The Republican vice presidential pick wants to take another look at programs like Medicare and Social Security. Fresh Air's resident linguist parses the word "entitlement" in its political and nonpolitical contexts.
Earlier this month, there was a national uproar when a Michigan state legislator was disciplined for using a clinical sexual term during a debate. According to linguist Geoff Nunberg, it was just one of many such incidents that reflect a trend he calls the New Reticence.
When Sarah Palin used the word "refudiate," she took a lot of flak -- both for saying she coined the word deliberately and then comparing herself to Shakespeare. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says political slips and errors aren't half as interesting as the way people react to them.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz advises politicians on the language they should use to win elections and promote their policies. Although he works on one side of the aisle, he says that what he does is essentially nonpartisan, seeking clarity and simplicity in language. His critics disagree, and have accused him of using language that misrepresents policies to "sell" them to the public. Frank Luntz is the author of Words That Work.
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.
Jim Quinn is a journalist and writer who is currently the restaurant critic for New York's SoHo News. He is also known for his writings on language and the Philadelphia dialect. His new book "American Tongue in Cheek: A Populist Guide to Our Language," promises to defend all the language errors "you want to stamp out." He joins the show to discuss language and answer listener calls.