Protesters in San Francisco block a Google bus, which shuttles employees from the city to its location in Silicon Valley. cjmartin/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption cjmartin/Flickr

Hackers? Techies? What To Call San Francisco's Newcomers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/263088398/263108948" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Decades ago, the SAT test was seen as a measure of raw ability, not as something students ought to cram for. Now, test prep is a huge industry. Linguist Geoff Nunberg wonders what exactly students learn when they're flipping through vocabulary flashcards. Mario Tama/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/256570578/256603192" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a "selfie" with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/255294091/255546620" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 3. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/244760001/244791579" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Scott Gries/Scott Gries/Invision/AP

The Internet's 'Twerk' Effect Makes Dictionaries Less Complete

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/221707027/221741981" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A conference attendee tries Google Glass during the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco in May. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bracing For Google Glass: An In-Your-Face Technology

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/209175015/209202330" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Andrey Kuzmin/iStockphoto.com

Calling It 'Metadata' Doesn't Make Surveillance Less Intrusive

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/193578367/193954334" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Visitors paid their respects at a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street on April 20, near the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

'Horrific' And 'Surreal': The Words We Use To Bear Witness

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/179021100/179253850" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Geoff Nunberg says a good definition extends to the past as well as the present: It's not just about what "marriage" has come to mean; it's all the word has ever meant. iStockphoto.com hide caption

toggle caption iStockphoto.com

Even Dictionaries Grapple With Getting 'Marriage' Right

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/176235479/176242260" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Linguist Geoff Nunberg finds that in the film Lincoln, screenwriter Tony Kushner oscillates between old and modern meanings of "equality." DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

toggle caption DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox

Historical Vocab: When We Get It Wrong, Does It Matter?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/172955182/172955304" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

There are those who say the phrase "the whole nine yards" comes from a joke about a prodigiously well-endowed Scotsman who gets his kilt caught in a door. iStockPhoto hide caption

toggle caption iStockPhoto

'The Whole Nine Yards' Of What?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/169140590/169317413" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Adam Gryko/iStockphoto.com

Forget YOLO: Why 'Big Data' Should Be The Word Of The Year

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/167702665/167703311" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Geoff Nunberg says that, like a lot of the Britishisms peppering American speech these days, "spot on" falls somewhere in the blurry region between affectation and flash. Zdenek Ryzner/iStockphoto.com hide caption

toggle caption Zdenek Ryzner/iStockphoto.com

Even Americans Find Some Britishisms 'Spot On'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/164032659/164104738" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

One Debate, Two Very Different Conversations

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/162561641/162569639" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

In 1961, the publication of Merriam-Webster's Third International Dictionary sparked an uproar with its inclusion of the word "ain't." Flickr User Greeblie hide caption

toggle caption Flickr User Greeblie

When Words Were Worth Fighting Over

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/162221715/162237895" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript