Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Strictly Speaking. Edwin Newman. Significant Sentences 01.

Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English?
Edwin Newman
Indianapolis/New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.

RayS: I like nothing better than a good rant on the state of the English language today and Edwin Newman's Strictly Speaking.... is one of the more effective rants that I have encountered. A film was made using Newman as the narrator and the words from his book. I used it in an inservice program with school administrators and they were enthralled. His message is clear. Our business language is full of pomposity and redundancy and tired, meaningless phrases. Enjoy--and learn from--these significant sentences from Edwin Newman's Strictly Speaking....

Cover: "Newman's wry eye focuses on the sorry state of the English language as a reflection of the sorry state of society."

Cover: "If words are devalued, he [Newman] argues, so are ideas and so are human beings."

Cover: "He [Newman] rejoices in language that is lucid, graceful, direct, civilized."

"...the state of the language is a commentary on the state of our society." p. 1.

"Not only has eloquence departed but simple, direct speech as well, though pomposity and banality have not." p. 4.

"It is at least conceivable that our politics would be improved if our English were...."

"If we were more careful about what we say, and how, we might be more critical and less gullible." p. 5.

"Those for whom words have lost their value are likely to find that ideas have also lost their value." p. 5.

"A world without mistakes [in language] would unquestionably be less fun." p. 6.

"Harry Truman used to say "irrevalent" and stress the third syllable in "incomparable"; but Mr. Truman never had any trouble getting his points across." p. 6.

"As a veteran I was in an army hospital in 1947, and a fellow patient asked me what another patient did for a living. I said he was a teacher. 'Oh,' was the reply, 'them is my chief dread.' A lifetime was summed up in those six syllables. No way to improve on that." p. 6.

"Certainly those involved in Watergate had had far more education than the national average, yet one of the things that the Watergate hearings revealed was a poverty of expression, an inability to say anything in a striking way, an addiction to a language that was almost denatured, and in which what little humor did occur was usually unintentional." p. 7.

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