HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Have you checked out SantaThing, LibraryThing's gift-giving tradition?
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Controversial Times

by Geoffrey Nunberg

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
250478,532 (3.55)9
The words that echo through Geoffrey Nunberg's brilliant new journey across the landscape of American language evoke exactly the tenor of our times. Nunberg has a wonderful ear for the new, the comic and the absurd. He pronounces that: "'Blog' is a syllable whose time has come," and that "You don't get to be a verb unless you're doing something right," with which he launches into the effect of Google on our collective consciousness. Nunberg hears the shifting use of "Gallic" as we suddenly find ourselves in bitter opposition to the French; perhaps only Nunberg could compare America the Beautiful with a Syrian national anthem that contains the line "A land resplendent with brilliant suns...almost like a sky centipede." At the heart of the entertainment and linguistic slapstick that Nunberg delights in are the core concerns that have occupied American minds. "Going Nucular," the title piece, is more than a bit of fun at the President's expense. Nunberg's analysis is as succinct a summary of the questions that hover over the administration's strategy as any political insider's. It exemplifies the message of the book: that in the smallest ticks and cues of language the most important issue and thoughts of our times can be heard and understood. If you know how to listen for them. Nunberg has dazzling receptors, perfect acoustics and a deftly elegant style to relay his wit and wisdom.… (more)

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 9 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
A collection of short essays about how we use language, and how changes in language use reflect changes in our culture, particularly in the realm of politics. (Since this book was published in 2004, it should be pointed out, the politics in question are mainly Bush-era politics.) Some example topics: the subtle distinction in meaning between "liberty" and "freedom" and the fact that the latter has become much more popular in US political rhetoric than the former, the ways in which names for military operations have gone from meaningless secret code words to deliberate PR branding, and the tendency of companies these days to offer "solutions" rather than "products," no matter what they're actually producing.

These pieces were originally written as newspaper columns or brief spots for NPR's Fresh Air, so they're all pretty bite-sized, which is occasionally a little frustrating; there are quite a few topics I would have happily listened to Nunberg going on about at much greater length. That's really my only complaint, though, because in general I enjoyed these a lot. Nunberg has some really interesting things to say about language, culture and politics, and he writes about them with intelligence and zip. He's also capable of expressing an opinion without resorting to the kind of extremist ranting that seems to be the hallmark of most political discourse these days, which is always a welcome relief. I'm definitely going to have to seek out more of his books. ( )
  bragan | Dec 24, 2012 |
A collection of short essays on a variety of language-usage topics, mostly tied into contemporary (2001-2003) news stories. Some of then are surprisingly detailed and thoughtful for a newspaper column; the title article is a discussion on the pronunciation of "nuclear" by GWB and quite what this signifies (the implication is that it is more deliberate than we assume). About a quarter have some real bite to them, such as the discussion of "Caucasian" or "middle class"; the rest are quite throwaway, but fun enough.

Not the sort of thing you can read too long in a single sitting, though. It's a bit too choppy; one to dip into over a week.
1 vote generalising | Jan 27, 2009 |
Probably not for the serious linguist, but an entertaining read

He pronounces that: "'Blog' is a syllable whose time has come," and that "You don't get to be a verb unless you're doing something right," with which he launches into the effect of Google on our collective consciousness.

This is one of the first books I registered on BookCrossing even though it was at home while I was in Australia. I only just got around to reading it recently. A good read, but not as good as The Way We Talk Now, which I read about two years ago.

Some favorites:
"Terrorism is one of those terms like crusade, which began its life at a particular historical moment, before losing its capital letter to become a common noun."
no surprise that was written just after 9/11

and on eye-rack, "as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun wrote not long ago, 'If you can't pronounce it, don't try to invade it.'"
intriguing look at native v. foreign pronunciation of place names.

"As a kid in Manhattan, I remember singing about purple mountains and waves of grain and thinking that America must be a distant place, somewhere out beyond Jersey."
that wild world west of the Hudson! ( )
1 vote skinglist | Jan 4, 2009 |
Going Nucular is a collection of essays and commentaries that originally appeared mostly in the New York Times or on Fresh Air (NPR), along with a couple original pieces, each about five pages long. This makes the whole book very light and enjoyable, and easy to breeze through pretty quickly, but nearly all the essays are still very interesting and Nunberg is as always spot-on in his linguistic observations. There is a progressive bent, as in his other material, but it doesn't matter so much if what you're really interested in is language and how it's used both in the media and in popular culture in general. I especially enjoyed some of the commentaries on corporate culture, because you see less of this typically than of political stuff, but nearly every essay has something to recommend it.
The only really negative thing about the book for me was that because the pieces were all written between about 2001 and 2003, there is a very heavy focus on September 11 and the Iraq War (Afghanistan too), but that's clearly because that's where the media - and the public - has been focused too. ( )
1 vote nperrin | Feb 12, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of my father, Jack,
a lover of words
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
The words that echo through Geoffrey Nunberg's brilliant new journey across the landscape of American language evoke exactly the tenor of our times. Nunberg has a wonderful ear for the new, the comic and the absurd. He pronounces that: "'Blog' is a syllable whose time has come," and that "You don't get to be a verb unless you're doing something right," with which he launches into the effect of Google on our collective consciousness. Nunberg hears the shifting use of "Gallic" as we suddenly find ourselves in bitter opposition to the French; perhaps only Nunberg could compare America the Beautiful with a Syrian national anthem that contains the line "A land resplendent with brilliant suns...almost like a sky centipede." At the heart of the entertainment and linguistic slapstick that Nunberg delights in are the core concerns that have occupied American minds. "Going Nucular," the title piece, is more than a bit of fun at the President's expense. Nunberg's analysis is as succinct a summary of the questions that hover over the administration's strategy as any political insider's. It exemplifies the message of the book: that in the smallest ticks and cues of language the most important issue and thoughts of our times can be heard and understood. If you know how to listen for them. Nunberg has dazzling receptors, perfect acoustics and a deftly elegant style to relay his wit and wisdom.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.55)
0.5
1
1.5
2 1
2.5
3 13
3.5 3
4 14
4.5 1
5 1

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 152,674,816 books! | Top bar: Always visible