"Development." "Project." "Strategy." "Problem." These may seem like harmless words, but are they? German writer and linguist Uwe Poerksen calls these words "plastic words" because of their malleability and the uncanny way they are used to fit every circumstance. Like plastic Lego blocks, they are combinable and interchangeable. In the mouths of experts--politicians, professors, corporate officials, and planners--they are used over and over again to explain and justify plans and projects. Poerksen traces the history of plastic words, establishes criteria for identifying them, and provides a tragi-comic critique of the society that relies on them. He shows that when plastic words infiltrate a field of reality, they reorder it in their own image--hence their threat. They are building blocks for new models of reality that may seem utopian but that impoverish the world. Plastic Words is a translation of the remarkably successful book first published in Germany in 1988. For the English-language edition, Poerksen has added a new preface, explaining the origin of the book and addressing the spirited public debate it has spawned.Bold and provocative, Plastic Words is social and linguistic criticism in the tradition of Jonathan Swift and George Orwell.
Uwe Poerksen is Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of Freiburg. A medievalist by training, he is also a novelist, critic, and internationally respected linguist. He has written many books in German, but this is the first to be available in English.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 136
Weight: 210 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 8 mm