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Tyranny Of Words

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  13 reviews
A popular approach to semantics in which the author discussess how to clarify the meaning of words and achieve more exact communication. Index
Paperback, 420 pages
Published April 15th 1959 by Mariner Books (first published 1938)
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This is a hard book to review because it requires contextualization. Here goes:

Stuart Chase was an economist who got interested in words when semantics was developing as a branch of linguistics. This book is his synthesis of his reading in this area over a 3-year period in the mid-1930's. It is clearly not written by a linguist and it has some terrible logical errors (including a bunch of syllogisms that would bring a logician to tears). However, the area it tackles is terribly hard: how do we c
Jul 30, 2011 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Jason by: Peter Joseph
Shelves: tzm-reading-list
Highly Recommend! This is my introduction to the concept of Semantics. To date it's the most informative book I've come across on language and spoken communication. As a writer and speaker this book sets a foundation for communicating new information to another person or group. How to take in information and understand nonsense from utility. It clears the smoke of spellbinders and mystics, philosophers and economists where words hang in the abstract, with different meanings & interpretations ...more
Leon M
Stuart Chase's "Tyranny of Words" is one of the easier introductions to the applied philosophy of language. The book makes four major points that I'd like to mention here:

1) It introduces the reader to Korzybski's idea of general-semantics as first discussed in his "Science and Sanity". Korzybski major realization was that words always need to refer to something in existence: the map is not the territory. From this theoretical approach to the philosophy of language, Korzybski develops practical
Josh Smith
Amazing book on the prospects of the clarification of language. I enjoyed the special focus on economic and political matters. As the book was written between the two world wars, you would think it might read like a dated book, but it actually was quite refreshing. One can see echoes from the past in today's economic and political problems, which Chase masterfully shows stem partly from problems with communication and using dogmatic absolutes. Every person considering himself or herself on the " ...more
I am currently on chapter 6, this book is a bit difficult to read since some of the words are not on my daily vocab; so I have to take the time I come across each new word to me and write it down the look up the definition. To my understanding so far the author's take on semantics is of words being used excessively on intangible things. I have been taking notes as I progress through the chapters and have a list of a few other experts in the field of Semantics and neurology to follow up on once c ...more
Sep 13, 2009 Cris added it
This book introduced me to Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics (GS). One of the most important precepts of GS is that any abstract word without a clear referent in the physical world is deemed essentially meaningless. Guided by this and other principles of the discipline, Stuart Chase gives and critiques examples of misleading or meaningless language in economics, politics, literary theory, science and law. I found this book to be an easy-to-understand (and well-written) investigation of the li ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Van rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Van by: Hayakawa
Shelves: nonfiction
The Tyranny of Words

The book was first published in 1938 (my copy was published in London at that time, strangely enough) and I don't know how to edit the Goodreads text that says it was published much later. Also good quality paperbacks (with better covers) and hardbacks are still available on Amazon.

The author, ironically, is a little more wordy for my taste than I would like but not nearly enough to “bounce” me from the book. The ideas are practical and useful. This is an “early” work as it w
Dina Strange
For somebody who is trying to expose the tyranny of words, the author uses too many words. On a serious note - the book makes sense. Our language is severely lacking, and most of the time talk but don't communicate. I wish we had one universal language and its okay to use abstract words but they should not be mixed with reality.

Jimmy Ele
The last 100 pages of this book were really hard to get through. It all of a sudden became very boring to me especially when it came to economic and judicial word abstractions. I enjoyed the first 300 pages immensely, and that is why I rated it 4 stars.
Pangaea Marianas
Sep 24, 2010 Pangaea Marianas rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to Pangaea by: Wikipedia article on General Semantics
This was my first exposure to Mr. Chase, it was recommended me by various sources as I delve into General Semantics. I find it likely that it will be my last Chase. This book did not chalk my cue stick. There were a few tidbits which were worthy of jotting, but the entirety of extracted material was not in sufficient proportion to its 350+ pages to warrant a positive review. In my opinion, Mr. Chase's mind is not a necessary partner in the quest for 21st century enlightenment and I do not plan t ...more
EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS! No questions ask, just go buy it now. You'll probably need to get if offline; I think it's out of print.

It will teach you invaluable lessons about the words we use to communicate and how they should be used.
Wesley Johnson
A great introduction to the basic logic behind semantics, this book also gives an interesting perspective to the United States just before WWII.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana
The book introduces Semantics to the reader. A discipline that decontaminate a thinker's mind, and, leaves one Intellectually Humble.
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Stuart Chase was an American economist and engineer trained at MIT. His writings covered topics as diverse as general semantics and physical economy. His hybrid background of engineering and economics places him in the same philosophical camp as R. Buckminster Fuller. Chase's thought was shaped by Henry George, Thorstein Veblen and Fabian socialism. Chase spent his early political career supportin ...more
More about Stuart Chase...
The Proper Study of Mankind Guides to Straight Thinking, with 13 Common Fallacies Power of Words Danger: Men Talking! A Background Book on Semantics and Communication Some Things Worth Knowing; A Generalist's Guide To Useful Knowledge

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