Cultural criticism takes the form of a dictionary in this slender, amusing volume. Balistreri has become aware-and wants to make us all aware-of the little linguistic games we play in order to "duck the truth," the words we use not to reveal our meaning but to mask it. Saying "I feel unproductive," she notes, is more acceptable to ourselves than plainly stating, "I am unproductive." Or how about "I hate to say it but..." (as in "I hate to say she's fat...")? Balistreri unearths the underlying meaning: "I can't believe I'm saying this; it's so uncharacteristic of me." Balistreri, who runs the language and poetry webzine CafeMo.com, is a subtle interpreter of linguistic evasions and rhetorical tics. Read this, and you may think twice the next time you're tempted to say "like" (translation: "think, brain, think!").
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Adult/High School-The author takes on the real meaning of "whatever," "like," "I think," and other common words and phrases that put spin on meaning and avoid honest communication. Arranged alphabetically, each entry includes a paragraph of explanation of the evasive word and suggests substitute definitions. There are more than one or two meanings for frequent words. "Whatever" has the most-they include the "apathetic" whatever, the "yeah so" whatever, the "who am I to judge" whatever, and the "faltering cliche" whatever. The word "like" also has several uses here, one of which is the staller. "Poetry, yeah me too. I love like Robert Frost." And "You're from Belize? That's like, South?" The word "think" is used to replace the more truthful "know." "I just wanted to explain and apologize for just up and leaving like that. I mean, I didn't want you to think I'm an asshole or something." Teens will recognize these speech evasions and excuses in everyday language and may be inspired to try out the blunt definitions in their own conversation and writing. Do these dodges promote civility or conceal the truth and promote sloppiness? This tiny, sturdy paperback will inspire debate and discussion in the cafeteria and the classroom.
Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
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I liked the book, althought some of the sections seemed stretched. My only real complaint is over the price ... . Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2004
Balistreri highlights the subtle nuances that set the English language apart from all others. People seldom realize that they speak English so poorly, even those who are masters... Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003 by Jill
The whole book is provocative and hilarious, but I think the "like" section is its crown jewel(she details ten uses of this beloved discourse particle). Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2003 by El