Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show

Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show

by Geoffrey Nunberg
     
 

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,

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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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
COMMNunberg (Sch. of Information, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Going Nucular) more narrowly focuses on how the Right has taken control of the common political language to move our national politics steadily toward the conservative point of view. Words with powerful symbolic meaning, such as patriotism and terrorism, have been appropriated by conservatives and used skillfully to further their political agenda. As an example, Nunberg notes how the word elite has been narrowed to describe more liberal sectors of society, such as academics or the media, rather than referring to corporate or military leaders who exercise real power. This hijacking of the language is tied to the Right's powerful use of storytelling, going back to the 1960s and then epitomized by Ronald Reagan. Nunberg argues that for Democrats to return to power they must take back the language and tell stories that engage listeners. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586483869
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
07/28/2006
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
7.68(w) x 9.48(h) x 0.93(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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