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59:12

The Evolution of the English Language

Broadcast journalist Robert MacNeil is producing a new television series called The Story of English, which examines how the language is changing. His experience working in three Anglophone countries--Canada, England, and the United States--has given him unique insights into the subject. He joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about his experiences as a journalist in conflict zones, as well as his start in television broadcasting.

09:34

Reveling in the Imprecision of Language

British novelist Julian Barnes takes great pleasure in quoting bad writing, as well as how words often fail to convey their intended meaning. His new book is called Staring at the Sun.

09:32

Reveling in the Imprecision of Language

British novelist Julian Barnes takes great pleasure in quoting bad writing, as well as how words often fail to convey their intended meaning. His new book is called Staring at the Sun.

03:29

The New Glut of Legends

Language commentator Geoff Nunberg considers the use of the word "legend," which he believes ascribes too much importance to what could more accurately be described as "fame."

03:52

Legislating Language

Linguist Geoff Nunberg reflects on recent efforts to make English the official language at the state and federal levels. He says that such measures only hurt immigrants seeking essential services.

27:13

W. S. Merwin Shares His Poems.

Poet W.S.Merwin. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his 1970 work, The Carriers of Ladders. His books of poetry include The Song of Roland, The Compass Flower and, his latest collection, The Rain in the Trees.

03:40

American Attempts at Anglicism Gone Awry

Language commentator Geoff Nunberg says that Americans who incorporate British English into their speech and writing often use words and expressions incorrectly. For instance, most people don't understand that "shall" and "will" aren't interchangeable.

03:57

Obscure Words Fade Back into Obscurity

Linguist Geoff Nunberg mourns some of the colorful words that seem to have vanished from our language, like galoot, dudgeon, and geegaw. Some quick research reveals that no one is quite sure where they came from.

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