Recorded on April 7, 2023, this video features a lecture by Professor John McWhorter, associate professor in the Slavic Department at Columbia University. This lecture was presented by the UC Berkeley Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research.
Professor McWhorter earned his B.A. from Rutgers, his M.A. from New York University, and his Ph.D. in linguistics from Stanford. Professor McWhorter has taught the seminar “Language in America,” a study of American linguistic history that considers Native American languages, immigrant languages, creole languages, American Sign Language, Black English and other speech varieties– their development, interactions, and preservation. He has also taught the seminar “Language Contact,” which focuses specifically on the mixture of language in North America, and studies the development of creoles, pidgins, koines, “vehicular” languages, and nonstandard dialects. Both seminars consider perceived legitimacy of languages, and the standing of language mixtures in media and education.
Professor McWhorter also teaches various other courses for the Linguistics Program and Music Humanities for the Core Curriculum program.
Professor McWhorter is an author of more than twenty books including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. In 2016 he published Words on the Move: Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally), while in 2021 he published Nine Nasty Words and Woke Racism. He also writes a weekly column for The New York Times and hosts the language podcast Lexicon Valley.