My Wellesley

John McWhorter: The New American English and Its Challenges (Final date of Lecture TBA)

October 5, 4:30pm, Location and Final Date TBA

American English is changing in the twenty-first century in ways that can be challenging to master or sometimes even to understand. I will discuss gender-neutral pronouns, the euphemism treadmill and its requirement that we regularly rename topics of urgent discussion, and new categories of profanity. In all of these cases, we must revise our sense of how labels correspond to concepts in ways that can be wrenching but ultimately represent the ideological and moral progress of our society. This event is co-sponsored by The English Department. [Please note: The final date of this lecture is TBA. Please check our website for an update as we get closer to the event.]

John McWhorter
John McWhorter

JOHN McWhorter teaches linguistics at Columbia University, as well as Western Civilization and music history. He specializes in language change and language contact, and is the author of The Missing Spanish Creoles, Language Simplicity and Complexity, and most recently The Creole Debate. He has written extensively on issues related to linguistics, race, and other topics for Time, The New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and elsewhere, and is a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic. For the general public he is the author of The Power of Babel, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, The Language Hoax, Words on the Move, Talking Back, Talking Black, and other books, and hosts the Lexicon Valley language podcast at Slate.