Evolving English

GUESTS: STEVEN PINKER *Professor of Psychology at MIT *Author, Words and Rules (Basic Books, 1999), How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), and The Language Instinct (HarperCollins, 1994) BARBARA WALLRAFF *Senior Editor, The Atlantic Monthly (writes its "Word Court" column) *Author, Word Court (Forthcoming, Harcourt Brace, January 2000) ROBIN LAKOFF *Professor of Linguistics, University of California at Berkeley *Author, Talking Power (Basic Books, 1990), Language and Woman's Place (Harper and Row, 1975), and the forthcoming The Language War (University of California Press, 2000) Why do we say "spoke" instead of "speaked," but not "loke" instead of "leaked?" The English language can be confusing, inconsistent, and downright messy. And it's always changing, as new words—jargon and slang—enter the mainstream. Purists worry that adopting an "anything goes" attitude will result in a "dumbing down" of the language. Others say English is a living language that can't evolve while adhering to a inflexible set of rules. Join Michael Krasny and a panel of language experts as they talk about the rules of English, who decides what they are, and if anyone pays attention.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.