November 2010

Interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” about President Obama’s use of the Indonesian language. (Nov. 12, 2010)

Ben Zimmer, On Language columnist for The New York Times, follows up on President Obama’s knowledge of Bahasa, Indonesia’s language, with a discussion of other presidents’ second languages.

(Show page, streaming audio, download, related Language Log post)

Interview on WNYC’s “The Takeaway” about the 20th anniversary of the “World Wide Web.” (Nov. 12, 2010)

The “World Wide Web” has become the central way most people interact with (and describe) the network of text and media on the internet. Twenty years ago today it was a temporary name given by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee to an information management project he was working on. Ben Zimmer, linguist, lexicographer and “On Language” columnist for our partner, The New York Times Magazine, joins us to discuss how language describing the Web has evolved over the last two decades.

(Show page, streaming audio, download, related On Language column)

James Fallows, “American Bigshots Doing the Country Proud Overseas” (The Atlantic, Nov. 11, 2010)

Barack Obama, at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, making a speech about democracy in Indonesia, and a reprise on last year’s appeal to Islam — but also daring to talk a little bit in the Bahasa Indonesia (“language of Indonesia”) he heard around him as a child. … For expert analysis of how Obama handles the language, see Ben Zimmer at Language Log, here.

Read the rest here.

Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, “The Thieves’ Tongue” (The Book Bench Blog, The New Yorker, Nov. 11, 2010)

This month, in the Times’s On Language Column, Ben Zimmer, looking at students at the University of North Carolina, pointed out that the slang today is turning up a bouquet of words for “unfamiliar, suspicious or anxiety-producing outsiders.” Think “sketchball” and “creepazoid,” terms used not to create a clique but to warn, within it, of threats.

Read the rest here. (Related On Language column)

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about college slang and Obama’s use of “shellacking.” (Nov. 5, 2010)

(Show page, streaming audio, related On Language column, related Word Routes column)

Interview on WOR’s “Dr. Joy Browne Show” (J.J. Kennedy guest-hosting) about the latest in student slang.

The online generation is giving us some interesting phrases and words that might be here to stay. JJ has some details.

(Streaming audio, MP3 download, related On Language column)