Fresh Air remembers its longtime language commentator, who died on August 11, 2020. He was 75-years-old.
Since his debut on Fresh Air in 1987, Geoff recorded hundreds of segments for the show, discussing how pop culture, technology, the business world, and politics keep changing our language, and the ways in which language evolves over time with each new generation. His "Word of the Year" selections were eagerly anticipated by Fresh Air staff and fans alike. This collection includes a small sampling of some of our favorite Geoff Nunberg segments from his many years on the show.
We miss Geoff enormously. He will always be a member of the Fresh Air family.
The only literary work about punctuation I'm aware of is an odd early story by Anton Chekhov called "The Exclamation Mark." After getting into an argument with a colleague about punctuation, a school inspector named Yefim Perekladin asks his wife what an exclamation point is for. She tells him it signifies delight, indignation, joy and rage. He realizes that in 40 years of writing official reports, he has never had the need to express any of those emotions.
President Trump has a penchant for breathing new life into expressions with troubled pasts, like "America first" and "enemy of the people." It's not likely his uses of those phrases will survive his presidency. But he may have altered the political lexicon more enduringly at a Houston rally two weeks before the elections, when he proclaimed himself a "nationalist" and urged his supporters to use the word.