The only literary work about punctuation I'm aware of is an odd early story by Anton Chekhov called "The Exclamation Mark." After getting into an argument with a colleague about punctuation, a school inspector named Yefim Perekladin asks his wife what an exclamation point is for. She tells him it signifies delight, indignation, joy and rage. He realizes that in 40 years of writing official reports, he has never had the need to express any of those emotions.
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.
The Senate version of the immigration bill includes a clause proclaiming English the national language and calling on the federal government to preserve and enhance the role of English. Our linguist, Geoff Nunberg, isn't sure this is a good idea.
Alien, illegal, undocumentated, immigrant — the debate over immigration policy is also about the words used by the various sides. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says the language of immigration has been controversial for as long as immigration has been an issue in American life.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the derogative words used to describe many of Donald Trump's supporters - words like hillbilly, white trash, and redneck, and what those words say about class conflict.
Political analysts have been dividing the country into red states and blue states for several elections now, but it's only in the last year or two that the distinction has really caught on with the media and the public. As our linguist Geoff Nunberg points out, the odd thing is that the new usage seems to reverse the traditional political meanings of red and blue.
The French are having a huge cultural row over some spelling changes the government is about to put into effect. It leads our linguist Geoff Nunberg to wonder why we never have controversies over spelling like the French do. Why do we insist on putting up with a spelling system that everybody acknowledges is a chaotic mess?