The Way We Talk Now

The Way We Talk Now was published in 2001. The cover looks like my grandmother’s rug.


In these engaging, often humorous essays, Nunberg takes digs at “emoticons” (a word that “deserves to die horribly in a head-on collision with infotainment”), suggesting that Kafka might have used a “frownie” and Austen a “winkie.” …. Regarding the oft-aired contention in the Ebonics debate that schools must teach the language of Shakespeare and James Baldwin, Nunberg argues somewhat sardonically that, in fact, inner-city kids must learn “to speak like kids in middle-class suburbs, so they can grow up to become competent speakers of the brutalist clatter of the American political and business worlds.” … Nunberg never fails to reveal some bit of history embedded in language, and his acuity and fixation on funny pop-phenomena keep the book fresh. — Publishers Weekly

In a chatty, accessible style, he takes American catchwords and colloquialisms and turns them into signifiers of shared experience.— Philadelphia City Paper

Most occasional pieces lose their freshness in hard covers, but Geoffrey Nunberg’s commentaries on language…are a happy exception.” —Boston Globe

Nunberg offers homages and brickbats to the popular culture, especially as it is spoken and written. —Kirkus Reviews