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1006 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 60, NUMBER 4 (1984) 'possible'; later it could turn out to be 'confirmed ', but at no time was it actually 'new'. Another strategy ofthe nuclear interests is the appeal to scientific authority. The nuclear interests appeal to their own scientific authorities for support—sometimes withholding information that might be 'misunderstood' by unqualified persons, or that might engender unfavorable publicity; they deal harshly with scientists who will not toe the official line. Those who raise issues that the industry does not wish to pursue, or who oppose nuclear development, are portrayed as irrational, unduly anxious, or scientifically unqualified. Consider the comment by Harold M. Agnew, president ofGeneral Atomic Company: 'The experience at Three Mile Island demonstrated to the satisfaction of technically qualified people that present-day water-cooled nuclear reactors offer no significant threat to the health and safety ofthe general public' Does this imply that people who do not share this view are unqualified? There is a great deal in this book about the history of nuclear development and the nuclear mindset. Nukespeak begins with Roentgen's discovery ofX-rays, and progresses through the Manhattan Project and the early days of the atomic age. The authors give special attention to problems of fall-out and other nuclear hazards (including reactor safety, waste containment , and the inventory offissionable material) and to the problem of nuclear weapons. Throughout the book, certain themes recur— that the nuclear elite confuses its hopes with reality; that it possesses an unwarranted optimism in 'acceptable risks' and in the ability of problems to solve themselves; and that it is willing to distort facts, estimates, and the views of its opponents. Nukespeak is well documented, thoughtfully written, rich in anecdotes, and very readable. However, the authors' practice of italicizing Nukespeak words and phrases in the text is annoying ; it gives the reader the impression of being constantly shouted at. The book is appropriately dedicated to George Orwell, whose 1946 essay 'Politics and the English language' warned of the dangers of distortion and vagueness in political language. Students of language and rhetoric have known for a long time that language is a marked deck of cards. In the game of Nukespeak, it can also be said that the cards are dealt from the bottom of the deck; the house constantly changes the rules; and players who begin to win are barred from the game. [Ed Battistella, University of Alabama, Birmingham.] The language of the teenage revolution: The dictionary defeated. By Kenneth Hudson. London: Macmillan; Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1983. Pp. vii, 137. $27.75. The dust jacket promises that this book will 'examine the extent to which the [British ] teenage code has been reflected in linguistic usage, often in subtle detail'. However, Hudson himself never clearly explains what he intends to do, and the reader who expects a detailed discussion of the language of British teenagers will certainly be disappointed. H discusses a number of topics, including the influences of popular music and Black culture on teenagers; but he never quite manages to say anything substantive about teenage language. The book is neither a serious sociolinguistic study ofteenage language nor a large-scale lexicon of teenage usage (H discusses 21 case histories of 'linguistic takeovers and misunderstandings' in Chap. 5, and gives a glossary of about 100 items in Chap. 7); instead, it is a pop grammarian's look at linguistic variation which takes teenage language as its target. While H does make some interesting observations , the book's many flaws will put off the sophisticated reader. There is a good amount of hyperbole and naïveté about the way that language operates. For example, are we to believe that 'the habit of making fun of the expressions favored by other social classes and previous generations [which] is very widespread among young people [and which] represents a profound difference between the linguistic psychology of today and fifty years ago ... is one of the most important reasons why the preparation of satisfactory dictionaries of modern English is impossible ' (p. 9)? And what are we to make of H's perception that 'the subtleties of speech which had characterized the much more stable British society for generations...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 1006-1007
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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