Words on the Move 2018

Part of being an English speaker these days is to be adjusting to constant change.

John McWhorter Linguist; Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, C...
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LOL, Like, and Literally: Is the English Language Deteriorating?

LOL, Like, and Literally: Is the English Language Deteriorating?

Show Notes

Young people tend to say “LOL” and “like” a lot. Business jargon — such as “What’s the ask?”— is surfacing in boardrooms. Is the English language deteriorating before our ears? Linguist and author John McWhorter pushes back, saying these modern terms are examples of language evolving. Words’ meanings have always changed and those shifts will continue. “Language is like clouds,” says McWhorter. “If the clouds are in the same position they were in when we came in, something’s wrong.” In this conversation with Georgetown linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, he talks about his book "Words on the Move" and explains why we shouldn’t be frustrated when language changes.

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Additional Information


Our Language Has 'Interesting Little Wrinkles,' Linguist Says

John McWhorter talks with NPR's Renee Montagne about his book, "Words on the Move."

Call Them What They Wants

As more English speakers adopt the singular they and reject the gender binary, resisters will have to accept that language changes over time, John McWhorter writes in The Atlantic.


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