The Dead and the Quick: Cliches and Neologisms in the Written, Spoken and Visual Cultures of Britain, The United States and France


Redfern, Walter


Ph.D Cambridge University; Professor, Reading University and sometime Professor of Comparative Literature ,University of Illinois. Author of 20 research works including French Laughter(Oxford University Press,2008), Paul Nizan :Committed Literature(Princeton University Press)

This work is a major contribution to the study of cliches and neologisms since it moves beyond considering them separately into their interlinked role in written,spoken and visual cultures in contemporary Britain, France and the United States.

The general line of attack is a view of language as both reactionary and revolutionary. Language, Dr. Redfern points out, connives in our clinging to obsolete “realities”, and yet is constantly evolving by processes of displacement and substitution. Despite the allegedly static nature of cliché, this study focuses on the dynamic potentialities of language, whether via the reanimation of moribund ideas or by coinages from scratch.
Among the many closely related analyzed in depth are: imitation,rumor, political correctness, jargon, euphemism, plagiarism, stereotyping (racial or otherwise), repetition, and caricature. This leads to a broader assessment of unthinking prose in English and French (“constipated thinking”) as well as various tactics for resisting and countervailing such practices. Linguistic creativity is discussed and the widespread hostility to new words is demonstrated by discussions of language purification and other protection systems.

As well as written and spoken forms of cliché and neologism, Redfern studies the visual domain (e.g. kitsch and the neomorphisms of psychotics)in a brief, witty summary of the issues at hand.

Linguistics, Comparative Linguistics and Literature, Language, Communication, Media
Release Date: 
Cloth: 978-1-933146- 76-8/ 193314676-1
Trim Size: 
6 x 9

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