“Professor Shapiro’s On Language and Value in American Speech is an enchanting book, an erudite and entertaining excursus across the foibles of American English as it is currently spoken. Exquisitely written and a joy to read, it displays profound scholarship and penetrating insight. It will captivate a wide group of readers, not only academics, with its elegant prose in illustrating how spoken, colloquial language is conditioned by social trends. It is a truly educational experience for native speakers in understanding how certain common expressions came into being. There are abundant examples of usage that elucidate the various topics being addressed and make it easy for the general reader to grasp the essence of the argument. The book’s extensive appendix provides a memorable complement to the main body of the text. It is a superb follow-up to his previous book, The Speaking Self. Professor Shapiro is one of today’s most prominent sociolinguists and this book can only confirm this status. A must read!” – Claude Carey, Brown University

“Cultural observation at its best, a delight to read. This is what you need to know about this latest book by Michael Shapiro—a preeminent linguist and philosopher. Cultural practice is always tempered by social preference and Shapiro is a keen observer when it comes to the value choices reflected in the everyday speech of Americans. The book is a study that can be read at different levels of insight. At one level, there are nine essays that cover the full spectrum of social practice that a general reader needs in order to appreciate the twists and turns of persons trying to describe (with the language tools available to them) their perception of the world. The best sampler here is the essay “Wimp English” (Chapter 1). A second level is the linguistic (Roman Jakobson) and philosophical theory (Charles S. Peirce) that explicates how Shapiro comes to the the nine descriptive chapters; this level consists of four appendix essays. The best sampler here is the essay on Markedness (Appendix 3) where the qualitative nature of semiotics informs both language and logic. The four appendices are readable explanations for the beginner and yet, insightful analyses for the seasoned professional as well. In either case, just in case you do not get the analytic moves being made in this book, there is the last essay (Appendix 4) that gently explains that you have been progressing all along through a metanalysis where social and cultural values are, indeed, the shifting Boundaries of language (the record of what we thought we meant) and speaking (the record of what we feel we mean). For beginners, this is a must read book that delights in education by familiar example. For professionals, this is a must study book that teaches insight by sound analysis of sound.” – Richard L. Lanigan, Laureate Fellow, International Communicology Institute, Washington, DC, USA