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Geoffrey Nunberg




The Permutations of 'Alien'

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.


Red vs. Blue Politics: A Linguist's Perspective

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.


Is Trump's Call For 'Law And Order' A Coded Racial Message?

Donald Trump's pledge to be the "law and order" candidate revived a slogan that's associated with Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. Many people have heard that phrase as racially coded, then and now. But linguist Geoff Nunber notes, its resonances aren't quite the same as they were back then.


Madoff: A Scoundrel Or A Sociopath?

Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the proper terminology for describing white-collar fraudster Bernie Madoff, from the Dickensian "scoundrel" to the plebeian "scumbag."


Changes To French Spelling Make Us Wonder: Why Is English So Weird?

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?


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