Geoff Nunberg

Geoff Nunberg is the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

He teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of The Way We Talk Now, Going Nucular, Talking Right and The Years of Talking Dangerously. His most recent book is Ascent of the A-Word. His website is www.geoffreynunberg.com.

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1:28pm

Wed October 3, 2012
Commentary

When Words Were Worth Fighting Over

Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 3:10 pm

In 1961, the publication of Merriam-Webster's Third International Dictionary sparked an uproar with its inclusion of the word "ain't."
Flickr User Greeblie

I have a quibble with the title of David Skinner's new book, The Story of Ain't. In fact, that pariah contraction plays only a supporting role in the story. The book is really an account of one of the oddest episodes in American cultural history, the brouhaha over the appearance of Merriam-Webster's Third International Dictionary in 1961.

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11:30am

Tue August 14, 2012
Arts & Life

With Ryan's Ascent, A Few Thoughts On 'Entitlement'

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 3:27 pm

Rep. Paul Ryan has made changes to social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security — often called "entitlements" — a key part of his political agenda.
Win McNamee Getty Images

People are saying that Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate creates an opportunity to hold what Ryan likes to call an "adult conversation" about entitlement spending. In the present political climate, it would be heartening to have an adult conversation about anything. But bear in mind that "entitlement" doesn't put all its cards on the table. Like a lot of effective political language, it enables you to slip from one idea to another without ever letting on that you've changed the subject.

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12:26pm

Mon June 25, 2012
Opinion

Taboo Revival: Talking Private Parts In Public Places

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 8:35 am

iStockphoto.com

Geoff Nunberg is the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air. His new book, Ascent of the A-Word, will be appearing this summer.

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11:36am

Tue March 13, 2012
Opinion

Slut: The Other Four Letter S-Word

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:12 am

Definition of slut found in dictionary.
NPR

Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, is the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously.

"My choice of words was not the best," Rush Limbaugh said in his apology. That's the standard formula for these things — you apologize not for what you said but for the way you said it.

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11:49am

Wed December 7, 2011
Commentary

'Occupy': Geoff Nunberg's 2011 Word Of The Year

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 4:04 pm

Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, is the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously.

If the word of the year is supposed to be an item that has actually shaped the perception of important events, I can't see going with anything but occupy. It was a late entry, but since mid-September it has gone viral and global. Just scan the thousands of hashtags and Facebook pages that begin with the word: Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Slovakia. Occupy Saskatoon, Sesame Street, the Constitution. Occupy the hood.

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