Talking Right: The Politics of Language--how the Right Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show

Overview

Geoffrey Nunberg breaks new ground with this fierce and funny narrative of how the political right has ushered in a new world order, aided unwittingly by the liberal media. Democrats are well known for their "lousy bumper stickers," as Joe Klein puts it. As liberals wade through the semantics of "social security lockbox," "single payer," and other wonky locutions, the right has become harder, meaner and better at getting out the message: the estate tax became the more menacing "death tax" and a contentious ...

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Overview

Geoffrey Nunberg breaks new ground with this fierce and funny narrative of how the political right has ushered in a new world order, aided unwittingly by the liberal media. Democrats are well known for their "lousy bumper stickers," as Joe Klein puts it. As liberals wade through the semantics of "social security lockbox," "single payer," and other wonky locutions, the right has become harder, meaner and better at getting out the message: the estate tax became the more menacing "death tax" and a contentious education initiative was wrapped in the comforting (and memorable) blanket of "No Child Left Behind." But Nunberg shows that the real story is more subtle than just a bumper sticker war. Conservatives' main goal wasn't to win voters over to their positions on healthcare, education, or the environment. They had a much more dramatic ambition. By changing the meaning of words like "values," "government," "liberal"; "faith," and "freedom," conservatives have shifted the political center of gravity of the language itself to the right. "Whatever our politics," Nunberg observes, "when we talk about politics nowadays, we can't help using language that embodies a conservative world-view."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586485092
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Nunberg is a linguist who teaches at the Berkeley School of Information. He is chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. Since 1989, he has done a language feature on NPR's "Fresh Air," and his commentaries on language and politics are regularly seen in the Sunday New York Times and other publications. A winner of the Linguistic Society of America's Language and the Public Interest Award, he is also the author of The Way We Talk Now and Going Nucular. Nunberg lives in San Francisco, California.

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Table of Contents


Introduction
A Loss for Words     7
The Shadow of Language     19
Trashing the L-word     41
Class Dismissed     49
The Volvo Dodge     63
Color Wars     73
I Married an Elite     85
"Values" Play     105
On the Pavement, Thinking About the Government     121
Old Bottles, New Whines     151
The War on "Truth"     169
Is This a Great Country, or What?     187
Conclusion: Tell Me a Story     201
Afterword     209
A Note on the Word Counts in This Book     215
Acknowledgments     217
Notes     219
Index     261
About the Author     271
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