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Talk Is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation, and the Evolution of Language / Edition 1
     

Talk Is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation, and the Evolution of Language / Edition 1

by John Haiman
 

ISBN-10: 0195115252

ISBN-13: 9780195115253

Pub. Date: 04/28/1998

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Putting aside questions of truth and falsehood, the old "talk is cheap" maxim carries as much weight as ever. Indeed, perhaps more. For one need not be an expert in irony or sarcasm to realize that people don't necessarily mean what they say. Phrases such as "Yeah, right" and "I couldn't care less" are so much a part of the way we

Overview

Putting aside questions of truth and falsehood, the old "talk is cheap" maxim carries as much weight as ever. Indeed, perhaps more. For one need not be an expert in irony or sarcasm to realize that people don't necessarily mean what they say. Phrases such as "Yeah, right" and "I couldn't care less" are so much a part of the way we speak—and the way we live—that we are more likely to notice when they are absent (for example, Forrest Gump). From our everyday dialogues and conversations ("Thanks a lot!") to the screenplays of our popular films (Pulp Fiction and Fargo), what is said is frequently very different from what is meant.

Talk is Cheap begins with this telling observation and proceeds to argue that such "unplain speaking" is fundamentally embedded in the way we now talk. Author John Haiman traces this sea-change in our use of language to the emergence of a postmodern "divided self" who is hyper-conscious that what he or she is saying has been said before; "cheap talk" thus allows us to distance ourselves from a social role with which we are uncomfortable. Haiman goes on to examine the full range of these pervasive distancing mechanisms, from clichés and quotation marks to camp and parody. Also, and importantly, this text highlights several new ways in which the English language is evolving (and has evolved) in response to our postmodern world view. In other words, this study shows us how what we are saying is gradually separating itself from how we say it.

As provocative as it is timely, the book will be fascinating reading for students of linguistics, literature, communication, anthropology, philosophy, and popular culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195115253
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/28/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
1,260,628
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Cheapness of Talk3
1Sarcasm and the Postmodern Sensibility12
2Sarcasm and Its Neighbors18
3The Metamessage "I Don't Mean This"28
4Alienation and the Divided Self61
5Reflexives as Grammatical Signs of the Divided Self67
6Un-Plain Speaking80
7The Thing in Itself100
8Zen Semantics128
9Nonlinguistic Ritualization138
10Ritualization in Language147
11Metalinguistic Ritualization173
12Reification and Innateness186
Postscript190
AppendixQuestionnaire for Eliciting Sarcasm193
References195
Index213

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