Word Watch

On The Media

To Bork

Friday, December 21, 2012

Supreme Court nominee and Constitutional originalist Robert Bork died this week at the age of 85. In a segment that originally aired in 2005, Brooke muses over the verb "to bork," coined in honor of the man whose unsuccessful bid for the bench earned him a place in Webster's.

Frank Ocean - Crack Rock

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On The Media

What it Means to be "Online"

Friday, November 09, 2012

Last month, Forrester Research reported that people assume they spend less time online than they actually do because the way people understand what it means to be "online" is changing. On the Media producer Alex Goldman talks about our changing relationship with being online and how fiction has imagined us reaching this point for decades. 

Slade - Cum on Feel the Noize

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On The Media

Word Watch: Occupy

Friday, October 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.

Nicolas Jaar – "Problems with the Sun"

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On The Media

On Better Terms

Friday, March 26, 2010

For the past five year, NPR has been alone among major news organizations in its use of the words "pro-choice" and "pro-life" to describe those divided over abortion. This week that changed. NPR News Managing Editor David Sweeney explains.

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On The Media

Infant Mortality

Friday, March 26, 2010

During debate last weekend on the health care bill, Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) yelled out "It's a baby killer!" on the House floor and, in doing so, joined legions who have invoked this powerful defamation. American University professor Allan Lichtman says the phrase holds a prominent place in the catalog of ...

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On The Media

Playing to the Middle

Friday, January 29, 2010

If you believe the conventional wisdom of both the White House and the punditry, America’s middle class is under attack, in decline and threatened with total extinction. But who exactly are the middle class and where is the evidence of their impending doom? Economist Stephen J. ...

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On The Media

The Language Legacy

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Bush Administration leaves office in a month, but will its linguistic oeuvre remain? From the "Clean Skies Inititive" to "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," Bushies paid close attention to the power of words. Republican wordsmith Frank Luntz, however, doesn't expect the terms to stick.

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On The Media

The Marrying Kind

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last week’s Proposition 8 in California and this week’s same-sex vows in Connecticut have been about one thing: whose loving unions can legally be described as ‘marriage.’ Bob speaks with EJ Graff, author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, about ...

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On The Media

Earmarks: The Other White Meat

Friday, February 01, 2008

Earmarks were brought to the center of the political spotlight this week in President Bush's State of the Union speech. Once an insider term pertaining to the process of allocating funds, it is now a dirty word synonymous with pork. The Washington Post's Jonathan ...

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On The Media

Giving Pause

Friday, October 12, 2007

We all use filler words like um or uh but it’s rare that we hear them in movies, news broadcasts or … uh … this show. Author Michael Erard explains that verbal blunders and hesitations reveal more than we think.

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On The Media

In So Many Words

Friday, December 16, 2005

Have you ever encountered a rootkit or a lifehack? Do you know what it means to be squicked? These neologisms were all runners-up for the coveted distinction of the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2005 Word of the Year. Erin McKean is the New Oxford editor-in-chief. She explains to Bob, among ...

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On The Media

To Bork

Friday, September 16, 2005

Brooke muses over the word that takes its meaning from a onetime Supreme Court nominee, whose unsuccessful bid for the bench earned him a place in Webster's: to bork.

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On The Media

Word Watch: Refugees

Friday, September 09, 2005

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the National Association of Black Journalists called on media outlets to refer to people fleeing New Orleans as "evacuees," rather than "refugees." Many complied, but others, after consulting their dictionaries and style guides, decided the new term lacked the scope befitting a national catastrophe. ...

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On The Media

Wordwatch: Echo Chamber

Friday, August 05, 2005

A free forum of ideas suggests a back-and-forth exchange between individuals with various perspectives. But what happens when people are sequestered to separate discursive spaces on the basis of their ideas? As we're seeing all over the Internet these days, debate breaks down, and in its place we find simply ...

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On The Media

Dogging the Wag

Friday, April 09, 2004

When it comes to information and inspiration for news stories, there are sources…and then there are wags. And over the years, the wags have contributed prodigiously to journalists in need. Usually, their contributions come in the form of quips. But who, in fact, are these wags? Bob sets out on ...

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On The Media

Wordwatch: Echo Chamber

Friday, February 06, 2004

A free forum of ideas suggests a back-and-forth exchange between individuals with various perspectives. But what happens when people are sequestered to separate discursive spaces on the basis of their ideas? As we're seeing all over the Internet these days, debate breaks down, and in its place we find simply ...

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On The Media

Wordwatch: Quagmire

Friday, July 11, 2003

There's the geological definition of the word quagmire. And then there's that other meaning. In the American media, the word is becoming increasingly linked to Iraq, a place that could hardly be characterized as "a wet, boggy ground." Brooke chats with author and editor Tom Engelhardt about the Q-word and ...

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On The Media

Homeland

Friday, September 27, 2002

"Homeland" is a new word to most Americans, introduced to us in the post-9/11 months. It’s probably invoked a hundred times a day inside the beltway, and yet despite very real fears of external and internal terrorist attacks, it still has no currency on the American Street. As part of ...

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On The Media

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Friday, September 13, 2002

In the defense community, the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" generally refers to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Recently that phrase has been popping up all over the media and there are some who think there may be a confusion over the definition. Host Brooke Gladstone talks to Tim Noah ...

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On The Media

“So-Called 20th Hijacker”

Friday, July 26, 2002

Journalists can be a lazy bunch. This might be one explanation as to how the phrase “so-called 20th hijacker” became so ubiquitous to describe accused Sept. 11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Countless news organizations are using it - but is anyone else? Brooke asks USA Today's Toni Locy.

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