Wars and Words

Academic, Announcements, Language

A little horn tooting:

My Language in Society book review on both At war with words and War of words: Language, politics and 9/11 has finally been published!

Here’s the abstract:

Daniel Nelson writes that we talk our way into war and talk our way out of it” (Dedaic & Nelson [henceforth DN], p. 449). Drawing on a diverse array of methodological and theoretical perspectives and an equally wide range of subject matters, Mirjana Dedaic and Daniel Nelson’s edited volume on the role of language in war, and the effects of war on language, is a sprawling, perhaps unwieldy collection that opens up a number of important avenues of investigation in this gravely important but as yet undefined field of study. Sandra Silberstein focuses her book much more narrowly on the language of politics and news media in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. Despite their differences, both books address similar themes: (i) declaring war, or the language used by political leaders to justify military action; (ii) propaganda, or the construction of a war narrative by the media, and the use of political discourse to divide populations; (iii) language politics, or how wars shape language policy; and (iv) controlling speech, or the language used to grant or deny legitimacy in political debates. With the exception of language politics, not touched on by Silberstein, these themes are addressed equally by both books.

OK, it isn’t an article, but I’m put a lot of work into it! It was hard to adequately discuss so many different essays in such a short space (one of my criticism of At War With Words is that the material doesn’t all gel together into a coherent volume), and I think I did a good job of it. [Cross posted at

Savage Minds.]