Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Strictly Speaking. Edwin Newman. Significant Sentences 02.

Signficant sentences from Edwin Newman's Strictly Speaking, blunt criticism of Americans' use of the English language.

"...stiffness and bloat are almost everywhere." p. 9.

"Television...exalted the picture and depreciated the word." p. 11.

"The prevalence of 'Y'know' is one of the most far-reaching and depressing developments of our time, disfiguring conversations wherever you go.... Attend meetings at NBC and elsewhere in which people of high rank and station, with salaries to match, say almost nothing else." p. 14.

"Some people collapse into 'y'know' after giving up trying to say what they mean." p. 14.

"Language, then, sets the tone of our society." p. 17.

"Most of us will never speak...succinctly or concretely; we may, however, aspire to; for direct and precise language, if people could be persuaded to try it, would make conversation more interesting, which is no small thing; it would help to substitute facts for bluster, also no small thing; and it would promote the practice of organized thought and even of occasional silence, which would be an immeasurable blessing." p. 18.

"Still, it remains true that since nothing is more important to a society than the language it uses--there would be no society without it--we would be better off if we spoke and wrote with exactness and grace, and if we preserved, rather than destroyed, the value of our language. p. 18.

"The desire for weightiness even creeps into the language of television weather forecasts: Why [is] 'major thunderstorm activity' preferred to 'major thunderstorms?' " p. 23.

"We love to pump air into the language." p. 24.

"American journalism has a way of fastening on words and sucking them dry." p. 28.

" 'Meanwhile' now serves about as much purpose as clearing of the throat." p. 28.

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