Interview on WCBS Newsradio the political use of the expression “man up” (Oct. 22, 2010).
Interview on the WBUR show “Here and Now” about “man up” and other political buzzwords.
“Man up” seems to be the political catchphrase of the season. Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Nevada, taunted Democrat Harry Reid to “man up” during a recent debate. Sarah Palin used the phrase to challenge elected officials in her own Republican party to support the Tea Party movement. We talk to Ben Zimmer, the On Language columnist for the New York Times, about how political jargon is resonating this campaign season. We also look at how satirists, like Stephen Colbert who coined the term “truthiness,” sometimes warp language to drive their points home.
Bill Kristol’s column in The Weekly Standard discusses the recent “On Language” column on “man up.”
What prompted Angle to this exhortation? Maybe she’s a fan of Ben Zimmer’s “On Language” column in the New York Times magazine, and remembered that, a few weeks ago, Zimmer considered the meaning of “man up.” He pointed out that “the exhortation is taking on many guises in American popular culture right now. . . . Its spectrum of meanings runs from ‘Don’t be a sissy; toughen up’ all the way to ‘Do the right thing; be a mensch,’ to use the Yiddishism for an honorable or upright person.”
Read the rest here.
Alex Eichler, “‘Truthiness’ Is Basically a Real Word Now” (The Atlantic Wire, Oct. 15, 2010)
This Sunday marks the five-year anniversary of the premiere of The Colbert Report, which means it will also be five years since Stephen Colbert first looked into a camera and intoned the word “truthiness.” This week, in the “On Language” column of The New York Times Magazine, Ben Zimmer looks back on a half decade of “truthiness”–the word, not the concept. Though Colbert says he plucked it out of the air, trying to find “a silly word that would feel wrong in your mouth,” the term has since been accepted into the mainstream American lexicon.
Read the rest here.
Interview on “The Conversation” with Ross Reynolds (KUOW Seattle) about words that people love and hate.
Words You Love (And Hate) With Ben Zimmer: The Baltimore Sun’s recent use of the word limn in a headline made some readers furious. One letter writer accused the paper of being ‘unbelievably arrogant and patronizing.’ Others have defended the $10 word choice. What’s your response to words you don’t know? Anger? Excitement? Today we’re talking about words you love and words you hate with Ben Zimmer, the language columnist for The New York Times.