Explores the continuously evolving mysteries and complexities of the English language from the perspective of what popular idioms reveal about American society and culture.
A marvelously original and informative book about the ever-changing American language that offers surprising insights into why we talk the way we talk. With dazzling wit and acuity, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Leslie Savan dissects contemporary language to discover what our most popular idioms reveal about America today. She traces the paths that words and expressions travel from obscurity to ubiquity. She describes how “real people” create slang and colorful phrases (I don’t think so; Bring it on!; Dude; Outside the box); how the media, advertising, politics, and business mine the language for these phrases in order to better sell products, ideas, and personalities; and how these expressions, now that they’ve hit the big time, then burst out of our mouths as “celebrity words,” newly glamorous and persuasive. Words like Duh! and Whatever have become such an indispensable form of communication that they’re replacing our need to articulate any real thought. Whether it’s George Tenet convincing George W. Bush that finding WMD in Iraq would be “a slam dunk” or Microsoft telling you that its latest software is a “no-brainer,” this bright, snappy language affects us all–up close and personal.Smart, dynamic, and great fun, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers is–for everyone who loves the mysteries and idiosyncrasies of language–well, a no-brainer.