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Listening to her: Hillary’s dilemma

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | October 13, 2015

As the 2016 presidential campaign season begins in earnest, voters can confidently expect increasing amounts of attention from the pundits and other media inhabitants to candidates’ messages: how they introduce themselves personally to potential voters, and why they believe they should be victorious. This is just as it ought to be. But there is one … Continue reading »

Vocabulary retrogression

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | October 15, 2014

As is now well-known, scores on “intelligence” tests rose strongly over the last few generations, world-wide – this is the “Flynn Effect.” One striking anomaly, however, appears in American data: slumping students’ scores on academic achievement tests like the SAT. Notes of the decline starting in the 1960s sparked a lot of concern and hand-wringing. … Continue reading »

What Our Words Don’t Tell Us

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | May 21, 2013

New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks maintains his conservative credentials by offering readers distillations of recent social science research that suggest that Americans are falling into one or another liberal-based malaise. His column of May 21, “What Our Words Tell Us,” is a case in point. Brooks’ charm, style, and ability to grapple with … Continue reading »

The “new centrism” and its discontents

George Lakoff, professor emeritus of linguistics | January 25, 2011

There is no ideology of the “center.” What is called a “centrist” or a “moderate” is actually very different — a bi-conceptual, someone who is conservative on some issues and progressive on others, in many, many possible combinations. Why does this matter? From the perspective of how the brain works, the distinction is crucial. Because … Continue reading »

Civility 101

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | January 17, 2011

In the last few weeks, “civility” has gone from a word rarely encountered to perhaps the most frequent noun in American public discourse. Everyone agrees: there is too little of it, our public servants need to display more of it toward one another. But – perhaps since we have until now used it only infrequently, … Continue reading »