John McWhorter

Washington's Favorite, Weaselly New Verb
Why is everyone "evolving" on gay marriage?
March 29, 2013

Why is everyone "evolving" on gay marriage?

Speaking Your Mind
The pernicious persistence of the "language shapes thought" theory
February 04, 2013

The pernicious persistence of a linguistic theory. 

What Are President Obama’s Black Critics Talking About?
October 29, 2012

Black intellectuals' myopic criticism of President Obama.

The Perpetual Failure to Understand Obama's Double Consciousness
October 04, 2012

The recent uproar over President Obama’s 2007 speech to black pastors is yet another example of how white people don't get it about black people.

The War of the Words: How to Update a Dictionary
September 20, 2012

Is this debate over a crowdsourced dictionary a product of the digital age? Hardly.

Clinton vs. Obama: A Rhetorical Analysis
September 07, 2012

In 2012, he who exhibits a command of facts in the accent of a country-western singer becomes the closest thing we have to a philosopher king.

On Making Moral Judgments About 'White Power' Music
August 10, 2012

It has been fashionable in the wake of Wade Michael Page’s tragic acts in Wisconsin to speculate on whether the White Power music he listened to helped stoke him into the senseless murders he committed. Such speculations, however, are as incoherent as they are pointless—and they are marked, above all, by a cloying air of self-congratulation. A comparison with another musical genre helps put the debate into relief.

Obtuse Effrontery
July 24, 2012

The idea that America harbors an epidemic of “assholism,” as Geoffrey Nunberg has it, is one that most people would spontaneously accept before feelin

June 22, 2012

ONE HAS LATELY heard much of the hashtag. That is, the Twitter symbol #, used to categorize a tweet. Charlie Sheen’s first tweet, for example, was famously: “Winning ..! Choose your Vice... #winning #chooseyourvice.” #Winning has gone on to live in irony across the Twitterverse, in mockery of the eternally less-than-winning Sheen. But even President Obama recently urged students to tweet their senators about raising the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans with the hashtag “#DontDoubleMyRate.” The new thing, however, is using the word “hashtag” in conversation.

Gosh, Golly, Gee
June 08, 2012

“Only connect,” E.M. Forster told us, and poor Mitt Romney just can’t, alienating the left by spelling out that he doesn’t care about the downtrodden and dissing the right by describing himself as “severely conservative.” But Romney’s lack of personal warmth goes further than his remarks—or coiffure, or pet care—and right down to his interjections. It’s the G-words. “This was back, oh gosh, probably in the late ’70s,” he reminisced to a radio host about a steak house.