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.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg says the compromises we refuse to make say the most about our character. "Sometimes we stand on principle for the heady satisfaction of showing that we can't be pushed around," he says.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg says everyone's using the phrase "we're broke" these days to justify cuts in government programs and services. But what does "we're broke" actually mean? The answer, says Nunberg, is tricker than you think.
Counting words has become a popular new device in assessing political speech. The number of first-person singular pronouns in a speech can turn a modest public figure into a pompous politician. Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg suggests that counting words isn't very revealing unless we consider their context as well.