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Slam Dunks and No-Brainers

Language in Your Life, the Media, Business, Politics, and, Like, Whatever

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In this marvelously original book, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Leslie Savan offers fascinating insights into why we’re all talking the talk—Duh; Bring it on!; Bling; Whatever!—and what this reveals about America today. Savan traces the paths that phrases like these travel from obscure slang to pop stardom, selling everything from cars (ads for VWs, Mitsubishis, and Mercurys all pitch them as “no-brainer”s) to wars (finding WMD in Iraq was to be a “slam dunk”). Real people create these catchy phrases, but once media, politics, and businesses broadcast them, they burst out of our mouths as celebrity words, newly glamorous and powerful. Witty, fun, and full of thought-provoking stories about the origins of popular expressions, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers is for everyone who loves the mysteries of language.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 15, 2005 – Savan, a former Village Voice columnist and Pulitzer finalist for her analysis of advertising, is a cultural pessimist in the tradition of Paul Fussell and Neil Postman. Her target here is the "verbal kudzu" of "pop" language: catchphrases and buzz words spread by the media that are, she says, replacing thought with preprogrammed verbal responses. The longer she goes on, though, the more her definition of "pop" expands to include any modern locution she doesn't like, until even words like "agenda" come under attack. As Savan guiltily admits, her own prose is laden with such language, and though she tries to use it ironically, she quickly sails over the boundary separating skillful deployment of a well-chosen cliché or two from annoying repetition of hundreds. Her argument is further weakened by its lack of focus. More often than not, her only proof of a phrase's deleterious effect on society is a list of public utterances. Serious cultural issues occasionally emerge, like the spread of black slang to white society. But overall, this rambling, self-conscious diatribe against what Savan views as the media-marketing complex veers more toward grumbling than strong social critique.
Slam Dunks and No-Brainers
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: Oct 04, 2005
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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