What is Um…? It’s a natural history of verbal blunders. It’s a history of verbal fluency and the people who pursue it. It tells the story of famous types of slips like the spoonerism, the Freudian slip, the malapropism, and the Bushism. As a hardcover, it went into three printings, and it was reviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.
As of today, Um… is also available as a paperback! But what’s new isn’t just a softer cover. Inside is a new afterword with up-to-date reporting on brand new scientific research that seeks to unlock the mysteries of slips and the brain. This research (including a report on errors by Kanzi, the bonobo — yes, that’s right, a bonobo) was all published after the hardcover was already in press.
Also in the new afterword, I analyze some of the slips and stumbles in recent American politics, focusing on the Obama/Osama malapropism that media commentators and politicians — on all sides — have been making. As long as we have public speakers, we’ll have public blunders, and Um… is the only book that will tell you why they happen.
The website www.umthebook.com has reviews, news, and information about readings, interviews, and appearances.