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Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Pop Language in…
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Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Pop Language in Your Life, the Media, and Like… (original 2005; édition 2006)

par Leslie Savan

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A marvelously original and informative book about the ever-changing American language that offers surprising insights into why we talk the way we talk. With dazzling wit and acuity, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Leslie Savan dissects contemporary language to discover what our most popular idioms reveal about America today. She traces the paths that words and expressions travel from obscurity to ubiquity. She describes how “real people” create slang and colorful phrases (I don’t think so; Bring it on!; Dude; Outside the box); how the media, advertising, politics, and business mine the language for these phrases in order to better sell products, ideas, and personalities; and how these expressions, now that they’ve hit the big time, then burst out of our mouths as “celebrity words,” newly glamorous and persuasive. Words like Duh! and Whatever have become such an indispensable form of communication that they’re replacing our need to articulate any real thought. Whether it’s George Tenet convincing George W. Bush that finding WMD in Iraq would be “a slam dunk” or Microsoft telling you that its latest software is a “no-brainer,” this bright, snappy language affects us all–up close and personal. Smart, dynamic, and great fun, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers is–for everyone who loves the mysteries and idiosyncrasies of language–well, a no-brainer. From the Hardcover edition.… (plus d'informations)
Membre:salamat
Titre:Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Pop Language in Your Life, the Media, and Like . . . Whatever
Auteurs:Leslie Savan
Info:Vintage (2006), Paperback, 352 pages
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Mots-clés:language

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Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Language in Your Life, the Media, Business, Politics, and, Like, Whatever par Leslie Savan (2005)

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In Slam Dunks and No Brainers: Pop Language in Your Life, the Media, and, Like...Whatever. Leslie Savan takes on...well, it's hard to say what she thinks she's taking on, and draws the conclusion that...well, it's hard to say what conclusions she's drawn, either.

Part of this is a definitional issue. Savan never defines "pop language," and you can imagine what results when someone pens 350-odd pages without any clear topic in mind, to say nothing of an argument she's trying to defend. This leaves Savan no choice but to play Justice Potter in the Supreme Court of her book: she knows pop language when she sees it, and it apparently includes television, advertising, and movie catchphrases; advertising buzzwords, slang, corporate and psychology lingo, minority dialects, Bush administration talking points, contractions, and tech talk, although it is apparently not all of those things all the time.

Another part of the problem is the text's origins. Much of Slam Dunks and No Brainers has been previously published in a variety of venues over the past decade, and like most books cobbled together after the fact from disparate sources, the result is a bumpy read without any unifying tone, subject, or underlying thesis.

But the majority of it is an ignorance issue. A read-through of the acknowledgements reveals that not only Savan is no scholar of linguistics or etymology, she didn't attempt to familiarize herself with these subjects before writing about them, instead relying heavily a few experts for all her information relating to slang, dialect, and television. In other words, this book is not only biased by her ill-informed interpretations, but by her overweening dependence on a very few sources as well. This may be one thing in an 800-word article for Slate, but it's another thing entirely on a book that purports to be an extensive examination of the topic.

Finally, it's clear, from Savan's examples and definitions of, and attempts to use in the text, "pop language," that she is woefully unfamiliar with many of the terms she believes herself to be "explaining." She misuses many slang words and phrases, and on at least two occasions offers incorrect etymologies for the terms she's discussing.

The upshot of all of this is that Savan's book actually says less than the "empty" language she (poorly) tries to explain and decry. ( )
  Trismegistus | Jan 1, 2009 |
I actually found this book so irritating and lacking in a thesis that I angrily re-shelved it, about halfway through. I want my $30 back, as well as the 2 hours I spent slogging through this waste of good trees, time that I will never get back. ( )
  Meggo | Dec 2, 2006 |
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A marvelously original and informative book about the ever-changing American language that offers surprising insights into why we talk the way we talk. With dazzling wit and acuity, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Leslie Savan dissects contemporary language to discover what our most popular idioms reveal about America today. She traces the paths that words and expressions travel from obscurity to ubiquity. She describes how “real people” create slang and colorful phrases (I don’t think so; Bring it on!; Dude; Outside the box); how the media, advertising, politics, and business mine the language for these phrases in order to better sell products, ideas, and personalities; and how these expressions, now that they’ve hit the big time, then burst out of our mouths as “celebrity words,” newly glamorous and persuasive. Words like Duh! and Whatever have become such an indispensable form of communication that they’re replacing our need to articulate any real thought. Whether it’s George Tenet convincing George W. Bush that finding WMD in Iraq would be “a slam dunk” or Microsoft telling you that its latest software is a “no-brainer,” this bright, snappy language affects us all–up close and personal. Smart, dynamic, and great fun, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers is–for everyone who loves the mysteries and idiosyncrasies of language–well, a no-brainer. From the Hardcover edition.

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