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Ben Zimmer on Language

Language never stands still. Usage, phrasing, new words, new meanings, new “penumbras and emanations” are unending.

And it frames the way we see the world. For decades, language maven William Safire tracked the course and politics of American English in his “On Language” column for The New York Times. Last fall, the great maven died.

This weekend, his much younger successor, Ben Zimmer, steps up to the plate — ready to take on “the party of no,” the politics of yes, the verb “to Kanye,” and a whole lot more.

This hour, On Point: we’ll talk with the new language maven, Ben Zimmer.

Guest:

Ben Zimmer joins us from New York.  This Sunday he takes over The New York Times Magazine’s “On Language” column launched by William Safire in 1979. Zimmer is executive producer of VisualThesaurus and a contributor to Language Log. He was editor of American dictionaries at Oxford University Press and is a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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TODAY
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

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Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

 
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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