Roy Blount Jr. takes on linguistics with baby talk and homemade 'alphabet juice'
Appearing at the 2008 Miami Book Fair International with social satirist and bestselling author Carl Hiaasen, frequent NPR guest humorist and bestselling author Roy Blount Jr. introduced his latest book, Alphabet Juice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux paperback; September 2009), as his response to the modern belief that words have no intrinsic meaning, pointing to baby talk, for example, where words are formed by mimicking a physical need. Noting that words over time change so many times that, like the Professor's experiement that wound up as 'chicken slurry', words loose their meaning, Blount juxtaposed onomatopoeia, where tangible sounds immutably connect words with meaning. After ridiculing modern linguistics in general and famed MIT linguistics professor Steven Pinker in particular, Blount wrapped his presentation with a true story demonstrating the funny ways words are used. Responding to questions from the audience afterward, Blount commented on the 2008 presidential campaigns and media coverage; nixed texting; and complained about nasty fan mail.
Book and Author Headlines
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