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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.
|Introduction: The Cheapness of Talk||3|
|1||Sarcasm and the Postmodern Sensibility||12|
|2||Sarcasm and Its Neighbors||18|
|3||The Metamessage "I Don't Mean This"||28|
|4||Alienation and the Divided Self||61|
|5||Reflexives as Grammatical Signs of the Divided Self||67|
|7||The Thing in Itself||100|
|10||Ritualization in Language||147|
|12||Reification and Innateness||186|
|App||Questionnaire for Eliciting Sarcasm||193|