September 2008

Interview on Voice of America’s “Wordmaster” program about “mavericks,” “earmarks,” and “lipstick on a pig.” (Transcript, audio)

Interview on Voice of America’s “Wordmaster” program about “bailouts” and “golden parachutes.” (Transcript, audio)

Interview on Voice of America’s “Wordmaster” program about presidential campaign lingo. (Transcript, audio)

William Safire, “On Language: It Would Seem” (New York Times, Sept. 14, 2008)

When did the game [for game-changer] begin? I first tracked it to a logical source in sports. The Washington Post had a 1982 baseball reference: “Singleton hit his game-changer . . . fair by eight yards” and a decade later described football’s Desmond Howard as “a game-breaker and a game-changer.” But when I set that etymological Inspector Javert — Ben Zimmer of www.visualthesaurus.com — on the trail, he noted the adoption by business motivators of the sports metaphor, including a prescient 1995 reference in The Wall Street Journal to the Internet as “a real game-changer.” Casting a wider net, he came up with an origin beyond sport, in playing cards: The Atlanta Constitution’s “Bridge Forum” of June 29, 1930, frowned on attempts to improve the game of bridge: “Seldom are the game-changers idle.”

Read the rest here.