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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Arts & Life
10:30 am
Tue August 14, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 2:27 pm

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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Commentary
1:04 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Swearing: A Long And #%@&$ History

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 3:29 pm

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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Opinion
11:26 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Taboo Revival: Talking Private Parts In Public Places

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 7:35 am

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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Commentary
11:00 am
Wed May 30, 2012

The Word 'Hopefully' Is Here To Stay, Hopefully

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The word "hopefully" has been used in thousands of NPR stories.
Stephanie d'Otreppe/NPR

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 2:52 pm

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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