Geoff Nunberg

Geoff Nunberg is the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

He teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of The Way We Talk Now, Going Nucular, Talking Right and The Years of Talking Dangerously. His most recent book is Ascent of the A-Word. His website is www.geoffreynunberg.com.

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11:30am

Tue August 14, 2012
Arts & Life

With Ryan's Ascent, A Few Thoughts On 'Entitlement'

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 3:27 pm

Rep. Paul Ryan has made changes to social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security — often called "entitlements" — a key part of his political agenda.
Win McNamee Getty Images

People are saying that Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate creates an opportunity to hold what Ryan likes to call an "adult conversation" about entitlement spending. In the present political climate, it would be heartening to have an adult conversation about anything. But bear in mind that "entitlement" doesn't put all its cards on the table. Like a lot of effective political language, it enables you to slip from one idea to another without ever letting on that you've changed the subject.

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2:04pm

Tue July 24, 2012
Commentary

Swearing: A Long And #%@&$ History

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 4:29 pm

iStockphoto.com

Sometimes it's small government you need to keep your eye on. Take Middleborough, Mass., whose town meeting recently imposed a $20 fine for swearing in public. According to the police chief, the ordinance was aimed at the crowds of unruly teenagers who gathered downtown at night yelling profanities at people, not just someone who slams a finger in a car door. But whatever the exact idea was, nobody thought it was a good one.

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12:26pm

Mon June 25, 2012
Opinion

Taboo Revival: Talking Private Parts In Public Places

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 8:35 am

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Geoff Nunberg is the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air. His new book, Ascent of the A-Word, will be appearing this summer.

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12:00pm

Wed May 30, 2012
Commentary

The Word 'Hopefully' Is Here To Stay, Hopefully

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 3:52 pm

thousands of NPR stories." href="/post/word-hopefully-here-stay-hopefully" class="noexit lightbox">
The word "hopefully" has been used in thousands of NPR stories.
Stephanie d'Otreppe/NPR

Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air, is the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously.

There was something anticlimactic to the news that the AP Stylebook will no longer be objecting to the use of "hopefully" as a floating sentence adverb, as in, "Hopefully, the Giants will win the division." It was like seeing an obituary for someone you assumed must have died around the time that Hootenanny went off the air.

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11:36am

Tue March 13, 2012
Opinion

Slut: The Other Four Letter S-Word

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:12 am

Definition of slut found in dictionary.
NPR

Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, is the author of the book The Years of Talking Dangerously.

"My choice of words was not the best," Rush Limbaugh said in his apology. That's the standard formula for these things — you apologize not for what you said but for the way you said it.

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