Skip to main content


Filter by




Madoff: A Scoundrel Or A Sociopath?

Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the proper terminology for describing white-collar fraudster Bernie Madoff, from the Dickensian "scoundrel" to the plebeian "scumbag."


'Um' ... A Pause for Linguistic Appreciation

It's one of the most common words in English, and one of the most maligned. But it has been doing useful work for centuries, and lately it's acquired a new, hip meaning. Fresh Air linguist Geoff Nunberg gives us his thoughts on the little word, "um."


Linguistic Nonsense.

The 2006 award season is drawing to a close and linguist Geoff Nunberg gets in just under the wire with the announcement of the first annual Becky award, bestowed by a group of linguists.


Candidates for Word of the Year

The end of the year brings with it "word of the year" designations from professional societies and dictionaries. Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers some of the words that made headlines this past year, including some newsmaking racial epithets.


Enumerating English

How many words are in the English language? 500,000? 1 million? Our linguist says there is no way to really count all the words. What's more, he wonders why people even care.


The Linguistics of Brands

Commentator Geoff Nunberg considers brand names. They make up a significant proportion of the average person's vocabulary. Nunberg says the English language is being privatized.


Taboo words

Linguist Geoff Nunberg looks at why some words are considered off-limits.

Did you know you can create a shareable playlist?


There are more than 22,000 Fresh Air segments.

Let us help you find exactly what you want to hear.
Just play me something
Your Queue

Would you like to make a playlist based on your queue?

Generate & Share View/Edit Your Queue