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This. | Editor's Note

 

Last updated 4/8/2022 at 5:36pm

One kind of linguist will tell you the English language is forever in flux. Adjustments are necessary. They belong to the descriptive school – this is what language is like today, they say.

The other type of linguist is concerned with what language should be. The rules must be honored, they say.

The first type is personified by James McWhorter, a New York Times columnist and linguist at Columbia University. He's written a number of enjoyable books, including his latest, "Nine Nasty Words – English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever."

It concerns the etymology of swear words, and...



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