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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Commentary
12:36 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

Tracing The Origin Of The Campaign Promise To 'Tell It Like It Is'

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has promised to "tell it like it is" during his presidential campaign.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed July 15, 2015 3:50 pm

"I tell it like it is." Chris Christie made this his campaign slogan. Donald Trump repeats it whenever he's challenged on something he has said. And Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich and Rick Santorum have said the same thing. It's the conventional pledge of candor, or what passes for it in American public life.

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Pop Culture
10:37 am
Thu June 11, 2015

What's A Thamakau? Spelling Bee Is More About Entertainment Than English

Nathan J. Marcisz of Marion, Ind., focuses intently as he spells a word during the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Alex Wong Getty Images

We English-speakers take a perverse pride in the orneriness of our spelling, which is one reason why the spelling bee has been a popular entertainment since the 19th century. It's fun watching schoolchildren getting difficult words right. It can be even more entertaining to watch literate adults getting them wrong.

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Commentary
10:31 am
Mon April 27, 2015

From TED Talks To Taco Bell, Abuzz With Silicon Valley-Style 'Disruption'

Martin Starr plays software designer Gilfoyle in the HBO comedy Silicon Valley. In the show's new season, Gilfoyle and his fellow techies attend a startup competition named "Disrupt."
Frank Masi HBO

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 2:22 pm

HBO's Silicon Valley is back, with its pitch-perfect renderings of the culture and language of the tech world — like at the opening of the "Disrupt" startup competition run by the Tech Crunch website at the end of last season. "We're making the world a better place through scalable fault-tolerant distributed databases" — the show's writers didn't have to exercise their imagination much to come up with those little arias of geeky self-puffery, or with the name Disrupt, which, as it happens, is what the Tech Crunch conferences are actually called.

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Digital Life
12:39 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Don't You Dare Use 'Comprised Of' On Wikipedia: One Editor Will Take It Out

Bryan Henderson, who goes by Giraffedata, has written a 6,000-word essay on his Wikipedia user page explaining why he thinks "comprised of" is an egregious error.
iStock

I think of English usage as one of those subjects like cocktails or the British royal family. A lot of people take a passing interest in it but you never know who's going to turn out to be a true believer — the kind of person who complains about the grammar errors on restaurant menus. "Waiter, there's a split infinitive in my soup!"

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All Tech Considered
11:38 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Feeling Watched? 'God View' Is Geoff Nunberg's Word Of The Year

Geoffrey Nunberg says technology makes it seem as if we're always being watched, which is creepy.
Ralf Hirschberger AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 6:47 am

"Infobesity," "lumbersexual," "phablet." As usual, the items that stand out as candidates for word of the year are like its biggest pop songs, catchy but ephemeral. But even a fleeting expression can sometimes encapsulate the zeitgeist. That's why I'm nominating "God view" for the honor.

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