Join us April 5th for the final "Freshly Squeezed with Colin McEnroe" forum of our fifth anniversary season, entitled: “A Very Exciting Time to Be a Word.”*
Journalist Susan Campbell, academic researcher Michelle Anya Anjirbag, lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, and president emeritus of the University of Hartford Humphrey Tonkin will be among the panelists.
When this forum was originally scheduled, it was intended as a conversation about how our language is changing. Example, the idiom “woke” or “#woke
” has a very keen set of meanings to one group and flies by another.
McEnroe continues, "I still want to do a little of that, but I feel it’s also possibly more important to talk specifically about the unusual (or is it?) battle over basic meaning in the public square, so to speak. I think it can be argued that:
(a) some phrases are being accorded an almost incantatory
power (e.g. the long-running debate over whether or when Obama would use the phrase “radical Islam”),
(b) some words are used to define the political landscape despite the fact that they themselves elude definition (e.g. the way the word “elites” was used
(c) there’s a whole pile of isms – fascism, nativism, nationalism, exceptionalism , even terrorism – that currently pepper our national discourse without a common consensual understanding,
(d) it seems at least possible that the events of the last two years have been grinding away like termites at the substructure of American language so that a phrase like 'what’s happening last night in Sweden' – in addition to being out of tense – is no longer held to any particular meaning/standard and can be translated by its utterer into 'what I saw last night on television about things that have been transpiring over a period of time in Sweden.'"
*British comedian Andy Zaltzman said in an interview: “It must be an exciting time to be a word. You never know how you’re going to be used!”