October 2011

New York Magazine Vulture blog, “Chinglish Playwright David Henry Hwang on Bringing Mandarin to Broadway, Growing Up Chinese-American, and Translation Fails” (Oct. 27, 2011)

Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang is returning to Broadway with his poignant comedy Chinglish, which opens tonight at the Longacre Theater.

Read the rest here. (Related Word Routes Q&A, Language Log post)

Steve Parker, “‘Occupy’ Might Be the Word of the Year” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 27, 2011)

“Occupy” might be the year’s most popular word.
Ben Zimmer
, who leads the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, says “occupy” is a strong contender for word of the year, reports Julie Moos of the Poynter media training institute.

Read the rest here.

Julie Moos, “‘Occupy’ Likely to be Word of the Year” (Poynter, Oct. 26, 2011)

“Occupy” is a strong contender for word of the year, says Ben Zimmer, who leads the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, which selected “app” last year and “tweet” in 2009. Other possibilities for 2011 include “winning” (thanks, Charlie Sheen) and “downgrade” (courtesy of the U.S. credit rating). Zimmer tells Brooke Gladstone that the word “occupy” has been around in English since the 14th century, but it was used to describe protests — by Italian factory workers — for the first time in 1920.

Read the rest here.

Michael Sebastian, “The Frontrunner for Word of the Year is ‘Occupy’” (PR Daily, Oct. 26, 2011)

Earlier this year, Ben Zimmer, the head of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, thought “winning” might be the word of the year.
“Remember when Charlie Sheen was a big deal and everyone was talking about ‘winning’?” Zimmer asked “On The Media” host Brooke Gladstone when he stopped by the radio show last Friday to talk dialect. “Back in that brief moment … we might have thought that ‘winning’ would be a winning word.”

Read the rest here.

Interview on NPR’s “On the Media” about how the word “occupy” has evolved since the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protests. (Oct. 21, 2011)

As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread around the world, they have changed the meaning and usage of the word “Occupy.” Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and former “On Language” columnist for the New York Times, tracks how the word’s meaning has shifted over just the last month.

(Show page, audio, related Word Routes column)

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about Marc Rzepczynski (aka “Scrabble”) and other tricky baseball names. (Oct. 21, 2011)

(Show page, related Word Routes column)

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about the language of the Occupy Wall Street protests. (Oct. 14, 2011)

(Show page, related Word Routes column)

June Casagrande, “A Word, Please: As Literate as Shakespeare” (Burbank Leader, Oct. 14, 2011)

Recently, a Minnesota Public Radio talk show listener called to suggest to language experts Ben Zimmer and Grant Barrett a clever solution to a very perplexing and pervasive language problem.

The problem crops up when we need to talk about a hypothetical or unknown person whose sex we don’t know.  …

In fact, Zimmer noted, there have been hundreds of attempts since the mid-19th century, some quite well publicized, to inject a new pronoun into the language. Thon, hu, hes, nie, en, lie, himer, hse, ve and hiser are just a few.

“Not a single one has caught on,” Zimmer said.

Language doesn’t work that way. Words, idioms and grammar conventions evolve organically, and that’s how a singular neuter English pronoun is evolving today. It’s “they,” and its partner forms “their” and “them.”

“The only thing that’s had any success is using the plural pronoun ‘they’ as a singular pronoun,” Zimmer said. “That is the most common and most acceptable way, even though it might rankle some people.”

Read the rest here.

Interview on WCBS Newsradio about the linguistic creativity and influence of Steve Jobs. (Oct. 7, 2011)

(Show page, related Word Routes column)

Interview on “The Conversation with Ross Reynolds” (KUOW Seattle) about slang and new words. (Oct. 5, 2011)

Language expert Ben Zimmer says there are some things you didn’t want to be called in London back in 1699. Like ‘burly–sop’ or ‘clodpate’ or ‘nick–ninny.’ So why don’t you hear any of them today? Ben Zimmer joins us to talk about slang, and takes your phone calls.

Show page, RealAudio, mp3, download