September 2011

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about Facebook’s latest foray into language engineering. (Sep. 30, 2011)

(Show page, related Atlantic column)

Trevor Stokes, “Twitter Gauges Global Mood Swings, Researchers Find” (International Business Times, Sep. 29, 2011)

Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and and the former On Language columnist for The New York Times, called the study “an interesting one, and part of a new wave of work that takes a data-driven approach to analyzing affect and emotional expression,” in an email to IB Times. “Linguists themselves may be a bit wary of this brute-force word-counting approach, but the results can be striking, with robust correlations.

“Personally, I’m excited by all the new research possibilities that are made possible by the Twitter corpus and other collections of online texts. Granted, the results of this particular study might not seem so earth-shattering — the conclusions that ‘people get crankier as the day goes on’ and ‘people are happier on weekends’ would strike many as self-evident,” Zimmer wrote. “But I think we’re on the cusp of a new era of looking at language and communication…. We’re learning more and more about the linguistic signatures that we leave behind, and what these traces say about our own personalities and the ways we interact.”

Read the rest here.

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about the many uses of the Twitter hashtag, including as a vehicle of self-mockery. (Sep. 23, 2011)

(Show page, related Globe column, Word Routes column)

Misty Harris, “My Word! Language Crusaders Find Lots to Complain About” (Postmedia News, Sep. 16, 2011)

“These things often become a point of real distress for people,” says Ben Zimmer, a noted lexicographer and language columnist. “They see it as a sign that our standards are somehow falling apart.”

Read the rest here.

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about the misty origins of the word “nerd” and how it has become a badge of honor. (Sep. 16, 2011)

(Show page, related Boston Globe column, Word Routes column)

Richard Morgan, “9/11 Altered Meaning of ‘Ground Zero’” (Memphis Commercial Appeal, Sep. 9, 2011)

Maybe 10 years of ground zero was enough.

“It has a kind of directing effect,” said Zimmer. “You take this whole unbelievable moment in history and contain it in two tight words. It may be time to retire ‘ground zero’ now that the site is about construction, not destruction.”

Read the rest here.

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about whether it’s time to retire “ground zero” for the World Trade Center site. (Sep. 9, 2011)

(Show page, related Boston Globe column, Word Routes column)

Tom Geoghegan, “Is it Time to Retire ‘Ground Zero’?” (BBC News, Sep. 7, 2011)

Bloggers were already making the point that the word needed to be replaced, says lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
“It has a strong national resonance but there’s a strong case to be made for moving away from it.
“It’s now a bustling site with buildings going up, but Ground Zero keeps it fixed to that moment when the towers fell.”

Read the rest here.

Katy Steinmetz, “Wednesday Words: The Language of 9/11, Adult Domains and More” (Time NewsFeed, Sep. 7, 2011)

Ground zero will be written and read countless times as the country nears the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In an interview with NPR, linguist Ben Zimmer outlines the history of the term.

Read the rest here.

Interview on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” about the language of 9/11 and how the term “ground zero” has evolved. (Sep. 6, 2011)

In the days following September 11, 2001, “ground zero” quickly became the term to describe where the Twin Towers once stood. The phrase actually dates back to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Language expert Ben Zimmer explains the evolving use of “ground zero” and other ways 9/11 has influenced language in the U.S.

(Show page, streaming audio, download, related Boston Globe column, Word Routes column)