Special Event

The People’s Tongue: Americans and the English Language

Thursday, June 08, 2023 | 6:30 p.m.

$0 | Friedman Family Auditorium

Two word lovers walk into a bar. They talk passionately about the most permanent characteristic of language: its infinite capacity for change. As they leave the bar an hour later, they realize the world outside is now different and — mysteriously — they have run out of vocabulary to describe it.

Join John McWhorter, columnist for the New York Times, and Ilan Stavans, a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary and editor of the new anthology The People’s Tongue: Americans and the English Language, as they explore, in a lively public conversation, how the English language and the United States change, sometimes concurrently, sometimes in spite of each other.

A book signing with Ilan Stavans follows the program. The People’s Tongue will be available for purchase in Present Perfect, the Planet Word gift shop.

About the speakers:
Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, the publisher of Restless Books, and a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. His latest book is The People’s Tongue: Americans and the English Language.

John McWhorter teaches linguistics at Columbia University, as well as Western civilization and music history. He specializes in language change and language contact. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers Nine Nasty Words and Woke Racism and the host of the Lexicon Valley language podcast. John is also a Planet Word Advisory Board member.