Geoff Nunberg

Geoff Nunberg is the linguist contributor on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

He teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of The Way We Talk Now, Going Nucular, Talking Right and The Years of Talking Dangerously. His most recent book is Ascent of the A-Word. His website is www.geoffreynunberg.com.

The citizens of democracies have always been suspicious about concentrations of unelected power. In the late days of the Roman Republic, Cicero denounced the triumvirate who had usurped the role of the Senate as the imperium in imperio, or the government within the government. Nowadays, the alleged usurpers go by more pedestrian names: the invisible government, the hidden government, the shadow government.

Geoff Nunberg (@GeoffNunberg) is a linguist who teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley.

It's word-of-the-year time again. Collins Dictionary chose "Fake news" and Dictionary.com went with "complicit." Others have proposed #metoo, "alternative facts," "take a knee," "resistance" and "snowflake."

If you're into counterculture kitsch, you might want to check out the nostalgia-themed resort hotel at Walt Disney World in Florida. It features a "Hippy Dippy" swimming pool, surrounded by flower-shaped water jets, peace signs and giant letters that spell out "Peace, Man," "Out of Sight" and "Can You Dig It?"

Geoff Nunberg (@GeoffNunberg) is a linguist who teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley.

It wasn't a serious political gaffe, but it was awkward. On Feb. 12, the Republican National Committee tweeted a picture of the Lincoln Memorial along with the quote, "'And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count; it's the life in your years' — Abraham Lincoln."

It has become a familiar story in a world bristling with live mics. A public figure is caught out using a vulgarity, and the media have to decide how to report the remark. Web media tend to be explicit, but the traditional media are more circumspect.

Wherever you look, this is the year of white working-class males — or, as Donald Trump describes them, "the smart, smart, smart people that don't have the big education." Who are they, and why are they sticking with Trump even as other voters are peeling away?

"I am the law-and-order candidate."

With that proclamation in his acceptance speech, Donald Trump made it official that he'd be recycling the themes and language of Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign. A lot of observers were quick to point out that 2016 is no 1968 and that Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. As it happens, "law and order" isn't what it once was, either.

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