In his new book, Ascent of the A-Word, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg looks at how the term took root among griping World War II GIs — and how its meaning evolved in the '60s and '70s. He tells Fresh Air that crude words are "wonderfully revealing."
Linguist Geoff Nunberg has made a living out of parsing phrases. His new book, The Years of Talking Dangerously, analyzes the buzzwords, stock phrases and metaphors that were made popular during the Bush administration's tenure.
Fresh Air's resident linguist has had some thoughts lately on the language of the recent string of debates among the various presidential hopefuls. On today's show, he talks to Terry Gross about the signifiers he sees encoded in political language. Geoff Nunberg's most recent book is Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show. His primary reaction to the debates?
In his new book, Talking Right, linguist Geoff Nunberg examines the parlance of the American political right. Conservatives, Nunberg notes, have been remarkably effective at creating a language through which to convey their agenda.
Nunberg's new collection of commentary (originally written for broadcast and print) is Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times. Nunberg is senior researcher at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University and consulting full professor of linguistics at Stanford University. He also writes for the Sunday New York Times Week in Review.
Some reactions to the inauguration and thoughts about the new administration from satirist and voice actor Harry Shearer, language commentator Geoffrey Nunbert, and Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Middle East expert Geoffrey Kemp.