Doing Our Own Thing

Doing Our Own Thing

The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care

eBook - 2003
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Penguin Putnam
A rousing polemic in defense of the written word by the New York Times bestselling author of Losing the Race and the widely acclaimed history of language The Power of Babel.

Critically acclaimed linguist John McWhorter has devoted his career to exploring the evolution of language. He has often argued that language change is inevitable and in general culturally neutral-languages change rapidly even in indigenous cultures where traditions perpetuate; and among modernized peoples, culture endures despite linguistic shifts. But in his provocative new book, Doing Our Own Thing, McWhorter draws the line when it comes to how cultural change is turning the English language upside down in America today, and how public English is being overwhelmed by street English, with serious consequences for our writing, our music, and our society.

McWhorter explores the triumph of casual over formal speech-particularly since the dawn of 1960s counterculture-and its effect on Americans' ability to write, read, critique, argue, and imagine. In the face of this growing rift between written English and spoken English, the intricate vocabularies and syntactic roadmaps of our language appear to be slipping away, eroding our intellectual and artistic capacities. He argues that "our increasing alienation from 'written language' signals a gutting of our intellectual powers, our self-regard as a nation, and thus our very substance as a people."
Timely, thought-provoking, and compellingly written, Doing Our Own Thing is sure to stoke many debates about the fate of our threatened intellectual culture, and the destiny of our democracy.

Baker & Taylor
Encourages readers to establish a boundary between an acceptable evolution of language and outright language misuse, predicting the consequences of the overuse of street English in contemporary writing, music, and society.

Blackwell North Amer
In Doing Our Own Thing, linguist and cultural critic John McWhorter traces the precipitous decline of language in contemporary America, arguing persuasively that casual, everyday speech has conquered the formal in all arenas, from oratory to poetry to everyday journalism (and has even had dire consequences for our musical culture). McWhorter argues that the swift and startling change in written and oral communication emanated from the countercultural revolution of the 1960s and its ideology that established forms and formality were autocratic and artificial. While acknowledging that the evolution of language is, in and of itself, inevitable and often benign, McWhorter warns that the near-total loss of formal expression in America is unprecedented in modern history and has reached a crisis point in our culture in which our very ability to convey ideas and arguments effectively is gravely threatened.

& Taylor

Encourages readers to establish a boundary between an acceptable evolution of language and outright language misuse, predicting the consequences of the overuse of street English in today's writing, music, and society. By the author of The Power of Babel. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Gotham Books, 2003
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781592400164
Branch Call Number: 427.973 M258d 2003
Characteristics: xxiv, 279 p. ; 24 cm


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Jul 26, 2008

interesting look at how we change and are changed by, our use of language, including music and poetry.


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