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Unspeak: Words Are Weapons

Steven Poole

4 Reviews

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Prose: non-fiction, Sociology & anthropology

* The language of everyday deception stripped bare

Unspeak is language as a weapon. Every day, we are bombarded with those apparently simple words or phrases that actually conceal darker meanings. 'Climate change' is less threatening than 'global warming'; we say 'ethnic cleansing' when we mean mass murder. As we absorb and repeat Unspeak we are accepting the messages that politicians, businessmen and military agencies wish us to believe. Operation Iraqi Freedom did more than put a positive spin on the American war with Iraq; it gave the invasion such a likeable name that the American news networks quickly adopted it as their tagline for reporting on the war. By repackaging the language we use to describe international affairs or domestic politics, Unspeak tries to make controversial issues unspeakable and, therefore, unquestionable.

In this thought-provoking and important book, Steven Poole traces the globalizing wave of modern Unspeak from culture wars to the culture of war and reveals how everyday words are changing the way we think.

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Praise for Unspeak: Words Are Weapons

  • A study of [UNSPEAK] is not just ttimely and welcome but (you'll feel once you've read this book) urgent. ...we should all be grateful to Steven Poole for his public spiritedness in undertaking it. Will someone please give him a medal, or a government office, or a slot on the radio with daily updates? - Claire Harman, EVENING STANDARD

  • Poole has a sharp eye for hidden meanings and sub-texts. His account of politician s' addiction to the word "community" is a tour de force. By emphasising that one should always "look to the language", and going about his task with such forensic brio, Po - Francis Wheen, THE LIBERAL

  • Steven Poole is to rhetorial doublespeak what the small boy was to the naked emperor: a pin to prick the speech bubbles - SUNDAY HERALD

  • Steven Poole is to rhetorical doublespeak what the small boy was to the naked emperor: a pin to prick the speech bubbles . . . UNSPEAK sets out the case against, and also offers forensic analysis of, some of the most notorious examples he has found... UNSP - SCOTSMAN

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Steven Poole

Steven Poole is the author of Rethink, Unspeak, and other books. He writes the 'Word of the Week' column in the Guardian, and essays and reviews for many publications.

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