Parsing Politics: Geoff Nunberg on Debate-Speak

Fresh Air's resident linguist has had some thoughts lately on the language of the recent string of debates among the various presidential hopefuls. On today's show, he talks to Terry Gross about the signifiers he sees encoded in political language.

Geoff Nunberg's most recent book is Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show.

His primary reaction to the debates? "Stupefaction." The events themselves don't offer up much information, Nunberg says, though they do offer some clues about what things, and what terms, politicos think will be important as the 2008 elections loom.

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