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.
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.
Anne Soukhanov is the Executive Editor of the new "American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, Third Edition." She's been a lexicographer and editor of reference books for over 20 years. She joins Fresh Air to talk about what new words say about changing culture.
Author James Crawford has spent many years investigating the English Only movement. His most recent book is "Hold Your Tongue: Bilingualism and the Politics of English Only." It explores the underlying racism of an English Language Amendment. He has also edited "Language Loyalties," a comprehensive collection of the major issues and policies surrounding the bilingualism debate.
Grammy-winning rapper and actor Will Smith has had success in music, movies and television. He began his career as the Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Since then, he has acted in numerous films and been nominated for an Oscar, for his performance in Ali. (This interview originally aired Dec. 17, 2001.)
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?
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.
In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary. Noah Webster himself might have struggled to define these new English terms — such as binge-watch, humblebrag, photobomb, NSFW, truther, face-palm and listicle.