative to what the author has written here. The next time I have my own slip of the ear (as when I heard someone say "grocery seats" when they meant "gross receipts") I'll refer back to "Um" and have a good laugh all over again.
Erard recognizes the aspirations of English teachers and business leaders, but suggests their goals may be permanently out of our reach. Even the best rehearsed actor makes occasional slips. To err is human. Speech is necessarily broken, punctuated by hesitation, delays, multiple starts, slips of the tongue, bloopers, slips and blunders. Electrical shock, beer, and Toastmasters can help to reduce, although not to eliminate the "mistakes."
Freud saw human errors, slips of the tongue, as peep-holes into the unconscious. Dark, unappeasable drives for pleasure and pain inevitably push through the veneer of civilization to hint at thoughts we are scarcely willing to tell ourselves. Freud's insights established the profession of psychoanalysis that thrives by listening for unintended meanings in speech.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pauses, flubs, and verbal gaffes may not interest many, but I recommend this for anyone interested in linguistics on the whole, as I was, and still am. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Adam R. Lambert
I found the first few chapters rambling and repititious... same things with different matter... my favorite chapter was about Toastmasters.Published 2 months ago by Deborah E Worley
What a superficial review. I wouldn't justify this with the term "analysis" as there is nothing new here at all. Au contraire! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bill Deef
Uh, who says um more than once a sentence? Why do we do that?
It used to be that people ignored the 'um'.
Then Freud said its a sign of deep seated anxiety. Read more
Even when it is not an academic writing it is quite a good reference book, useful, precise and organized data. Read morePublished on May 30, 2013 by Luis Bernardo
This item was not meant to be real fun anyways. It was used for a book review for one of my classes. So, it served it's purpose. Interesting tidbits within. Read morePublished on November 23, 2012 by annie
I've realized during my few months of video-making, along with my previous couple of years making podcasts, that I tend to break apart my speech with ums, uhs, ers, ahhs, and every... Read morePublished on August 5, 2012 by Caleb J. Ross